Tag Archives: Stephenia McGee

Top 10 Tuesday — Coming Home to A Small Town

8 Mar

No, I cannot forget from where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be
— John Mellencamp

I wasn’t raised in a small town, although the Orlando area wasn’t huge before Disney. I would never say I had a small town upbringing, but I have lived in small towns all my married life. I love a small town, and I think it was the best environment for my children growing up. Is that why I love stories set in small towns? Maybe.

This week TTT is featuring favorite literary tropes. One of my favorites is a character that returns to their roots and discovers truths about their lives. Although the small town mystery/suspense novels I have on the list may make them regret their decision, at least for a while. 😉 I’ve included recent novels I have read — historical romance, women’s fiction, mystery/suspense, contemporary romance — something for everyone. I hope you find a small town to love too.

For more favorite tropes, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Coming Home to A Small Town

After She Falls by Carmen Schober

The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Inn on Hanging Hill by Christy Barritt

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Barritt

The Secret Place by Camille Eide

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen

The Sound of Falling Leaves by Lisa Carter

Sunrise by Susan May Warren

Top 10 Tuesday — New-To-Me Authors

25 Jan

I love discovering new authors — it greatly enhances my TBR. LOL! Seriously, I really like a fresh voice. This week’s TTT is all about the new authors we read in 2021. I hope you find a new one to love!

For more new-to-you-and-me authors, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top New-To-Me Authors

Ashley Clark — The Dress Shop on King Street

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton–the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman–boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

Amanda Cox — The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

Nicole Deese — Before I Called You Mine

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now – the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Although she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

Melissa Koslin — Never Miss

Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaile’s life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him–and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there’s no one they can trust–except perhaps each other.

Strap in for a breakneck story that will have you up all night, hurtling toward the last page as the clock ticks and time runs out.

Stephenia McGee — The Cedar Key

Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome—and often frustrating—new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

Ramona Richards — Burying Daisy Doe

No cold case is more important than the one that destroyed her own family

Every small town has one unsolved case that haunts its memory, festering for generations below the surface with the truth of humanity’s darkness. Star Cavanaugh is obsessed with the one that tore her family apart.

Over sixty years ago, Daisy Doe was murdered and discarded outside Pineville, Alabama, buried without a name or anyone to mourn her loss. When Star’s father tried to solve the case, he was also killed. Now a cold-case detective with resources of her own, Star is determined to get to the bottom of both crimes. But she’ll have to face an entire town locked in corruption, silence, and fear–and the same danger that took two other lives. The only people in the town she can trust are her grandmother and the charming Mike Luinetti, and both of them trust a God Star isn’t sure she believes in. Can Christians so focused on the good really help her track down this evil?

With an irresistible combination of sharp suspense, faith, humor, and authentic regional flavor, Burying Daisy Doe will draw fans of Terri Blackstock, Margaret Maron, Jaime Jo Wright, and J.T. Ellison.

Carmen Schober — After She Falls

She’s always had that fire in her. She just needs to find it again.

Strong-willed Adri Rivera nearly achieved her goal of being a professional mixed martial artist, but then she fell in love with a man who knocked all the fight out of her. When their abusive, tumultuous relationship finally comes to a head, Adri flees with their young daughter to her small hometown in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, she must face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together again. 

A hardened Max Lyons can’t believe Adri is back in town after abruptly cutting him and everyone else off years ago. Despite the distance that grew between them, he feels compelled to help her regain her independence and offers her a job at his gym. But regaining each other’s trust is another matter, made even more complicated by the lingering spark between them. As Adri dares to pursue her dream again, she trains for a big tournament with Max’s help, but they’ll both have to confront their own doubts in order to rise victorious.

Rhona Weaver — Noble Calling

A Southern farm boy who loves God and family, college football and America, rookie FBI agent Win Tyler lives in pursuit of making the world a better place. But when he becomes embroiled in a major political corruption case on the East Coast that takes a bad turn, he is exiled by the Bureau to a do-nothing post in Yellowstone National Park. Dejected by the demotion, and with his heart heavy from the sting of a bad breakup, Win arrives in Yellowstone deeply conflicted as to his true calling in life.

Win quickly finds himself confronting pure evil when anti-government militiamen attempt to violently disrupt the park’s dedication of a Jewish monument. The militia leader, a self-styled prophet, exploits the day’s mayhem to advance an even more sinister agenda. The demands of Win’s job test his courage and faith as he is faced with hazardous river rescues, dangerous wildlife, and hostile terrain. Feeling desperate and alone, he strives to build partnerships with park rangers and with one of the most enigmatic and dangerous militiamen, who may or may not be an ally in the Bureau’s fight against domestic terrorism. But within this increasingly tangled web of deceit, violence, and revenge, everyone’s motives are questioned.

Set amid the stunning landscape of Yellowstone National Park, A Noble Calling is a story of suspense and intrigue about a young man seeking redemption and his true identity. It is the first book in the FBI Yellowstone Adventure series.

Top 10 Tuesday — If You Liked . . .

16 Nov

Every month I come up with a If You Liked post for the novel my book club read. I try to list at least 3 books that have something in common with our monthly selection — setting, theme, historical elements, etc. I have shared this before on TTT, but I have some new recommendations. My list includes several genres — something for everyone. I hope you find a book to love! 🙂

Top Books to Read if You Liked . . .

If you liked Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan, a time-slip novel set in the South with an historical mystery, then try . . .

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

***********************

If you liked Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson, a book set during WWII, which features those who heroically saved the Jewish people, then try . . .

Defy The Night by Heather And Lydia Munn

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

***********************

If you liked The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee, a novel with a small town setting that focuses on second chances, then try . . .

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Star Rising by Janet W. Ferguson

***********************

If you liked Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell, a suspense novel with an unusual main character who is not in law enforcement, then try . . .

Formula for Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin

Taken by Dee Henderson

Top 10 Tuesday — Lovely Book Hometowns

30 Mar

I have always been a small town girl, at least in my heart. I grew up in a large-ish town, but as an adult found myself enjoying small town living. I like less traffic, feeling a part of a community, and knowing people when I shop, dine, or recreate. I am aware of the pitfalls of small town life, (people knowing your business at number 1 😉 ), but still prefer to live in my small town. It was great raising children here too!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about favorite book settings that you could live in. It’s no wonder that I chose small towns, both real and fictional.

In what book setting would you like to call your hometown?

For more Top 10 Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Settings I Could Live In

Blackberry Springs, Alabama — where newcomers can find family, awesome swimming hole

Chawton, England (post-WWII) — it’s where Jane Austen lived!

Edisto Island, South Carolina — southern coastal town, great seafood restaurants, nearby Charleston

Hope Harbor, Oregon — beautiful landscape, interesting mix of new and long-time residents, quirky taco truck owner, engaging seagulls

Maryville, Mississippi — great neighbors, a chance to get involved in the community

St. Simons Island, Georgia — coastal town with a small town feel, artsy, community commitment to important issues

Three Sisters Island, Maine — quirky and independent citizens, wonderful family vacation camp

If You Liked . . . The Cedar Key

26 Feb

The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee was just what my book club needed — a sweet romance, a bit of humor, great characters, and a great spiritual message. This novel focuses on second chances and has a wonderful small town setting. If you liked it too, I have a few more recommendations of books that have some of the same elements.

 

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

After Raine’s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter’s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that’s compromised when Raine reveals she’s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend’s son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: “The baby is mine.”

Knowing gossip of Raine’s pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin’s reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin’s feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

 

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well ― a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.

 

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson

Star Youngblood has always been a fighter — a necessity after her mother married a monster of a man. Now, she’s finally on the path to the stable life she’s always wanted. Her employer, Priscilla Kelly, is a sweet woman ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis, and Star will do anything to help her. Even if that means going toe to toe with Mrs. Kelly’s neglectful son. After being betrayed on the mission field and devastated by the tragic death of his father, Paul Kelly gave up on God. He lives life on his own terms, biding his time as a corporate pilot until he can save enough money to begin his own flight school closer to home. His mother is all he has left, and he wants to be near her. He just didn’t expect her health to decline so quickly. When he discovers his mother has taken in a stray—a woman he’s not at all sure can be trusted—his protective instincts kick into high gear. Paul’s handled a lot of turbulence, but he’s never gone up against a force like Star.As Paul and Star strive to protect his mother in their own ways, they soon find their own hearts are at the greatest risk.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Books That Made Me Laugh

23 Feb

Happy Tuesday! This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud. Are you in the mood for a good laugh, a chuckle, a snicker, or a guffaw? Then I have a list of books for you! I’m not sure any of the books can be labeled humor, but they have elements that are just plain funny. What I love about them is their balance — a good story that provides insight with enough levity to even out the hard things of life. I laughed out loud (and sometimes cried) while reading these books because of quirky characters or the predicaments that characters find themselves in. I hope you get a good laugh and a great reading experience from them.

 

For more funny books, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Books That Made Me Laugh

 

The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

Darcy by Any Other Name by Laura Hile

 

For The Love of Joy by Janet Ferguson

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

On A Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson

 

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

 

What book has made you LOL?

Book Review: The Cedar Key

18 Feb

My book club read The Cedar Key, Stephenia McGee‘s contemporary small-town novel, for our February meeting. This combination women’s fiction/light romance by a new-to-us author was just what we needed! We liked it!

 

Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome — and often frustrating — new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

 

 

Best-selling author of Christian novels, Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. When she’s not twirling around in hoop skirts, reading, or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a homeschool mom of two boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Visit her at http://www.StepheniaMcGee.comfor books and updates.

 

My Impressions:

I have to admit that I had no preconceived notions before beginning The Cedar Key. I knew McGee’s reputation for quality historical fiction, but had never read anything by her. I discovered a true gem. This novel combines women’s fiction and romance with a small southern town setting. I really liked it — recommended!

Main character Casey has had a difficult life full of abandonment. Shortly after finding her biological grandmother, she is again hit with loss. Desperate for some stories of the family she never knew, she prepares for a short stay in Maryvillle, MS and a bit of discovery of where she came from. What she finds is a new sense of who she is in God’s eyes. I loved this message — no matter who people say you are, you are loved and valuable to God. I read an interview by McGee in which she said that her target audience is Christian women and she desires to tell stories that reinforce their worth in Jesus. The Cedar Key achieves this in a natural way — no preachiness here. I found Casey very relatable and many of the other characters charming. All except one. McGee is good at making a reader dislike the bad guy. LOL! Of course the author also had me feeling sorry for that person and desiring a little redemption for them as well. The main story centers on Casey and her journey of discovery, but there is some sweet romance as well. Casey and next-door neighbor, Ryan, have a relationship that develops naturally. My book club wanted more after the final page was turned. Could there be a return visit to Maryville? We all hope so.

Endearing characters, a wonderful setting, a bit of humor, and a thoughtful message make The Cedar Key a recommended read!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

February Book Club Selection — The Cedar Key

1 Feb

February, the month of love! What better way to celebrate than to read a romance novel with my book club? This month we are reading The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee. This contemporary romance is set in a small and quirky Mississippi town — can’t wait to read it! Below are all the details.

 

Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome — and often frustrating — new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

 

 

Best-selling author of Christian novels, Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. When she’s not twirling around in hoop skirts, reading, or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a homeschool mom of two boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Visit her at http://www.StepheniaMcGee.com for books and updates.