The Shell Collector

The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Description:

Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved. 

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning—alone—through his work and role in the community. 

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pours her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move. 

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected. (publisher)

My take:

This was such a lovely story about moving through grief after the loss of a loved one – be it spouse or friend. Nancy Naigle experienced such a loss and was inspired to write this novel. Amanda, a young widow and mother of two children, is beginning a new chapter in a new community. She meets an elderly woman, Maeve, on the beach. An instant connection is formed between Maeve and the young family. It was truly delightful as Maeve taught the children about the wonderful treasures to be found on the beach. There are more people whose importance to this core group is apparent. I enjoyed them all and loved the message of living each day in the moments. Recommended.

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner – Blog Tour


White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner: Book Cover

Summary:

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

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh – Blog Tour


Summary:

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.


Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.


Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

* * * * * * *

Piper Pickwick tries to live a good and honest life but, like most of us, she has things she needs to work on. When she is called back to her hometown she gets the opportunity and time to work on correcting past wrongs. It took me several pages to get into the rhythm of Leaving Carolina but once I did, the pace picked up and I quickly finished reading the book.

Two of my favorite characters in the book help Piper realize that life can be good when you face your past instead of run from it. Those two are Uncle Obe and Axel Smith. Obe has received a diagnosis of dementia and wants to make things right in his own life. Piper has always been his favorite relative and she feels the same about him. Axel is Obe’s godson and works as gardener on Obe’s estate. Obe thinks Axel (who has had several challenges in his life) could be a good match for his niece. The story moves in several directions and never failed to keep my attention.

There are several interesting characters in addition to my favorites. Two of them will be featured in a second book due out in 2010. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy Chick Lit and Contemporary Christian Fiction.

You can find more information about Leaving Carolina here.

Review book fromWaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group