Since You’ve Been Gone Review

About the Book:

One moment, Olivia Kavanaugh is preparing to walk down the aisle and embrace her own happily ever after. The next, she learns that her fiancé, Wyatt Hammond, has been in a fatal car accident. Then comes a startling discovery: Wyatt’s car wasn’t heading toward the church. He was fifty miles away…with a baby gift in the backseat.

Her faith shaken, Olivia pores over the clues left behind, desperate to know where Wyatt was going that day and why. As she begins uncovering secrets, she also navigates a tense relationship with her judgmental mother and tries to ignore the attentions of a former boyfriend who’s moved back home. But when she starts receiving letters written by Wyatt before his death, she must confront a disturbing question: Can we ever know anyone fully, even someone we love?

When an unexpected path forward—though nothing like the life she once envisioned—offers the promise of a new beginning, will she be strong enough to let go of the past and move toward it?

About the Author:

A true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa Allan writes women’s fiction, stories of hope and redemption. Her upcoming novel, A Test of Faith is scheduled to release in March of 2014. Threads of Hope, one of the books in Abingdon’s Quilt Series, released in March (2013). Walking on Broken Glass(2010) and The Edge of Grace (2011) were also published by Abingdon. Love Finds You in New Orleans(Summerside Press) released in 2012.

Christa is the mother of five, grandmother of three, and recently retired after teaching twenty-five years of high school English. She and her husband Ken live in New Orleans in a home older than their combined ages.

And since Christa feels as comfortable talking about herself in third person as she does watching Elaine (of Seinfeld) dance, her daughter has provided the following info about her:

My Thoughts:

This book starts out with Livvy getting ready for her wedding. She finds out that her to-be husband has been in a car accident, and has passed away. Along with that devastating news, Livvy finds out there was a baby gift in the back seat of the car, and that her husband to be was driving in the opposite direction of the church. 

Not long after that day, Livvy finds out she’s pregnant – as if losing her fiance, and finding mysteries in the back seat weren’t enough. Her mom, what I would call a “super Christian” judges her very quickly, and says some things that I don’t think any mother should say to their child, no matter what the circumstance. Her mom rubbed me wrong throughout the whole book. 

For more than half the book, we’re focused on Livvy as she tries to navigate life after losing her fiance, and her figuring out how she’s going to raise a child as a single mother. Not a lot “happens” in the first half of the book. 

The book moved pretty fast, which is one of the reasons I kept reading. The other reason was: WHY IN THE WORLD WAS THEIR A BABY GIFT IN HER FIANCE’S BACK SEAT WHEN HE HAD NO IDEA SHE WAS PREGNANT? 

Livvy was easy to relate to, and I liked her as a person although sometimes she seemed to be a little immature. She was thirty and sometimes acted as though she were still a teenager.

All in all, this book is well-written, and is Christian-based without shoving Christianity down your throat. I’d give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars just for the fact that I had to finish it because of the mystery aspect to it, and the fact that I wanted to know about the baby! 

I’d recommend this book to someone who was looking for a quick, clean book to read. This one would be what I would consider a “beach read”.


Finding Libbie Review

About the Book: 

Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.

In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.

Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?

About the Author:

Deanna Lynn Sletten grew up on the sunny coast of Southern California before moving to northern Minnesota as a teenager. Her interest in writing novels was sparked in a college English class, and she has been writing in some form or another ever since. In 2011, Deanna self-published her first novel and has since published several more, both on her own and with Lake Union Publishing.

Deanna enjoys writing heartwarming women’s fiction and romance novels with unforgettable characters. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes readers on the adventure of a lifetime. She believes in fate, destiny, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, magic, and happily ever after—all of which are reflected in her novels.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian shepherd or relaxing on her boat in the summer.

My Thoughts:

After reading the description for this book, I knew I had to read it. I love books with a good love story, and I’m especially a sucker for a second chance love story. So of course, I had to read Finding Libbie. To start, we meet Emily Prentice, daughter to Jack Prentice – a hard-working man whose wife (Emily’s mom) just passed away two years ago. Emily has been given the job (or rather, she volunteered) to help her Grandma Bev – the sweetest woman ever! – to clean out her house before she sells it.

While she’s doing that, Emily comes across pictures from her father’s former life – his life with his first love, and first wife, Libbie. We are then taken back in time to 1968 to learn about Jack and Libbie’s love story. Another thing I love in books is when there’s depth. This book definitely had it. A good majority of the book is set in the late 60s to early 70s. The facts seem pretty accurate (Libbie gets a job that pays $1.45 an hour), and everything seems all hunky dory for the two of them.

Until…things weren’t perfect anymore. I loved how well Deanna Lynn Sletten portrayed marriage. At first, Jack and Libbie’s marriage seemed perfect. And then…things changed. They got out of their honeymoon faze and everything seemed…different. It was real.

Jack and Libbie felt like real people. (I actually pictured them like my grandparents who were dating, married, and having children in the late sixties and early seventies). I truly appreciated how well Ms. Sletten wrote her characters. There were times I really hated Libbie; times I really adored Jack. That’s the sign of good characters – you don’t always like them but you have to know what happens next.

The good majority of the book was set in the 60-70s, which, from the description, i was surprised by this. I thought itd jump back and forth between past and present, but there was a chapter in the present and then more than 3/4 of the book was back in time.  The middle of the kind of monotonous. I felt like the same things were happening over and over throughout the years we spent during jack and Libbie’s marriage.

Once we moved back to the present, everything evened back out and things got more interesting. It was all about finding Libbie, and Emily did everything in her power to do so.

This book was so well written and well-done that I’d probably recommend this one to anyone. It’s pretty clean – with about 2 swear words throughout, and the occasional mention of two characters “making love”. No explicit language or content, I’d probably say anyone over 15 would be fine to read it.

You can find the book here