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House of Living Stones

(Anthems of Zion #1)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  380 ratings  ·  92 reviews
The first book in the Anthems of Zion series!

In the small Illinois town of Bradbury, change doesn't come often, and it certainly doesn't come easily. So when Pastor Fletcher hires Emily Duke as the new choir director at Zion Lutheran Church, he unknowingly sets in motion a chain of events that turns the life of his congregation upside down.

The crusty church secretary, Mrs.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2014 by Concordia Publishing House
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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 ·  380 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Once I entered the world of Emily Duke, I could not seem to put it down again for very long. Charming, sweet, and wholesome, yes, but oh so much more. This book switched between humor and sorrow with grace and ease. It was real in a way that never felt forced or contrived. Life lessons and faith lessons wrapped in honesty and warm hugs. I wanted to crawl inside its pages and spend time with these people, that's how they real they felt.

Sure, it was easy to fall in love with Emily, Alice, Pastor
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dec 25, 2020 * 3.5 - 4 stars
Even though I'm not Lutheran, I enjoyed this story about a Lutheran choir director in a small, Midwestern farming community.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a sweet, fun, sometimes thought-provoking look at life in a small town. I laughed many times while reading this, and got tears in my eyes a couple times too. Schuermann has written two sequels, and I hope to read them before the end of the year.

I've seen this book compared to the Mitford books by Jan Karon, and that description is fairly apt, though I feel like this is a bit edgier than the Mitford books I've read. But the first Mitford books were written more than twenty years ago, so,
Zion Lutheran Church in Bradbury, meet Emily Duke. She is kind, thoughtful, and ready for a new beginning. Emily Duke, meet Zion Lutheran Church in Bradbury. Her members are sharp, practical, and fiercely loyal. Together, they learn that life is always sweeter when burdens- and cinnamon rolls- are shared together.

This book has a special place in my heart. Initially read during a very difficult time in my life, House of Living Stones made me laugh, cry, and most importantly, gave me HOPE. Katie S
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. Can't wait to read more from this author about the people at Zion and their lives. ...more
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Delightfully hard to put down, and it made me want to go read Anne of Green Gables again.
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book about a Lutheran church's choir director was recommended to me by my Lutheran church's choir director! Although not my usual genre, I found it well written and enjoyable. I especially liked that the former pastor's wife was a nice person since I am a pastor's wife! It was fun to read about a world that I am so familiar with and will most likely read the other two books in this series. ...more
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-reads
In the small Illinois town of Bradbury, change doesn't come often, and it certainly doesn't come easily. So when Pastor Fletcher hires Emily Duke as the new choir director at Zion Lutheran Church, he unknowingly sets in motion a chain of events that turns the life of his congregation upside down.

The crusty church secretary, Mrs. Scheinberg, must learn to adjust her curmudgeonly ways. Zion's talented but pompous organist, Evan Ebner, must recognize his shortcomings. Emily must come to terms with
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The women of the church seem determined to find a match for their young, bachelor pastor, so the young, single female choir director is enthusiastically welcomed... except by the organist and interim director. But then the rumor mill starts, as some supposedly Christian parishioners reveal smug self-righteousness and a desire to humiliate while others reveal a soft, caring heart hidden behind a prickly exterior, reminding us all that appearances are less important than heart.

Showing the difficul
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This novel is absolutely hilarious and refreshing!! I found myself laughing through parts and then crying! I was a former pastor's wife and Katie has captured the antics of mannerisms of church life in such an amusing and tasteful way. I fell in love with Emily, Alice, Rebecca, and Pastor Fletcher while feeling equal amounts of distaste for Candice and Evan. Before the story had come to a close, many of my feelings had changed about characters and assumptions.
I felt for Emily trying to take ove
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
After having read many Christian fiction books where the climax of the book is for the character to "ask Jesus into his/her heart," this book was a breath of fresh air for my Lutheran lungs. I really enjoyed the very realistic and imperfect characters, the humorous dialogue, the inclusion and respect for people of all ages, and how the church intersected in so many aspects of each character's life. Mrs. Schuermann was able to capture what it's like to be a part of a LCMS church and its family--i ...more
Becky F.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read Christian fiction in years because I got tired of the perfect characters. The characters in this book and real and relatable: simul justus et peccator. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved both of her books. I actually read them twice. A friend read them and said she was tempted to switch to becoming a Lutheran. These books are wonderful. they make you laugh, cry, learn about God's grace and mercy. I certainly hope she comes out with many more books. ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A delightful book that gives you a peak into the lives of members of Zion Lutheran Church. Flawed, hurting but also loving people who have a history together. I can't wait for the next one. ...more
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book. Could have been written by Jan Karon or Jeanette Oke. Or maybe Debbie Viguie. The living stones are the people who are the church, the different personalities that make up this congregation of a small Lutheran church in a small town. You don't have to be Lutheran, or even a Bible-thumping Christian to appreciate this story of a choir director who moves to the town and faces the mystery of why the organist is so ornery, what's going on with various people... and of course there i ...more
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful story! I loved the “Lutheran-ness” of the characters, and as a choir director I also throughly enjoyed the music references. The characters seemed so real and genuine that you would think this really happened in a small Midwestern town. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a well thought out story with genuine characters and relatable life issues!
Beverly Ohlendorf
Whimsical Christian Delight

I simply adored this delightful book. It truly captured the essence of Lutheran church life in the Midwest. When Emily Duke becomes Zion Lutheran 's new choir director, her presence sets in motion a whole host of cataclysmic events that will change the church and community forever, not to mention the single pastor! It's a wonderful addition to my library, and I can hardly wait to read the sequel.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good book, true to life for a Lutheran church and probably others.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked this book much more than I had expected. Normally the small-town church life genre is not my cup of tea, but after starting the first chapter one night when I couldn’t stand cramming any more dry nonfiction in my brain, I found myself drawn in, squeezing chapters in during lunch and late at night. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure and the perfect summer fun read.

How could I help liking an almost flawless heroine who loves bunnies and Anne of Green Gables? Not to mention chocolate and mus
Apr 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, lutheran
I have put off reading this book because the ratings from my friends have varied so widely, and because the author and I have mutual friends, and I was afraid I wouldn't like the book. But this week, needing an antidote to the darkness of Stephen King, I went for it.
I mostly enjoyed the book. I liked many of the characters. There were times when things were a bit implausible, resolutions too quick, etc. But my biggest complaint about this book is all of the similes. At one point there were thre
Rachel Boothby
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my second time reading HOLS, and for some reason I didn't write a review the first time. Let me rectify that: I LOVE this book. The author has created a realistic cast of characters with endearing quirks, and a honest perspective of life in a small town. I love how the reader is constantly reminded that the family of God is not perfect, but by His Grace we are forgiven and redeemed through Christ Jesus. It's absolutely amazing how this work of fiction has given me renewed joy in my daily ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Surprisingly this was a fun read and would give it 3.5 stars. There is quite abit of humor and I actually teared up at one point. If you belong to a church or any organization really, you will be able to put names to these characters. A good book to show how we sometimes treat each other and how we should.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hits all the right notes

This is a great piece of contemporary writing. The author balances humor with heartache, joy with sorrow, laughter with longing. The result is a compelling and completely believable story that leaves the reader anxious for more! This book is light reading, but definitely not fluff. Looking forward to the next volumes.
Stephanie Traphagan
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
House of Living Stones has become for me a comfort read. Even more so than other books that are easy to pick up when you need something warm and familiar, HoLS brings with it the sweet words of the Gospel, the truest comfort of all. I love this series.

Plus, the book's title comes from a rock solid hymn. Can't go wrong there.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just re-read this novel as part of my vacationing and I found myself laughing at the Lutheran in-jokes here and there. Schuermann has accurately depicted life in a choir and in a congregation, and given us characters who are very much true-to-life. I enjoyed this novel a lot. I will read it again. And again.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Set in a small town in Illinois, Bradbury, this is the story of a chain of events set in motion when the Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church hires Dr. Emily Duke as the church's choir director. Katie Schuermann perfectly captures life in a small town and the struggle between saint and sinner every Christian experiences. ...more
Bonnie Dice
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book.

The book reminded me of the Jan Karon series. I enjoyed the characters. It was funny and kept me interested. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Ginny Marie
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Since I'm Lutheran, there were some little nuances that I appreciated in this cute romance novel from Katie Schuermann. I'm looking forward to reading her next book! ...more
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was such fun to read. I found myself laughing out loud in places. But it wasn't just funny. There were many theological points of value interspersed throughout the book...not preachy, but completely appropriate to the conversations and experiences that were taking place. I truly can't wait for the next one in the series. It is a little bit Jan Karon's Mitford Series, a little bit Philip Gulley's At Home in Harmony series, with twists. If you grew up Lutheran it will especially be a fu ...more
Jonathan Schkade
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
With gentle humor, heart, and characters you swear you've met before in real life, a great start to a series! This is good Christian fiction for anyone, but especially for those whose lives revolve around their local church and community. It's not afraid of showing the warts, the scars, and the power of forgiveness.

I look forward to finishing the whole series soon.
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Earthy and lyrical, Katie Schuermann's voice is as refreshing and invigorating as the Midwestern sunshine in which she was raised. Writing in vignettes which so perfectly suit the charm of small-town life, Schuermann's stories call to mind the warmth and realism of Montgomery's Avonlea.

When not writing, Schuermann can be found singing, gardening, cooking, holding babies, or trying to climb the nea

Other books in the series

Anthems of Zion (3 books)
  • The Choir Immortal
  • The Harvest Raise

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