Tag Archives: trust

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

A Fix-It Girl Reads About a Fix-It Girl {Book Review – A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay}

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

My thoughts:

See how “fix-it girl extraordinaire” is listed in that first sentence above from the publisher’s back copy? That’s how I knew I’d at least be able to relate to some of Emily Price’s inner workings as I read this fun, yet layered novel.

We meet Emily as she’s just arrived in Atlanta on a new art restoration job and at the same time meet brothers, Joseph and Ben. Hints of backstory are dropped here and there, but we are fully in the present as we witness differing personalities between the brothers and Emily realizing how she may be able to help both at her job and at the Joseph’s aunt and uncle’s restaurant.

As we follow along, we see that Emily’s want to help and fix things is fantastic in the art world, but sometimes becomes overbearing or a burden in other aspects of life, like with her sister Amy. Broken relationships abound both in Emily’s family and in Ben and Joseph’s, and this is part of what makes the story realistic and easy to both follow and relate to.

I love how the setting transfers from Atlanta to Italy, and we as readers get to witness some of the author’s lovely descriptions of sunflowers, of small Italian villages, of art once beautiful and ready to shine again. The descriptions of art restoration are lovely, full of questions and perspective from Emily’s point of view, and readers without art knowledge (like myself) can still be captivated.

The romance is a whirlwind one that might bring some readers out of the story for a moment wondering how realistic it could be, but the author makes it work, partially by leaving it imperfect yet a place for grace. Readers will love Lucio and many of the other side characters and both cheer for and be challenged by the more difficult relationships and sometimes slower (yet realistic) growth. One of Emily’s most important trials is learning, when the time is right, to sit with others in a pain rather than attempt to fix it and that’s a guide for all of us.

Oh, and after you read it, please come back here and tell me what you think of page 264 because that was one of my very favorite pages.

A Portrait of Emily Price is intriguing, thoughtful, and lovely, and is among my favorites of Katherine’s books. (My favorite favorite is Lizzy and Jane!)

Check out Katherine’s other books, including Dear Mr. KnightleyLizzy and Jane (which I reviewed here) and The Bronte Plot (which I reviewed here), and read more about Katherine on her website.

What is one of your favorite novels that includes either international travel or broken families (or both)?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author as a part of the launch team. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

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.

Proverbs 2-6

Theology and Trust

This month at Do Not Depart, we’re studying why sound theology matters for everyday people in everyday lives.

Sometimes understanding doesn’t mean knowledge.
Sometimes faith doesn’t mean seeing.
And sometimes trust doesn’t mean knowing the answers first.

Join me at Do Not Depart for a look at how theology and trust work together as we look at Proverbs 2 (and a few other verses), and please come share how you trust even when you may not understand.

Proverbs 2-6

A book review of What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Fear, Focus, and Trust in our Dreams {Book Review – What Keeps You Up at Night? By Pete Wilson}

I’ve read a few of Pete Wilson’s books now, and they always blend encouragement with conviction, personal stories with biblical ones, and reminders with love.

His newest book, What Keeps You Up at Night? How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams (Thomas Nelson, 2015) keeps up with Pete’s recognizable tone.

A book review of What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

This book is really about fear, focus, and trust.

Fear stops most of us from chasing our dreams, even the ones we’re sure God placed in our hearts.

Focus allows us to progress in our dreams. Focus on the tasks at hand, yes, but also constantly renewed focus on God and His heart for our lives.

Trust is a big one. Trust that God understands our hearts (He created them!) and acts for good.

“The faithfulness of God is stronger than whatever fears or challenges are holding you back.” – p. 44

Pete Wilson is a good storyteller, and he hears and experiences a lot of stories as pastor of Cross Point. He uses this skill to both notice powerful stories and then relate them to his readers as examples of biblical truths and wisdom and evidence of a present God.

This book won’t tell you what your ultimate God-given dreams are, but it does help readers see reasons to focus and trust. In a world where we’re often told we have to pave on our paths—totally on our own—Pete reminds us that God is constantly with us and community offers a solid journey.

“What if we were to think of depending on God not as the absence of strength, but, rather, as the presence of courage?” – p. 62

His approachable tone makes this a good read for people of varied situations and backgrounds. While readers may not come away with totally clear steps for their specific dreams, this book reminds us all that we play a part in a much bigger story, which helps reframe and remind us of our focus, no matter what our circumstances and dreams are.

How have you seen God’s presence in your dreams and steps in your life?

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

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies 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.

Summer's List by Anita Higman (River North, 2015)

When Adorkable Saves the Day {Book Review – Summer’s List by Anita Higman}

I love when I find characters within a book that essentially kick the story’s “rating” up. Such is the case with one character in particular in Summer’s List by Anita Higman (River North, 2015).

Summer's List by Anita Higman (River North, 2015)

About the book (from the publisher):

Summer’s List (River North, June 2015)

A dying wish alters the course of a young woman’s life.

Life hadn’t been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness—caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother’s bookstore—she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love . . . didn’t turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something—or someone.

Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer’s past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

This is first book I’ve read from this author, and I particularly enjoyed the characters she portrayed. The opening scene from this book isn’t all the way believable for the situation and Summer’s awareness of Elliot’s character, and at times, there are a few too many internal questions that “tell” the story more than “show” it, but this book won me over beginning around Chapter 7 and the introduction of Martin.

Martin would likely be a great candidate for being a prime example of “adorkable.” From the minute he was described and the subsequent references to hobbits and Tolkein’s Middle Earth, I knew I’d love the character. The book also begins telling a few chapters from Martin’s point of view (alternating with Summer’s perspective).

This book did a wonderful job incorporating several deeper themes, like abandonment, trust (both in people and in God), lasting friendships, authentic relationships, the damage of hatred, mental illness, redemption, and forgiveness. Summer’s relationship with her grandmother is heartwarming, and relatable for anyone’s attachment to family through hardship.

If your preference is for less “preachy” books, be aware that this book does include a few “preachy” parts, but relatable characters and an interesting plot make this an enjoyable read.

What “adorkable” characters have you read and loved lately?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger program 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.

Hearts Made Whole - Jody Hedlund

Forgiveness of All Kinds {Book Review – Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund}

Jody Hedlund’s historical fiction romance novels always include a romantic plotline along with a few other relatable themes woven in, and the second book in the “Beacons of Hope” series, Hearts Made Whole (Bethany House, 2015), continues this format.

Hearts Made Whole - Jody Hedlund

In Hearts Made Whole, the reader follows Caroline Taylor in Michigan in 1865 as she acts as the lightkeeper of Windmill Point Lighthouse after her father’s death and takes care of her four younger siblings. Ryan Chambers enters the scene, newly appointed as the lighthouse replacement after returning from the Civil War. (Readers of the first in this series, Love Unexpected, will remember Ryan Chambers as Emma’s brother.) Ryan quickly realizes he isn’t fit for the lightkeeping job, nor does he want to boot out Caroline and her family, but women aren’t supposed to keep jobs like lightkeeping. This storyline among other supporting plots create a high-conflict book.

Jody always knows how to keep the conflict ramped up in a book and continued to do so in this book. Just when you think a conflict will be resolved, another issue douses the victory. As always, the historical details and settings fascinate me as much as (and sometimes more than) the plotline. This book addresses themes of trust, forgiveness (between siblings, friends, and enemies), healing, looking to God for strength and sustenance rather than objects or people, women’s rights, and seeking truth.

Ryan’s character was my favorite in this book. He exuded not only charm, but had a realness and relatable brokenness to him that allows the reader to empathize with his struggles and cheer for his developing strength and healing. Caroline also had past brokenness to overcome, and both experienced trials and growth in their faith journeys.

I wasn’t fond of the character of Tessa, Caroline’s sister, but could see hints of change in the last few chapters. This should make for an interesting start to the next book in the series, which looks like it will follow Tessa’s story.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction and Christian romantic fiction, you’ll continue to enjoy this series.

Jody is also hosting a Facebook party for the release of this book tonight (June 23rd) at 7pm Central! Details here.

"She might have darkness in her life...but God was still bright and unchanging behind the clouds." - from Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

I always love reading an author’s note to find out what’s based on truth in a historical fiction novel. Do you read the author’s notes?

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 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.