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When the Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

WHEN MOCKINGBIRDS SING
By Billy Coffey
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: June 4, 2013
Genre: Southern Fiction | Christian Fiction | Christian
Source: BookSneeze.com

Leah is a child from away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.

Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.

Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does.

While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:

Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen?

(Synopsis: Author’s website)

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My Thoughts:

When Mockingbirds Sing is the epitome of the book which at its ending leaves you wishing there was one more page to turn and then one more and then . . . well, you get the picture, don’t you? I did not want this book to end. 

Billy Coffey is a masterful storyteller. His characters come alive, and some jump off the page into your heart. Others you don’t care for at all. Scenes evolve before your eyes as if an artist was wielding his paint brushes across the canvas while you’re reading. The plot maintains a highly readable pace, holding your interest which is captured immediately upon reading the first page.

Coffey has created a small town with its foibles and quirks and yes, its characters. Into Mattingly, Virginia, he has dropped some city folk from Away. Being from Away tends to make life difficult for those who come from there. Add to that the fact that young Leah Norcross stutters, and life burgeons from difficult to impossible and miserable.

Fortunately, during a birthday celebration, Leah is befriended by Allie Granderson, whom I believe senses Leah needs a friend. Allie is bold and steps right up to fill the job.

Enter Leah’s friend, The Rainbow Man. However, only Leah sees him and hears him. But Leah believes in him with all her might. Leah’s Rainbow Man concerns her psychologist father, Tom Norcross, who has demons he struggles with from a previous life it seems. And his marriage to Ellen isn’t going so smoothly either. A bit more tension added to the story line.

As soon as the Mattingly folks learn of Leah’s Rainbow Man and her belief in him plus his ability to help Leah foretell the future, they begin to take sides — some against Leah because they are afraid, others standing with her because they are enchanted with her abilities. And the town’s minister begins to fall apart at the idea a child could hear more clearly than he the voice of God.

If we take a deep look at the people of Mattingly, I believe we see ourselves, whether we believe in a higher power or not. Judgment cast on others because of where they come from happens daily. Choosing to shun another because of an impairment in speech or other challenge isn’t all that uncommon, is it? And what about fearing what another might say about their own relationship with a higher power?

Has Billy Coffey imagined Mattingly, or has he described for us any small or large town in America? Has he opened the door for us to take a close look at how we treat our neighbors? Is the author attempting to open our eyes and hearts to something bigger than ourselves?

For the answers to these questions, you’ll have to read When Mockingbirds Sing.  I promise you will not be disappointed, whether you read it as Southern fiction or Christian fiction. Coffey’s transcendent writing style will hold your attention and keep you entertained.

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Favorite Passage:

“He c-comes to us all, Ruh-Reverend. He’s always w-with us. You and me aren’t duh-different. No one’s duh-different. It’s just that I nuh-know I’m small and everyone else thinks they’re buh-big. That’s why no one else c-can see Him. They pruh-pray and sing and say they luh-love Him, but d-deep down they think they know beh-better than He does. They d-do their own things because they thuh-think they’re b-big enough. But they’re not. No one’s big enough.”

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Meet the Author: 

Image: Joanne Coffey

Image: Joanne Coffey

Billy Coffey’s critically acclaimed books combine rural
Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary.
He is a regular contributor to several publications,
where he writes about faith and life.
Billy lives with his wife and two children in
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Visit him at BillyCoffee.com.
(From the back cover of When Mockingbirds Sing.)

Billy Coffey has published two other novels,
Snow Day (2010) and Paper Angels (2011),
with two more on the way by Thomas Nelson.

The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

Cover The Heiress of Winterwood
by Sarah E. Ladd
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Published: April 9, 2013
Categories: Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Fiction Source:  BookSneeze.com
Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.Darbury, England, 1814Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s baby. She’ll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father—a sea captain she’s never met.When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting to her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she’s forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.

Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.

Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has planned for them.

(Image and synopsis from BookSneeze.com)

My Thoughts:

A young woman living in the Regency Period has promised her dying friend she will raise her friend’s newborn.  Amelia Barrett doesn’t shy away from making this promise and committing her life to it. Her determination leads her on an intriguing and emotional journey. A long-time fan of historical fiction, The Heiress of Winterwood did not disappoint this reviewer.

Sarah Ladd writes with vivid description of both time and place.  Her characters are engaging and likeable, and Ladd makes it easy to pick sides in the Winterwood battle.

Ladd’s plot line combines intrigue, kidnapping, some minor scenes of abuse, and emotions revolving around a bittersweet love. Tension keeps the story moving, and I found myself not wanting to put the book down.

Amelia’s commitment to her dying friend to raise her infant is not one many of us are likely familiar with or perhaps would have the courage to make.  Amelia is so committed to her promise and the child that she makes it her life’s goal to carry this promise out.  In fact, her commitment entangles her plans to marry as she develops a rather convoluted plan to marry instead the child’s father as soon as he returns from the sea.  And if that will not work, she considers adoption, a rare thing in this time period.

Underlying Amelia’s wish to raise the child, Ladd weaves an inspiring story of Amelia’s faith as well as that of the child’s father.  God’s hand in their plans is clear and ever-present.

For fans of historical Christian fiction, I highly recommend The Heiress of Winterwood.  I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed.

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Meet the Author:SEL-HEADSHOT-FOR-ABOUT-SARAH-PAGE

Every word has a melody.
Every sentence has a rhythm.

This truth has intrigued me since my early years. Even before I fully understood the meaning behind many of the words, I devoured literature and consumed poetry. Austen, Alcott, Wordsworth: I left no piece of literature untouched, left no author unexamined.

I continue to see magic in how a word is transformed by the word next to it and how written thoughts can incite emotion and evoke change.

In addition to a lifetime of writing and exploring fiction, I have more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience, including five years of marketing non-fiction books and three years of marketing the musical arts.

I live in Indiana and am blessed to share my life with my amazing husband, sweet daughter, and very lovable Golden Retriever.

Sarah’s Resources for Authors

Every author needs a marketing plan, but do you know where to begin? Read my recent Seekerville blog post Your First Marketing Plan: Why Every New Author Needs One and How To Get Started for step-by-step instructions and download my Author Marketing Plan Worksheet to start creating your plan today! Need help with creating your Author Facebook Pages? Here are my tips!

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

I review for BookSneeze® Thomas Nelson

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Coming up next:  On Monday, a post on “What Is a Summer Read?” and later next week my review of Impossible Odds by Jessica Buchanan and Erik Landemalm.
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