Saturday, August 1, 2015

When Grace Sings by Kim Vogel Sawyer

        Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she’s operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forester, a reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder, not knowing his real motives for being among the Plain folk. When Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths.

        When Grace Sings—the second book in Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy—comes after When Mercy Rains in the series, but I’m not sure it places second on my scale. When I first read When Mercy Rains, it completely blew me away with is sweet story, spiritual themes, and lovable characters. I have to say, When Grace Sings pleased me just as much. The storyline was obviously a bit different—it focused more on the secondary characters from the previous book, as well as some new characters—but it held many of the same components. Although it focused on Alexa, Anna-Grace, Briley, and Stephen rather than Suzanne, Abigail, Alexa, and Paul—which means that the pain felt and secrets kept were a little bit different—it was just as much of a touching read, even though I didn’t cry this time.
        Since I knew much of Alexa from the previous book, I already thought of her as a friend, but it was nice to get to know her on a deeper level as she struggled to find her place in Arborville while attempting to run her very own bed-and-breakfast. Anna-Grace, though, was fairly new to me, but I found her to be just as loveable as Alexa, in her own way. They both struggled—although in different ways—with their ‘adopted’ status, and I admired their determination to do the right thing, though I related most with their longing to keep themselves from more pain. That was one of my favorite thing about the two girls, they both were strong in their faith and someone to look up to, while at the same time they were easy to relate to because of their humanness.
        Despite my initial feelings of him, Briley also came to be one of my favorite characters. Although he came to the bed-and-breakfast with not-so-kind intentions towards the town and its people, I couldn’t help eventually falling for him and his teasing ways. I wish I could tell you he turns out all right in the end, but I can’t. I don’t want to spoil anything for you! I can, however, promise you that the ending is very happy. But then, aren’t they all? Oh, and Steven! He was another favorite. I just loved watching him and Anna-Grace interact, and I couldn’t help but feel for him with all that he went through, although some of it was caused by his own mistakes.
        Another thing that I absolutely loved was how the title and the name of the B & B—Grace Notes—connected and how Alexa described it as God singing over us, as found in Zephaniah 3:17. Add that to the other spiritual themes to this story, the ones about redemption and God’s grace, and it made for a story that I know I will be reading again. I absolutely love novels that remind me just how amazing God is, so this book easily made it onto my all-time favorites list. Kim does a wonderful job of weaving together all four main characters’ lives in a way that made them even better and more touching than they would have been alone, and if you add that to the little moments that made me burst into laughter, you have the perfect story on your hands.
        So, if you couldn’t already tell, I’m giving When Grace Sings all five bookshelves. I couldn’t help but fall in love with everything this novel held between its covers, and the way it finished with a few loose ends made for the perfect lead in for the third novel—When Love Returns—which releases on September 22nd. I know I will be eagerly anticipating reading how the story ends, if I’m not already. Along with the books perfect ranking, I give Kim a hearty round of applause for a story that touched my heart, brought me closer to God—without being overbearing—and made me laugh in ways I will always remember.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of this novel and its predecessor, or pre-order the final installment here.

Linking up at Let It Shine.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Kim Vogel Sawyer and WaterBrook Press.

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