Tag Archives: Love

Review & Giveaway: The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

THE EDGE OF BELONGING

by AMANDA COX

 
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

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When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother’s estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo framesshe provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truthboth the search for it and the desire to keep it from otherstakes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

 
When I picked up The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox, I knew that I was in for an emotional ride. Any book about family secrets will do that to a person, but the idea that your true origin story has been kept from you for over 20 years… I couldn’t imagine it. I also couldn’t figure out why Ivy’s adoptive family didn’t just tell her where she came from. But I guess there wouldn’t be much of a story if they had just laid it all out!
I have read many novels that alternate between characters and/or time periods, but Cox uses the technique masterfully. The chapter lengths are perfect with nice little cliffhangers that make you groan a little because you want to keep going. But then the revelations that occur with each new chapter, flipping between the two timelines, are so riveting as the big picture is slowly but surely shaded in with deliberate strokes and increasing pressure.
I admire the framework that Cox must have laid out for this story to take shape. As connections are realized between the different characters, it feels like we aren’t getting any closer to finding out why the details of Ivy’s adoption are not out in the open. When it finally dawned on me that I would just have to read patiently to find the answer, I was able to sit back and ponder Ivy’s hangups.
For someone who is so very loved and supported, I was confused by how Ivy could fall into such an abusive relationship with Seth. I know that situation could happen to anyone, but I feel like people more often are easy prey when they have had to look for love and approval during their formative years. As I learned more about Ivy’s origin story, the concept of nature vs nurture came to mind. But also, hearing how the people in Ivy’s small town speculated about her backstory within earshot of her probably had a lot to do with it as well.
I really enjoyed this book and how it was such an active read despite the unrushed pace. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a feel good story that truly lifts the spirit. If you’re not into Christian books, don’t be put off by the labeling. Cox doesn’t hit you over the head with the Bible and the characters are very real without the usual Christian filters.

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. 

 
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. 
 
Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.
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Blitz: The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

THE HOPE OF
AZURE SPRINGS 
by
RACHEL FORDHAM
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance 
Date of Publication: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Revell

Number of Pages: 336

ABOUT THE BOOK: Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Welcome to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.
 
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PRAISE FOR THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS: “In her promising first novel, Fordham assembles an endearing cast of characters in the rugged Midwest plains for a tale about surviving and thriving. . . .Fordham depicts heartbreaking emotional and physical suffering, while beautifully illustrating the power in simple acts of kindness to foster healing, hope, and happiness.”
Booklist

EXCERPT: PROLOGUE
FROM THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS

Iowa, 1881

     She dead?”
     Em heard a man’s voice from somewhere above her. A strange thumping pulsed through her with each word he spoke. Her throat burned, screaming for water, but she could not cry out.
     “There’s life in her. Not much of it though,” a second, raspier voice answered. She felt a hand press against her throat and then move over her body, gently probing. “She’s bleeding pretty bad.”
     “Gunshot?” the first voice asked.
     If only her eyes would open, and she could see them. Straining, she struggled to pull her heavy eyelids open. Finally, bits of light darted in front of her eyes, but she could not focus. The faces above her were fuzzy and indiscernible.
     Fear swept through her, suddenly waking her battered body. Afraid the men from before had returned, she opened her eyes wide, finding strength that only moments before she had lacked. With thrashing arms, she flailed at the men. Her arms flopped about but offered little defense—she was too weak from blood loss. And then they moved no longer, subdued by large, strong hands.
     “Easy, girl. We aren’t going to hurt you. We just want to help. Take you into town, that’s all. There’s a good doctor there.” The man’s deep voice sounded gentle, but still she did not trust him. Voices could be deceiving. Arms could hurt as well as help. She knew these things well.
     Soon she felt her body being raised above the ground, and moments later the hard planks of a wagon became the resting place for her injured frame. Too weak to move, she lay looking at the sky, wishing there were a way to end the agony, but knowing that for Lucy she would fight on.
     Once the wagon lurched forward, she lost track of everything again. The wheels bouncing over ruts made her pain so intense that everything closed around her and then faded to black.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Fordham started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. She hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

 
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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

 
THE WAY OF BEAUTY
by
Camille Di Maio
Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

  
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Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.
Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.
Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.
Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.” 

 

GuestPost

What’s in a Title?

Guest Post by Author Camille Di Maio

 

When I was first writing THE WAY OF BEAUTY, my working title was A PARADE OF EAGLES. I still like that one – the book starts with the demolition of Penn Station and the magnificent eagles that are taken down and carted to a swamp in New Jersey. The image of these beautiful granite birds processing down the streets of New York City was so stunning to me.

 

But it was suggested to me that the title sounded more like literary fiction than the historical fiction/romance that it is. And that it would not resonate with my primary audience: women.

 

So, it was back to the drawing board. One of my characters, Angelo, is an Italian immigrant. As I thought through good surnames for him, I remembered the name of a girl I used to do high school theater with – Bellavia. That was her first name, but I thought it could work for Angelo, too. It means beautiful way. Angelo is one of my favorite characters, and his friendship provides a beautiful new way for Vera to look at life when she needs it the most.

 

And then it struck me that I could play with that word as the title. It reflects the arc of the train station – the building, the heyday, and the deconstruction. Much the same path we travel as people – our beginning, our middle, and our end. But each part is necessary and beautiful in its own way – the way of beauty.

 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!

 

~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol,

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