Digging In by Loretta Nyhan

51F3BocneHLDigging In by Loretta Nyhan
Publisher/Year: Lake Union Publishing, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 241
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐



Paige Moresco found her true love in eighth grade–and lost him two years ago. Since his death, she’s been sleepwalking through life, barely holding on for the sake of her teenage son. Her house is a wreck, the grass is overrun with weeds, and she’s at risk of losing her job. As Paige stares at her neglected lawn, she knows she’s hit rock bottom. So she does something entirely unexpected: she begins to dig.

As the hole gets bigger, Paige decides to turn her entire yard into a vegetable garden. The neighbors in her tidy gated community are more than a little alarmed. Paige knows nothing about gardening, and she’s boldly flouting neighborhood-association bylaws. But with the help of new friends, a charming local cop, and the transformative power of the soil, Paige starts to see potential in the chaos of her life. Something big is beginning to take root–both in her garden and in herself.

IMG_20181026_095311_211What I thought

This book is one of those ones that I wish I had loved as much as everybody else seems to. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it well enough and I enjoyed the time I spent reading it, but unfortunately, I never loved it like you do when you really connect with a story and its characters.

I think mostly that this was my fault as the reader. Thankfully, I’ve never gone through anything like what Paige and even Loretta herself have faced. For a book that focuses primarily on grief, I did appreciate Paige’s wit and humor. This book is nowhere near as dark as I was expecting. However, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t always a fan of Paige. I think our personalities just didn’t mesh. Once again, this wasn’t due to any fault in the writing, it just wasn’t for me.

I also want to add that I think this would make for an excellent movie. It was so easy to read that it did play out like a movie for me as I read.

I did enjoy my time reading this one and found myself wanting to see how it would end. If you are looking for a great rom-com kind of story, look no further. Digging In manages to poignantly offer new perspective on grief while adding a touch of humor and wit into the mix.

An Old Soul by Kristyn Gansen

41095038An Old Soul by Kristyn Gansen
Publisher/Year: Gansen Media, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



Until that night, Mira didn’t know she was dead. 

Answers from a Ouija board have done nothing but raise questions for twelve-year-old Mira. When a series of strange events follow the Ouija game–including the discovery of a gravestone with her name on it–Mira sets out to find out just what exactly happened to her twelve years before.

A new boy in town does nothing to quell Mira’s fears. James dresses in strange clothes, hangs out in the cemetery, and makes bold claims about Mira’s past. As she gets to know the new boy, Mira wonders if James could hold the answers to all of her creepy questions.

Together, Mira and her best friend work to find out what, exactly, the new boy has to do with Mira’s past–before he can impact her future.


What I thought

I am so grateful to have been gifted a copy of this book from the author, and she was even kind enough to sign it! (Thank you, Kristyn!)

*Please note that this, in no way, affected my review!

If you are looking for a middle grade read that’s just the right amount of spooky for October, look no further! I thought this was an adorable read that young readers will just love. The writing was accessible without feeling dumbed down, and the plot was just spooky enough for those Halloween feels without being too scary. I also loved how sweet the ending turned out to be!

Anyhow, this is a short review for a short little book, but it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss out on if you’ve got a middle grade reader in your life this Halloween season!

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden

31451001Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 230
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



“She wanted to stay awake, wanted to see what freedom looked like, felt like at midnight, then at the cusp of dawn.”

Freedom. Mariah has barely dared to dream of it her entire life. When General Sherman’s march through Georgia during the Civil War passes the plantation where she is enslaved, her life changes instantly. Joining the march for protection, Mariah heads into the unknown, wondering if she can ever feel safe, if she will ever be able to put the brutalities of slavery behind her.

On the march Mariah meets a young man named Caleb, and a new dream takes root–one of a future with a home of her own and a true love by her side. But hope often comes at a cost. As the treacherous march continues toward the churning waters of Ebenezer Creek, Mariah sees that the harsh realities of her and her peoples’ lives will always haunt them.

Award-winning author Tonya Bolden sheds light on a little-known moment of the Civil War in a searing, poetic novel about the dream of freedom.


What I thought

As a Civil War history aficionado, I am very ashamed to admit that I had never heard of the tragic and appalling account of Ebenezer Creek. It absolutely shocks me that it isn’t talked about or taught as part of Sherman’s March. I am so thankful to have come across this novel and for Tonya Bolden, who brought this story to the world so that it wouldn’t be forgotten among the pages of history.

Anyway. You guys, this is not an easy read (not that it should be). There are some pretty horrific and fairly detailed accounts of the abuse and oppression that came with slavery. Tonya Bolden’s writing is simply beautiful and there were many times throughout reading that took my breath away or made me cry. I finished this book on my lunch break at work, and boy, did that ending hit me like a sucker punch. I had to put the book down with tears in my eyes so I could regain composure to go back to work. All this said, the only reason why I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 stars is that some of the characters felt a little underdeveloped. But I loved Caleb & Mariah from the get go–they were my favorite characters throughout.

This is a sad, incredibly sad book. It should be. It is also incredibly important, and I think more people should read it and be aware of what happened at Ebenezer Creek. I am so grateful to Tonya Bolden for opening my eyes to this. I cannot recommend this slim volume enough–find out for yourselves and read this!

Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh

38189172Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh
Publisher/Year: Waterfall Press, 2018
Format: E-book (Kindle/NetGalley)
Pages: 349
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Summary (from Goodreads)

An emotional novel of family, friendship and forgiveness from Courtney Walsh, the New York Times bestselling author of Hometown Girl.

Lyndie St. James is thrilled that her best friend, Elle, is getting married but unprepared for the emotional storm of the wedding week and returning to her childhood summer home of Sweethaven. The idyllic cottage community harbors some of her best–and worst–memories. It’s not only the tragic death of her childhood friend Cassie that has haunted her for ten years, it’s the other secrets she’s buried that have kept her from moving on.

But Lyndie isn’t the only one with secrets.

Cassie’s mother, father and brother, still struggling with the loss, have been drifting further and further apart. And Elle herself, the last to see Cassie alive, carries an impossible burden of guilt. Now reunited, each of them has a choice: to reveal the truths of that night or continue to live in its shadow. That means embarking on a personal journey of the heart–to escape the darkness and all its regrets and to finally come to terms with the past and, especially, with each other.


What I thought

Have you even been in the mood for a movie or book that you know is going to make you cry? Just a feel-good, emotional story about relationships or friendships and the joys and sorrows that can come with them? Well, friends, Things Left Unsaid hit the spot for me and I enjoyed it so incredibly much.

I’ll be totally honest, I was expecting this to be a whole lot lighter of a read, but it was full of depth and emotions and the hard things of life. Trigger warnings abound, so be warned. But despite all of that, I still walked away from this novel with that feel-good feeling. Let me be clear, there wasn’t a tidy little bow wrapping up the issues and brushing them under a HEA rug. Rather, once things are out in the open, there was an acknowledgement, a sort of “Here’s what happened, here’s where we are, let’s find a way to move forward now.” As a reader, that left me feeling so much better (and more respected) than a story book ending would have left me.

Walsh’s writing was gorgeous, and her characters felt real and relatable. My heart broke over and over again for each one as I read. I wasn’t aware when I started this that it was Christian-themed, but it was not pushy or in-your-face. And my favorite thing about this book was that it was so hard for me to put down! Overall, this was a wonderful, heartfelt book–I’d highly recommend pre-ordering this one: it comes out October 30th!

**Please note: I received a complementary copy of this work through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are, however, my own.

Beside Still Waters (Big Sky #1) by Tricia Goyer

40893195Beside Still Waters (Big Sky #1) by Tricia Goyer
Publisher/Year: Tricia Goyer, 2018
Format: E-book (Kindle)
Pages: 243
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana. Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna–and even her father–the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.

After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.


What I thought

Every once in a while, I like to delve into Amish fiction. Without trying to sound like I’m justifying it, sometimes I just enjoy a faith-based read about simple living. So, when this came up as a free Kindle download, I snagged it. I have to say–I was pleasantly surprised! A lot of Amish fiction is pretty formulaic, which is fine when I’m looking for a comfort read. But Tricia Goyer really brought a lot to the table with this one–I was impressed! There’s a depth to this story and a development of the characters that I was not expecting, I’ll be honest. Not only that, but I was invested in the story; I almost hated to put it down. Goyer’s writing was truly enjoyable. I felt for Marianna, and I want to see where her story takes her next. If Amish fiction is your thing, I cannot recommend Beside Still Waters enough. It’s totally unique within its genre, and it’s a story worth investing in!