Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Shades of Chocolate by Cecelia Dowdy

Jason Matthews is working through his anger and loneliness after his mom dies. His father wants him to learn more about the corporate side of their baking business, instead of working in the kitchen baking. He travels, acquiring family owned bakeries. He decides to take a vacation and spends it in the town of Blue Spring.

Toni Brown owns a bakery, Shades of Chocolate, in Blue Spring. She is struggling to move on after being hurt by her fiancée. She is struggling with her faith in God. When Jason shows up just when she needs help with vandalism, can she trust Jason to be there for her? Can she learn to rely on God?

Jason is drawn to Toni. She’s been hurt, doesn’t trust God, and has been receiving threatening phone calls. Jason wants his father’s approval, which doesn’t include working in a bakery. He enjoys his time with Toni, but when he has to go back home, can they forge a future together? He wants to show her God loves her and that going through the hard times can be made easier by leaning on God.

Everybody deals with grief and anger differently. Can God heal Jason’s relationship with his father before it’s too late? Will Toni learn to lean on her faith in God when bad things happen? This book was a great read. Readers will be able to relate to the characters’ struggles and questions about God to find a closer relationship with God for themselves.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Echoes Beyond a memoir by Patsy Greenway and Christine Saunders

This is Christine and Pasty's recollection of growing up on Black Top Mountain in Virginia. It's based on a true story of their mother. From the moment Clara Bell Arnold met Patton Compton I couldn't put the book down. This book will take you back to a different time, growing up in the 1940s-60s in southwest Virginia. In fourteen years, Clara and Patton had twelve children. Echoes Beyond is a compilation of memories, what life was like on Black Top Mountain, from walking 2 miles to get to the bus stop, finding edible plants, sharing chores, and through it all, Clara's vision and faith in Jesus. Nothing was wasted, everything had a use. From daily struggles, to bullying, to adventures outside, Pasty and Christine portray a way of life not forgotten. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, children playing outside, close accidents that could have been deadly, all tell the tale of the hardships, the desperation of living on Blacktop Mountain.

Does Clara finally get away from the Mountain? Does she make a better life for herself and her children? I was drawn in by their memories, the kids at school making fun of them, the ones who would share food, the neighbors that would pitch in to help. The sight of the discarded sweet potato will stay with me. All of Christine's frustrations, anger, disappointments, are culminated in throwing that sweet potato as far as she could. You will laugh, cry, shudder, at the children's escapades as they entertain themselves in nature, not realizing the full danger, and live life the only way they know how. They didn't see how others lived, they only knew what they saw and they made the best of it. From tying a string to a June bug's leg to pitching cow patties to taking down a wasp nest, the children were never bored.

This is the story of a courageous, faith-filled woman and her family's struggle to live in southwest Virginia during a time of hardship and poverty, filled with love and hope for the future.