Mom's Shelf

Currently Reading...
Ever Faithful (Karen Barnett)
A man who can't read will never amount to anything--or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain "requirements." Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well. Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger's daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park's hotels, she still hasn't saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate's secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

What a beautiful blend of historical detail, scenic imagery, clean romance, and mystery!  All of the main characters have past tragedies and struggles to overcome, but they lean on each other and learn from each other.  I learned a lot about the history of Yellowstone and the CCC, which is always a bonus when reading a book.  Also, I thought that I knew who the culprit was, but turned out to be all wrong...which was a nice surprise!

Devotions from the Beach (Thomas Nelson)
Sand on warm skin, salty breeze in your hair, the crashing of waves in the distance, saltwater taffy, and a pace that takes its time . . . There's nothing quite like the warmth and relaxation of the beach, away from the stresses of everyday life. Devotions from the Beach is the winding road that takes you to a front-row seat to God's majestic creation. Breathe deeply and open your heart and soul to the One who shaped it all.  Devotions from the Beach includes beautiful four-color photography on every spread and 100 devotions that explore life's parallels with the elements of the shore—to help you see God, find hope, draw strength, and rest in the comfort of His arms throughout your day.

I was attracted to this book because of its beautiful cover and because it was about the beach...which is my ultimate happy place! All of the devotions have a coastal theme, and it's a great gift for any lover of nature and beauty. Each day begins with a Biblical passage, goes on to the short devotion, and then ends with a prayer. There are also interesting facts and tidbits about the coast! The beautiful, glossy, full-color pages, hardcover spine, and built-in bookmark round out the book's beauty, making it a nice gift option - even to yourself! I can't always get to the beach, but I can steal away, open the pages, and immerse myself for a few moments...

Restoration House (Kennesha Buycks)
Home is meant to be a place to belong. A place to gather and connect. A place of beauty. A place to restore your soul. Creating a restored home—the kind that you and your loved ones want to return to again and again—is as much about making everyone who enters feel cared for and comfortable as it is about creating a beautiful space.  In Restoration House, home decor and lifestyle guide Kennesha Buycks of Restoration House blog shows you how to embrace your home and your story as you create mindful spaces that give life to you, your loved ones, and all who enter.  With gorgeous photography and pages of practical tips for curating and decorating your home (even on a small budget) and welcoming others, Restoration House will help you make purposeful design decisions as you create renewing spaces for you to enjoy with family and friends.  Whether you live in your dream house or you’re still dreaming about it, you can feel at home in the home you have. 

What makes a home isn’t the Pinterest-perfect pictures that you’re able to create--it’s the love that’s felt within the walls.  This book is about that love and how to create a space that reflects it.  The author speaks from her heart, blending personal stories with tricks and tips from the interior design world.  She doesn’t expect readers to go buy a $1000 piece of furniture, but shows you how to make a tiny change that will have a big impact.  If you’re wanting a peaceful space that is inviting to friends and family, this book will help you to create that.
On a Summer Tide (Suzanne Woods Fisher)
Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. "Moving on" is Cam's mantra. But there's a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving. Cam's full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island--a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam's surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals--and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises. 

I loved it.  I hope there's another one that follows this to tell us how Kicking Moose turns out and follows the journey of the three sisters!  I have to give the author credit, many books as I read, I can usually tell how it's going to end by 50% through....but she really threw us for a loop there!  I wonder sometimes...did she know how it would end, from the start?  Or did the characters just take on a life of their own as the story progressed?  Vividly beautiful with scenes of summertime Maine, with the addition of a few kooky characters, a few despised ones, and some just plain lovable ones, make this a story you'll want to make time for on a lazy day...

The Tinderbox (Beverly Lewis)
With her Amish parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise--the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.  Sylvia's bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide. Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda's relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia's recent engagement to the preacher's grandson. Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

This is one of those books that I wanted to stew on a bit before writing a review.  It's not terribly deep or difficult to understand...nothing like that...but it has some poignant life messages tucked into the story.   It was actually a quick read, as you'll get sucked into the story behind the story....the main character opens something that doesn't belong to her, which turns out to be a veritable Pandora's Box.  Several of her family members, as well as others in the community and outside of it, are affected by her one small action.  At the story's end, several questions are still unresolved, leaving the reader with a sense of unfulfillment...this also leads to further stewing over what's happened and will happen.  It looks like there will be a sequel to this story.

Whose Waves These Are (Amanda Dykes)
In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.  Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.  She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea. 

This book wasn't what I'd expected, but it was still a very interesting read.  It's messy, it's complicated, and it plays out beautifully.   The main characters have created a web of secrets, dating back to World War 2, and so the text goes back and forth between modern-day and the past, but it has different tones and is not hard to follow.  The author does a great job of setting up the scene and using sensory-descriptive language to suck you in so that you experience the raw emotions alongside the characters!  One thing that was a little different for me was the perspective - it's written from third-person, rather than having a narrative, so that took some getting used to.  It wasn't what I'd expected -- it was so much better.

*I received some of these books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.*