Saturday, February 13, 2021

Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

With the cold days of winter holding us firmly in its grip, it has been so nice to head to bed a little early each night and snuggle up under my covers to read. The book that I most recently read was the new Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen. The format of this book was differnt than most I have read in the past, the author calls it "inspirational split-time women’s fiction". The story was told within two separate time lines: a current and contemporary story, told alongside a historical story.

Sloane is a historical museum curator. When Garrett comes by to drop off what Sloane perceiveds to be an ordinary satchel and other trinkets, she expects it is a bunch of things that she has no use for but soon discovers tucked into the satchel is a 19th century diary written by a young girl. It is this first found diary, and others that start to surface, that provide the storyline and narration about Annabelle, who lived in Sedgwick County, Kansas starting in the 1870s as a young girl and growing into a woman. It is the ongoing discovery of diaries and pictures that Garrett and his sister find at his grandma's house that begins to intertwine the stories of Sloane and Garrett. With each new discovery, he is excited to share the new find with her and finds himself pulled into the story, intrigued and wanting to help uncover more about Annabelle and how her story is connected to his grandma and her house.

One thing that I find interesting is that my newsfeed over the past week has had many posts and new stories about found pictures, diaries, documents, uncovered as people are remodeling their homes or found tucked away in an attic or basement. I've always been intrigued by the past and so I find those stories to be interesting on their own and certainly hope that those items find a family connection. However, coupling those stories with the book that I was reading, I found it strangely coincidental the timing of seeing those stories, given the pictures, the diaries and the history that they are discovering in the book as Garrett and his sister are cleaning out his grandma's house.

I enjoyed how the present day characters come to learn more about themselves through the discovery of the history of their community and family and the connections that they discovered and developed through this exploration. The interweaving of the two timelines is smoothly executed and really kept the story moving and the reader wanting to learn more. The story was filled with beautifully descriptive language delivering real-feeling details about the characters and the house that ties the stories together. I really enjoyed getting to know Sloane, Garrett, Annabelle and Jack, and appreciated the development of each of the love stories. Genearlly, the character development was good but there were many threads left unexplored that had me wanting to learn more about the characters, both past and present.

After I finished reading, I immediately went to look for what else the author had written and was surprised to discover that this story was Wen's debut novel. The cover references Sedgwick County Chronicles, so I am hopeful that there will be more stories to come in the series. And, as is always my hope when I discover friends in a book, I hope that when there are more books in the series that some of the same characters will be present, even as an adjacent character to the main story, just to remain connected and perhaps learn a little bit more about them too.

About the Book
This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

About the Author
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on February 2, 2021.

In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. She serves as a choral accompanist as well. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen).

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.