Kelly Klepfer came on board Novel Reviews several years ago as the Senior Editor through her connections with Gina Holmes, Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta of Novel Journey fame. Novel Reviews is the baby sister of the popular Novel Journey. At Novel Reviews we offer honest reviews of Christian and secular fiction titles and love to promote exceptional fiction. We began to do so after we met the authors via their interviews at Novel Journey. Disclaimer: Our reviewers are not paid for their reviews. Some may consider the receiving of a complimentary book or loosley bound manuscript (by publisher or author), as a form of compensation, so, be forewarned that our reviewers RECEIVE BOOKS. In our defense, it would be difficult to review without them. (Also, we are not affiliated or paid for any links to online bookstores.)
Pastors' Wives: A Novel
by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Plume; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
What’s it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors’ Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside.
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s “First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen’s reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors’ Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.
When I received Pastor's Wives by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, I had my guard up against stereotyped and caricatured portrayal. I was so wrong! Cullen, a former foreign correspondent and staff writer for TIME magazine, reveals a remarkable depth of truth and strength of character within the women of Pastor's Wives. I was captivated by their stories, cheered them on as friends, and was terribly disappointed when it ended. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. This is a must read for everyone who attends a church.
Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan at: Novel Rocket
Secrets Over Sweet Tea
by Denise Hildreth Jones
Published by Tyndall
Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well—a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.
I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that answers the question, “What does it mean when someone says; God has healed me from the inside out? How can I let God touch the hurts in my heart and be healed?”
Denise says, “You can only live with your heart shut down for so long. Eventually you will fight for your healing or you will die… Some even find God when their lives fall apart!....Sometimes a person has to die in order to really live. ..Hungry for something real?.. (tired of just going through the motions of life and feeling numb inside?) Want to feel alive? Seek whatever helps you rediscover that carefree childlike heart I know is in there somewhere – that is what you should be doing to Feel Alive!”
This is a journey Denise’s characters having gone on and some have just started down this path. I enjoyed this cast so much they are fun, bold and each have been knocked around by life. Each has a different result.
Scarlett Jo is a Pastor’s wife that’s fun and doesn’t care what people think about her. Denise writes, “Scarlett Jo hadn’t simply survived her life. She had learned how to live inspire of it- and not to worry too much about the perceptions of others.”
Scarlett Jo is fun loving, free spirit and an inspirational person! I loved her voice and her outlook on life she says, “Oh, child do you not know about couponing?...I’m feeding a pack of wolves at my house. If I didn’t know how to coupon, my children would have had to eat me by now. But if you ever want to learn how to do it, you just let me know. It is crazy girl! I can go to a store and leave and they’ve paid me money.”
The characters in this novel welcome you in as family. They’re situations will tug at your heart. What I love about Denise’s books are you’ll be having a good time then all of a sudden she cleverly interweaves spiritual truths that pierce your heart, make you stop and think. Denise will help you “See lies we believe.” You’ll laugh out loud and get teary eyed in parts. A winning combination.
I really liked Scarlett Jo’s husband too he says, “I watch people. I take in people. And to be honest, I learn a great deal about them by what they don’t say.”
I highly recommend this novel and the non-fiction companion book called Reclaiming your Heart! It’s a win win combination. A book you’ll want to put on your summer reading list. Did I mention I just love the cover of this book too! It’s a keeper!
The House That Love Built
by Beth Wiseman
Release Date Dec 1, 2012
Publisher Thomas Nelson
Brooke has only loved one man, her late husband. Owen's rebuilding after a painful divorce. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?
In the charming town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising two young children on her own, supporting them by running the family hardware store. The last thing on her mind is falling in love. But she's intrigued when a stranger moves to town and buys the old Hadley mansion. She's always heard that house holds a secret--maybe even a treasure--and she can't wait to see inside. When she meets the new owner and they spend time together, she can't deny the attraction. Could God be giving her another chance at happiness? Or is she betraying her late husband's memory by even thinking that way?
Owen Saunders bought the Hadley place to spite his cheating ex-wife. She'd always wanted to restore an old house in Smithville. Now he's going to do it without her. But if anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart. Then he meets Brooke and her kids and finds himself tempted by love. Can he bring himself to trust a woman again?
Throw an eccentric uncle into the mix, along with the town's teenage troublemaker, and even a finicky cat--and one thing becomes clear: God is bringing them all together for a reason.
The House That Love Built takes place in the small town of Smithville, Texas. While Brooke Holloway is working hard at being a single mom of two and running a business after her husband died tragically three years previously, Owen Saunders finds himself buying the old Hadley mansion in town to spite his ex-wife, who left him for his business partner. Both are still grieving for their previous loves, and trying to figure out how they fit into each other’s lives. In the meantime, Brooke is struggling with her mother’s decision to go back to her father, who left them twenty years previously for another woman.
This was a wonderful book. It had love, sadness, happiness, laughter, grief, all rolled into one book! I loved watching the love blossom between Brooke and Owen. They were each so hesitant to let go of their first spouses, and afraid to trust someone new, both for different reasons. The side stories in the book were great, too. I loved how the story developed and came to a close.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers