TITLE: In Time of Trouble
AUTHOR: N.J. Lindquist
DATE: 2000, revised 2014
PUBLISHER: That’s Life! Communications
Everything Shane Donahue does seems to work out wrong. He's failing his classes, about to be fired from his part-time job, and barely speaking to his parents. Then there's the real problem: his twin brother, Sandy. Everything he does seems to be right. He's a star athlete, student president, and parents’ dream child, with top marks, a great future, and many good friends. He’d never hang out with someone like Marietta, Shane's girl-friend. But since Shane's dad took away his car, she's been unhappy. Then there’s Ernie. He's a loner who claims to be Shane's only real friend. But will he hang in when the real trouble hits? What do you do when everything blows up in your face and you can’t even trust your friends and family? How do you decide what you really want? Most important, how do you learn to trust yourself?
The book is based on Proverbs 17:17. "A friend helps at all times and a brother in time of trouble."
Shane Donahue is a poster boy for teen angst. He can’t seem to get along with anyone, but he doesn’t really blame them. He can hardly stand himself. As his life spirals downward, Shane becomes more and more unhappy, to the point of considering suicide.
N.J. Lindquist’s portrayal of Shane made me care about this troubled young man. I had to keep reading as I hoped he could somehow find his way out of the mess he’d made.
The crux of this story is grace, the grace of God that transforms lives. I appreciated that Shane’s world was not immediately bright and sunny, but that he had to grow through trials and face them with the courage that comes from faith in a mighty God.
This book earns four and a half stars.
TITLE: The Prayer Box
AUTHOR: Lisa Wingate
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house. Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.
I love this book. Lisa Wingate’s exquisite prose drew me in from the first paragraph as she paints in delicate watercolours this brief period of time in the life of Tandi Jo. I love the complexity of the characters and the myriad little surprises throughout the book.
This is a story of redemption, of forgiveness, and of faith. I loved Tandi Jo’s transformation as she immersed herself in Iola’s secrets. Her new faith was tested time and time again, and that realism enhanced my appreciation.
This is a book I will read again and again. The Prayer Box is worthy of five stars, and that is what I award it.
TITLE: THE CAT LADY’S SECRET
AUTHOR: Linda W. Yezak
PUBLISHER: Harbourlight Books, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC
Emily Taylor loves to help people, loves to ease their burdens and make their dreams come true. But when a conman ruins her reputation, she discovers that helping others is safer and easier from behind the scenes.
When one of Emily’s gifts captures the attention of an avid journalist, her identity as the town’s anonymous benefactor—and her renewed relationship with her high school sweetheart—are threatened.
As her private life begins to unravel, she realizes the one hope for regaining control lies behind prison walls.
The Cat Lady’s Secret is a fun read with intriguing characters. I love eccentric Millie and generous but secretive Emily. The quiet but determined vet, Scott, is a true hero, and I found myself cheering him on.
Even though the story is lighthearted, it has depths that I appreciate. Emily’s secrets create tension, as do the unsettling fires in the small, tight-knit town.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it earns four and a half stars.