Category: Minnesota

Book Review | “Pieces of Granite” (Prequel, Coming Home series) by Brenda S. Anderson Jorie happily returns to a series that touched her heart!

Posted Friday, 22 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I answered a call to become a member of Ms. Anderson’s Author Street Team which was posted on her blog in March 2014. She accepted me as part of her Street Team, whereby I am one of her early readers who has the opportunity to read her novels a bit ahead of their published release or just after their release date, whilst finding ways to talk about why I love reading her novels on my blog and Twitter feeds. I truly love championing her collective works as she’s writing wicked good INSPY fiction for today’s modern reader. I re-affirmed my commitment to her Street Team in July 2016, as I never truly left but my participation was on hold until this Summer. Most of my participation between 2014 and 2016 occurred on Twitter; you can still find my tweets threading through the twitterverse about the Coming Home series!

I received a complimentary copy of “Pieces of Granite” direct from the author herself, Brenda S. Anderson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein

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Why I personally love reading the Coming Home series:

When Ms. Anderson says she writes ‘gritty fiction’ she is referring to the fact she likes to dig deeper than the superficial layering of telling a story. She likes to go directly into a character’s soul and walk of faith, rooting out their emotional and psychological stability or instability if the case might be, in order to best show the growth and spiritual awakening they need to embark towards. For some it is a spiritual renewal and for others, it’s an awakening because they never gave themselves the proper credit towards understanding God in the first place. She breathes honesty and raw emotions into the context of her stories, and her vision for her characters is realistic humility in recognition of everyman’s faults, fragilities, and sensitivities. She organically digs deeper to tell a more compelling and openly captivating story which pulls you in from page one and does not leave your heart even after the last page is turnt; the story fully absorbed and known. She is most definitely an emerging voice in Inspirational Fiction to keep an eye out for new releases and a finger-tap on interlocking book series!

She maintains the spirituality of Christianity in a gentle way of allowing you to oversee the character going through the motions of returning to a God-centered life which is cross-referenced by light commentary of scriptures and affirmations of God’s grace. It is through the lessons of her character’s actions that the greatest arc of spirituality is found.

-quoted from my review of Chain of Mercy

I realise Ms Anderson softens her approach to writing the tone within the Where the Heart Is series which follows publication after the Coming Home series – however, what personally tethered me to her writerly core of heart initially was how honest she was to write an emotionally raw and convicting story-line about wicked real characters who were struggling to find a bridge through adversities and life-changing moments erupting through their ordinary hours. They were in the midst of changing who they were internally as much as spiritually – re-awakening themselves to mercy and forgiveness.

Her cardinal approach to cut a slice of life affirmative fiction into our readerly hours is a lift of joy to me as a reader, as these are the kinds of stories I love to find within the realms of today’s Contemporary INSPY! I also love how she follows her heart, penning stories that are a firm step outside the box of where Inspirational Fiction has the tendency to become a bit too predictably stagnant and re-writes how all INSPY writers can find fuller freedom in painting a portraiture of our everyday world.

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The Coming Home series by Brenda S. Anderson

 Converse via: #ComingHomeSeries + #ChainOfMercy + #PiecesOfGranite

PREQUEL: Pieces of Granite | December 2014

BOOK 1: Chain of Mercy | April 2014 | (see Review)

BOOK 2: Memory Box Secrets | April 2015 | (Synopsis)

BOOK 3: Hungry for Home | September 2015 | (Synopsis)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comWhen you first set out to write the Coming Home series did you envision each individual book in the series or has the series knitted together organically one story at a time?

Anderson responds: When I first started writing, I had no clue that I would end up with a four book series. Each book grew organically from the previous. I first wrote Chain of Mercy and realized that I actually had two stories in one, so that’s how Memory Box Secrets was born. The story expanded from there. Pieces of Granite came about because I kept hearing from agents and editors that female readers didn’t want to read a book about male issues, so I decided to create a story from the female perspective.

In Chain of Mercy, the hero (Richard) talks about a fight he’d had with his younger sister (Debbie), a rift he created when Debbie told him about her daughter having Down syndrome. I took Debbie’s story and expanded it. I wrote Finding Home because I left a few loose threads dangling at the end of Memory Box Secrets (that’s all the spoiler I’ll give!) I needed to address those threads properly.

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Read our full conversation

Read an Excerpt from Pieces of Granite

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On my two year absence on reviewing the Coming Home series:

I initially intended to read and review the books as they were releasing as an active member of the author’s Street Team, however, [2015] proved to be quite the difficult year for myself and my family. As previously reflected on my End of the Year Survey, 2015 – I even garnished a bit of a backlogue of reviews and titles I was seeking to read. I elected to focus on the stories I was able to read and remained hopeful the tides would turn to where I could reclaim the stories I was not yet able to greet against the page!

Thus, as 2016 started to unfold, I was hoping I could arrive inside a moment where I could lay heart and mind back inside this beautifully conceived Realistic INSPY series as my first reading of Chain of Mercy was such a powerful one, I was drawn immediately inside the vision Ms Anderson had for the series as a whole! I knew from that one reading, I would be forever grateful to be amongst the readers who not only sought out her collective works but could continue to find out what she drew together for these characters I had become so dearly attached too knowing more about!

It so happens, this Summer I felt was a renewing season for myself as a reader – where I could not only dig back inside the stories on my bookshelf I longed to soak inside but I could pull together stories on parallel themes that truly touch my spirit and heart as I am reading them. Be sure to watch for my upcoming reviews on behalf of stories of mumhood & alternative families: Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp this July, followed closely by Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby, Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey and Inconceivable by Tegan Wren in early August. As together with Pieces of Granite I am reflecting on all aspects of being a Mum and how family enters our lives whilst grounding us on a path that is a true blessing to be given.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: I personally love how Ms Anderson was able to get synchronicity and harmony with her cover art designs for the Coming Home series – she truly found designers who knew how to create a certain textural feel to the undercurrent thematic of the series but also, the level of hope within any story writ under the INSPY umbrella. I felt collectively they are an incredibly layered series creatively etched to mind through their covers and the choices wherein the story-lines are represented.

Book Review | “Pieces of Granite” (Prequel, Coming Home series) by Brenda S. Anderson Jorie happily returns to a series that touched her heart!Pieces of Granite
by Brenda S. Anderson
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Think-Cap Design Studios
Source: Direct from Author

A distressing diagnosis
A retreating husband
A prodigal brother
Debbie Verhoeven is not your typical woman.

• She sacrificed a counseling career to be a full-time mother
• She’d rather pound a nail than round steak
• Oprah? No way! Give her ESPN any day
• Nothing could be more stressful than scrap-booking

Nothing, except…
A distressing diagnosis,
A husband who is pulling away,
And two older brothers who refuse to get along
When the counselor is caught in the middle,
when she needs to be strong for those around her,
who is left to be strong for her?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780986214707

Also by this author: Brenda S. Anderson (Author Interview: Coming Home Series), Chain of Mercy, Brenda S. Anderson (Author Q&A: Pieces of Granite)

Also in this series: Chain of Mercy


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Motherhood | Parenthood, Realistic Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Vivant Press

Pages: 356

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Author Biography of Brenda S. Anderson

Brenda S. Anderson

Author Photo Credit: Portraits from the Heart

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (Go Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 28 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

Her debut novel, Chain of Mercy Book #1 in the Coming Home series, came out in April of 2014. Pieces of Granite the prequel to Chain of Mercy was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards released on November 18, 2014!

Official Author Websites:  Site | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pin(terest) Boards
Active in Book Blogosphere: Personal Blog
+ Guest Blogger @ Inkspirational Messages
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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.

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Posted Friday, 22 July, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Brenda S. Anderson's Blog, Brothers and Sisters, Christianity, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Down Syndrome, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Mid-West America, Minnesota, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Self-Published Author, Siblings, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Special Needs Children, Street Team for Author, Unexpected Pregnancy, Women's Fiction, Women's Health, Women's Right to Choose (Health Care Rights), Writing Style & Voice

Book Review | A reader happily returns to #ButternutLake in “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” by Mary McNear the 3rd novel in an expanding series with upcoming new installments in 2016/17!

Posted Wednesday, 26 August, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

Curious story: I participated on the “Butternut Summer” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours in 2014; wherein I was able to request reading “Up at Butternut Lake” which I received outside of the blog tour and posted my ruminations for my own edification and a review of “Butternut Summer” as part of the blog tour itself. When “Moonlight on Butternut Summer” went on tour this Spring with TLC Book Tours I missed jumping on board the blog tour by mere days, and took it upon myself to contact William Morrow directly.

Unlike other book bloggers, I tend to rely on the touring companies to bring authors and their stories to me rather than contacting publishers directly for books in exchange for honest reviews. I have become a bit more bold in requesting books directly from publishers over the past year, as I have several reviews upcoming this September where I made the enquiry myself rather than as a blogger with a touring company. When it came to the next installment of Butternut Lake, I felt it in my bones it was the right choice to extend a note to William Morrow because I have believed in this series since I first read “Up at Butternut Lake”.

Due to health reasons and severe lightning storms, the past several months have been a bit unique and my blog’s schedule has been adjusted to where most of my reviews for Spring and Summer are shifting into September or Autumn directly. During these months, as I sought to re-schedule this review, JKS Communications approached me about reviewing or interviewing the author attached to “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” which I took as a positive sign I had an extended delay! Therefore, not only can I post my review but I was able to coordinate an author Q&A about the Butternut Lake series!

I received a complimentary copy of “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” direct from the publisher William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. I received the Press Kit Materials direct from JKS Communications to use on my review and the interview which posts in conjunction with it.

Inspired to Read: 

I originally posted this explanation on my review of “Butternut Summer” and it still is a good summary of why I fell in love with the series as a whole and why I was itching to read the then unknown title of this novel which is it’s third installment. I can add that I was hoping against hope Butternut Lake might find wings to expand past the original trilogy – especially as I hadn’t known about the novella Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas. I found the novella has been released in print and it is a current request through my local library’s ILL (inter-library loan) services.

On my review for Up at Butternut Lake, I discussed my general interest in reading a Contemporary Romance novel, but tonight what I wanted to share about my inspiration to read Butternut Summer is simply motivated by being stirred with such an evoking of narrative as to tempt me to devour the sequel without pausing for breath! The characters inside Up at Butternut Lake are incredibly inspiring due to the spirit of who they are individually and as a community at large. These are the types of stories that I cherish discovering as they not only encourage your spirit and heart as you read them, but they enliven your hours with such a beautiful expanse of fiction that your bubbling over in pure joy for having read them! I could not wait to dive into Butternut Summer, and it was a bit grieving to realise there would be a long wait until the conclusion of the trilogy; except to say, the small excerpt in the Appendix of this P.S. Edition truly helped provide a salve!

Book Review | A reader happily returns to #ButternutLake in “Moonlight on Butternut Lake” by Mary McNear the 3rd novel in an expanding series with upcoming new installments in 2016/17!Moonlight on Butternut Lake
by Mary McNear
Source: Direct from Publisher

Mila Jones, a young woman fleeing a dark past, has accepted a job on Butternut Lake taking care of Reid Ford, who is recovering from a car accident that nearly killed him. This is Mila’s chance for a fresh start. But Reid, brooding and embittered, does everything he can to make her quit. Mila refuses to give up.

Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond with each other, as well as becoming part of the day-to-day fabric of Butternut Lake itself. But the world has a way of intruding, even in such a serene place…and when Mila’s violent ex-husband becomes determined to find her, she and Reid are forced to face down the past.

Perfect for lovers of Susan Wiggs, Debbie Maccomber, and Kristin Hannah, Moonlight on Butternut Lake is a novel of courage, romance, and resilience that is to be savored and shared.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: Up at Butternut Lake, Butternut Summer, Interview with Mary McNear

Series: Butternut Lake, Butternut Lake Trilogy


Also in this series: Up at Butternut Lake, Butternut Summer


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945)


Published by William Morrow

on 12th May 2015

Format: P.S. Edition Paperback

Pages: 384

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The Butternut Lake Trilogy turns into a Series:

Up At Butternut Lake, No.1 (synopsis)

Butternut Summer, No.2 (synopsis)

Butternut Lake: The Night Before Christmas, Novella (synopsis)

Moonlight on Butternut Lake *this review!*

Book No.4 *releases 2016* | Book No.5 *releases 2017*

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Posted Wednesday, 26 August, 2015 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, CNAs and Home Health Aides, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Humour Therein, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Domestic Violence, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Medical Fiction, Minnesota, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Singletons & Commitment, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Writing Style & Voice

+Blog Book Tour+ Butternut Summer by Mary McNear

Posted Tuesday, 14 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , 1 Comment

Parajunkee Designs

Butternut Summer by Mary McNear

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Official Author Websites: @marymcnear | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, Ebook

Converse via: #ButternutLakeSeries, #ButternutLake, & #ButternutSummer

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Butternut Summer” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. Realising this was a second novel within a series, I requested a copy of the first novel “Up at Butternut Lake” in order to understand the continuity of the characters & the story. I received a complimentary copy of the novel direct from the publisher William Morrow without an obligation to post a review. Whereas I received a complimentary copy of “Butternut Summer” direct from the publisher William Morrow, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read: 

On my review for Up at Butternut Lake, I discussed my general interest in reading a Contemporary Romance novel, but tonight what I wanted to share about my inspiration to read Butternut Summer is simply motivated by being stirred with such an evoking of narrative as to tempt me to devour the sequel without pausing for breath! The characters inside Up at Butternut Lake are incredibly inspiring due to the spirit of who they are individually and as a community at large. These are the types of stories that I cherish discovering as they not only encourage your spirit and heart as you read them, but they enliven your hours with such a beautiful expanse of fiction that your bubbling over in pure joy for having read them! I could not wait to dive into Butternut Summer, and it was a bit grieving to realise there would be a long wait until the conclusion of the trilogy; except to say, the small excerpt in the Appendix of this P.S. Edition truly helped provide a salve!

+Blog Book Tour+ Butternut Summer by Mary McNearButternut Summer
by Mary McNear
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Caroline’s life is turned upside down the moment her ex-husband, Jack, strides through the door of her coffee shop. He seems changed—stronger, steadier, and determined to make amends with Caroline and their daughter, Daisy. Is he really different, or is he the same irresistibly charming but irresponsible man he was when he left Butternut Lake eighteen years ago? Caroline, whose life is stuck on pause as her finances are going down the tubes, is tempted to let him back into her life . . . but would it be wise?

For Caroline’s daughter, Daisy, the summer is filled with surprises. Home from college, she’s reunited with the father she adores—but hardly knows—and swept away by her first true love. But Will isn’t what her mother wants for her—all Caroline can see is that he’s the kind of sexy “bad boy” Daisy should stay away from.

As the long, lazy days of summer pass, Daisy and Caroline come to realize that even if Butternut Lake doesn’t change, life does. . . .

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: Up at Butternut Lake, Interview with Mary McNear, Moonlight on Butternut Lake

Series: Butternut Lake, Butternut Lake Trilogy,


Also in this series: Up at Butternut Lake, Moonlight on Butternut Lake


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945)


Published by William Morrow

on 12th August, 2014

Format: P.S. Edition Paperback

Pages: 400

Author Biography:

Mary McNear
Photo Credit: Amelia Kennedy

Mary McNear lives in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, minuscule white dog named Macaroon. She writes her novels in a local doughnut shop, where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made doughnuts. She bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.

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Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

Butternut Summer Excerpt by WilliamMorrowBooks

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Up at Butternut Lake by Mary McNearPrecursor to Butternut Summer: Up at Butternut Lake: {Book One}

You want to stay soaked inside a McNear novel due to it’s uplifting ease of story-telling and the gentle spirit of guidance the author stitches into her story-line. You are comforted by the unease the characters are feeling vexed over due to the gentleness McNear uses as a guiding compass through their walk of tribulation. One of the best blessings for me overall is how she used her creative words and expressions to voice the thought provoking narrative to be a clean read and an enjoyable read altogether. She pierced the novel with bone chilling emotional arcs and relationships grounded in realistic encounters and plausible circumstances of any modern couple today could face. The story of Butternut Lake is more expansive than this one novel alone, as she has wrought such a hearty community of characters that you feel akin to each of them in different ways. There are of course the regular muck of a rake or rat as well, but even with the bit of darkness ebbing out of the light, McNear is a natural story-teller in giving you a strong read worthy of your emotional heart being pulled through the novel she’s put in your hands.

– quoted from my book review of Up at Butternut Lake

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Posted Tuesday, 14 October, 2014 by jorielov in Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Humour Therein, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Minnesota, Modern Day, Romance Fiction, Scribd, Singletons & Commitment, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, TLC Book Tours, Writing Style & Voice