Home at Last by Deborah Raney

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
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Four Silver Stars

Home at LastHome At Last by Deborah Raney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Link Whitman doesn’t exactly find an easy way into the good graces of Shayla Michaels after a near-tragic incident with Link’s truck on an icy road. But that’s only the tip of an iceberg of obstacles that may prevent a friendship–and something more–between this white man and mixed race woman in Home at Last, a novel by author Deborah Raney.

Yes, I jumped into this series with the final book, without having read the preceding ones. But despite my bit of trouble keeping all of the Whitman family names straight a couple times, this last Chicory Inn novel didn’t leave me feeling lost.

In fact, I was pulled right into the novel early, and overall, I remained quite engaged along the way. The story brings together its cast of very human characters to tackle real questions concerning love, friendship, family, race relations, prejudice, faith, and how we handle our fears and dreams.

I’ll admit that I was more than halfway through the book before I got a convincing feel for the romance. For much of the story, it seems the development of Link and Shayla’s relationship is strongly focused on the surrounding issues that can keep them apart without enough focus on building the chemistry between them, in real time. It’s almost as if the romance is mostly happening in the background, and then serious romantic feelings pop into the foreground.

Nevertheless, this is a hopeful and thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed and would highly recommend to fellow ChristFic readers–perhaps even ones who don’t normally read romance.

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Home at Last is Book Five in the Chicory Inn series.

Home to Chicory Lane (Chicory Inn #1) Two Roads Home (Chicory Inn, #2) Another Way Home (Chicory Inn #3) Close to Home (Chicory Inn #4)

Buying Love by Toni Shiloh

romance-books-5 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit for an honest review.

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Four Silver Stars

Buying LoveBuying Love by Toni Shiloh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Nina wants a family, but with no prospects for a marriage and children in sight, she advertises in the newspaper for a husband, including a dowry in the deal. Dwight answers the ad in honest need of cash to save his family’s restaurant and his father’s legacy. But when Dwight begins falling for Nina, their financial tie-up may get in the way in Buying Love by author Toni Shiloh.

Well, gee. What an interesting fix Nina and Dwight get themselves into. There are good points of tension in the story–two people prayerfully heading into a risky venture even though they don’t have all the answers, and a man wrestling with how he can ever be a provider for a woman who has more money than he does.

The last burst of conflict for the climax felt a little contrived to me, not quite a natural fit for this particular hero and heroine. But the romance is out-and-out sweet without being too syrupy (yes, even considering all the maple around.) The book also concludes with a good amount of key, wonderful things and has left me in anticipation of the coming continuation of the series.

Many other fans of ChristFic romance should enjoy this story of love, friends, family, and belonging.

Hidden Figures (2016)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Hidden Figures (2016) from Levantine Films, Chernin Entertainment, Fox 2000 Pictures
Rated PG. Drama, African American Actors/Issues, Biography/Historical

Description (from the film trailer): Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

My thoughts: This story was all the more enlightening for me, since I’ll admit that NASA and all matters of space aren’t exactly the highest matters on my radar. And when I think of “computers,” I (like most people these days, I expect) automatically think of “machines” as opposed to human beings who, well, compute. This may be the most interesting that computing and mathematics have ever been to me. Albeit I’ll be sticking with writing and leave the numbers up to the folks who work well with those. 🙂

This is a well-rounded film, maybe a tad corny in spots, but so well cast. It’s the little stuff that makes a movie great, otherwise the big stuff feels like schmaltz, doesn’t feel earned. This movie earns its big stuff.

I was cautious beforehand, since sometimes when a movie knows what it’s supposed to do, it tries too hard to get there. (Like the movie Belle, for instance.) But, no, Hidden Figures knows what it’s supposed to do and just does it.

Truly inspiring.

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Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

black-white-otherBlack, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

…I find three whole chapters of MISS SARAH ARMSTRONG: ON THE RUN. Sarah, who might actually be the only person on the planet I can relate to. The only problem: she’s dead.

Nina’s black father and white mother have decided to divorce, a racial uproar is spreading through Nina’s hometown, and it seems her fellow teenaged classmates and friends are now dividing everything along color lines. Seeking direction, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery in Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by author Joan Steinau Lester.

What a story this is about family and friendship, injustice and unrest, slavery and freedom, legacy and identity. I’ll admit that Nina got a few head shakes from me, when she’d slip into bratty, know-it-all, disrespectful mode, even when only in her head. And I don’t automatically shrug that stuff off just because a character is a teenager in a YA novel. But I didn’t find her too unbearable to read about, particularly during her moments of protectiveness and dry humor. Besides, the lessons she learns are more than worth it.

Along with my head shakes came nods of appreciation for different points raised in the story, including how so many of us (no matter our “color”) are really more mixed than we know, and about how slavery is not merely something that happened back in the past, in one country.

Whether you’re an inspirational fiction fan or not, a young adult fiction fan or not, I’d recommend this as a worthwhile and moving read.

But a part of me argues back, telling me that just because things aren’t perfect or easy or right, it doesn’t mean God’s not here.