Makin’ Miracles by Lin Stepp

  • Makin' Miracles (Dec30)Title:  Makin’ Miracles
  • Author:   Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Christian
  • Published:  December 30, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Zola Devon has always been a little different. Half Tahitian, with long black hair and dark eyes, she’s especially distinctive in the mountain town of Gatlinburg. She even stocks her gift shop, Nature’s Corner, with items that reflect her island heritage and tantalize tourists. But it’s her spot-on intuition that truly sets Zola apart. When she gets a hunch about a person, she’s almost always right. And when the surly photographer who owns the gallery next door starts meddling in her business, she can only hope that, for once, her instincts are wrong.

The one thing Spencer Jackson loves more than his camera is the majestic scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Reeling from his painful past, he’s settled in a cabin in the woods to train his lens on the breathtaking landscape. A woman as uniquely beguiling as Zola could only throw his simple, uncomplicated days into chaos–and force him to lay bare his darkest secrets. But as their lives become unavoidably intertwined, they both may discover the beauty of the truth, and the joy of the unexpected.  (publisher)

My brief take:  This is the second of Lin Stepp’s novels I’ve had a chance to read. I love the Smoky Mountain setting, the characters who seem so genuine, and her themes of people learning to forgive, trust, and love. Pertinent bible references are woven into the story in a relevant and natural way.

I had issues with Spencer. He seemed almost immature in his attitude toward his problems with his family and his willingness to let go of the past. It made him moody and rather annoying. I couldn’t understand why Zola kept seeing him. But she did. I really liked Zola. She had such a wonderful outlook on life and a great sense of who she was. She looked for and found the goodness in people. It was easy to understand why Spencer would be attracted to her.

Makin’ Miracles is a story of drama, mystery, romance and family dynamics. I enjoyed the pace and was satisfied with how Stepp wrapped things up. Recommended to fans of Christian Contemporary Fiction.


Review/Giveaway (US): Under a Summer Sky by Nan Rossiter

Under a Summer Sky (June)

  • Title:  Under a Summer Sky
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Christian Fiction
  • Published:  April 2014 – Kensington Books
  • Source:  Author

Synopsis:  The old Cape Cod house that Laney Coleman shares with her minister husband Noah and their five boys is usually brimming with cheerful chaos. There’s nothing fancy about the ancient kitchen or the wooden floors scuffed by the constant parade of activity and the clicking claws of their two Labrador retrievers. It’s a place to savor the sea breeze wafting through the windows, or sip coffee on the porch before another hectic day begins. This summer, life promises to be even busier than usual, because Noah’s younger brother, Micah, wants to hold his upcoming wedding on their property.
Though thrilled that Micah has found happiness after past heartache, Laney is apprehensive about having her home turned upside down. She has other concerns too–her youngest son is being bullied at school, and Noah’s father is not the robust patriarch he once was, in mind or body. As the bride and groom’s large, close-knit families gather, there will be joyful celebration but also unexpected sorrows and revelations, and a chance to store up a lifetime of memories during the fleeting, precious days of summer…  (publisher)

My take:  Nan Rossiter has done it again. She wrote a wonderful multi-generational story that will resonate with many readers. It certainly did with me.  I related most with Laney. She really has her hands full as she balances a job, motherhood and being wife of a minister. She even agrees to host a wedding at their home after her husband volunteers. As most mothers do, she quietly deals with other issues at the same time.

A side note:  when my kids were growing up one of our favorite TV shows to watch together was Seventh Heaven. If you’re unfamiliar with the show it was about the life of a minister, his wife and kids. This novel gave me the same feel as that show – which I think is high praise! We loved it and I enjoyed Under a Summer Sky just as much.

Noah, Laney’s husband, delivered a sermon that struck an emotional chord with me. It was about appreciating and being present in every moment – especially the small moments. You never know when the last time you do something will be the last time. Anyway, when I finished that chapter I had to stop and wipe my eyes.

Under a Summer Sky celebrates family connections and the truly important things in life. I’ll be sharing this novel with my sisters and close friends.




Nan Rossiter has offered a copy to a US reader

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Down By the River by Lin Stepp

down by the river by L. Stepp (May27)

  • Title:  Down By the River
  • Author:  Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Christian Fiction
  • Published:  May 27, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  While on a visit to the Smokies, Grace Conley makes a stunning decision: she’s going to walk away from her busy life in Nashville to move to tiny Townsend and open a bed-and-breakfast. There’s a beautiful old inn for sale along the Little River that will do perfectly. Of course, Grace’s family is scandalized. After all, she’s a middle-aged widow! And as a career homemaker, she’s always been available for babysitting, chauffeuring, and generally being the peacemaker among her grown children. Has Grace lost her mind? She begins to wonder the same thing once she finds herself attracted to the local ladies’ man. But the surprises don’t stop there…

To further complicate her move, Grace’s daughter, Margaret, has grudgingly come to live with her. Having just graduated from college, remote Townsend is not where she envisions her future. Yet the handsome young minister next door is convinced he and Margaret are meant for each other. As life choices abound, soon both women will discover that the biggest decisions require confidence, a sense of humor—and a deep, abiding faith.  (publisher)

My take:  The serene cover and then the synopsis are what first drew my attention to this novel. I’m pleased to tell you I enjoyed Lin Stepp’s story as well. I like a book with main characters in my age demographic (50s) who are smart, strong and fairly confident in themselves – not ditzy comic relief or overbearing parents.

After making the move to Townsend both Grace and her daughter Margaret begin to find themselves on the road to love and deeper faith – Grace with the local ladies’ man Jack Teague and Margaret with the young minister Vincent. I found their stories quite entertaining. There’s also a storyline involving a stalker that, while it added mystery, I’m not sure was necessary. Maybe that’s because I don’t enjoy the mystery genre all that much. Other readers may like this aspect.

Overall, I enjoyed Stepp’s characters and their romantic and faith journeys. This is Christian fiction and is heavier on the Christian than other books of the genre I’ve previously read. I enjoyed it very much. I would definitely read more by this new-to-me author. My thanks to the publisher for sharing a review galley.

Note:  There is a readers’ guide included.

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner – Blog Tour

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner: Book Cover


Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

* * * * * *

My thoughts:

I found White Picket Fences to be a cautionary tale of what can happen to people when they don’t want to upset the status quo. People usually keep secrets because they don’t want to cause pain or unhappiness for themselves or others – but that can sometimes have the opposite effect.

Although I thought this was a quiet novel, it made me feel anything but quiet. The first half slowly unveiled a few secrets and then events occurred that set the plot in motion. I won’t reveal more except to say that the pace picked up and I read the second half of the book without stopping.

My favorite characters were the two gentlemen who told their stories to Tally and Chase. Not only did they share their Holocaust memories but they gave wise advice to the two teens that helped them make decisions regarding issues in their own lives.

Susan Meissner’s novel is a touching tale. I’m glad I read the book and recommend it to readers of Contemporary fiction and YA fiction. An interview with the author is included. White Picket Fences would be a good family book club selection.

You can get more information about White Picket Fences here.

Review copy provided by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group