An INSPY Book Review during #CFSRS20 | Diving into the Coastal Hearts series by Janet W. Ferguson whilst reading “Magnolia Storms”

Posted Friday, 7 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

#CFSRS20 readathon badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been participating in the Christian Fiction & Clean Reads Reading Safari readathon for the past three years now. I have found the readathon to be personally enriching as it is a wonderful month of respite for book bloggers who want to focus on reading outside their blog schedules and tuck into the gentler side of fiction which is Inspirational Fiction (ie. INSPY). A portion of INSPY is Christian Fiction however, INSPY overall encompasses all faiths and religious backgrounds as it is faith-inspired literature. As a participant of the readathon – each reader moves through the event at their own pacing – seeking stories to read, authors to get to know socially online and reading the stories which interest them throughout the readathon. As you participate there is a chance you can win a book or several throughout the month. This year I am reading a mixture of stories I’ve won during past CFSRS readathons, stories I’ve won through bookaways with Christian Fiction authors or bloggers as well as stories on my shelf from my personal library as well as borrowing INSPY stories in print and audio from my local libraries.

I won a bookaway during #CFSRS18 wherein I received a copy of “Magnolia Storms” direct from the author Janet W. Ferguson which she happily surprised me with inscribing! I was not obligated to post a review on behalf of this novel and have elected to do so for my own edification as well as continuing to share my bookish and readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: The Press Materials seen on this book review were courtesy of the author’s Media Kit and are used with permission of the author as stated on her page.

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Why I wanted to read this story:

I have been wanting to read this lovely ever since it first arrived – however, the past few years have been unique years wherein what I have wanted to read hasn’t always aligned with the ability to read the stories. I attempted to start reading the books I had won during the first year of the readathon last July – however, try as I had – something always pulled me away. I was just thankful I was able to read any INSPY last July as it seemed like the month was taking me up in its tides and not allowing me the grace to settle into the stories which give my heart such an uplift to read.

This year, about two months ahead of the readathon (or as I thought it would be – as I hadn’t known it was switched from July to August until the end of June) I started pulling the stories off my shelves I felt I might be inclined to read this year. I had more than enough to choose from as INSPY Lit is one of my favourite areas of literature to explore – as seen on my 70 Authors Challenge and through my Story Vault wherein I house my review archives. I knew I was going to read more Love Inspired this year – both Contemporary & Suspense whilst I had a few blog tours in August for Harlequin Heartwarming & Love Inspired respectively – however, I wasn’t going to count those in my readathon goals. I like to use the readathon to read the stories already in my personal library, won in bookaways and/or which can become borrowed through my local libraries in either audio or print; whilst seeking out INSPY Fiction on Scribd in audiobook as well.

What first drew my eye into the premise of ‘Magnolia Storms’ when I requested it as one of my book choices in [2018] was the fact this was rooted in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina and storm seasons in the Gulf. Being a traveller during Katrina and having had many conversations with the evacuating families who were fleeing out of its path who had found themselves where I had been at the time in Birmingham, Alabama was quite the experience. Most were on their way back to Louisiana, others were going west to either Colorado or Houston, Texas whilst others were staying in Birmingham as they were given a warm welcome. I couldn’t blame them – it was a friendly city.

Storms in any variety are a part of our everyday lives – they bring destruction and they bring a kind of wrath that is hard to understand. They have after effects that are felt long and wide after a storm has passed. Look at the cities decimated by tornadoes every year and you will see how powerful and how hard it is to find mercy in the dawn after those storms have passed. Hurricanes like their tornado cousins cause emotional trauma and personal loss.

I used to read and watch a lot of natural disaster stories – for reasons which are elusive to me, however several pushed me a bit over the edge of what I could handle – especially if it involved flash flooding, earthquakes, wildfires or a deluge of tornadoes. I had had my fill at the time and only recently re-watched one of my favourites which was about tornadoes affecting a power plant [Atomic Twister] which started Mark Paul Gosselaar and Sharon Lawrence – as it was available for free via Roku. It was hard to believe how terrifying it was all over again and how hard it was to watch one of the team sacrifice his own life to save everyone else when it come to going into the contaminated room to give the team more time to save the plant.

This first novel of the Coastal Hearts series felt like a beautiful segue into Realistic INSPY Fiction which combines the drama of living in today’s world as we each face the different (and complicated!) storms which set to unravel our internal and external worlds. It is how we choose to rise through those unforeseen adversities which seek to challenge our perspectives on life and how we want to be living – but with faith, hope and a bit of grit to get through those challenging hours – we can all seek solid ground on the other side of the ‘storms’. This is why I wanted to read “Magnolia Storms” and this year is the best year I believe for me to ‘meet’ the story as who hasn’t been shuffling their own sea of storms crashing ashore this 2020?

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Magnolia Storms novel Photography Credit: ©

Magnolia Storms
Subtitle: A Coastal Hearts novel
by Janet W. Ferguson
Source: Won a Bookaway

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Meteorology, Realistic Fiction, Southern Lit, Sweet Romance, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780997658767

on 20th August, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 280

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The Coastal Heart series:

Magnolia Storms(book one)

Falling for Grace(book two)

The Art of Rivers (book three)

Star Rising (book four)

Published by: Southern Sun Press

Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #INSPYRomance, #INSPYbooks,
as well as #SouthernLit and #CoastalHearts

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7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This story received my award for Best INSPY Contemporary Romance.

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About Janet W. Ferguson

Janet W. Ferguson

Janet W. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

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a notation about the author’s foreword:

I couldn’t agree more – about how there are certain moments in our collective living histories we all remember specific fixtures of where time stood still and humanity had to find a way to react and/or to grieve through the moments which defined not just that one singular moment in history but how the effect of that moment would reverberate for years yet to come. Collectively we all consider the year 2020 another marked moment in time where everyone globally not just nationally were affected by the pandemic and the effects of what that did to our way of living, our health and our outlook on our economic futures. Yet, as the Ms Ferguson was talking about Hurricane Katrina which arrived on the 29th of August, 2005, I for one, knew that that was a day everyone would remember for quite a long time afterwards. Not just for the power of the hurricane but what it did to the city of New Orleans and how it reshaped a historic socioeconomic section of the South.

I still remember the first responders and the electric companies who were caravanning on the interstates and highways – attempting to get to NOLA and to aide the recovery efforts. You can learn a lot about travelling on the highways of America – you see America in a different ray of light and sometimes, you’re travelling during one of those marked moments which become part of the collective memory of a singular event which affected so many in its aftermath.

I, too, remember what it was like to travel through Katrina affected cities – as everything West of Mobile still carries a swarth of its destructive reminder about how nature can erase everything we know and hold dear within a blink of a nanosecond. Hurricanes and tornadoes share that in common – they cause such a widespread chaotic destructive path – the effects of their presence in our lives are not just hard-hitting but the unrelenting strength of their brute force in our lives is hard to reconcile.

I give Ms Ferguson credit to take such a well-known storm and to attempt to write a story which will uplift the survivors and the people who were left behind with unquestionable loss. This note she left for us in the novel only reinforced why I originally wanted to read this story and I am thankful I can read it this week – as the latest Tropical Storm is snaking its way northward against the Atlantic Coast as it first struck south of Wilmington, North Carolina before moving North by Northeast into the upper regions of New England and the Maritimes of Canada. These storms are a part of our lives – we cannot ever quite prepare for what they can inflict on our lives but we can reaffirm our conviction to rise through the adversities they bring into our lives and find the grace of mercies given to those who continue to survive these storms and rebuild their lives.

my review of magnolia storms:

You can feel the intensity of Magnolia’s growing fears about the coming storm – a new development in the Gulf echoing memories of Katrina are not how she had foreseen this particular November to go down. Who would? That is the one consistency with these kinds of storms – there is no direct pattern to their madness nor an easy way to explain why they come when they do and vacate our lives soon after their ‘season’ concludes. Anyone who is fond of metrological news and has sat on channels like Weather Nation or The Weather Channel can gain a foothold of knowledge into how weather is both forecasted and studied. The study of weather and climate is never-ending because of how each is constantly evolving and changing right before our eyes. I definitely felt Magnolia starting to spin internally – because what if this was the next Katrina? Sadly, that day arrived when Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle in 2018 – a year after this novel was published.

I instantly knew what was running through Maggie’s (the nickname Magnolia goes by) mind – whenever you are the bearer of an emergency phone call – you put yourself into action and think of the repercussions of the emergency later. You might be able to take a pause to pray but sometimes, life doesn’t wait for you to sort through your thoughts and your emotions; sometimes you have to pray you have both the courage and the strength to tackle whatever life is going to throw your way – such as how Maggie knew instantly she would be whom her niece needed right now despite her own fears about the approaching storm.

It has been awhile since I’ve read about life on the sea – though this is one of the first Contemporaries as I generally read Historicals which talk about life at sea. In this regard, I was quite gobsmacked to find out how hard it is to transfer a pilot to a ship which needs his skill set during a less than ideal situation in the Gulf (of Mexico). Ferguson excelled at giving us a nail biter of a situation to process so soon after meeting Maggie! I realised we needed to better understand her man lead Josh but my goodness! The job the bloke has is one that is for the books! You truly have to be the kind of bloke who has no fear about such things – as it would be too hard to do this kind of a job if you were holding onto fear especially when your swaying between ships on choppy seas!

I think the best way to shell shock your Aunt is to have your ten year old niece in full charge of their three year old neighbor whilst there is a medical emergency in the family involving an accident with her Mum! The look on Maggie’s face when she encountered Dahlia taking care of JD is priceless but so are the harder truths which spilt out of Dahlia admitting whose son this was and how entangled Maggie’s sister and Aunt Ruth were in the co-raising of the child. Sometimes life has a way of redirecting your path and this was surely true for Maggie who was suddenly finding herself in quite the pickle of knowing what to address first.

By the time Maggie gets to the hospital her heart has lurched itself into the Gulf awaiting the storm she has become so afeared over that she’s losing the ability to focus on just what is happening with her sister because she has PTSD like symptoms of where the previous storm Katrina has cast a shadow over her mind wherein she cannot separate one storm from another because each new storm is a firm reminder of the former. As you stay with her, Aunt Ruth and Dahlia at the hospital awaiting news about her sister Cammie, you are drawing close to why psychological and emotionally Maggie is off-kilter at the height of this new emergency. I felt Josh said it best – some families go through too much too fast and to add another burden on top of the rest seems cruel and yet, none of us can predict how life will shift forward. A credit to Maggie – her fierce and stubborn nature is what gives her the grit she needs to survive but I also know that she needs to find a way to release a lot of that extra baggage she’s holding onto because it has a grip on our soul and not in a healthy way!

As Maggie sees how streamlined her sister Cammie’s life is with Josh – wherein how symbiotic their agreement became to exchange childcare and to be the kind of neighbours who look out for each other – I had a feeling it was allowing Maggie to replay the past moreso than focus on the present. She had her sea of regrets as did Josh and both of them were being reminded of that past and their choices within it each time they had to face each other anew. Uniquely, it was a bit cheeky to say I found myself smirking more than once but its the truth! I mean, Maggie has this edge about her whenever she’s round Josh – she cannot let him off the hook for the past and yet, she cannot deny he’s needed in the present. It is interesting to watch how they both spar off on each other and find ways to help each other at the same time. Even if on Maggie’s end of it its more out of a sense of duty than out of a grateful heart.

The complications ensue – Maggie is torn between the past and the present in a cyclic spiral of unresolved angst and grief whilst Josh is comfortable with the life he has currently forged in Maggie’s sister’s world that he doesn’t want to uproot what he’s established. Yet, for me, I felt there was a rekindling between the two sweethearts – Maggie was refusing to allow herself to believe it was possible to have feelings for Josh, a credit to her survivor’s instincts in life but for Josh, it was harder for him to bypass those emotions because of how much love he saw bubbling out of Maggie’s time spent with his son JD. In that regard, a lot can be said for what can be observed rather than what can become articulated with words.

Cammie I felt was an incredible character overall – she had the full weight of the world on her shoulders and still, even from the hospital she was able to draw a well of strength I wished for Maggie. She was given a hard left turn in life and yet, instead of dissolving into that twist of fate she choose to rise through it and listen to a quieter calm to recovery. In that, I felt Cammie had such a wonderful voice for a character who was attempting to take life as it came but not allow the adversities of her life turn her bitter or hardened in the heart. She had every right to feel that way too but for Cammie I felt she took one challenge after another and would refuse to throw in the towel even if a larger storm started to brew and chase after her – she simply had that gumption about her and was a fierce warrior of a woman!

This is a slow burning second chance romance wherein Ms Ferguson graces us with the realities of sorting through your emotions as life affords you a second chance with the one person you might have let go but of whom is truly the one who compliments you through and through. The passage concluding the eleventh chapter into the twelfth wherein Maggie has an instantaneous response to something Josh does and how he internally reacts to the shared unexpected moment himself is a blissful reckoning of souls wherein two persons realise at the same time what ‘could have been’. It is one of the best writ moments like this between two characters and I loved the moment it evoked for them and for us as readers!

That’s the rub of it isn’t it? The human condition – the way our minds play havoc on our sense of the past? The war between our conscience and our forgiving soul wherein it is hard to resolve what cannot be articulated into words because its felt by the grieving heart? Ferguson tucks you close into this kind of war in spirit waging itself inside Maggie – giving you a personal glimpse into why holding a grudge, carrying the emotional baggage of the past and finding distance from others more of a solace than self-forgiveness and the forgiveness of others. It is a hard look at how faith can take a backseat when the soul is disappointed on such a gutting level and where the conscience has a harder time reconciling the past when events go against the prayers of the person who survived the event(s). Faith is hard to hold onto in the better times due to how maddingly difficult life is on a good day but to hold onto your faith during the storms of life? This is where Ferguson excels in taking her readers into a realistic INSPY Contemporary such as Magnolia Storms to walk in Maggie’s shoes as she seeks the mercy and grace she has chosen to deny herself through the years.

Aunt Ruth is the voice of reason but it was an unexpected secondary character who acted as the catalyst of bringing change into Maggie’s heart. Yet, it was the faithful patience of Josh which endears you the most – he’s a bit ahead of Maggie in sorting out a way forward from their past and it warms you knowing how much he cares to wait for her to come to her own realisations about everything she finds hard to discuss. He has more going for him than what can be gleamed on the surface and he has a lot more depth to him than I think even Maggie gave him credit for as well. She was only seeing things from her own perspective, which is valid, but at some point you have to hear the other person out – for closure, for an alterative perspective and for a compassionate route towards finding grace.

I wasn’t sure what would prompt Maggie to take stock of herself and the ways in which she had approached living her life these past years through the trauma and the heartache as she was far overdue for a day of soul searching and personal reckoning. When I arrived in the moment of Ferguson presenting us with the ‘reveal’ of what stirred Maggie’s spirit, I must admit, I was grateful for her choice! It might seem an obvious route to take but in today’s Contemporary INSPY it isn’t always the case as generally it is a thread of a character’s arc coming to this realisation via another character’s conversation, an internal moment of respite of the lead character or a catacysmic event which redirects the person’s trajectory – truly anything other than the route Ferguson took Maggie and I was thankful she brought us back to what originally causes these kinds of internal transformations. As it is a very believable moment of what first evokes a prickling of change inside the heart and mind of Magnolia!

Although I only observed Katrina via the newsreels and constant updates on weather channels (same as everyone else) or heard first hand accounts by those who evacuated (before or after the storm) – I felt overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of how far reaching the effects of Katrina had taken against the people who lived where the storm came ashore. It literally redirected lives and diverted dreams; it shattered everyone’s sense of security and left chaos in its wake. I immediately felt empathy for everyone directly involved – how could you not? – whilst knowing full well how long it would take to heal, recover and feel unburdened by the memories of Katrina. I had a small insight into their process towards that newfound peace as I met a family who relocated after Andrew – different storms, different states but their story was the same and so were their scars.

To read Magnolia Storms is to take a personal journey into the living experience of those affected by hurricanes and natural disasters; to the stories behind the headlines and to the living reality of what it is like to have to consistently face your internal war of fear, doubt and uncertainty about how to live the day after your world implodes. In other words, Ferguson doesn’t paint Maggie as suffering from PTSD due to Katrina but she gives you this impression because Maggie has emotionally and psychologically never moved forward since Katrina. Ferguson doesn’t take any shortcuts in how she tells Maggie’s story and she had the intuitive grace to write Josh’s character at a different junction of healing than Maggie. He had his own issues (everyone has some) to work through but in regards to what was haunting Maggie, he was in the clear. Part of that had to do with their different personalities and their different ways of dealing with traumatic stress and loss; Ferguson owns her choices in how to tell their conjoined story whilst giving her readers an emotionally deep novel to ruminate over long after they’ve put the book down.

Especially in how full our lives are with small mercies and miracles in the midst of our ordinary lives wherein we think nothing extraordinary is happening at all. And, that’s the beauty of this series – of tucking close to examining our own faith-filled lives and re-seeing the lessons we’ve learnt as we’ve grown and the ways in which our own outlook and perspective on both life and death has shaped our attitude and our instinct to survive. Life is more than the obstacles we must face and is filled with a foundation of experiences to give us the chance to see what we cannot understand otherwise and yet, through it all, our faith must be resolute and built on the hope of what is not yet known.

Blessedly, Ferguson has kindly kept her series realistically grounded in the layers of our a contemporary believer goes through all the ups and downs of their walk in faith. From the assuredness of it to the questionable doubts which well up inside our soul the harder life becomes through our adversities. We can choose our attitudes in the height of those unforeseen storms inasmuch as we can choose how we live after them; whilst at the same time, it is rightly fitting to read a novel about one woman who wasn’t sure if she had been standing on solid ground or a rocky cliff wherein her walk of faith had to lengthen a bit in order for her soul to grow.

A note on a lesson at the heart of ‘Magnolia Storms’ from Scripture:

This is a story which touches on aspects of a faith-lived life which centers on the probable afflictions of a believer’s soul and heart as they navigate the after effects of personal loss, traumas and tragedies. In essence, it is a story of faith itself and of how through our humanity and our personal quirks and reactions to life as it is lived – how a soul can find both solace and peace out of the storms of life. To see how Ferguson brought this parable to life and how she cross-referenced it with gentle touches of reference from the Bible was an artful glimpse into how INSPY can become a beautiful niche of Women’s Fiction.

on the contemporary & realistic inspy styling of janet w. ferguson:

What I loved most about how Ferguson approached writing the opening novel for this series is how realistically authentic it felt about how she wrote the emotional drama percolating behind the scenes as they were unfolding. It is one thing to speak the truths about what those hidden emotional scars could elude to after Katrina but Ferguson found a way to knit us closer to those realities and to those wounds which survivors might still be reckoning to resolve even today. Our minds have long memories for things which devastate our lives and erase the familiarity of what made living a life worthwhile. Pain and loss take time to reconcile but when your constantly on edge about the ‘next’ storm which could approach your region, I would imagine it would be soul wrecking to find your own sense of balance and to re-affirm a bit of normalcy in order to move forward. Ferguson tucks you close to what is affecting her characters’ both internally and externally to give a sense of depth and perception about where we are entering their lives but also to feel their emotions and their unresolved angst.

Each INSPY author chooses to show how faith can be integral to a person’s life and how living a faith-lived life will look like through the telling of a story through a novel. I truly admired the instincts Ferguson was using – especially at the very beginning wherein we find Maggie (ie. Magnolia) trying to calm herself down with a short and direct prayer in the car. It is those small moments of ordinary complications which root you in the contemporary feel of the novel – because life happens in a blink and sometimes a shorter prayer is better than feeling you can’t settle your mind on one at all. The stories which tuck us close to the character’s journey through their moment of adversity and how they leant on their faith to shift through that adversity are the stories I enjoy the most to read.

I liked how she kept the children in the story (Cammie’s daughter Dahlia, age ten and Josh’s son JD age three) to be believable for their ages. To oft I find authors trying to accelerate a child’s age in a story or have them talk in a way that seems older than their years. Blessedly in Magnolia Storms the children sound and act like their ages which is wicked wonderful. They also add to the context of the story and have insight of their own to impart to the adults which makes this feel like a homespun INSPY at the height of an emergency crashing through one family whose still trying to find healing from their traumatic past.

In the background of the timeline of this story, we have weather and climate metaphoric revelations etching out through how Maggie views her life, the moments therein and how climatically there is a cycle to both life and weather. Concurrent to this are heartwarming passages wherein Ferguson ties her continuity and nuanced in-story references together as well. She has a way of tucking into the quieter moments of a story in the same vein as Hope Floats (the film) – little moments other authors might have omitted or overlooked to include – such as the repeat aroma of a spilled dinner on the floor of Maggie’s car.

I’ve been a subscriber of her author’s newsletter since [2018] and I am so very thankful I am! I also have been following her feeds on Twitter as well. The beauty of this Christian Fiction Reading Safari is the joyful celebrations of finding which authors and their stories are connecting with your own bookish heart. For me, Janet W. Ferguson now joins my shortlist of favourite INSPY Contemporary novelists – in company with Dee Henderson (see also Review); Brenda S. Anderson (see also Reviews); Lisa Wingate (see also Review); Kellie Coates Gilbert (see also Review); Rachel Hauck (see also Review); Becky Wade (see also Reviews); Brandy Bruce (see also Reviews) and Irene Hannon (of whom I’ve begun to read her Hope Harbour series). As well as my favourites from Love Inspired Suspense of whom I haven’t yet blogged about in full: Laura Scott, Lisa Harris, Patricia Davids, Diane Burke and Lenora Worth!

She takes you wholly into this world she’s created in the Coastal Hearts series and lets you live and breathe it the entire time you’re entrenched into the story itself. I love her for it because it becomes a story which etches into your own memory as one you might’ve lived yourself! Definitely one of my beloved #unputdownable reads for 2020 and a favourite new author!

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I was dearly motivated to continue to reading the Coastal Hearts series which is why I included the third and fourth book on my potential bookaway lists for #CFSRS20!! I am not sure if I’ll win a book this year or not, or even if I have a chance to win one if I’ll be the first to request one of hers but if I do and can, I’ll try! I had hoped the sequel to this one Falling for Grace was available to request but I didn’t see it listed. I’m not sure if this is a continuity series or one which is a setting series instead – wherein, each story stands alone but the setting remains the same? Either way – if I were to win a second novel by Ms Ferguson I’ll count my blessings this August!!

This readathon is my personal vacation every Summer – as I’ve not been able to take a holiday in more than four years and even that had a reason behind it. I cherish this particular readathon as for me its more about the journey of discovery (authors, stories) than winning the books. Thus, if and when I win one (or several) I am humbled by the blessing and am grateful to Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books for continuing to host!

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Realistic Topics: 

It should be noted – this story deals with traumatic loss due to Cancer (though not in-line with the current timeline of the story), a tragic accident involving potential paralysis (in-line) and the mental health of the lead characters – specifically for Magnolia (ie. Maggie) who presents PTSD symptoms of having survived Hurricane Katrina but with a humbling loss out of the wake of that storm. There is also single parenthood situations being addressed which I was quite fond of as I love finding realistic stories which feature single parents (both men and women) as there are many different kinds of families and non-conventional families need to be seen more in Contemporary Fiction (mainstream and INSPY alike). Whereas my interest in single parenthood stories also stems from the fact I am going to be adopting children from foster care in the future as a single Mum.

Each time Ferguson addresses one of the heavier topics of the story, she does so with both grace and keen insight into how to present these obstacles for her characters with the humility of their flaws and the strength of their character’s resolve. She inserts the faithfulness of her character’s faith lives into the rhythm of the story as well – it is both gentle and organic in how it is presented rather than feeling forced or contrite.

In regards to walking pneumonia, I was quite happily surprised to see this included in the storyline because I had it myself when I was JD’s age or rather thereabouts as it afflicted me when I was in preschool. I don’t regularly find stories which talk about this or even meet people IRL who’ve had it at a young age either. So, on a personal note this was a bit of medical history I was thankful to find knitted into the background of the story!

This also marked my first story dealing with pilots on the Mississippi (River) and in the Gulf – the kind of work that is daringly brutal in the best of times and deadly in the worst! The passages involving Josh’s line of work are humbling in their feats of dangerous liaisons between pilot and ships whilst at the same time, the intriguing harmony of the rhythm of the river and sea. Ferguson takes you into this hidden world and uncorks it brilliantly.

On the multicultural heritage of Maggie:

As the novel first begins to develop and allow us into Maggie’s world, we find that she has a multicultural heritage – of which I had hoped might become a bit more fleshed out and spoken about but there are only small instances of it being revealled. I think in part because Maggie overall is a reserved woman – she keeps her personal life out of the public eye and one of her main struggles is sharing portions of herself with others as she would be introverted if she didn’t have a strong presence and character. I had hoped Ferguson might enlighten us more about the back-history of her family – as I dearly wanted to know more about Aunt Ruth as well. This is the kind of family drama you want to know more rather than less! Evenso, I loved what was shared as it felt rooted in the Southern Gulf States and celebrated the multicultural families who reside there.

I’d only have changed one thing:

It might sound silly but the 29th Chapter should have been called the Epilogue – it would have made the time shift more believable because Chapter 28 was truly where the novel ended.

And, why I appreciated what was at the very end of the novel:

love Epilogues and truly appreciated Author’s Note about Mississippi post-Katrina. I hadn’t realised she had blogged about the storm – over the years, I’ve eyed Magnolia Storms on my shelf but I didn’t get to pursue reading it until this August; when the right time for me to soak into the story arrived. Thereby I also have grown a bit lapse in keeping up with Ms Ferguson and visiting with her online. I am truly grateful I discovered her in [2018] through this readathon – as she has such a convicting, honest and raw spin on Contemporary INSPY Romances which lift our own hearts to read.

These antidotes and stories about Katrina from the memories of those who survived the storm was the best capstone for me as it anchoured what I heard in Birmingham and offered a different perspective as much of the people I spoke with had fled from the storm before it arrived; a few had staid on and then left and others had dealt with the storm in different ways than others as well. These stories and the ones I heard myself humble you because each is a testimony about how little we understand nature and how powerful the natural world is all round us. In the thick of it – those are the moments which also re-define our humanity by how we respond and how weathered we grow in our faith. How many of us have faced a challenge, an adversity or an unexpected crisis and have leant hard on our faith? This is a story for everyone who has soldiered through and come out the other end – in full grip of the Light and the promise of Tomorrow.

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This book review is part of my participation in #CFSRS20

Follow my readerly journey this August – as I read INSPY stories across my backlogue of reviews and through direct participation in the readathon itself. My announcement page is consistently being updated with links and the stories I am currently reading throughout the month. See if we share any mutually favourite authors and/or if we’ve been reading or have read the same stories. I’d love to know if your reading any INSPY stories this August – or if you have any recommendations for authors of INSPY Lit I should check out myself?

Whilst reading this story I was listening to the Snow Patrol Radio Playlist via #Spotify!

(*) The reason this was the best channel to play whilst reading this novel is because of how these kinds of songs have an emotional centering to them which reflects a story of the human spirit through the lyrics. Poignant and truthful – similar to how songs in the Country spectrum speak to the human condition & heart; so too, do the songs on this particular channel of interest – just in a different genre of music. Which made it a wicked good ‘fit’ for reading ‘Magnolia Storms’ as a perfect compliment!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!
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Yesterday marked an important milestone on Jorie Loves A Story –
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Add your congratulations and/or comment via this *thread on Twitter!
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In Closing,.. I had hoped to reveal my review for this lovely novel on my 6th Blog’s Birthday – however, due to circling lightning storms (courtesy of the past fortnight!) I’ve been having difficulty having enough time to blog and get my thoughts to screen without either being blinkered offline (see today’s tweet about it) OR having tech issues associated with lightning storms! Grr! Finally – I am pleased to share my ruminations on a story which kicked off my Christian Fiction Reading Safari month and gave me a wicked sweet #unputdownable read I shall not soon forget!!
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Thanks for continuing to take this journey with me!
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{SOURCES: The author biography and author photograph of Janet W. Ferguson were provided by the author’s Media Kit and are used with permission. Magnolia Storms novel Photography Credit: © LibraryThing banner provided by and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #CFSRS20 readathon badge, #JLASblog 7th Blog Birthday banner;  7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge (using Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo) and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 7 August, 2020 by jorielov in #CFSRS20, #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Christianity, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Mississippi, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Post-911 (11th September 2001), PTSD, Reading Challenges, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Single Mothers, Singletons & Commitment, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Sweet Romance, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, Trauma | Recovery in Hospital, Traumatic Injury, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Women's Fiction

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2 responses to “An INSPY Book Review during #CFSRS20 | Diving into the Coastal Hearts series by Janet W. Ferguson whilst reading “Magnolia Storms”

  1. Wow! What an amazing review!! Thank you so much for reading my story! To God be the glory! Where are you from originally? I notice your accent in your writing :)
    I’m thrilled you connected with my imaginary people and enjoyed them. They are a little real to me, ha!

  2. Hi Jorie, I’m glad that you found a new author for your shortlist! That is always a good feeling, especially if it’s in one of your favorite genres of books. When I started book blogging, I only had maybe two or three authors that were “I will read anything they write” kind of authors, and now I have at least a dozen!

    Natural disasters have always caught my attention when I see news reports or films that I have to watch, but they are also so scary. They are a constant reminder that we are so small compared to the wrath of nature, which can upheave the lives of an entire community overnight. Thinking about it now, I haven’t read any books that were about natural disasters or the aftermath, and I think it might be a genre I’d like to explore eventually.

    Magnolia Storms sounds like a wonderful book, books have a special way of capturing memory history on such huge events and it’s such an important story to tell with how catastrophic Katrina was. Thank you for sharing your review!

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