Book Reviews

The Story of Us by Teri Wilson

Book Review by Wendy Black Farley

The Story of US









Teri Wilson’s beautiful and imaginative writing style envelopes the reader in a world that satisfies nearly all senses within the first few page in this love story, The Story of Us (Hallmark Publishing).

I learned years ago that that a well-developed love scene doesn’t have to be overt to be evocative. As a lover of books, Jamie’s (the main character) True Love Bookstore is an enticing setting by itself. The delicious descriptions of the bakery goods and beverages in the bookstore’s café, the references to volumes of some of the greatest love-story classics on any shelves, and the discovery of secret expressions of a tender World War II long distance love relationship combine to evoke all of the feels that could be desired in a romance novel.

The fulfillment of an apology and receipt of an invitation Jamie had longed for should be the culmination of the perfect love story, but decisions are never as easy as they seem in the arena of passions. And there are business distractions endemic in the world of modernity that detract from a clear vision of love ever after. No bookstore is immune from the prevalence of online commerce that threatens the existence of nearly all brick and mortar businesses, and those pressures are even more menacing for a vintage store like True Love Bookstore. I recommend joining Jamie in her journey of creative endeavors to mount a defense of her store’s existence when the pressures that come from sleek, cyber, and vogue blindside her plans to make the Valentine season one of the best ever.







Awful Beautiful

A Review by Wendy Black Farley

Sponsored by FaithWords

Imagine a life where finances are sufficient to enjoy all that a soul could desire. Not only a lifestyle that provides the ability to freely partake, but to give time and money generously to a variety of worthy projects.

Becky Powell, in conjunction with award-winning and best-selling author Katherine Reay, begins her memoir by describing an enviable lifestyle enjoyed by her family of five in a gorgeous home in Austin, Texas. As an introvert, I was able to vicariously partake in her adventures with people from various walks of life. She is a self-described extrovert and her involvement with others was a high priority for her–both outside of her home and as the consummate hostess at home.

That way of life would best be described as a house of cards and was built upon a lifetime of deception. Its sudden and crushing end bore no resemblance to the weight of mere playing cards, however.

Yet, Becky Powell didn’t lose her children, her friends, or who she was. In the extremes of grief, loss, self-doubt, and fear of prosecution she remains true to her values. The book beautifully describes her journey. With the help of a team of lawyers—some who were also victims of the deception, the support of faithful friends, and the inspiration derived from biblical tenets and phrases from her favorite classic country songs, Ms. Powell struggles to build a new life. In her endeavors, she asserts to provide restoration to all who were negatively impacted by the scandals she uncovers in the aftermath of her husband’s death.

There were numerous times when I questioned, as did Ms. Powell, how a wife could not know about exploits of such a serious and involved nature by a spouse. But the author was able to show the integrity of her claims and the unfolding of her march toward fulfilling her obligations. The story if rife with the mingling of hope, sadness, and replacements of some former possessions she thought would no longer be hers to enjoy.

This book is a poignant reminder of how the loss of all that is dear does not have to change—but can actually reveal–who we are.

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What They Meant for Evil 20190820_185739-1_resized

by Rebecca Deng

A Review by Wendy Black Farley

 Sponsored by FaithWords

What prompts you to read a biography? Is it to learn more about a celebrity or person of interest to you? Do you desire to learn and be challenged by certain topics? Would you rather have confirmation of assumptions? Are you looking for a good story that is incredible yet true?

What they Meant for Evil delivered on so many counts. The story of the lost boys of the Sudan have been woven into the fabric of public awareness through many forms of media, yet what about the girls?

Rebecca Deng’s early childhood was charmed in many ways. Her doting grandmother encouraged her childhood freedom to roam unencumbered by the chores imposed on many of her peers, yet there were boundaries rigidly enforced to keep her safe. Her grandmother nourished Rebecca with the flavorful foods a lush, fertile environment provided. Rebecca was allowed to choose what faith she followed, and she flourished in the Christian faith introduced by the church near her village. Rebecca fell asleep gazing at the stars unencumbered by worry, despite the absence of her farther. She reveled in his rare appearances when he returned from continual involvement in warfare.

All of it was true until the war reached her. Media headlines are replete with reports of refugees around the world. The prose of Rebecca Deng brings the realities of that life to us.

The reflections on her journey are well summed up in her own words, spoken to a man who didn’t share her faith yet wanted to share a life with her.

“You know, Jordan. You are studying international development because you want to help hurting people in the world. But when I was running in the war, we used to see UN workers in their Land Cruisers. They would get out and give us food, water, a ride, and take notes, and then get back in their vehicles and drive away. They didn’t address issues of my heart, of mental health, when we felt unwanted and sad about what was happening to my people and how they were dying from the war, from starvation, from animals eating them, or even when we got attacked in the refugee camp by citizens of our host country. God’s voice said, ‘You were made in my image. I want you.’ When I think of not wanting to live anymore, God was the only one there for me then.”

If you read What They Meant for Evil, you will begin to understand why Rebecca Deng clung to faith when all seemed hopeless. Go to for more information about the book


Seeing Each Other Through to Completion

A Review of the book, Half Finished, by Lauraine Snelling

Review by Wendy Black Farley

Snelling has created a heartwarming community of people who struggle, coast, grieve and rejoice in all the typical ways. In almost all instances of need, someone is there to ‘stand in the gap.’ Support comes in a variety of ways—cheering on a nascent romance, grieving over the loss of a spouse, providing seed starts for spring gardens, and so many forms of homemade foods. (Be sure to have something handy to eat while reading—one’s mouth will water throughout the story.)

                Motivation is contagious as word also spreads on how these friends and acquaintances revive the necessary “feels” for the completion of projects long after the initial excitement has subsided.

                A very touching read. It’s a joy to “know’ these individuals.


For more information about the book, please go to the Faithwords site:

What Should We Do About Broken People?

A Review of the book by John Snyder, “Jacob’s Bell”


“Jacob’s Bell,” by John Snyder, is a story that reminds us of what we already know—people love a good story. This is a good story.

Self-help titles are immensely popular, and I view that as a good thing. But one could keep in mind all the precautions, ponderings and processing that are the byproducts from living the experiences of a nuanced subject such as Jacob McCallum.

We live in a world that espouses tolerance, yet all around I see condemnation for past sins—whether individual or collective. Jacob McCallum is a man we will judge and look down upon with ease and a clear conscience. Seemingly for him there is no learning from his mistakes.

Forgiveness for the things he has done would be a stretch for just about anyone. We would tell ourselves that to forgive would be tantamount to condoning his actions. Yet, John Snyder penned a journey that takes our stony hearts and shows us, even through the offering of morning cup of coffee to an indigent drunk, how a mindset that begins at a place of forgiveness can sooth and free us of our seized-up emotions. That is what the reader experiences.

However, it takes more than a cup of coffee and an entire mission to unravel the layers of guilt that have been bundled around a man seeking only his own will.  John Snyder spins a tale that helps us want to restore action behind the values we espouse, pardon, removing boundaries, and extending a helping hand.

This is a lovely story for the Christmas season, and part of it takes place during the Christmas season. Yet, it is a story that will mend broken people on any day that is on our calendars.

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