Monday, September 27, 2021

The Secret Keepers of the Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox REVIEWED

About the Book:

Present Day. Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home, determined to finally follow her dream of running the family business alongside her mother and grandmother. So when her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that Old Depot Grocery is closing, Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a plan to save the store. But Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons--but she'll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she's pregnant with her deceased fiancé's baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve her family's reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-time story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

My Thoughts:

"Maybe all their paths were lettered with mistakes and secrets that never should have been kept, but Sarah had faith that in the end, the truth would set them free."  (p. 293)

Amanda Cox weaves a multigenerational tale in her latest novel, The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery.  For me, the generational nature of the secrets kept made sense, because I grew up in a generation that kept those same secrets.  Familial appearance was everything in a small, rural setting, and moral failings of any kind were kept shut away, when possible, in very dramatic ways.

This story tells the outcome of generations of secrets kept, and the residual fallout that naturally occurred over time.  I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that one's own perception of any given circumstance shapes how we interpret life changes in our future.  Glory Ann, Rosemary and Sarah's life intersect during a perfect storm of circumstances that could have very well destroyed them all.  There are moments in the story where I saw no way around certain annellation!  

God's grace is the only explanation I can give for the way these women find the truth about themselves and their "secret" circumstances that sets them free in ways they never imagined possible!  I was totally captivated by this story, and was a bit heartbroken when it came to an end.  I encourage everyone to take a dive into this story!  There is room for growth and transformation all along the way!!  

About the Author:

Amanda Cox is the author of The Edge of Belonging. A blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, she holds a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology and a master's degree in professional counseling, but her first love is communicating through story. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her husband and their three children. Learn more at


Monday, September 6, 2021

Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse REVIEWED

About the Book:

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.

My Thoughts:

"Maybe you crossed over something when you went through the tunnel.  Now you can see something yyou couldn't see before, but at the same time, you can't go back."  (p. 155)

Something magical and unforgettable happens between the first and last pages of this novel.  Truly.  Ellie Fields decision to leave her safe place of comfort and privilege that her familial home offered seems a non-event at first.  Many women have made that choice over time. It is her entrance into the bayou community facing unjust laws that threaten their unique way of life where the magic begins to happen.

Ellie leaves her heart open to be changed and challenged, and she is richly rewarded because of her openness.  The people of the community are suspicious and closed off to Ellie's presence at first, but, over time, she wins the heart of both the community and one very special Cajun fisherman.

As the story develops, it becomes clear that there is, in fact, a real threat to the community, and some lose much as the threat becomes visible.  There are many difficult choices to be made for both Ellie and her new community, and their journey....well, it's magically transformative if you leave your heart open to receive the life lessons lived out through the relationships within this story!

I LOVED THIS BOOK!! I'm sure you will too!!

About the Author:

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.