Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse


I tend to read fiction for enjoyment so I am often surprised when I read reviews of books I enjoyed that pick them apart bit by bit. What fun is that? I believe most readers are like me and not scholars who need to analyze every page. So yes! I thoroughly enjoyed Under the Bayou Moon without finding any of the glaring deficiencies that seemed to annoy several other reviewers.

I loved the mysterious aura of the bayous and the myth of the white alligator. The characters who populated the tale were incredible people who came to life on its pages. I could almost taste Raphe’s gumbo and other food descriptions made my mouth water. I also enjoyed the friendship of Haywood with both Raphe and Ellie.

The lyrical narrative drew me right into the small Louisiana town of Bernadette and made me want to befriend each and every one and sit in on Ellie’s weekly meetings with the older ladies. The story is filled with love, discovery, friendship, community, and faith but hidden undercurrents of greed and prejudice threatened to destroy the good people of Bernadette. I found it difficult to put the book down before I finished it. I would definitely recommend it.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


When Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country in 1949, she knows her life will change–but she could never imagine just how dramatically.

Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their unique culture, most of the residents come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher, and she’s soon teaching just about everyone, despite opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Yet it’s the lessons Ellie herself will learn–from new friends, a captivating Cajun fisherman, and even a legendary white alligator haunting the bayou–that will make all the difference.

Take a step away from the familiar and enter the shadowy waters of bayou country for a story of risk, resilience, and romance.

Read an excerpt HERE.


Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac, Almost Home, and The Key to Everything, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave.

The Book of Lost Friends Lisa Wingate


I honestly don’t even know how to begin a review for The Book of Lost Friends. As a long-time fan and influencer for Lisa Wingate, I obviously wanted to review this book but due to my mind being distracted by a prolonged family crisis, I had absolutely no clue as to its contents. I went into the story totally blind. As some other reviewers mentioned, it began fairly slow but I knew that the author tends to build her stories one layer at a time and the next thing I know I find myself hooked. That was the case with this beautiful tale. It didn’t take me long to wonder why I thought it could be at all slow.

A split time novel, readers are taken back and forth between post-Civil war Louisiana and 1987 Louisiana with freed slave Hannie and a teacher with her very first assignment. Interspersed between the chapters are actual historic newspaper ads from Hannie’s era of people who have written in search of their family members or friends. These ads played a huge role in the story as Hannie and two other young women traveled to Texas in search of her former master. Hannie’s tale is filled with danger and tragedy yet a small spark of hope pushes Hannie to continue searching for her own family members who were sold years before.

Benny soon finds herself in over her head with the high school students she is expected to teach. An avid reader, Benny hopes to instill a love of books into her pupils but most of them have absolutely no interest in the only book available to them. An unexpected discovery prompts Benny to develop a project that requires the students to dig into their own backgrounds.

I loved the way the author ties the characters of the two eras together. It was fun reading a name in a newspaper ad or in Hannie’s story and then find the same name among Benny’s students or residents of Augustine, Louisiana. Sometimes poignant yet filled with hope, The Book of Lost Friends brought me a new understanding of the slaves displaced by their owners or the war. It is a story with a little bit of everything – action and adventure, secrets and mystery, faith and hope, with just a touch of romance for good measure. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by the author. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new historical novel: the dramatic story of three young women searching for family amid the destruction of the post–Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who learns of their story and its vital connection to her students’ lives.

Bestselling author Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as newly freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold away.

Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous era of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Hannie, a freed slave; Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now destitute plantation; and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s Creole half sister. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following roads rife with vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of stolen inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and siblings before slavery’s end, the pilgrimage west reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.

Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt—until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, is suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lie the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

Order a copy here.


Lisa Wingate is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours, which remained on the bestseller list for fifty-four weeks in hardcover and has sold over 2 million copies. She has penned over thirty novels and coauthored a nonfiction book, Before and After with Judy Christie. Her award-winning works have been selected for state and community One Book reads throughout the country, have been published in over forty languages, and have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.” She lives with her husband in North Texas. More information about her novels can be found at www.lisawingate.com where you can also sign up for her e-newsletter and follow her on social media. 


Lisa’s website: www.Lisawingate.com

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/178832.Lisa_Wingate

Greeting cards with Lisa Wingate quotes. Buy a Card, Feed a Child.


Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson


“Freedom’s Price” is the third book in Christine Johnson’s Keys of Promise series. Although there are some crossover characters, this book easily stands on its own. I would also recommend both of the other books in this series, “Love’s Rescue” and “Honor Redeemed”, not because they are necessary but because each is an enjoyable read.

I personally have enjoyed this series that has seemed to get better with each book. In my opinion “Freedom’s Price” was amazing with it’s steady plot that seemed to move from one dangerous situation to another as the mystery and suspense escalated. Strong characters whose faith saw them through trials and seemingly impossible circumstances were well crafted and natural. An equally convincing villain brought a compelling sense of evil to the story.

I liked how the relationship between Catherine and Tom developed slowly despite their opposing ambitions. I particularly admired Tom’s determination to protect Catherine even when her stubborn choices put her at risk. It goes without saying that romance was inevitable but was not the primary focus of the story.

I would be quite happy if “Freedom’s Price” is not the last book of this series as is the usual practice. I would enjoy reading more novels set in historic Louisiana and Florida.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first step forward

When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her father and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother’s family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships.

When Catherine arrives at the plantation, she finds that her family has left it in the care of a manager–who’s let it fall into disrepair. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom and beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice: grip their dreams ever tighter or step forward in faith–even if it costs them everything.

Read an excerpt from “Freedom’s Price” HERE.


© E.A. Creative Photography 2013

Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God’s majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.