Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink (Harvest House, 2016)

Book Review – Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink

Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink (Harvest House, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink (Harvest House, 2016)

Standing between Stephanie and her dream is one hundred pounds of lovable trouble.

It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Meet up with Agnes Wharton in a small town in California, retrieve the reclusive author’s valuable new manuscript, and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent.

But Agnes’s canine companion, Sweetness, decides to make a break for it before Stephanie can claim her prize. Until Agnes has Sweetness safely back at home in Eagle Cliff, Washington, Stephanie will never set eyes on the manuscript she needs to make her dreams come true.

When Stephanie tracks the runaway mutt to a campground, she meets Rhett Hastings—a man also on the run from a different life and a costly mistake. Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog . . . thus launching a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.

Once Sweetness gets added to the mix, it’s a recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.

My thoughts:

I read and reviewed the first in the author’s Love Unleashed series, Sit, Stay, Love, and loved the book’s well-written, realistic characters and fun action, and I’m glad to say Fetching Sweetness continues that trend.

In Fetching Sweetness, the author begins with ample action and pumps up the conflict right away. Unlike the first book in the series, it took me a little bit longer to relate to Stephanie, one of the main characters. She’s a bit unlikable at first, but we need to see this ‘beginning’ point in her to witness the change that occurs as the journey progresses.

As with the first book, the dialogue in this book is overall very realistic, fun, quick-paced, and interesting. All of the characters (even side characters) have faults (helping them be realistic and relatable, too), and this book focuses a lot on doubts, past hurts, not knowing the future, and trying to trust and grow. Genuine, non-hokey faith conversations are so hard to write in fiction, and this author does a fairly decent job of these conversations throughout, though there were a few spots that seemed a touch unrealistic coming from the characters as they were presented.

This author incorporates other unique analogies throughout that add to the quality of writing, and as a writer, I enjoyed several of the writing and reading analogies used. The dogs involved become some of the most dynamic side characters and increase the reading enjoyment. The ending wraps up a bit too quickly and almost-perfectly, but it’s still a sweet, enjoyable ending to another fun fiction read.

“That’s why people love novels. Fiction tosses up the truth about life that we’re too blind or preoccupied to see.” – p. 178, Fetching Sweetness

To read more about the book, the author, and check out other reviews, check out the Litfuse page here.

You can also enter Fetching Sweetness prize pack at the Litfuse site between now and August 24th for a chance to win a copy of this book and other fun prizes!

Fetching Sweetness Dana Mentink

Since this is a theme of this book, How have you learned about God through failure? Share in the comments below.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the Litfuse blogging team in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Feeding the Soul {Book Review – Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay}

I shared on Instagram yesterday what I’ve found I often do right after a finish an amazing book.

I did this exact thing with the book I just finished, Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014).

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Elizabeth Hughes is a top-notch chef with her own restaurant in New York City. However, she’s now experiencing lack of luster and numerous mistakes in her previously inspired cooking. When her boss gives her the chance to rest and recover, Elizabeth flies to her former home in Seattle for the first time in 15 years to visit her sister, Jane, who is battling the same cancer their mother had. Jane and Elizabeth have never gotten along and tensions are tight. Elizabeth works to find out how to reinvigorate her cooking and restore broken relationships and find a sense of herself.

For more about the book, read here.

This book is pretty spectacular. Told in first person (past tense) from Elizabeth’s perspective, we see and hear what other characters are wrestling with as well as Elizabeth’s own internal dialogue.

Cooking remains a physical reality as well as a symbol throughout the whole book, and the cooking analogies are fantastic, like this one on page 13:

“He had an easy way about him that brought him into the group seamlessly, like egg whites whipped to perfection, just shy of that single beat that hardened them. I felt a twinge of jealous—I was that single beat. I didn’t blend into the life of my own kitchen.”

Katherine Reay sets up multiple conflicts immediately in the first chapter between Elizabeth’s perception of herself, the kitchen environment, conflicts with her boss and reviewers, and more. In fact, the book remains very serious and conflict-filled (and emotional) for the first several chapters. All in good ways, but tough, too. I started physically smiling in reaction to events more about Chapter 10. At first, I wondered if that made the beginning too tough, but upon finishing the book, I know it needed to be that way. That’s how Elizabeth felt and had lived for so long. We needed to feel that too to get a better sense of her and her change.

I wrote down several quotes I don’t think I’ll be forgetting the feeling of for quite some time. This book definitely qualifies as one of those books that make you think and feel, which are my favorite in novels. With themes covering imperfect faith, grace, broken families, cancer and its effects, good out of pain, purpose and worth in life, marriage, sibling relationships, and more, it reaches deep.

“Perspective can change everything.”

And, of course, there are the numerous (appropriate and entertaining) Austen references that Katherine Reay is often known for. I particularly love how she weaved the importance and impact of literature into this book.

There is a romantic thread through this book, but the book remains focused more on sibling relationships, real love (not just romantic love), and finding out what to rely on. I highly recommend giving this one a read.

What book have you read recently that made you pause and think and feel?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2015)

Brokenness Turned into Trust {Book Review – The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert}

I’ve talked on this blog about every single Katie Ganshert book currently published. And I’m going to keep talking.

Tomorrow (on April 21st!), Katie’s fourth novel releases into this world, The Art of Losing Yourself (Waterbrook, 2015).

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2015)

This contemporary fiction novel introduces us to Carmen Hart, her husband Ben, and her troubled half-sister, Gracie Fisher. Carmen seems to have perfect life as a well-respected local TV meteorologist, but, as most of us know, nobody really has a conflict-less life. The novel deals with Carmen’s struggle over losing her family’s old inn, watching her admired Aunt Ingrid’s mind slip, working for the close bond she and her husband once had, and figuring out how to help her sister.

In the midst of Carmen’s perspective, we also get to read chapters from Gracie’s perspective. As a teenager who has dealt with more than she should’ve with an alcoholic mother, Gracie has issues of her own. But her inner dialogue helps all of us see that what one shows on the exterior doesn’t always reflect all of the inner turmoil occurring.

The first two pages drew me in with such emotion and powerful writing about miscarriages. We are thrust right into Carmen’s conflicts. Then, over the next several chapters, we learn more about Carmen, Ben, Gracie, Elias, Ingrid, and more. Gracie’s story kept me whispering to myself “one more chapter” often in the first half of the book. Then, as Carmen and Gracie’s stories intertwined more and more, I was so involved in the world that I was thinking about it even when the book wasn’t in my hands.

Katie weaves intriguing analogies throughout her story, including Gracie’s love for random facts and knowledge of the common emotional associations of different colors. Carmen often thinks on Mary Poppins references, which Katie writes so realistically that it just makes sense to include as we learn about Carmen’s character.

I love when books ask real questions about faith, as this book does often, including on page 151:

“…how do you know it’s God talking and not just your conscience?” (Gracie)

“Who’s to say our conscience isn’t one of the ways He talks to us?” (Elias)

How many of us have thought this same question? Multiple Bible studies exist focusing on this topic, so it’s obviously one of need.

This book considers trust, love (between sisters, friends, and more), the work a relationship requires, entropy, dementia, miscarriages, school culture, teenage growth, navigating friendships, relying on others, filling our holes with Truth, and more. While that seems like a lot for one book, this is one of the things Katie does so well: she writes about real life in a real way. (Bonus: the book doesn’t wrap every single conflict up in a perfect conclusion…because whose life does?)

quote from The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

I read The Art of Losing Yourself in less than 48 hours, but I’ll be thinking about it much, much longer than that. I also highly recommend mothers (or older sisters) and teenage daughters reading this together because of the two distinct perspectives represented here.

Check out The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert at your local bookstore, favorite online retailer, or library. Also stop by Katie’s website for behind-the-scenes information on the book and characters and more. (I love how Katie compiles these fun facts for all her books!)

For more about Katie and her books:

  • Read my review of Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers from Winter, here.
  • Read my review of Katie’s second novel, Wishing on Willows, here.
  • Read my review of Katie’s third novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful, here.
  • Read a fun interview I did with Katie two years ago here.
  • Visit Katie’s website.

Which of the themes in this novel do you think you would relate to the most?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.