Category Archives: Religious/Inspirational

Marybeth Whalen. The Guest Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Macy Dillon and her family used to take a vacation to Sunset Beach, North Carolina every year. Her most treasured childhood memories are of walking the beach with her mother, brother, and especially her father. But Darren Dillion passed away when she was just sixteen, and Macy’s life has contained a gaping hole ever since. Macy is barely holding it together, working at the local grocery store, and suffering through her mother’s forced celebration of her father’s birthday each year. The only good thing that has happened since Macy’s father’s death is her now five-year-old daughter, Emma, even though Emma’s father walked out on them both shortly after she was born.

But this year at the birthday celebration they hold annually for her deceased father, Macy’s mom announces that they are once more taking a family vacation to Sunset Beach. Macy begins to hope. As a child, her father encouraged her natural artistic talent by asking her to draw a picture in the guest book at their beach house rental each year. Amazingly, another child, a young boy, would answer Macy’s drawings each year with a drawing of his own. The children traded drawings for ten years without meeting, but in what she knew would be her final drawing, Macy promised to come back and find him. Macy is determined that this trip to Sunset Beach will be the one in which she finds the boy. But when they arrive, no less than three men begin vying for Macy’s attention…and any of the three could be the artist. Will she ever find out his identity? And will her family ever find peace without her father?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Brunswick, Coast, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth

Kim Cash Tate. Hope Springs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012.

Hope Springs is a small, fictional town 40 minutes east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Geraldine “Grandma Geri” Sanders, the matriarch of the Sanders clan, holds family reunions here every summer and every Christmas, welcoming her far-flung chicks back to the nest where they grew up. Some, like her granddaughter Libby who lives in Raleigh, haven’t strayed so far. But her other adult grandchildren are so far away; some haven’t visited in years. Sisters Cyd and Stephanie grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where they spend most holidays with their husbands’ families. Janelle has refused to make the journey down from her home in Maryland ever since she lost her husband two years ago.

The Sanders aren’t the only family in Hope Springs hosting a reunion: the Dillons, their neighbors for many years, are all congregating after the death of their patriarch, Jerry Dillon, who also happened to be the local pastor. His son Todd and daughter-in-law Becca are also heavily involved in ministry, but have moved outside of Hope Springs. Now all the adults from both families have a chance to reconnect over shared happiness and sorrow, and each person must ponder what God truly wants for him or her in their hearts. When Grandma Geri contracts cancer, everyone pulls together, and what is meant to be a Christmas visit turns into a months-long extended stay.

While the novel is told through the eyes of Stephanie, Janelle, and Becca, we witness everyone’s journey together as a family in more ways than one. Will Stephanie be able to adjust to her family after so many years away? Will Janelle eventually overcome her husband’s death, and even find new love? Will Becca do what’s right for herself and her children? Most importantly, will everyone survive in a house full of young children and toddlers? Only God has the answers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Tate, Kim Cash

Ann Tatlock. Traveler’s Rest. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2012.

There is an old adage about letting going of what you love: if it returns it was yours all along, if it doesn’t it never was. But what if you are the one who was let go, and you never wanted to be in the first place?

Jane Marrow finds herself in that heartbreaking situation when her fiance, Seth Ballantine, returns from Iraq a quadriplegic. He loves her, but Seth is unwilling to let Jane forfeit a “normal life”: to be carried over the threshold by her husband, to become a mother, and to be free of full-time care giving responsibilities.  He worries that she will waste her life away with him and will eventually resent him if they go through with the wedding. For her part, Jane is unwavering: she is resolved to never leave Seth or to give up on their plans, even though practically everyone has given her an “out”. Seth finally explains that her insistence on staying together is hampering his recovery, so she gives him some space.

At the Veterans Affairs hospital in Asheville, Jane meets a variety of people who support her and Seth in this difficult time. Two Ugandan cousins serve as aids in the hospital, and they always lighten the mood. A retired doctor with an uncomfortable past, Truman Rockaway, helps Jane understand forgiveness and faith. And Jon-Paul Pearcy is a volunteer musician at the VA who shows Jane and Seth that it is possible to live a full life with a disability. Along the way, Jane learns about love, trusting God, and letting go.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Tatlock, Ann

D. H. Caldwell. Last Love. New York: iUniverse, 2008.

Elsie Erwin is thrown for a loss when her mother dies.  She and her mother have lived together in a small house in Gaston County all of Elsie’s life.  And through those many decades Mama communicated to Elsie a fear of germs, defilement, family, other people–really life itself.  At Mama’s funeral a cousin shares some family history with Elsie that helps explain her mother’s attitudes, but this new knowledge upsets Elsie.  Elsie’s one true friend, Bertha, steps up to help by whisking Elsie off on trips–to Florida in the summer and a cruise to the Bahamas in the winter.  Together the women have their share of innocent escapades and a few scrapes.  Still, when she’s at home, living in her old house proves too much for Elsie.  It is the interest and concern of an older man that reveals to Elsie the sweetness in life–and her true heritage.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Caldwell, D. H., Gaston, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational

Shana Burton. Catt Chasin’. Deer Park , NY: Urban Books, 2011.

Who likes it when some new co-worker comes in and starts telling you that you’ve been doing your job wrong?  That’s what chemist Catt Cason gets when Jamal Ford joins the R&D department at Telegenic, an up-and-coming cosmetics company in Charlotte.  Catt has just been promoted from the teen fragrance line to the women’s line.  Jamal thinks her creations are unsophisticated bubble gum scents.  Catt is stunned by Jamal’s arrogance and the way he doesn’t hesitate to get in her face with his opinions.  Catt complains to management, but she is told that Telegenic has paid a lot of money to lure Jamal and that she will have to learn to work with him.  And Catt gets no sympathy from her friends at the the company– Jamal is good looking, charming, and sexy, and half the women in the company want to date him.

Jamal is not the only man making trouble for Catt.  Her father, Pastor Jeremiah Cason, thinks that it is time for his only child to marry and produce some grandchildren.  Pastor Cason is sure that that his assistant, Eldon James, would be a perfect husband for Catt and begins to put the two of them together in all kinds of situations.  Catt is a dutiful daughter and a believing Christian, but she knows that there is no real spark between her and the young minister.  Although she resists it, Catt feels an electricity between her and her arrogant, sexy co-worker.  Her faith and self-restraint are put to a test when Catt and Jamal are sent on a three week promotional tour for a new product line. Pastor Cason gathers a group of prayer warriors to pray for her, but little do they know what the trip has in store for Catt–and for Jamal.  This will be a road trip that goes a long way toward healing some old hurts, and advancing their careers—and just maybe something else.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Burton, Shana, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Tim Owens. The Search Committee. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012.

In this novel Tim Owens presents an affectionate portrait of the people and places of eastern North Carolina.  When a small North Carolina Presbyterian church east of  I-95 needs a new pastor, the church does what churches do: they appoint a search committee to screen applications and visit the best candidates.  The seven parishioners on the committee represent all types of people in the church: they are young and old, long-time locals and newcomers, single, married, and widowed.  Most Sundays between the spring and early fall they pack themselves into the church’s Econoline van and drive around the state visiting preachers who are looking to move to a new church.

Much of the story is revealed through the musings of a young married man, Travis Booth.  Through him readers ponder how difficult it is for seven strangers to slip into the Sunday service of a small church without being noticed, what hymn selection might indicate about the preacher’s liturgical style, and whether pew cushions are worth the expense.  While most chapters begin with a brief selection from a Presbyterian catechism or confessional document and the book includes sermon excerpts that will make some regular church goers smile, the novel is not so much about the church as it is about the people on the search committee.  Each person carries a long-term sorrow or is facing a problem that is revealed as the novel unfolds.  Readers will root for these nice people to find grace and healing as much as they wait to see if the search for a minister will be successful.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Owens, Tim, Religious/Inspirational

Jim Metzger. Dim. Albion, MI: Aberdeen Bay, 2011.

Tom Maloney, budding Methodist minister and native son, has returned to North Carolina after finishing up a lengthy educational stint in the northeast at Princeton Theological Seminary. The young Methodist’s first job is in Harmony, a fictional small town on the Outer Banks, preaching to a mostly elderly population. Unfortunately for Tom, his northeastern education has not prepared him to lead a flock from the Bible Belt. In a town that thrives on pimento cheese, barbecue, and strong conservative values, Tom’s parishioners think  him far too liberal and his sermons disturbingly lacking in fire and brimstone.

Besides this obvious problem, Tom himself finds the town more and more distasteful: he is frustrated by the closed-minded opinions of his parish, annoyed by their strong objections to his girlfriend Sophie, and hates pimento cheese, which everyone offers in abundance. Additionally, Tom struggles with deep feelings of inadequacy and doubt with regards to his chosen profession, and finds himself more and more engaged by the few dissenters who present alternatives to traditional Methodist principles. His doubts and the community’s dissatisfaction with his abilities both come to a head just as hurricane season rolls in, and Tom must decide what to do. Jim Metzger’s debut novel charts the spiritual and emotional journey of a young man questioning who he is, what he will become, and the meaning of his presence in the greater scheme of life against the backdrop of what is for him, a stifling community.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Metzger, Jim, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational

Travis Thrasher. Gravestone. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011.

Chris Buckley still isn’t sure whether or not he survived the ritual murder of his true love. He’s walking and breathing, but something inside feels dead. Unfortunately, life goes on as usual (or unusual) in the strange and sinister town of Solitary, North Carolina. In this sequel to Solitary and the second book in the Solitary Tales, Chris finds himself swept along in the daily grind with the rest of the kids at Harrington High– taking classes, eating lunch, and getting picked on by the school bully. His mother still struggles with alcoholism and depression following her divorce, but she manages to bring in a steady income and even finds Chris a part-time job. On the outside, Chris looks and acts like any other teenager.

However, unlike his compatriots, Chris’s goals have nothing to do with going to college or getting good grades. He has one thing on his mind: exposing Solitary’s evil, embodied by Pastor Jeremiah Marsh, to the world. The problem with this is that the Devil in Solitary is strong and watches Chris unceasingly. Bad things have happened in the past to those who have tried to root it out, and if Chris keeps pushing, he might be next. Thankfully, Chris isn’t alone in his fight, but he isn’t sure who to trust: Iris, the strange old lady who runs the inn where he works? Jared, his long-lost cousin? Poe, who used to be Jocelyn’s best friend? Sheriff Wells, who once told Chris to come to him with anything? As before, no one is forthcoming, and Chris must make his way blindly forward, hoping that this time, his decisions won’t result in his own or anyone else’s death. But evil is strong, and that hope may be in vain.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Thrasher, Travis

Sandra Robbins. Shattered Identity. New York: Love Inspired Books, 2012.

Scott Michaels is a veteran with PTSD.  His faith is helping him heal, and as this novel opens he is settling in to his post-military life as a sheriff’s deputy on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.  Scott has kin on Ocracoke; uniting with them has given him a family he never knew he had.  After his mother died, her sister kidnapped Scott, so he grew up never knowing his father or his half sisters who now give him love and a feeling of belonging denied to him as a child.  He is both grateful and angry.  With these issues on his plate, Scott knows he should stay away from Lisa Wade, the attractive young woman who is the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office.

Lisa seems to have a more settled life and a secure place in the tight-knit island community.  But Lisa’s backstory is just as troubled as Scott’s.  Lisa’s father died when she was young, and her mother committed suicide a short time later.  With little love or guidance from her cold grandmother, Lisa nonetheless grew into a kind and sensible young woman. She did, however, make a mistake when she fell for the easy charms of Calvin Jamison, a local lady’s man and corrupt cop. When Lisa learned about Calvin’s illegal activities, she turned in him.  Calvin, now in prison, blames Lisa for his imprisonment.  When Lisa is attacked and her house ransacked, everyone assumes that Calvin is taking his revenge.  Scott is one of the deputies assigned to protect Lisa.  Against their wills, Scott and Lisa are drawn to each other as the violence against Lisa escalates and she discovers disturbing things about her community and her family.  In fits and starts they learn to trust in each other and in God as the novel moves to a dramatic climax.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Hyde, Religious/Inspirational, Robbins, Sandra, Romance/Relationship

Marybeth Whalen. She Makes It Look Easy. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011.

Ariel Baxter is struggling–her husband David is always gone on a sales trip, she has three active boys to deal with, and her photography business is picking up. There never seems to be enough time to make everything run smoothly. When she and David move their family to an upscale suburban neighborhood, Ariel feels exhausted, even though her new home is the house she’s always wanted. Then she meets Justine.

Justine Miller is Ariel’s perfect next-door neighbor. Always perfectly coiffed and lipsticked, Justine has two perfect little blonde girls, a perfectly clean house, serves meals done to perfection, and somehow always finds time to be the hit of the town. At first, Ariel thinks she’s found her new best friend, maybe even a sister, but something isn’t quite right.

Moving to the neighborhood at the same time as Ariel and David are Tom and his wife Betsy, and Tom can’t seem to keep his eyes off of Justine. Ariel assumes that her gorgeous neighbor is used to these kinds of looks from strange men, but it’s soon revealed that Tom and Justine were once high school sweethearts. When rumors begin circulating, Ariel must decide what to believe: her new best friend’s blithe reassurances, or the little voice in the back of her mind that refuses to be silenced. Is it possible for a woman who has everything to believe she has nothing worth keeping?

Told from the point of view of two first-person narrators, Ariel and Justine, Marybeth Whalen’s second novel will appeal to fans of Christian literature and Desperate Housewives alike.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog. 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Whalen, Marybeth