JanuaryNote: Clicking on the picture of the book will take you to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. Net Galley sends me advanced digital copies of these books in exchange for my honest opinion on their website. I only feature books that I really love on my blog.

Steal Away Home—January 2, 2018

By Billy Coffey

I don’t often read books about baseball—mostly because I’d rather scrub toilets than watch a baseball game. Call me unAmerican. Whilst searching for something new to read on NetGalley, the pickings seemed slim for my usual fair, so I requested Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey—even though it mentioned baseball.

Coffey weaves this gripping coming-of-age tale into the span of minor league Owen Cross’s taxi ride and baseball game at Yankee Stadium. His luminous descriptions and turns of phrase had me on the edge of my seat in ways that a real baseball game has never done before. The tension between past and present hums and threatens to burn like an electric fence. I don’t often underline passages from novels, but I found myself stopping to savor and remember words the characters say.

Set in Virginia in the late 80s and 90s, the book looks at poverty and class in small-town Appalachia. I lived in the hill country of West Virginia in the mid 70s, and once we moved out West, I think I forgot about the prejudice and class order—assuming that surely those attitudes had moved on as I had moved on. Apparently not. Poverty crushes, whether modern-day or decades ago.

More Than an Analogy

But the story doesn’t just paint a picture of poverty, with baseball as an analogy for life and faith (although it does do those things). It left me moved, but unsatisfied—with the author, and with myself. I like tidy endings when I close the covers of a book. It took me hours after I turned the last page to figure out what I think the author wanted to say by ending the book the way he ended it. But the ending and the conclusion leaves me wanting to sit down with Billy Coffey and argue with him (over a cup of tea in a genteel way, of course).

I don’t want to give anything away, so suffice it to say that you don’t have to love (or even like) baseball in order to love this book. But like the love of any sport, you might feel as if your team lost when you close the covers of the book—but still love them anyway.

A Song Unheard—January 1, 2018

By Rosanna White

The second installment of Roseanna M. White’s Shadows Over England series outshines the first (a hard act to follow). The series centers on the unusual ‘family’ of Robin Hood-like thieves who live in pre-World War I London. The eldest sister, Rosemary, has married, leaving Willa Forsythe to wonder what will happen to the rest of the family. Rosemary promises to help the older ones take care of and educate the younger ones. But Willa, who knows the mean streets of London, has a difficult time believing her sister’s promise.

When the mysterious Mr. V offers her a job in Wales, she snags the chance—especially because it involves meeting her violin virtuoso crush, Lukas De Wilde. She’ll pose as a wealthy schoolmate of the two women who sponsor the beleaguered Belgium’s orchestra on a fund-raising tour of England. Her task? Find a mysterious cypher key before it falls into the hands of the Germans.

Lukas De Wilde might have escaped the Germans, but his heart remains in Belgium with his mother and sister. He has no idea if they escaped to safety after the soldiers ransacked their hometown. He does know that he will never forgive himself if something has happened to them. For now, all he can do is practice and hope that he’ll make enough money to find a way back behind enemy lines to find his family. He has no time for anything else.


Until a mysterious woman shows up in the house of his sponsors—one whose talent on the violin surpasses his own. For the first time in his life, he considers leaving behind his playboy ways. He even offers to tutor the beautiful young woman, another first.

Willa and Lukas struggle with their feelings for each other as they try to accomplish their goals—for Willa, finding the code; for Lukas, finding his family. Ultimately, they must come to know themselves as their own worst enemies.

Fans of historical novels who love a little suspense and mystery will love this book.

The View from Rainshadow Bay—January 23

by Colleen Coble

If you’re looking for a healthy dose of suspense and a late night date with a good book, this book will fit the bill! Coble has started another series, this one set in Lavender Tides, Washington. Shauna McDade, recent widow, single mom, and helicopter pilot, uncovers the threads of a sinister plot in her peaceful little town.

To make matters worse, she can’t name the plot or the mastermind behind it. The string of ‘accidental’ deaths, including her husband’s, has her questioning everything and everyone she knows. In addition, someone has started stalking her and her young son. The only person she feels as if she could trust is the one person she blames for her husband, Jack’s, untimely death.

Zach Bannister, pilot and airport owner, feels responsible for Shauna’s husband’s death, just not in the same way. Sure, they knew how to egg each other on to find the ultimate adrenalin rush, but he can’t believe that Shauna actually blames him for Jack’s death.

Their uneasy alliance to figure out who’s responsible for the deaths brings them into each other’s company in ways that make them both rethink their former friendship as well as their future. Only by working together can they unravel the truth and prevent more deaths.

Fans of Cara Putman, Terri Blackstock, and Lynette Eason will love this book!

All Things Bright and Strange—January 30

by James Market

All Thing Bright and Strange lives up to its title. This apocryphal tale takes the reader to the Deep South at the end of World War I. Ellsworth Newberry has the end of his life all figured out, a single bullet to his head should do the trick. He went to war when he lost his beloved wife, and lost his leg in the war. Now he has nothing left to live for.

Until he notices a cardinal on his windowsill. The captivating characters of Bellhaven, South Carolina help bring Ellsworth out of his depression as they turn to him to find answers to the strange happenings around town. Flowers blooming out of season, flocks of birds hovering and forming shapes in the sky, and a mysterious chapel with a healing floor that appears to bring healing to the townsfolk.

While a good tale, I struggled with the conceit of who the characters represent. As I read, I felt as if the author had Eric Bazilion’s song What if God Was One of Us playing on repeat in the background as he wrote. I found the characters’ daily actions disturbing.

The author paints the line between natural and supernatural, good and evil with giant strokes. On the other hand, he makes some great points about humanity’s propensity to take a good idea to excess without questioning the possible consequences.

I still can’t decide if I liked or hated the book. You’ll have to read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Check out these book reviews for January releases from @billycoffey @colleencoble @JamesMarkert @RoseannaMWhite #amreading #goodbooks Click To Tweet

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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