The Songbook of Benny Lament

Ah! I always love me an Amy Harmon book. And her latest, The Songbook of Benny Lament, touched and changed my heart in all the best ways. If you’ve never read one of her books before, you should. They are ridiculously amazing!

This book transported me into a different place and time. It’s set in the early 60s in a New York neighborhood run by the mob. Benny Lament (Benito Lomento) wants nothing to do with his family. Family means secrets. Family means being owned. Family means murder, corruption, and nothing good in his mind.

His life revolves around his music since he’s made a name for himself writing songs for big name artists. But when his father makes him come listen to a black girl named Esther Mine sing in a ghetto bar in another neighborhood, he is captivated against his will. But what he learns from his dad about Esther Mine’s birth parents makes him want to leave her alone. The woman can only bring trouble into his life. But Benny can’t get her voice out of his head, and though he runs from fate, it’s going to catch up to him.

What I loved about this book were the themes: racial prejudice, family ties and duties, and change. This story had heart, like all of Harmon’s books do. I came to love characters so different from me—mobsters, sassy black women, angry black men, conflicted Italians. I loved the sixties setting and all the history interwoven through the radio show. I love the self-reflection her stories inspire if you let them. Harmon’s stories are in no way preachy (I hate those kind of stories), but as you get inside the characters’ heads and experience life vicariously with them, I can’t help but stop and wonder, “Am I resisting change? Am I standing up for change? How could I do better?”

The plot showed racial prejudice from several different sides and lights. The author wrote about this touchy, sensitive subject masterfully. She didn’t try to tell me how I should be. She just told a story about how the world was, and how a few strong individuals stood up against the status quo to bring about change (a very slow change). I saw how easy it is to believe there is no racism (or more personally, to think I’m not racist), when really there’s a good chance there is and I am just unaware or ignorant of it because it’s not touching us/me right then.

Amy Harmon’s stories always plant a seed of change in my heart. That’s why I love them. She started writing this back in 2019 before all the civil unrest exploded here in the US. After reading this, I want to do better at challenging my cultural and societal beliefs, to make sure I never get cozy in a world where I’m only looking out for myself. I want to do better at making sure I’m always changing in a way that is including others, not excluding them. I want to be changing in ways that unite others in diversity, instead of clinging to my comfortable cliques or tribes. Anyway, I have nothing but praise for this book. The author tackled a hard subject with difficult characters, and did it with honesty and grace.    

Favorite Quotes

Sometimes the best way to hide is in the spotlight. If the whole world knows who you are, it’s harder to snuff you out.”

~~~

Prejudice is human nature, and it isn’t always ugly or violent or even obvious. We all make judgments, some of them justified, some of them not. We’re taught a certain way of thinking and doing, we’re taught to blame or justify, and a lot of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it. And that’s true of everybody. Not just white people. I told Esther she had a chip on her shoulder, and she told me I had a blind spot.”

~~~

If you’re tired of subpar books, look no farther than Amy Harmon. Her storytelling won’t disappoint you. Happy reading.

Where the Lost Wander

nr5What a powerful story! Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon had all the emotions, so if you want light and fluffy, run from this one fast. Yoke your oxen up and skedaddle. It’s a heart-yanker. You feel all the love, all the deep-seeded, unending pain, the heartache, the laughs, the awe…the victory and triumph. But all the sadness and heartwrenching agony are SO worth it in the end. I think the joy and awe you feel at the end are even magnified because of what you go through with these characters—John Lowry and Naomi May.

It’s set in the 1850s in the pioneering days of U.S. history, when buffalo still roamed the prairies and Indians were trying to make their stand against white man’s intrusion. It’s a love story—one of the best. Continue reading

The First Girl Child

nr27Wow, I’ve been MIA here for the last month. Sorry. Got caught up in my own writing/editing projects and kind of forgot about social media. But I’m back and will try to catch up on some of the awesome books I’ve read recently.

Today’s feature romance is a fantasy. I don’t usually read much fantasy because it can be cheesy at times, but Amy Harmon’s fantasies are one of the exceptions. Her fantasies are her strength, I believe (although I love any genre she writes). But I find myself rereading her fantasies because they make me feel things I don’t often feel, and she makes me think deeper and she makes my heart stretch farther. Her latest did not disappoint. I know I’ll be rereading this sometime next year. Continue reading

What the Wind Knows

newfeb2I read this newest one by Amy Harmon, What the Wind Knows, last month, and have been dying to blog about it for any who haven’t read about it yet. Here’s the blurb:

Summary

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time. Continue reading

The Smallest Part

smallGIVEAWAY ENDED: Winner is LoraDawn.

Sometimes I read a book, and it goes beyond my expectations. I want to share the wonder (which I will at the end of this post in a giveaway). I’m an avid reader and love books for the sake of a good story. So even if it’s not the best book ever written, I still appreciate the time, skill, and imagination the author put into it. Stories feed my soul. I rarely read one I don’t like.

But then there are authors like Amy Harmon. My hero. Every book she puts out is like the most divine, decadent feast I can imagine. Her stories are not just dessert. They are solid food for my heart and soul. Nourishing. Filling. I don’t finish them and hunger. They linger in my heart for weeks, months, even years. Their messages change me. Inspire me. Make me want to be kinder, stronger, braver. Continue reading

The Bird and the Sword

41ifwvwc9fl-_sx331_bo1204203200_I hope everyone had an awesome Memorial Day weekend. I spent time in Park City, UT with a bunch of family for a reunion. Family and food. Two of my favorite things all bunched together…so I loved it. A couple weeks ago, I finished Amy Harmon’s newest book, The Bird and the Sword. This book was awesome, and even though I’m surrounded by boxes and cleaning supplies that are shouting my name right now because we move in exactly one week (YIKES!), I wanted to do justice to this spellbinding piece. It deserves praise…even if I feel like Cinderella right now (emphasis on the cinder part). Continue reading

Exciting Cover Reveal

INFINITY + ONE COVERI’m so excited to be part of Amy Harmon’s cover reveal for her upcoming book. I’ve read every single one of Amy’s books so far, and have been touched in a different way by each story. Her writing style is inspiring; her characters always become good friends, and I finish reading and feel like a better person for having read her words.

Continue reading

Got Blue?

If not…you’d better get it. I’m talking about A Different Blue by Amy Harmon…my new favorite book. It’s the 3rd book I’ve read by this talented author, and it was phenomenal. This is a riveting story of redemption, and one I will definitely read again. I loved it that much. The characters became my friends, and after I finished, I emailed Amy and begged for a chance to interview her. Amy is more gracious and wonderful than I imagined. I hope you enjoy getting to know her better today.

Tell us a little about yourself, Amy.

I’ve been married for 19 years and I’m a mom of four – two boys, two girls, ranging from eighteen to three. I love to sing and sang with the Saints Unified Voices gospel choir Continue reading