Perennials by Julie Cantrell


“Perennials” is a beautifully written novel set in Oxford, Mississippi. Cantrell’s writing is a lush as the gardens she describes and her characters are well-rounded and realistic. I found myself relating to Eva to the point that I wanted to jump in and defend her against her hateful sister.

I experienced many emotions as I read this often poignant novel. I found it difficult to understand why Eva’s sister had turned on her the way she did and how she could continue in her lies for so many years. It was gratifying to watch Eva make peace with the past and offer forgiveness to her sister. I also loved that Eva found a second chance at her lost love. What could be happier than that?

Julie Cantrell is a talented author who somehow plumbs the depths of the human experience and emotions. I would recommend “Perennials” to anyone who enjoys a deeper reading experience than the usual contemporary romance novel.

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


Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.

Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.

In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.

When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.


Photo Credit: Andrew McNeece

Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist whose work focuses on relationships, resilience, and faith. As a writer, speaker, TEDx presenter, and teacher, she aims to build empathy and connection while inspiring others to live their best life.

Julie served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has received the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship as well as the Rivendell Writer’s Colony Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship.

A certified speech-language pathologist (SLP), Julie is a literacy advocate who previously served on the board of her local literacy council. Dedicated to helping children overcome social, academic, and communication challenges, Julie has filled various gaps when called to serve her local public school system as an SLP, a reading interventionist, an ELL tutor, and a special education sub.

Julie also spent six years operating her family’s sustainable farm where she tended organic crops while caring for a wide variety of furry and feathered friends. She is a certified naturalist who enjoys exploring this beautiful world. Additionally, she has operated a freelance writing business for almost twenty years.

Today, Julie writes fulltime from her home in Oxford, Mississippi. Perennials is her fourth novel.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay


I found “The Austen Escape” to be just that – an entertaining escape. The story was both humorous and fiercely serious at the same time. Written from Mary’s point of view, it allows the reader to experience her emotions as she deals with the challenges in her life.

A strong woman who works in a high tech industry, Mary seems somewhat out of her element at the English manor house where she has reluctantly agreed to spend a two-week holiday with her best friend Isabel. Mary is definitely not the type of gal who enjoys dressing up in Victorian era costumes and pretending to be a character from one of Jane Austen’s novels. But she is in need of an escape and Isabel needs her – more than either of them could have imagined.

Best friend of not, Isabel has not been the best friend to Mary over the years, or so it seemed to Mary. Often self-centered, Isabel has hurt Mary frequently but Mary has remained loyal to a fault. Over the course of the story Mary has proven that loyalty over and over. I liked how Mary began to understand things about their past through a different perspective and the healing that took place as a result. There was also be a bit of romance in store for Mary.

I enjoyed “The Austen Escape” enough to want to go back and read this author’s previous novels. I can only hope I will find the time to do so.

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


Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.


Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries — who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. Katherine’s first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist and winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut as well as Carol Awards for both Best Debut and Best Contemporary. She is also the writer behind Lizzy & Jane and the The Bronte Plot – all contemporary stories with a bit of “classics” flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, former marketer, avid chocolate consumer and, randomly, a tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago.


A Time to Stand By Robert Whitlow


Like many of Robert Whitlow’s books, it took a bit of persistence to get into it but it didn’t take very long before I was hooked. As always the writing was strong with well developed characters and a plot that reflects current events.

I will reiterate what other reviewers have stated. This is a book that everyone should read – those on both sides of the race issue. By the end, I wanted to stand up and clap. Whitlow  clearly stated what our society needs to overcome our differences. If only our citizens could understand.

I particularly liked how several characters changed their entire outlook on the issues before the end of the book and reading about how they reached those conclusions. The theme of forgiveness was strongly woven throughout the story and is something we all need to learn to do.

“A Time to Stand” may be one of Whitlow’s strongest books yet. I know it had a powerful impact on me.

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


In a small Georgia town where racial tensions run high and lives are at stake, can one lawyer stand up for justice against the tide of prejudice on every side?

Adisa Johnson, a young African-American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career. Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital. Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable—defend the officer.

As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices. Caught in the middle, Adisa also tries to chart her way along a path complicated by her budding relationship with a charismatic young preacher who leads the local movement demanding the police officer answer for his crime.

This highly relevant and gripping novel challenges us to ask what it means to forgive while seeking justice and to pursue reconciliation while loving others as ourselves.


Robert Whitlow grew up in north Georgia. He graduated magna cum laude from Furman University with a BA in history in 1976 and received his JD with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1979. A practicing attorney, he is a partner in a Charlotte, NC law firm. He and his wife Kathy have four children and three grandchildren.
Robert began writing in 1996. His novels are set in the South and include both legal suspense and interesting characterization. It is his desire to write stories that reveal some of the ways God interacts with people in realistic scenerios.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton


I have always had a love for American history but I now much prefer learning about it through the pages of historical fiction novels. Lori Benton would probably be my go-to author for books about the pre-Revolution years when most of the United States was still a wilderness and heading west meant traveling to Ohio or Kentucky. It was a time of conflict between colonists and the Native Americans who found themselves being displaced from their home territory.

I have read all of Benton’s books thus far and I find that each one seems to get better than the last one. She pretty much proves the old saying that “practice makes perfect”. I can only imagine how good her novels will be in a few years if she continues to write but I don’t know how she could surpass near perfection. “Many Sparrows” not only related the story of Clare Inglesby and Jeremiah Ring but it transported me right into the middle of the action. I experienced the adrenaline from the danger, grieved along with Clare, and rejoiced with her too.

Benton’s characters are so well formed. Clare was an extraordinarily strong woman with an equally strong will. Who else would attempt to birth her own baby then quickly begin a search for a missing child? Jeremiah was also a strong man, well-versed in the ways of the wilderness yet compassionate and gentle when the situation required. I found myself hoping that the two of them would end up together almost from the moment they met.

“Many Sparrows” is a page-turner that kept me reading until all hours of the night. I particularly appreciated the author’s emphasis on trusting God and waiting on His direction.

If like me, you love American history, “Many Sparrows” as well as any other novel by Lori Benton should be on your TBR list. I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the author after winning an online giveaway. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.
When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?


Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, Christy-nominee The Wood’s Edge, and A Flight of Arrows.


Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano


I am often a bit apprehensive when agreeing to read a new author’s first book but have added quite a few of them to my must read list. I am delighted to say that after reading “Lady Jayne Disappears” I have added Joanna Davidson Politano to that growing list.

“Lady Jayne Disappears” is the perfect book for lovers of Gothic mysteries like myself. I loved the atmosphere of the old mansion filled with secrets as well as that of the debtors’ prison. It was the perfect backdrop for the haunting tale of a young woman searching for information about the mother she never knew.

This story within a story features Aurelie Harcourt who spent her life in debtor’s prison with her father until his death. Sent to live with wealthy relatives, Aurelie hoped that by completing her father’s serial novel she might discover the truth about her mysterious mother. Numerous surprises are in store for the reader as they begin to love Aurelie and her unassuming and compassionate nature. Dare we hope she finds the truth and perhaps love too?

I liked “Lady Jayne Disappears” quite a lot and eagerly look forward to this author’s next offering to her readers. I would suggest that everyone who enjoys this genre make haste to pick up their own copy.

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.


Lynhurst Manor is a house built on secrets . . . and the arrival of Aurelie Harcourt might reveal them all.

When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies suddenly, he leaves her just two things: his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and his wealthy family–who want very little to do with her.

As Aurelie struggles to find a home with her father’s family and learn the rules of society, she relishes in his parting gift–the beginning of his last story. The story she always wanted to hear, about her mother’s mysterious disappearance from the home where she now lives. To complete the novel, she’ll have to extract clues from relatives–and one enigmatic houseguest–who often seem reluctant to give them up.


Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at