Monday, May 3, 2021

Providence Blog Tour: Book Review + Giveaway

 **I received a complimentary copy of this book for consideration. All thoughts are my own. 


About the Book

 


Book:  Providence

Author: Jennifer Sienes

Genre: Christian Women’s Fiction

Release date: April 13, 2021

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 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 na├»ve 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.

My Thoughts

As someone who struggles with mental illness, I must admit that I am always a little weary when picking up a Christian novel that tackles the topic. Sadly, all too often there is a lack of awareness and understanding about mental illnesses within the church community. While I certainly believe it has come a long way, there are still many who confuse feelings of anxiousness and depression that we all experience from time to time with clinical depression and anxiety disorders. As such, there is this idea that they can all be overcome with just a little more faith... an idea that is not only wrong... but quite dangerous as well, keeping Christians from seeking out professional help when they feel that faith should be enough. Suicide is perhaps even more taboo... I know I had certainly heard growing up that anyone who took their own life could not go to heaven! As I have learned more about my own mental illnesses and who God truly is and what Jesus' sacrifice meant, I have come again to disagree with that idea wholeheartedly. With all of these misconceptions within the church... again, I was apprehensive not knowing where the author's view would fall. 

I very quickly discovered that I had no reason at all to be concerned. This book handled these very difficult topics with grace and understanding that is so very much needed... even addressing these common misconceptions within it's pages as well. Given the topics that it covers, it was far from an easy read, and yet one that I feel was so very important. It really offers a fantastic perspective that I think so many still need to hear. In the end, it was a book filled with hope and grace... and understanding.  

This is the third book in the Apple Hill series, but it reads perfectly as a standalone. To be honest, I didn't even realize it was part of a series until I sat down to write this review. That being said, I thought this book was so beautifully written that I immediately downloaded the previous two books to read. It was the first book I had read from the author, but it certainly will NOT be the last. 

Many may be hesitant to read a book about suicide, and I get it, it's not easy. Still, I think if you give it a chance you'll see that it is a story about so much more than that, and a story that needed to be told. 

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

4 Comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, beautiful review. This was a difficult novel to write, and had I not lost my own brother to suicide, probably never would have been written by me. I grew up hearing the same lies about suicide and mental illness, and I wanted to be true to what God called me to do in writing this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh wow.. your review really hit home for me. This is one of those must reads even though it may be hard. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent review, Randi! Providence sounds like one not to miss. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this story and the book and author details, it sounds like an excellent read

    ReplyDelete

"Pleasant words are as a honeycomb: sweet to the soul and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24