Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

Review and Giveaway: Providence by Jennifer Sienes May 13, 2021

Filed under: Book Reviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 3:43 pm
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providence

About the Book

Book:  Providence

Author: Jennifer Sienes

Genre: Christian Women’s Fiction

Release date: April 13, 2021

Providence

How can she forgive a man she isn’t sure she ever knew?

Melissa Bainbridge doesn’t have time to grieve. She has three kids to feed, bills stacked high enough to crush her, and guilt–oh so much guilt.

When her husband’s death is  ruled a suicide, her financial stability and identity die with the man she now wonders if she ever knew.  How could he choose to leave them like this?  How could she have lived with him for 15 years and not known of his fragile mental health?

A journey of discovery reveals more questions than answers until Melissa finally faces her fears and tries to understand the mind of the man she thought she knew and never did.

The journey from despair to hope leads Melissa beyond grief and into the light of forgiveness in Providence.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Jennifer

Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing–and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies–two in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.

More from Jennifer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a novelist. In my naïve mind, it was a romantic endeavor that would take little effort on my part. Growing up, I wrote stories my sisters raved over, and later, stories my kids raved over. I don’t have to tell you, they were an easy audience to please. Still, life happened somewhere in the midst of it all, and I gave up that childish endeavor and became a teacher instead. It might not have been my absolute dream job, but it was second-best, and I figured the pay would be much better.

It wasn’t until years later, when my husband encouraged me to step away from teaching for a year to try my hand at writing. I was thrilled. A whole year to explore my potential as a novelist. The only problem was, I didn’t know what to write about. Over the next several months, I spent more time working in the yard and repainting the interior of the house then I did at my computer. That blank screen was just too daunting.

Then I lost my childhood hero and best friend to suicide. Michael was my Almost-Irish-Twin. I say almost, because I was born three weeks too late to make it official. He and I spent most of our childhood attached at the hip. I don’t know if I hung out with Mike because I was a tomboy, or if I was a tomboy because I hung out with Mike. I taught him the alphabet and how to tie his shoes (it’s true—most girls do advance faster than boys) and he taught me how to catch frogs and fish.

We got into all kinds of escapades together, which I’m sure caused Mom more than a few gray hairs. Mike was a prankster. He had the idea we should pepper his bedroom carpet so Mom would sneeze every time she vacuumed. Our house backed up to a cattle ranch, and he found a bucket and stool and talked me into milking the cows with him. The only problem was, they were steer. He even shared the box of chocolate Ex-Lax with me that he found in our parents’ medicine cabinet. Fortunately for me, his idea of sharing was, “One for you; two for me.” Mom couldn’t get us to the hospital fast enough to have our stomachs pumped.

I was asked by my sister-in-law to speak at Mike’s funeral. I looked out into a church filled with his family and friends. He was a member of Biker’s for Christ, and there were more than a few members dressed in leather. He’d been on a mission trip to Thailand only a couple years before, and he taught others how to evangelize. It was our childhood antics I shared with the attendees, because I wanted them to know the hilarious, loving, prankster that Mike was before his mind had been taken over with bipolar disorder. And when I stepped away from the podium, I clearly heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “This is your story.”

To this day, I still have the Bible he gave me—the first one I ever owned—with an inscription in it to encourage me to not give up during my own season of heartache. He was there through my daughter’s near-fatal accident and resultant coma and traumatic brain injury. He was there when my first husband of almost 23 years walked out for reasons that made no sense. He was there to remind me that God loved me, even when it felt like my life was falling apart—especially when it felt like it was falling apart.

It was exceedingly difficult to lose my big brother, but it was made even more difficult when a woman in my Bible study told me he was going to hell. “Suicide is the unforgivable sin, you know,” she said as I sat with nine other ladies around a friend’s kitchen table. She was misinformed. The only unforgivable sin is the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31). But I wondered how many other people were misinformed, as well.

Although Providence is Book 3 in my Apple Hill series, I actually wrote it first. The first draft was dark and gloomy, because that’s how I was feeling while grieving the loss of Mike. But as my faith has grown, so has the hope I have in Jesus Christ. I know that God doesn’t waste even one of our tears. When we suffer a loss, it’s His plan and purpose to use it for our good and His glory. I rewrote the novel twice before it spoke that truth loud and clear.

Providence is a story inspired by my brother’s death. And although it is not about Mike, I instilled the character of Trevor with woodworking talent, just like Mike had. The children are not my niece and nephews, but their descriptions and ages, at the time of Mike’s death, were inspired by them. My prayer is that everyone who reads this book will feel the hope and joy we have in our Lord, even when our circumstances tell us different.

Blog Stops

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 3

lakesidelivingsite, May 3

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 6

Reviewingbooksplusmore, May 6

Texas Book-aholic, May 7

Inklings and notions, May 8

For Him and My Family, May 9

Mary Hake, May 9

deb’s Book Review, May 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 12

Rebecca Tews, May 13

Genesis 5020, May 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 14

Sodbuster Living, May 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, May 15

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 16

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10b62/providence-celebration-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

Wow, what a powerful story. This deals with some heavy issues, which I have discovered Jennifer is very good at dealing with. This is the third book I have read by her and enjoyed.

How do you find God when your life is falling apart around you. How to you trust in God’s providence when you can’t see Him working?

Melissa has to ask these tough questions and raise three children in the process.

Duncan seems like a really great guy, but doesn’t always make the smartest choices, which add tension to the story.

Overall, a very good read. If you haven’t read anything by Jennifer yet, what are you waiting for?

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me by Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own.

 

Review and Giveaway: Illusions by Jennifer Sienes May 14, 2020

Filed under: Book Reviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 1:47 pm
Tags: ,

Illusions-FB-Banner.jpg

About the Book

Book:  Illusions

Author: Jennifer Sienes

Genre:  Christian Contemporary

Release Date: April 28, 2020

Illusions-eBook-cover-194x300.jpgCorey Schaffer, pastor’s wife and mother of two teens, has spent her entire marriage subconsciously repenting for one reckless night the week before her wedding.

Upon discovery of Corey’s indiscretion, her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor, is in a car accident resulting in a weeklong coma, traumatic brain injury and memory loss. Corey is riddled with guilt and would like nothing better than to confess all to her husband, Paul. But how can she when his pastoral position is at risk, thanks to their son’s thoughtless act of rebellion the year before—an act Paul has yet to forgive?

Instead, Corey loses herself in the day-to-day work of Taylor’s rehabilitation and prays God will give her the courage to face the past. But when a disgruntled church member sees an opportunity for revenge, Corey must find the faith and strength to put her family first, even if it means walking away.

 

Click here for your copy!

 

 

About the Author

Jennifer SiennesJennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.

 

More from Jennifer

Since I was twelve years old, I’ve been writing stories. I even wrote fan-fiction before it was a thing—a Happy Days episode, which I’m sure dates me. I took every creative writing class I could, starting in high school, and even declared journalism as my college major until I realized I like fiction a whole lot more than truth because I can create the characters any way I like.

 

However, my first attempts at writing emotionally charged novels fell flat; I hadn’t lived enough to truly understand what deep emotion felt like. Then life happened—a series of tragedies that made me feel I was more on par with Job than with Jesus. Someone wise told me that all writers must find the core of why they write—that deep part of us that God instilled in our hearts. What is it we, as writers, want to communicate to our readers? What I came away with was that we all need hope, especially in our darkest days.

 

Illusions was born out of a near-fatal car accident my daughter was in only weeks after her eighteenth birthday. It was walking through that accident with her that started the what if questions years later. What if an accident is the result of a mother/daughter argument? What if that argument was caused by something the mother did in her past—a deep, dark secret that even she cannot face? And what if that mother is held to a higher standard than most others? Say the wife of a pastor? And what if that pastor already has a black mark against him because of an act their other child (a boy) previously committed?

Would the congregation turn against him? We all know people in church who seek any opportunity to throw a wrench into things—that live with a big ol’ log in their eye, blinding them from the concept of grace.

To add to the tension (because, what’s the point of a story without it?), what if the accident caused a traumatic brain injury and the daughter remembers nothing? It may not be on par with Sophie’s Choice, but now a mother is torn between wanting her daughter to be whole again and hoping the deep, dark secret remains lost somewhere in the recesses of her mind.

Admittedly, the two children of Corey and Paul Schaffer (the main characters) are based loosely on my own children, Nicole and Christopher. It is so much easier to write what I can easily envision in my mind. And many of the challenges Taylor (the accident victim) faces were actually those my own daughter experienced. But that’s where truth and fiction part ways. So, Illusions started with inspiration, but God took it to whole new level. It’s one of the ways He uses the challenges I’ve faced in life to connect with readers and hopefully give them His inspiration and encouragement.

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 13

Godly Book Reviews, May 13

Through the Fire Blogs, May 14

Genesis 5020, May 14

Emily Yager, May 15

Texas Book-aholic, May 16

deb’s Book Review, May 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 18

Inklings and notions, May 19

reviewingbooksplusmore, May 19

For Him and My Family, May 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 22

Older & Smarter?, May 23

CarpeDiem, May 23

Moments, May 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 25

Pause for Tales, May 26

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon & a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/f9fc/illusions-celebration-tour-giveaway

My thoughts:

This is a very powerful story with so many lessons to be gleaned: marriage, fear of man, preferences in church, forgiveness.

The first chapter will grab you and drag you right into the middle of the mess of this story. Next we go to a flashback that leads up to the opening scene. A very impactful way to begin a book.

With that being said I had a couple of issues with some things. I can’t say too much because it will give be kind of a spoiler. But Corey makes a choice about half way through the book broke my heart. I can’t imagine a mother doing what she did. It honestly really bothered me and made me not like her as much.

There were also a couple of inaccuracies with Corey and her teaching. I won’t get into all of it, this is just a pet peeve of mine, I am a teacher and I know how things really work, but that did bother me.

With all that being said, it really is good story. This family has to deal with some very tough things. I saw my husband and son in the relationship between Paul and Michael and that made me sad…it wasn’t good, but spot on.

I could say so much more about the truths in this story but this review is long enough. Overall, a very good read.

Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite retailer.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own.