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review 2020-01-11 10:00
It'll Be Okay Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book


Book: It’ll Be Okay

Author: Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner

Genre: Non-Fiction, Christian Growth

Release Date: April, 2018

Is it okay for Christians to doubt?

When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep praying or walking forward in faith. Difficult times often cloud our perspective. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith.

Our doubts express a yearning to be sure of what—and who—we trust. When our questions are answered by trust, faith is fed and our doubts transform into deeper belief that pushes us toward a decision.

· When we address doubt head-on, faith can grow.

· God has a plan in the good and bad that life brings.

· God can heal our wounds and turn our past mistakes around.

Join nationally-known Bible teacher Sheryl Giesbreacht Turner as she guides you toward a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth—and how learning to ‘doubt your doubts’ enables faith to prevail.  
Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner holds a bachelor of arts, a master’s in ministry, and a doctorate of theology. Her television and radio show, “Transformed Through Truth,” is nationally and internationally syndicated; it’s seen and heard daily by millions of viewers and listeners on audio, internet, Roku, and YouTube networks across the United States and through The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network worldwide. Sheryl is the author of three books and hundreds of columns, articles, and devotions. As a Lead Like Jesus facilitator, a blogger, and a missionary with Freedom in Christ Ministries she has personally equipped hundreds and facilitated the training of thousands of national and international leaders. She and her husband, Dr. Jim Turner, live in California’s Central Valley where she enjoys running 5K races with her eighty-five-year-old mother. 

More from Sheryl


I’ve always been the one to ask the questions. As a kindergartener, I embarrassed my mother when I inquired, “Where did I come from?” Years passed, as a teenager, I made unhealthy life choices, experimented with alcohol and street drugs, and wondered, “What am I here for?” As a young adult, in Bible College; I asked God to take control of my life and questioned, “What’s my purpose?” Maybe you, too, have had or now have questions? These concerns may even keep you up at night? Doubting ourselves or God may be criticized as a lack of faith. I disagree. Doubt is the in between. Doubts need to be addressed. If doubts are not considered, they will rot our faith from the inside out. When we doubt, we are able to be honest with ourselves and God. We should not be afraid to doubt.
As a delivered drug addict, stage four cancer survivor, and former widow, I’ve faced many types of situations which caused me to question God’s love, goodness and compassion. As I have gone to His word, I’ve discovered He hasn’t changed, His word continues to speak and revives my faith, taking me to a deeper level every single time. I am reminded of this in Lamentations 3:21-24 (NIV) Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Thank you so much for being part of this blog tour. I am excited about what God is going to do with His truth in us as we bring our questions to the Answer – Jesus.
Love and prayers, Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner

My Review


Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner’s “It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth” is a short but powerful work of nonfiction that addresses the doubt that we all feel at one time or another. As with the fact that trees grow deeper roots when they are exposed to winds and storms, so it is with our faith in God. Trials may cause us to doubt, but as long as we continue to talk with God and spend time in the Bible, doubt can make our faith grow. “Life offers opportunities to doubt or believe God through many unwanted circumstances, and you will find him present, faithful, and true in all of them.” God will never let us down, and He will work all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), even if we can’t see it. He understands our emotions, and He desires for us to discuss our doubts and fears with Him and to read His Word; doing both will ensure that doubt does not become unbelief, a distinction that the author makes in this book. Furthermore, she makes the point that never doubting is dangerous because it means that you are not connecting with God and His Word.

Part of what makes this book so relatable to readers are Giesbrecht Turner’s personal anecdotes. Through the hard times of her own life, she demonstrates how she has learned to draw closer to God despite tragedy and seemingly overwhelming situations. Because, she affirms, “Disruptive moments are opportunities for God to strengthen us and deepen our faith if we let him. They are opportunities to place our trust in an all-knowing God rather than rely on our limited human perspective.” While this book does not have any particularly revelatory information, it serves as a ready reference for times of spiritual drought, when God seems distant and our problems appear magnified. When we choose to confront doubt, faith moves to the forefront and becomes more resilient. “As believers, a Christ-centered hope must be the foundation of our lives”, so start doubting your doubts and leaning into the Lord and you truly will be okay.

I recommend “It’ll Be Okay” to everyone who is facing doubts, big or small, in their lives. It is an easy book to understand but still contains plenty of insights into life’s nadirs. Each chapter opens with a relevant quotation and concludes with a “Can you relate?” section that includes discussion questions for individual or group study. The only real issue I had was that, throughout the book, “He” and other personal pronouns referring to God are not capitalized, but because this is a work of nonfiction, it is clear Who is being referenced. I do love the “Love Letter to My Readers” that Giesbrecht Turner includes at the end; it summarizes the main tenets of the Christian faith and offers a prayer for devoting (or recommitting) your life to Jesus.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

Blog Stops


Through the Lens of Scripture, January 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 8

janicesbookreviews, January 9

Older & Smarter?, January 10

For the Love of Literature, January 11

Texas Book-aholic, January 12

Artistic Nobody, January 13 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, January 13

God is Love, January 14

Genesis 5020, January 15

Inklings and notions, January 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 17

Emily Yager, January 18

All 4 and About Books, January 19 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 19

Beck To Basics, January 20




To celebrate her tour, Sheryl is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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review 2019-12-08 10:00
Made for Brave Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book


Book:  Made for Brave

Author: Alyssa Galios

Genre: Christian Memoir, Widowhood, Cancer

Release Date: November, 2019

From the testimony viewed over 100 million times on the internet:

“I am so sorry I have to deliver such awful news.” Shaking his head, the doctor muttered, “You are both so young.”

A young woman in her twenties with a future and a plan for her life comes up against a tragic nightmare when her handsome and otherwise healthy husband is suddenly diagnosed with a rare inoperable cancer. As her husband’s beliefs grow stronger, Alyssa’s dreams evaporate, and her faith slips away when the worst happens.

Experience soul-searing pain and miraculous moments of joy in this poignant true-life account. Journey with Alyssa as she grapples with life and death, faith and unbelief, disappointment and hope in a search for answers that takes her beyond grief to peace and a surprising new love.

Along the way, you’ll find answers to the questions you may be asking in your own life:

  • Where is God when it hurts?
  • Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
  • Can God make something good come out of bad?
  • Does true love ever strike twice? 

    Made for Brave
    is a striking example of how God can create overwhelming good from even the worst of life when we choose to partner with Him.

Click here for your copy.

About the Author


Alyssa Galios is a writer, speaker, social media influencer, and coach. Founder of the #MadeforBrave movement and CEO of the Made for Brave Company, Alyssa is known for helping countless people create better lives through faith, family, and fitness. Her life story has been featured on sites like Yahoo News, Christian Post, Fox News, HuffPost, and Viralized. Alyssa and her husband Jay run their business out of their home north of Seattle, where they happily raise their daughters. For more information, visit alyssagalios.com.  

More from Alyssa


Some people come into your life as bright as shooting stars. They zip across your horizon then, all too soon, drop back into the blackness. Though you can no longer see them, you are forever changed by their brilliance. This is just as it was with Nicholas Magnotti. Six beautiful years changed the person I will always be.
Before my strapping, young and handsome 25-year-old husband got sick, I missed a large part of the point of living. I was a workaholic mainly; a worry wort often; and I got really good at playing the comparison game. As such, I spent the first three years of our marriage living in selfish fear. Nick’s presence in my life taught me something I won’t ever forget… It taught me that every single moment counts and that what we do in love for others is the only thing that truly makes a lasting impact. And, eventually, the strong faith he exuded through his trials would cause me to question and rebuild my own faith.
The day that I said yes to a blind date with a gorgeous man I had never met… the God of the universe set into motion a series of miraculous events that I couldn’t have possibly ever predicted. He didn’t cause the bad parts of my story. Not at all. But, He saw those parts, from way off in the distance and game-planned so that it would all still work together for good and for His glory. You’ll be amazed at all the good He was able to create. And, the craziest part? He is so not finished yet.
Made for Brave: A Journey Through Devastating Loss to Infinite Hope is an uncommon love story and, at times, a harrowing journey but, more than that, it’s my true life journey that I know I have been called to share. I hope you will walk it with me and come away knowing you have always been made for brave, too.

My Review


Whew. Note to self: do not save a tear-jerker to read when the review is due in a few hours. You will be trying to compose a review while exhausting the Kleenex box and attempting to see through glasses now fully smudged with tears. Truth be told, I didn’t have time to read this book any earlier, and perhaps that’s a good thing. It may not have had such a powerful impact on me if I had taken it piecemeal. Back when the sign-ups were posted for this book, I was on the fence about it, but as it turns out, I’m so glad that I decided to give it a chance. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!

An intimate memoir, “Made for Brave” provides a moving testimony of love and loss. Author Alyssa Galios details her journey through the trauma of her husband Nick’s diagnosis with a rare inoperable cancer and its aftermath. With piercing honesty, she tells her and Nick’s story from the beginning. The steady pace makes the pages fly by, and the writing itself is conversational and emotional, drawing the reader in immediately. For me, “Made for Brave” was even more personal because I related to this story in more ways than one. The reality of rare disease, the scramble for a diagnosis, the fact that doctors don’t know what to do even once they do have a diagnosis…I do not have cancer, but as someone with multiple chronic and rare illnesses, these are things I have experienced firsthand. Alyssa’s observation at one point early on is something that I am working on too: “Eventually, instead of worrying so much about what didn’t work right, I started counting everything as a blessing when it did work correctly.” Faith over fear.

The tears, however, didn’t start flowing until reading about Nick’s final months. So much of his amazing godly attitude and spirit reminded me of one of my dearest friends, my “soul sister,” who went home to be with Jesus in August, also at the age of 27. Her passing was not unexpected, either, but that does little to assuage the grief; grief for this separation, but joy in knowing that I will see her again someday in God’s Kingdom. As I was reading, I took a short break and came across a comment that my friend had written three years ago to someone who was grieving a loss, and it brought comfort to my heart. When I resumed reading, my eyes widened and the tears started coming in earnest as I read Nick’s words to Alyssa: “I’ll always be with you. Everywhere around you. In your heart.” The phrasing was almost identical! Definitely a God moment!

Heartbreaking as this story is, it also exemplifies Psalm30:5b: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The first two-thirds or so of “Made for Brave” deals with sorrow, but then hope arrives full-force, and I did not find even the sadness to be depressing because the threads of hope are there throughout. The chapter titles add depth and speak to the reader. A third of the titles begin with “I Used to”, a third with “Then I”, and the last third with “Now I Know.” They also demonstrate Alyssa’s spiritual journey as a Christian, culminating in a watershed moment of faith from the book of Esther.

If you want to be inspired, with tears of both sorrow and joy along the way, if you need to revitalize your walk with God, if you have cancer or love someone who does, or if you just want to read one of the best memoirs available, check out “Made for Brave.” For as Psalm 73:26 makes clear, “My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops


Texas Book-aholic, December 2

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

Reader’s Cozy Corner, December 4

Just the Write Escape, December 5

As He Leads is Joy, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 7 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Artistic Nobody, December 9

Inklings and notions, December 10

Lots of Helpers, December 11

janicesbookreviews, December 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 14

Through the Fire Blogs, December 15 (Author Interview)




To celebrate her tour, Alyssa is giving away the grand prize package of  $25 Amazon Gift Card & a signed copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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text 2019-11-24 10:00
A Precious Loss Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Book: A Precious Loss

Author: Sharon Fox

Genre: RELIGION / Christian Living / Death, Grief, Bereavement

Release Date: July 8, 2016
Losing a child is the worst tragedy a parent can experience. And yet it happens to many from various causes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), death from illness, stillborn birth, or miscarriage. A Precious Loss offers those who have experienced such a death a window into the grief process. It presents the biblical grief model and the emotions to expect after a loss, and it includes the steps to move forward toward peace and contentment. 
While each parent’s experience is unique, this book is written with deep insight and strong compassion. It provides grieving parents with: 
·         Concrete steps to coping and recovery, including how to care for your health and your relationships and how to cope with emotions and behaviors you can expect to experience 
·         Biblical support for finding comfort and hope in your darkest hours
Recognition of the hard questions you may have, such as these: 
·                     Why me? 
·                     Was this my fault? 
·                     Is someone to blame? 
·                     Is this some sort of punishment for things I did or did not do? 
·                     Is there a purpose for my child’s death? 
·                     Can I trust God? 
If you or a loved one is grappling with the devastating loss of a child, this book will provide hope and encouragement to press on, knowing that God will sustain you through this painful experience. 

Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author



Sharon Fox is a wife, author, speaker and co-founder of Brave Penny (non-profit). Her heart for those who mourn and struggle with loss has led her to write and teach about God’s model of grieving the death of his son, Jesus.  
 A Precious Loss, was written for families who have experienced miscarriage, SIDS, infant death and stillbirths. (Spanish - Una Perdida Preciosa) 
Sharon published Reframing Adoption, (also in Spanish) and a children’s Christmas book, The Stone Carver’s Son. 
She has led a grief recovery ministry for over twenty years. Sharon is a certified grief facilitator and has been a speaker at the National Conference on Adoption and the Anglicans For Life Summit. 

More from Sharon


Precious Loss (Una Perdida Preciosa- Spanish) was written to present a Christian perspective on the survival of families when a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death (SIDS) have occurred. A miscarriage or infant death is strikingly harsh and so many times unknown by others, which leaves the mother and family without support or understanding.  The statistics tell the story.  One in four conceptions end in miscarriage.  Seventy Five Percent of the marriages end in divorce when a child under three dies.
How do families survive the death of a child, a miscarriage, or tragic illness or accident that is such a sacred, personal and bewildering loss event?  A Precious Loss is packed with sage advice, coping skills, presentation of God’s Model of Grieving, the Gospel, helpful, authentic recognition of the emotional overload of loss.  The book presents the blueprint from chaos, sadness, upheaval, questioning, new and strong emotions to contentment. It presents the pathway to the reach contentment and live abundantly again.

Author Interview


Q: When/how did you decide to become a writer?



A: I did not set out to be a writer.  I was a professional trainer at a major retailer’s corporate offices in Minnesota for fourteen years.  It was a total God thing that I wrote my first book, Reframing Adoption (Published by anther publisher).  That book was for Birthmothers who chose, through adoption, to gift their child to another family.  The book was the result of a friend who had chosen adoption for her son.  She asked me to write something for her (and other birthmothers), who knew they had made a wise decision, but were still grieving the loss.  She knew about my grief recovery ministry because she had experienced a significant loss when a family member took their life, a few years before.  I had the honor of walking with her through that grieving process.  


I have been involved in Grief Recovery Ministry for over twenty years.  The ministry began after my sister, Penny Scaggs, was murdered by her husband in 1996. I took a grief class, at my church, about six months after her death.  For me, it was a life changing class. I realized I was not the only one who had had a tragic loss and did not know how to cope.  I joined the American Academy of Bereavement and was certified as a Grief Facilitator.  It was wonderful training – but all secular.  I started to look for biblical teachings on grief and found that God grieved the death of Jesus, his son.  He created a pattern which matches the secular patterns perfectly.  I base my ministry on the Model of Grieving which is described in Matthew.  It is the blueprint to contentment from the chaos of loss.  I have compiled two programs for those who have experienced losses.  General loss is taught in Shadowlands and Precious Losses is taught for the mothers and families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death due to illness or accident and SIDS.  My book A Precious Loss (and the Spanish version Una Perdida PRECIOSA) is the companion of the five-section program of Precious Losses.  The book was written after a pregnancy center asked for Christian materials to support their clients.  The had been using the only resource available at the time which was a trifold describing the medical terminology associated with miscarriage.



Q: Describe your book in five words.



A: Grief Recovery: Miscarriage, Infant Death, SIDS


Q: What are your hobbies?



A: My husband and I love to travel.  This year we spent a total of seven weeks in Europe on two trips.  We visited Greece, Italy, Russia and the highland of Scotland.  On my bucket list is to see the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors.


When at home, I read light-hearted mysteries and currently I am interest in books on how we, as humans, think.  These books are examining the influences, emotional reactions and actions that make us think a certain way and do what we do.


I like to crochet.  I make prayer blankets for nursing homes and hospitals.


Q: Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?



A: I do most of my reading on ebooks.  However, I am just as happy with a paperback.  The choice is usually based on convenience and where I will be reading the book.   For my readers, I hope they use the paper version of Reframing Adoption.  There are discussion questions in the chapters which can be shared in groups or addressed individually. For A Precious Loss, paper is my preference.  There is a chapter which addresses sex after the loss of a child which both parents should read together and discuss openly in the privacy of their home.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?



A: Since I am a Christian writer, I believe the most important thing is to listen to what God is prompting you to write, not your ideas, opinions, nor the towering piles of devotionals or personal testimony books that are out there.  What is it you and you alone can write about that is not about you – but about reflecting God into the life of others?  How can you lead those who are lost, needing comfort or need to experience God’s love, to find peace and wisdom?   What is it that God wants others to know about Him which you can write about?


 I do know the value of telling your story.  Your personal story is critical in healing and getting a perspective about something that has made a very large impact on your life.  But, be sure to keep your eye on the prize, fellow writer.    We are made to worship and praise God.  We are created to seek him as he seeks us. So, as you write, keep pointing back to God concerning anything you write.  The need to pray, listen and allow Him to be the writer and you be the transcriber, in my opinion, is the purest form of worship and sharing God’s love with others.


Know your reader.  I had A Precious Loss translated into Spanish; Una Perdida PRECIOSA. I know that miscarriage and infant death crosses all nationalities, cultures and geographic areas.  One in four conceptions ends in a miscarriage.  The numbers of families who have had miscarriages, is not recognized nor acknowledged by others.  Seventy-five percent of the families who lose a child under the age of three, end in divorce.  Couples are so injured emotionally when a child dies, they seem to drift away from each and see divorce as the next step in their relationship.  Unless they know they are at risk, they are likely to lose something else – their marriage. A Precious Loss responds to the need for information, an understanding of God’s compassion and helpful coping skills to recover and flourish again.


Blog Stops


Quietworkings, November 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17

Artistic Nobody, November 18 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, November 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 20

Simple Harvest Reads, November 21 (Author Interview)

As He Leads is Joy, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 23

For the Love of Literature, November 24 (Author Interview)

janicesbookreviews, November 25

A Reader’s Brain, November 26

My Devotional Thoughts, November 27 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, November 28

Just the Write Escape, November 29




To celebrate her tour, Sharon is giving away the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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text 2019-10-21 10:00
Second Chances Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book


Book: Second Chances

Author: Shirley Quiring Mozena

Genre: Family and relationships/Death, Grief, Bereavement

Release Date: September, 2012

When Shirley and Bill set out on a dream trip in the beautiful northwest wilderness to celebrate their 40th anniversary, what develops is a nightmare that has no end. Mysterious pangs turn into a vicious virus that makes its way into Bill’s body. Shirley finds comfort through her Savior during the six months of Bill’s illness—an illness which eventually takes his life.
After a time, Shirley’s heart aches for companionship. Little does she know that living a few miles from her home, a widower mourns the loss of his wife of 32 years. They meet and fall hopelessly in love, and their love takes them on a two-year journey of joy and adventure until once again overwhelming heartbreak rocks Shirley’s world. This is a story of faith and courage to strengthen your own soul.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author


Shirley Quiring Mozena is an outdoors woman, musician, amateur chef, and former elementary music teacher and librarian. She has survived the hardest test of her faith and now works with others grieving the loss of loved ones.






More from Shirley


They told me there was no hope. How could that be? I’d already lost one husband. Would I have to lose another? We’d had so little time!
Four years earlier—nearly to the day—my high school sweetheart and father of my two children had died. We’d gone through so many struggles. Our marriage was nearly broken. Through courage in facing our faults and selfishness, our marriage was restored. And then, after a six month battle with a terrible virus, my husband died.
I’d never dreamed I’d love again, but it happened. Six months after our first date, we were married.  It seemed like we were still on our honeymoon when the next tragedy happened. Just like that, he was gone.
And then I knew the story needed to be told. For myself. For my children. For anyone who wanted to know. It’s a story of second chances in a restored marriage. In love. In hope for the future and God’s sustaining love and comfort. A story to strengthen your own soul.

Interview with Shirley Quiring Mozena


When and how did you decide to be a writer?


I always dreamed I’d write a book, but raising my children and teaching elementary music at a local Christian school kept me busy. There were some dramatic things that happened after the death of my first husband. 1) the school I taught at for 15 years closed and I had to find a job in the public sector. It was amazing how God worked in my life to find the job I eventually found. Later, I met and married my second husband who after 17 months, died very suddenly of a brain aneurysm. It was devastating because I thought we’d have more time. I decided I needed to tell my story of love and loss and that’s how the book came into being. I was in my sixties when I published my first book and now, writing is my first love.


Five words to describe my book:


Love/Redemption/Hope/Second Chance/Romance


Which author has most influenced your own writing?


Francine Rivers, my all-time favorite author.


What is your work schedule when you are writing?


You’d think since I am retired, I’d have plenty of time, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. When I am really focusing, I try to schedule two hours a day of writing, research, and marketing. Sometimes I devote more time, but it’s difficult. I’m married, have a blended family of 20 grandchildren, some of whom live locally, as well as eight kids. Usually, I will write, then my hubby and I have happy hour where we re-group for the evening and I’ll read what I’ve written. I’m really blessed with my husband, who is willing and enjoys listening and giving input to my writing!


Do you have a favorite or special place to write?


I have a beautiful office I work in. I look out onto the front yard and see goings on when I’m thinking. I’m surrounded by a mini library, and photos of my family. I also have a reminder on the wall that says: “Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself. Love is not puffed up, does not seek its own, is not provoked thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things.” A good reminder!

Blog Stops


Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 19

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, October 20

Avid Reader Nurse, October 21

For the Love of Literature, October 21 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions , October 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 23

Just the Write Escape, October 24

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , October 25

Through the Fire Blogs, October 26

Quiet Quilter, October 27

Texas Book-aholic, October 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29

janicesbookreviews, October 30

Andrea Christenson, October 31 (Author Interview)

A Reader’s Brain, November 1




To celebrate her tour, Shirley is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of Beyond Second Chances and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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review 2019-01-01 19:03
A gorgeous and deeply touching book
When All Is Said - Anne Griffin Perry

Thanks to NetGalley and to Sceptre for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a beautiful novel. Its structure is simple and so is the plot. Written in the first person, this is the story of a man, Maurice Hannigan, a widower, who has come to a decision about what to do with the rest of his life. Having made that decision, it has come the time to explain why he has decided what he has. The novel is structured around his conversation with his son, Kevin, who lives in the USA and is not there in person; therefore it becomes a monologue, with an intended audience of one. We, the readers, act as his son’s stand-ins. Maurice, as we soon learn, has never been the talking kind, so this is a bit of a departure for him, probably because of the time of his life and because he is not eye-to-eye with the person he is addressing.

Maurice has booked the best room in the hotel and is drinking five toasts to the people who have had the most impact in his life. In the process of talking about them and their influence, we get to hear about his life and what made him who he is. He chooses carefully his drinks, measures his words, and also the mementos he has kept. He drinks ale and also his preferred drink, whisky, and shares photographs, a pipe, a coin, and plenty of memories. He toasts to his brother, who died of TB when he was very young, always protected him and was his role model; to the daughter who never was and has always remained present for him; to his wife’s sister, who spent most of her life in psychiatric hospitals, took to him from the first and played an important role in solving an interesting mystery; to his son, who always had different dreams but tried hard to keep in touch; and to his wife, the one and only, the person he cannot live without.

Through his toasts we learn a lot about Maurice, his world, and the changes in Ireland through the years: when he was young life was harsh for farmers, the owners of the big house could behave as if they owned the people around them, school was hard for those who could not learn at the normal rhythm, and a family feud could last for years. Ireland moves with the times, and we hear about his change of circumstances, but he finds it difficult to let go of his wish for revenge and his resentments, of his low self-confidence because he never did well with books (later on in life he realises he suffers from dyslexia), and especially, of his grief and bereavement. He has suffered many losses through life, and he has many regrets, although he has also done some good things, intentionally or not.

Maurice feels real and very familiar, and I think most readers will be reminded of somebody they know. He is not the most sympathetic character at first sight, although he has gone through a lot, and some of his decisions are harsh and mean-spirited. During the book we get to understand what has made him as he is and it is difficult not to feel touched by his narrative, even if we don’t have much in common with him. There are plenty of family secrets revealed, and he learns to let go of the hatred he held for most of his life. The author writes beautifully, and without using complex language manages to convey true feeling and emotions. She gives her character a recognisable and true voice, dry and sharp, with touches of black humour and always understated, even when talking about those dearest to him. There is a beautiful love story at the heart of this novel, and it is very difficult not to feel moved by it. As for the ending… I won’t discuss it in detail, but I don’t think it will come as a surprise to most readers, although what might be surprising is how we feel about it by then.

Although the author is well-known, this is her first novel, and it is a thing of beauty, poetic and sincere. Here I share some examples of her writing:

It’s an awful thing, to witness your mother cry. You cannot cure nor mend nor stick a plaster on.

Forty-nine years ago, I met Molly, and only for fifteen minutes. But she has lived in this dilapidated heart of mine ever since.

I watched her skin survive the years, softly, folding upon itself. I touched it often, still hopelessly loving every bit of her, every line that claimed her, every new mark that stamped its permanency.

Loneliness, that fecker again, wreaking havoc on us mortals. It’s worse than any disease, gnawing away at our bones as we sleep, plaguing our minds when awake.

These past two years have been rotten. I’ve felt the ache of her going in my very bones. Every morning, every hour of every day I’ve dragged her loss around with me. The worst thing has been the fear that I’ll wake one morning and she’ll be gone from my memory forever, and that, son, that, I just can’t do.

This is a gorgeous book that touches on important subjects and deep feelings without going over the top and being sugary sweet. It is not a page turner plot-wise, and there isn’t much action (other than in some of the memories), so it will not suit readers who are looking for a fast plot. But anybody who loves a character-driven novel, enjoys savouring the quality and poetry of good writing and is looking for new authors will have a field day. I am going to follow Anne Griffin’s career with interest, and I expect to hear great things from her.


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