This book completely captured my attention and I read it in one day. Since I am a Christian from a small town in the Midwest and was born in 1961, I hThis book completely captured my attention and I read it in one day. Since I am a Christian from a small town in the Midwest and was born in 1961, I had a strong connection to the setting and circumstances of this novel. I have always enjoyed a good coming-of-age novel but the writing in this story is exceptional and wise. I think part of the strength comes from the fact that the first-person narrative has a twist. The main character tells the story of his boyhood in a reflective manner, when he is a man and looking back. Of course hindsight is clearer, and add the benefit of a life of experience, and you have a formula for a rich story. The plot is a page-turner and the characters are fully human, well-drawn, and likable. I did correctly predict the "murderer" but was surprised by the true meaning of the title. Yes this book explores loss, faith, and grace, but my favorite aspect was the exploration of family. Jake, the brother who suffers because he stutters, ends up being my favorite character. At the beginning of the story, Frank, the narrator, is often annoyed by his brother but throughout that painful summer, he comes to see his brother in an entirely different light. Of course I also respected Nathan, the father, Methodist minister, and WW II veteran, who went to college to be a lawyer but returned from the war a changed man which altered his career path. His friend Gus, who lives in the church basement, represents the strong bonds formed during war, and adds another dimension of "family". Finally, Kreuger's depiction of small town community is spot on. I have lived through tragedy and the midwest tradition of calling on and supporting those who suffer from untimely death. Krueger's depiction of midwest casseroles, phone calls, and face-to-face condolences is spot-on. But moreover, I relate to the phrase, the "awful grace of God". Since I have lived through devastating loss, I can attest to grief that threatens to destroy but somehow is redeemed by grace when we turn our suffering over to a powerful, and omnipresent God....more
Gracie has an extended stay at Grace Chapel Inn because she is in town visiting and supporting her friend Byrdie. Byrdie, a widow, has unfortunately hGracie has an extended stay at Grace Chapel Inn because she is in town visiting and supporting her friend Byrdie. Byrdie, a widow, has unfortunately hired a dishonest workman and Gracie applies her sleuthing abilities to restore justice. While Gracie is in town, she helps Louise with the choir and begins a lovely friendship with all of the Howard sisters. Of course Jane is cooking up wonderful meals and snacks for the sisters and their guests, but she is also working hard on her garden as she has entered a local competition. The main theme of this book is friendship. It reminds the reader to cherish old friends but to also be active in pursuing new friendships. Don't be remise in noticing those new to the neighborhood and church who might be in need of a kind word, a cup of tea, or an outing. I felt nervous about "the sting" that Gracie and the Howard sisters devise to confront the dishonest handyman. In theory it was honorable that those injured only sought restorative justice rather than suing and taking Sims to court, but I think it would be a dangerous course of action to pursue in real life. Perhaps the take away is to check references on those one hires and make sure handymen are insured. Providing an address and a contact number is a must, and it doesn't hurt to have a lawyer look over any contract that you want to sign....more
A "big box" home store comes to Potterson and there is concern that the local hardware store will suffer from the competition. Jane meets the store maA "big box" home store comes to Potterson and there is concern that the local hardware store will suffer from the competition. Jane meets the store manager and a relationship begins to blossom, even as she worries that she will appear disloyal to her friends Vera and Fred who run the local store in Acorn Hill. Alice is busy preparing and taking her oldest Angels to New York City to see the Lion King and explore the city. Aunt Ethel is in a tizzy trying to redecorate the carriage house and prepare for the upcoming visit of her daughter Francine.
Themes of trusting God instead of worrying, handling disappointments, and working through difficulties in family relationships. I also like the role family memories play in the lives of the three Howard sisters. So true that they are precious to all of us as we age....more
Unlike some Grace Chapel Inn Tales that focus mainly on the guests at the Inn, this book focused on Loiuse Howard (the oldest and widowed sister), VioUnlike some Grace Chapel Inn Tales that focus mainly on the guests at the Inn, this book focused on Loiuse Howard (the oldest and widowed sister), Viola Reed (owner of the Nine Lives Bookstore in Acorn Hill), and the students of Franklin high School. Louise and Viola offer to help Franklin High School publish their first poetry magazine, entitled Promises, but there is conflict over funding. Which is more important, Academic pursuits or Sports? And what is troubling the young editor, Conor? When the two women aren't helping the students, they are trying to capture "Tess", a stray calico who is undernourished and Pregnant. Many of the downtown business owners become involved as a Neighborhood Watch (cat watch) is organized to help capture Tess. I enjoyed this book mostly because Viola is an interesting character who makes me laugh. She has 14 cats and is equally as passionate about books. Like in other Tales, Viola is always wearing scarves but in this book, the reader learns of the story behind the scarves. As usual, there are Christian themes - caring for God's creatures, serving the community, doing what is right even when it isn't easy, and where is God when illness strikes? In addition, we see how families and communities resolve conflict. ...more
This book focused on sister Alice, her friend Mark, and the guests at the Inn. Easter is approaching and Alice has the week off. She intends to spendThis book focused on sister Alice, her friend Mark, and the guests at the Inn. Easter is approaching and Alice has the week off. She intends to spend it mostly with Mark but he ends up spending time with his godson Adam who has recently lost both his parents in an accident and is depressed. Adam starts spending time with the daughter of a guest at the Inn. She has recently become blind due to complications of diabetes and is a mere 17 years old.
This book reminded me to evaluate the behavior of others gently because you never really know what they are going through. Too often we personalize the behavior of others and feel wounded or offended when we should be offering empathy and support.
I usually really enjoy Carlson's writing but this is not one of her best efforts. It doesn't come close to my favorite, The Christmas Bus....more
I liked the themes of this book: live today, making memories for tomorrow; finding love can happen at any age; jealousy corrupts friendships; adaptingI liked the themes of this book: live today, making memories for tomorrow; finding love can happen at any age; jealousy corrupts friendships; adapting to modern technology is challenging but rewarding for the older generation brave enough to wade in; having a disability challenges families but can lead to deep bonds; teaching is a challenging profession which requires the professional to learn to give generously while nourishing oneself so that longevity is possible without burnout.
As for the plot, there were many story lines. Jane is secretly making a family history scrapbook; Aunt Ethel learns about cyberspace and specifically about chat rooms; Alice's Angels learn about character from a hearing impaired young inn guest; a young teacher struggles with the challenges of the teaching profession, and two people who meet at Alice's hospital are reunited after 46 years and rekindle a relationship even though their children are not supportive.
I did not like this book as well as many others in the series because I think there were too many different things going on. As a result, most of the story lines were not well-developed so they failed to pull me in. This author just tried to include too much and needed a good editor to remind her that "less is more"....more
Cynthia, Louise's daughter, comes to stay at Grace Chapel Inn and brings her co-writer along. She is a famous home and garden expert but has no experiCynthia, Louise's daughter, comes to stay at Grace Chapel Inn and brings her co-writer along. She is a famous home and garden expert but has no experience with children or children's books so it isn't surprising that Cynthia is very frustrated as she tries to co-write a children's book with her. Another guest, Harold is a widower who is trying to cope with the one-year anniversary of the passing of his wife. While staying at the Inn, he visits the dog track. Alice finds out that some dogs are being mistreated so she protests and ends up being arrested. ...more
The Grace Chapel Inn series is written by several different authors. Judy Baer is one of my favorites. This book is #3 in the series and I have also rThe Grace Chapel Inn series is written by several different authors. Judy Baer is one of my favorites. This book is #3 in the series and I have also read Tempest in a Teapot and The Way We Were by this author. I enjoyed all the recipes included in this book. I was as tickled as Jane to discover more about Jane's mother through the cookbook and notes that she left behind. Since I haven't read this series in order, it was also good to find out how Jane met young Josie and her mother and Joe because I had read about them in other books.
ADDIE MOORE LOUIS WATERS First I loved the names of the characters. Second, I was very fond of Jamie, Addie's grandson, and of course I was thrilled tADDIE MOORE LOUIS WATERS First I loved the names of the characters. Second, I was very fond of Jamie, Addie's grandson, and of course I was thrilled that the old folks helped Jamie adopt a dog (Bonny) to give him companionship. Third, if you have first hand experience with untimely or premature death in your family, I believe you will find the feelings and plot very authentic. Losing a child (or a sister) does change people. Sometimes wounds heal and sometimes death is never dealt with in a healthy way and that death comes to impact personalities and lives from that point forward. Since I live in Colorado and have read all of Haruf's other books, I enjoyed going back to Holt, Colorado.
My one criticism is how Addie and Louis just start spending the night together. I did not find it very plausible. I think it would have been better if they started by having lunch together or going for walks or anything besides how it was written. I can't believe people of that generation would start a relationship by inviting another to "sleep over".
This is the first book in the Tales from Grace Chapel Inn Series. Melody Carlson (the author of one of my favorite Christmas stories, The Christmas BuThis is the first book in the Tales from Grace Chapel Inn Series. Melody Carlson (the author of one of my favorite Christmas stories, The Christmas Bus) introduces the reader to the three Howard sisters: Louise, Alice, and Jane. What I liked best about this book is that once the sisters are back in their family home, they revert to their old behavioral patterns. Louise even admits to acting 17. I think this is often true, especially if siblings have not had a chance to live near one another and develop an adult relationship. In this book, we get to see the conflicts and the changes that result from being under the same roof as adults. I have read several of the later books in this series, but I especially liked how Carlson developed the characters. The sisters always had distinct personalities but their life experiences also create their uniqueness. The oldest is widowed with one grown daughter. The middle sister, the peacemaker, is a nurse and never married. She was living and caring for her father upon his death. The third daughter, Jane, is 15 years younger than Louise, the oldest sister. Jane is am artist and a chef who is somewhat recently divorced. Even though you need not read this series in order, I am glad to now know the background story about how the Inn came to be and to hear about the redecorating process before the Inn was open for guests....more
Ortberg is one of my favorite Christian authors, probably because he appeals to my Midwest values and sense of humor as well as being solidly groundedOrtberg is one of my favorite Christian authors, probably because he appeals to my Midwest values and sense of humor as well as being solidly grounded in psychology as well as scripture. Ortberg, like Jesus, understands people, their potential as well as their sins. He writes in a style that at first appears light but actually deals with important Christian concerns. This book explains the biblical references to doors and begins by saying that almost always, God calls us to "go" not "stay". In doing so, God rarely lays out the entire plan so that we can see the path. Instead, God calls us to assignments for which we may feel inadequate or unequipped to handle. Nevertheless, He asks us to take a leap of faith and allow Him to supply our needs. I found this book to be both encouraging and challenging. I stopped to review the doors that God has opened in my life as well as those He has closed. I was reminded to continue to be attuned to open doors throughout my life as God is always leading and providing opportunities for us to move towards realizing our full potential....more
Not much of consequence happens in this tale. Louise is selected to serve on a jury for a man accused of embezzling. She knows it is her civic duty toNot much of consequence happens in this tale. Louise is selected to serve on a jury for a man accused of embezzling. She knows it is her civic duty to serve and she wants to be a "good juror" but the timing is very inconvenient as her daughter Cynthia has just come to the Inn for a visit. The title of the story refers to a couple who stays at the end. In the fall their only daughter will be going off to college and the parents are going to miss her dearly. Aunt Ethel helps them cultivate a positive view of this change in their lives....more