Review: “Shoes to Fill” by Lynne Gentry

Review: “Shoes to Fill” by Lynne Gentry

A few months ago, I reviewed author Lynne Gentry’s independent publishing venture, Walking ShoesIt was the start of a new contemporary family series with southern charm, humor, and serious life obstacles, the “Mt. Hope Southern Adventures” series. Today I’m sharing my review of the second book in the series, Shoes to Fill. It continues the journey of this little pastor’s family living in west Texas as they learn to cope with the aftermath of personal loss and find joy and purpose once again.

About the Book

stf-jpeg-642x1024Shoes to Fill

The highly-educated millennial, David Harper, is adrift. He is also the pastor’s son. Or he was, until his father dropped dead in the pulpit. When David learns his widowed mother is in danger of losing the roof over her head, he surprises everyone, most of all himself, and steps in to fill his father’s shoes. David knows it won’t be easy to dynamite the small congregation into the twenty-first century, but it’s the tough little blonde who blows his world apart. Return once again to the humor and drama of the small Texas town of Mt. Hope. Tear-jerking candor. Face-paced humor. Heart-melting romance.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

While this book could be read on its own, I think it would be better enjoyed in sequence as the second book in the series to fully understand the obstacles already undertaken by the characters.

This story is just the right combination of drama and humor, continuing themes of healing and hope that began in book 1. The quirky humor and pop culture references (like Hallmark movies and Quigley Down Under! 🙂 ) offsets the serious themes at the heart of the story. These characters’ lives show how God can take something awful and make something good come of it — all because it brings Him glory along the way.

David, in particular, grows tremendously during this story. With help from both his biological and church family, he starts to see past his own grief to realize other people are hurting –some still in their own grief, others dealing with many sources of pain. And, on the romance side of things, Amy (the “tough little blonde”) is so complementary to him; from sharing a caring heart to understanding grief and the crazy community they live in.

Speaking of the community, the secondary characters in this story are special. They establish a sense of “home” within the story and serve to show what a heart for people David has. Leona, David’s mom, shares a little perspective in this book, too, because her story is not over yet (bring on book 3!).

There was one comical device used near the end of the story that I thought was a little overdone to the point of being less realistic, but it served its purpose to upset a certain situation and bring about clarity to the characters. Other than that, I enjoyed this glimpse of small town Texas living and identified with the struggles of the characters. I particularly liked how David’s family is portrayed as giving him a legacy of faith but he still has to discern his own calling.

Thank you to the author and publisher, Travel Light Press, for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.

IMG_9446 Hi-Res_300dpi_Vert_CropLynne Gentry knew marrying a preacher might change her plans. She didn’t know how ministry would change her life. This author of numerous short stories and dramatic works travels the country as a professional acting coach and inspirational speaker. Lynne allows her imagination to run wild and also writes in the fantasy/science fiction genre of time travel. You can find our more about these adventures into historical worlds at www.lynnegentry.com. Lynne lives in Dallas with her husband and medical therapy dog. She counts spending time with her two grown children and their families her greatest joy.

Lynne’s Website | Facebook |Twitter | Pinterest

And, last but not least, check out my reviews of Lynne’s awesome time travel series here!

The Carthage Chronicles

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books on my Spring TBR

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s TTT topic is all about that growing, towering, To-Be-Read pile, shelf, island, or whatever shape it may be. Mine seems to be ever-increasing with new releases happening ALL THE TIME, lovely reviews from other book bloggers, and recommendations from friends. It’s a delightful problem.

These are the top 10 books on my Spring TBR. More like the top 10 books I’d like to read next. The first 5 will be conquered because they are review copies from generous authors or publishers (Ya’ll are awesome for keeping me in books! Thank you.).

Top 10 Books on my Spring TBR

(Book titles linked to Goodreads)

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Shoes to Fill by Lynne Gentry

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

With Love, Wherever You Are

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall

second-impressions


Love at First LaughSecond Impressions
by Pepper Basham (and the rest of the Love at First
Laugh
novella collection)

Close To You

Close To You by Kara Isaac

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Sweet Surrenders

Sweet Surrenders by Rachel Fallin

Edenbrooke

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Sway by Amy Matayo

Sway by Amy Matayo

What is on your Spring TBR?

Review & Author Feature: “Walking Shoes” by Lynne Gentry

Review & Author Feature: “Walking Shoes” by Lynne Gentry

When a beloved author reaches out to me to share my thoughts on her latest book, I count it a privilege and blessing to be counted as a friend and trusted reviewer. Recently, author Lynne Gentry contacted me inviting me to read her new-ish novel, Walking Shoes, a contemporary story of family, humor, loss, and the strength of the body of Christ. Originally released under a different title and publisher, Walking Shoes is a refreshed story from Lynne’s heart drawn from her own experiences as a pastor’s wife. Today I’m happily sharing my review and a Q&A feature with Lynne.

About the Book

Sooner or later everyone experiences a fork in the road. When tragedy changes the path of the overly-cautious, by-the-book, pastor’s wife, Leona Harper has no choice but to disrupt the lives of her estranged children. Parenting her adult children in a small Southern community populated with zany characters proves as difficult as reinventing herself. Determined to give her broken family a shot at a second chance, Leona puts one foot in front of the other and begins to walk through her grief. But reconciliation and healing won’t come easy.

This holiday story of tear-jerking candor and fast-paced humor offers hope in the darkness.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

 

I really, really liked this story! It was a great combination of funny and serious. Before I talk about the lovable characters, I want to address the way grief is exposed in this story. walking-642x1024There were moments delicately handled with humor that otherwise could have been a little “dark” or sad due to the story circumstances. I personally identified with the situation and characters because I have had a similar unexpected loss in my family. I believe the way Lynne Gentry recognizes the grief process in a gentle and understanding way, shading it with humor, speaks of her personal experiences as well as her ability to relate to the reader through story. It exposes how everyone deals with grief or shock differently while emphasizing that it’s perfectly OK to be different. To say the least, it was a little therapeutic for my own heart to read Leona’s story.

The “friends” and supporting characters of this story are endearing, to say the least. Some fiercely in Leona’s corner, some more antagonistic, all of them work to steer the story and reveal how God takes care of people in unexpected ways. Sometimes through an angry grandmother. Sometimes through a janitor. And sometimes through a gruff neighbor. All of them combine to display the blessing and care of a church family. A “home”, of sorts, with mismatched loved ones.

Within the story, sometimes the point of view changes from Leona to that of her son or daughter, David and Maddie. Their experience and secondary storylines all mesh to paint a bigger picture of what’s going on and how each person deals with the complexity of the situation, giving the reader a new perspective of empathy and understanding. For all POVs, the third person narrative sometimes switches to first within the same paragraph in an internal dialogue sort of way. This technique expertly works for the story’s humor and timing as well as revealing the heart of Leona, David, and Maddie at key points.

Ok, now it’s time to talk about the humor! Lynne’s “southern humor” hit the mark with me! Especially with a few little sayings and witty pop culture references I’ve come to appreciate from Lynne. (If you’re an old soul, you’ll really love them, too! Especially ones referring to Robert Redford or something that’s “slicker than snot”! Ha!) The quirky supporting characters fittingly remind me of some people in my own church and circle of friends. If any of ya’ll read this and are curious, just ask. I’d be happy to point out which of you is a Bertie or Roxie!

To me, this story is a reminder that God’s all-knowing plan is always there, intended for your good and His glory, even through seasons of pain and uncertainty. Leona’s journey comes full circle to a place of hope and second chances. Leona Harper and her family experience many emotions and twists, from shock to pain to a determination to live to the fullest. Ultimately, they learn to embrace any second chances they have to mend relationships and make new memories. The Harpers are not quite done with finding their purpose, though, just like us. (Yay for more books to come!). Personally, I’m glad He’s not quite finished with my story, either.

Thank you to the author and publisher, Travel Light Press, for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Interview with the Author

This is a rewrite of your novel Reinventing Leona. Can you tell us more about the reasons behind your decision to refresh the story? 

Yes, WALKING SHOES is a rewrite/RETITLING of Reinventing Leona. I sold this original story to Tyndale in 2011.  When I got the rights back last year, I re-read the story I’d written in 2006. Hoping that I’m a much better writer now, I tore into it. Took out 10,000 cliches and softened Leona and some of the church people. I also changed up Justin’s character considerably. In the end, the story has  far deeper implications and I’m glad.

How does your personal experience as a pastor’s wife shine through the character of Leona?

Obviously, many of Leona’s experiences were drawn from the deep well of serving as a pastor’s wife for 30 years. I have so many wonderful, sad, endearing, life-changing stories from those very precious years. Some made the story. Many did not. But one thing is certain, so many people have crossed my path and I have been forever changed by all of them. Telling this story of God’s ability to transform us through tragedy has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

The Story sisters are my favorite supporting characters of this story. They are a hoot! Can you tell us if they were inspired by anyone in particular? 

Our ministry was spent very far from home. Therefore, I didn’t have the daily support of my physical family, especially my mother. As for the Story sisters, they are a combination of the many fabulous older women who mothered me and loved me (a very young and naïve girl) with their unique gifts, but mostly their treasured gift of time.

Thank you, Lynne, for taking the time to discuss this story and answer my questions!

stf-jpeg-642x1024You readers should be excited to know Lynne’s plans for the rest of the series are in the works!  The next book, Shoes to Fill, featuring Leona’s son, David, is planned for release in February. The next two books, Dancing Shoes and Baby Shoes, will finish out the series with the continued story of Leona and Maddie’s story.

 

 

IMG_9446 Hi-Res_300dpi_Vert_CropLynne Gentry knew marrying a preacher might change her plans. She didn’t know how ministry would change her life. This author of numerous short stories and dramatic works travels the country as a professional acting coach and inspirational speaker. Lynne allows her imagination to run wild and also writes in the fantasy/science fiction genre of time travel. You can find our more about these adventures into historical worlds at www.lynnegentry.com. Lynne lives in Dallas with her husband and medical therapy dog. She counts spending time with her two grown children and their families her greatest joy.

Lynne’s Website | Facebook |Twitter | Pinterest

And, last but not least, check out my reviews of Lynne’s awesome time travel series here!

The Carthage Chronicles

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic sounded like a fun thing to talk about, especially for this native southerner. While I have traveled a bit within the US, I’ve never been out of the country. What better way to learn about another culture or experience another location (without actually going) than books? For today, let’s “pack” our suitcases and talk about books set outside the U.S. For fun, I’m splitting this list up into 2 types: books I’ve read and books on my TBR.

TTT 10 Books Set Outside the US

10 Books Set Outside the U.S.

Books I’ve Read

The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

Derbyshire, England during WWII

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Prince Edward Island, Canada

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

Holland and England during the Protestant Reformation

Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry

Carthage, Tunisia during the 3rd century

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

England and France during WWII

Soon-ish TBR

London Tides by Carla Laureano

London, England and probably a little Scotland because the hero is Scottish ❤

A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

1910s Toronto, Canada (and Chicago). What could be next for these daring girls?

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

England (Bath and the countryside) during the Regency Era

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (!!!!)

Italy (and Atlanta). It’s by Katherine, so I KNOW it will be good.

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Oxford, England. This was first added to my TBR solely because of the cover. Since then, reviews of Kara’s work have completely convinced me I need to read it!

 

What places do YOU like to visit through the pages of a book? What are some of your favorite books set outside the US? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish People You Should Follow on Pinterest

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week’s topic is Ten Bookish People You Should Follow on _____ (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, other social media, blogs, etc.). I’ve chosen to adapt it to Pinterest because I’m obsessed with pinning.

Pinterest

Click to follow The Green Mockingbird on Pinterest

One awesome part of the reading experience in modern times, I think, is connecting with authors via social media. The Pinterest platform allows authors to share their story’s “world” with locations, character ideas, behind-the-scenes news, quotes, etc. I’ve chosen to share 10 of my favorite pinning-authors and my favorite of their book boards! I so appreciate these authors for taking the time to compile and share their inspirations and unique worlds this way.

Top 10 Favorite Pinterest Authors & my Favorite Book Boards

  1. Amber Stokes — click here to visit her board for How a Star Falls
  2. Dawn Crandall — click here to visit her board for The Hesitant Heiress
  3. Dani Pettrey — click here to visit her board for Cold Shot
  4. Hillary Lodge — click here to visit her board for Reservations for Two
  5. Laura Frantz — click here to visit her board for The Mistress of Tall Acre
  6. Lori Benton — click here to visit her board for The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
  7. Pepper Basham — click here to visit her board for The Thorn Keeper
  8. Rachel McMillan — click here to visit her board for The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder
  9. Rachelle Rea — click here to visit her board for the “Steadfast Love” series
  10. Tamera Alexander — click here to visit her board for A Beauty So Rare

Honorable mentions: Melissa Tagg, Kristy Cambron, Lynne Gentry, Jessica Dotta, The Silver Petticoat Review, and this book quote board “Favorite Quotes from Christian Fiction”.

Do you follow any authors via Pinterest or other social media? I welcome your comments and recommendations!

Review: “Valley of Decision” by Lynne Gentry

Today I’m (finally) sharing a review of the 3rd and final book in the “Carthage Chronicles” series by Lynne Gentry: Valley of Decision. This book is both action-packed and serious, with strong characters and a fascinating look at the early church.

*see my reviews of books 1 & 2 Healer of Carthage, Return to Exile, and my interview with Lynne*

About the book: Every choice has a consequence in the explosive conclusion to the Carthage Chronicles as Lisbeth returns to third-century Carthage for a thrilling final adventure.

Valley of Decision by Lynne GentryThirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life.

All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow.

With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator.

Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redValley of Decision by Lynne Gentry, reviewedeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion.

My thoughts: Valley of Decision is an action-packed conclusion to the series. With this series, Lynne has honed her own style, coupling modern characters with 3rd century ancient history. One unique aspect of this blending of times is that she gets away with modern expressions to describe the scenes in Carthage — like saying one of the characters “racked his brain”! I love it!

Though filled with action with many twists, it is still a very serious story of sacrifice and love. Seeing Maggie grow up and Lisbeth and Cyprian step into their roles as parents brings these characters full circle. All of them have to deal with life lessons, like learning to show compassion to their enemies or those who have hurt them. The end did have me in tears!

This story has strong themes of love – especially the strength and eternal nature of love. And, it carries messages of forgiveness and using what you have in front of you to be a blessing to others. I would recommend this book to fans of both contemporary and historical fiction because it blends the two so well.

A sincere thank you to author Lynne Gentry and publisher Howard Books for the review copy.

Do you enjoy books that blend contemporary and historical settings or characters? They are uncommon, and I’d love to know your thoughts!

Interview with the Author! Lynne Gentry, “Healer of Carthage”

I’m so excited today! The author of Healer of Carthage, Lynne Gentry, is here visiting my blog! She’s answered some interview questions about her latest book. If you haven’t yet, check out my review of Healer of Carthage, the first book in “The Carthage Chronicles” series. It’s a must-read!

About Healer of Carthage:

The first in The Carthage Chronicles series, Healer of Carthage launches Dr. Lisbeth Hastings into third-century Carthage. Desperate to survive in this unknown world, Lisbeth is forced to grapple with slavery, religious persecution, and disease. Against this dark backdrop, romance, justice, and courage take center stage. 

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Lynne, what inspired you to write Healer of Carthage?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they look back and ask themselves, “could I have done something differently?” and “If I had, what would my life look like now?” I was at that point when the notion came to me of Time Travel…going back and having a redo, so to speak. An interesting thing happened when writing this book: I realized I’m exactly who God intended me to be and there wasn’t a single thread of my life that I wanted pulled … not even the hard times, for those hard times had built my character. I wouldn’t be me if I’d done things differently. I believe I am on the road to becoming exactly who God wants me to be.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with Healer of Carthage?

The entire Carthage Chronicles series is about courage. Courage as individuals and as a collective body, i.e. the church. But Healer is about mercy. The mercy we extend to others. The mercy God extends to us. And the mercy we can learn to extend to ourselves.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Authors love to research the places they write about. Want to write a beach story set along the Carolina coast? Actually traveling to a beach on the east coast can really help an author set an accurate tone for the story world. Obviously, I couldn’t return to third-century Carthage or even the considerable amount of ruins left behind by that civilization. The volatility in that part of the world is too great. So, all of my world building had to take place through the painstaking process of reading, reading, and reading some more. Some of those ancient scholars are extremely boring and difficult to read.HiResHealerCover

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies? 

I love to walk my dog and read something off of the New York Times bestseller list.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

I really think I would like to give living in the third century a shot. But if we’re dreaming here, I might as well dream that I’d go back to the third century as a pampered patrician’s wife, not a slave girl. 🙂

Thank you so much, Lynne, for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such a beautiful story!

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. Her newest novel, Healer of Carthage, is the first in The Carthage Chronicles series. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright with several full-length musicals and a children’s theater curriculum to her credit. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer whose first love is spending time with family.

Author Contact info:

Website: http://lynnegentry.com/

Facebook: Author Lynne Gentry https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Lynne-Gentry/215337565176144

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynne_Gentry

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lynnegentry7/

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Imh1AwR698Y

Simon & Schuster: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Lynne-Gentry/412732530

 

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!