Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Summer of Joy

Summer of Joy (Heart of Hollyhill -Book 3) by Ann H. Gabhart (Reprint)

Publication Date: 02/15/2008 (originally)
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Imprint: Revell Books
Genre: Christian/Inspirational Fiction
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 0800731700
ISBN-13: 978-0800731700

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, ChristianBook, Indiebound

Ann H. Gabhart on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Heart of Hollyhill

1. Scent of Lilacs
2. Orchard of Hope
3. Summer of Joy

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from, Summer of Joy, courtesy of the author's website.


For Jocie Brooke, the summer of 1964 certainly was eventful, but it's nothing compared to what's coming to Hollyhill, Kentucky, and the Brooke family next. The past is coming to call, threatening to destroy the relationships that everyone thought were so strong. Two people--one thought to be gone for good and the other no one's ever heard of--are making their way to the small town. And it promises trouble for everyone.

This complex and beautifully written story is the perfect conclusion to The Heart of Hollyhill series. With true-to-life family drama, refreshing humor, and characters readers have come to love like dear friends,Summer of Joy will delight Gabhart's fans.


Ann H. Gabhart's book Summer of Joy is finally back in print with a gorgeous new cover that embraces the 1960's setting, when a record player and 45 were a teenager's idea of a good time. Gabhart's portrayal of the Brooke family is one readers will easily relate to. This is the story of a family that withstands many trials and tribulations, but still comes out on top, with God's unconditional love and a lot of understanding. Gabhart writes about this Kentucky family in a way that will make readers feel like they are members of their own small town communities. It's about real people, with real struggles. A great novel!

What I liked:

Ann H. Gabhart is one of those author's that always puts a smile on my face. Her writing, no matter which genre it might come from, is always easy to relate to. I like books where the characters seem like real people, a friend down the street, or someone I might see in the grocery store and the Heart of Hollyhill series makes me feel that way. Gabhart is from Kentucky, as I am and she writes about the small town settings and familiar sites that strike a cord with me. I always love showing my support of writers from my own home state and it's so easy with Ann H. Gabhart because her books are so realistic and enjoyable.

The Brooke family is like any other small town family with a few exceptions. You have to remember how things were during the setting of this book. It's Kentucky in the 1960's. The town of Hollyhill is small and close knit. It's during the Vietnam War and racial equality is still far from being the norm. Divorces happen but they aren't an everyday occurrence. 

At the head of the family you have, David, a divorced preacher and editor of the local newspaper. His teenage daughter Jocie, who is coming of age in the 60's. His other daughter, Tabitha who has recently returned home with her bi-racial three month old son. Leigh, David's much younger fiancee. Aunt Love, the glue that holds everything together, and a plethora of other characters. With continually changing viewpoints and narrators, this book can be a little confusing, but readers get to see a glimpse of life through the eyes of many different people. From the good times to the bad times and everything in between. I found it original and refreshing while also having a deep scope for the trials of the times.

This book has a little bit of everything from love, to hardship and back again. There is a lot of humor and definitely some moments that will bring readers to tears, but the I think the true enjoyment of this book comes from the Christian message and God's unconditional love that is shown throughout. These family members are facing some terrible situations, from Cancer to stalking and the ridicule of others, but they still trust in God and rely on each other. I loved the sense of realness to this book. It wasn't at all far fetched to believe this family existed. Or to see how their faith saw them through some great trials. Gabhart has a way with writing characters that makes them become a part of the reader. This one is a bit unconventional for a Christian Fiction book, but I think that's part of it's overall charm.

What I didn't like:

The changing viewpoints took a bit of getting used to. But once I got the hang of it, I really liked seeing into the minds of each of these amazing characters. I liked the introspection and the glimpse into their everyday lives and what they faced on a daily basis.

Bottom Line:

This is an unconventional story with a really realistic family. I know... that doesn't sound like it makes sense but it does. It isn't the average Christian Fiction title most people pick up, but it is so easy to believe in these people and become invested in what happens to them. Ann H. Gabhart is a writer who understands that relating to the characters is a big part of what makes a book go from good to great!

Available March 2014 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. She's published over twenty-five books for both adults and young adults. Scent of Lilacs, her first inspirational novel, was chosen as a Top Ten Books in Christian Fiction by Booklist magazine. Her first Shaker book, The Outsider, was a finalist for ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year and was a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine.
Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann loves hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dog, Oscar. Her website is www.annhgabhart.com.

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