Cover Image: Shaped by the Waves

Shaped by the Waves

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Member Reviews

Shaped by the Waves by Christina Suzann Nelson is an interesting novel about a woman returning home to Gull Bay to take care of her aunt. As she gets immersed in the care of her aunt and running everything else, she also gets involved in solving the mystery of her own past. There is also this other story about her childhood rival. Overall, this book is filled with emotionally charged scenes, but a lot of the story did not come together cohesively. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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Thanks to Bethany House for the free book.
This is a beautiful and heavy book focused on Cassie coming back home to care for her aunt after she has a stroke. The author highlighted how difficult it can be for these caregivers - those in a 'sandwich' generation especially - to balance everything life is throwing at them. I enjoyed the honest look into guilt, accepting help (which can be so hard!), and community. This community in this book is an amazing representation of neighbors loving on and caring for each other.
My only qualm with the book was the second POV of Nora. I really wish she had her own book because in this one, her story felt underdeveloped. I also thought the absent mother theme would've done more between her and Cassie, too.
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My goodness, but this story wrecked me. In a fantastic way, but still… I’m weeping while I write this, as this story was that beautiful (I finished it moments ago).

Cassie’s search for the truth of a mysterious manuscript as well as her own past is such a masterpiece of brutal honesty and hope and dysfunction and healing and poignant losses that my emotions couldn’t help but get completely wrapped up and utterly lost in the beautifully tangled web this story turned out to be.

Little Lark was a complete charmer. She had me – and every character in the book – wrapped around her pinkie after about half a second. Such a cutie! And her nickname, Larkie-bird, was so adorable!

I cannot describe well enough the amazingness that is this story’s plot. It was rife with mystery and hope and doubts and faith and family and heart. It made me cry and laugh and oh so happy. I especially loved a certain reunion. That really got the waterworks going!

My heart ached so much at seeing a sweet character fade so quickly. Oh, how her caregiver must have felt! I related so much to these characters even though I haven’t been in either’s position before. Signs of great writing, I’m sure.

While I’ve only read two books by this author, I am confident in saying Mrs. Christina Suzann Nelson is becoming a favorite. This book is a shining example, because I absolutely love heartfelt stories that move my emotions to new depths. I love a good, emotional tale! I can hardly wait to read the other one I have in my ever-growing to-be-read stash.

Content: suicide attempt, suicide by overdose, marital affairs, profane acronym, crude sexual term
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This story has a slow start as the author introduces her cast of characters, which allows readers to know them well. Readers first meet Cassie George, she is running home to be with Aunt Shasta, the woman who raised her. Shasta is sick and needs help. Cassie goes back to the place she’s called home, with Lark, Cassie’s humorous, precious four-year-old. Nothing gets past Lark, she is a smart, outspoken, little girl who has never met a stranger she didn’t like. She quickly settles in at Aunt Shasta’s and likes the thought of going to school. 

When Cassie gets home, Shasta is in good spirits, and they have fun at Shasta’s coffee shop like in years past. Readers then meet Nora, a woman who is expecting her third child. She’s scared because things are not going as smooth as her other two pregnancies went. She keeps this news to herself as not to worry, her husband Ferral is a busy detective. Likewise, she doesn’t want him to ask her about the DNA family results she doesn’t know how to process. Can she learn that letting go of perfect may help set her free?

The story became more compelling when Cassie receives a manuscript addressed to her with no return address. Only a note that requests she read it. Things start to stir inside Cassie as she reads this remarkably haunting story. She can’t put it down. Cassie had so many questions as she read. She needed answers. I was fascinated by this. I wondered how the information she gleaned from the manuscript, would tie into Cassie’s family life. It sounds so familiar. She feels like she lived it. Can this detective she’s contacted help uncover the writer’s real identity? 

I kept wondering how all the puzzle pieces would fit together. I kept waiting for all the characters to intersect; some did, and others did not. The story did come to a startling conclusion I kept wondering about. The author does a wonderful job of showing readers that families come together in very different ways. They help and love differently. Cassie learns to accept that. Themes that run through this novel of family, loss, friendship, forgiveness, second chances interwoven with a natural spiritual thread of unconditional love laced with kindness, humor, and truth. It’s a winning combination. This book will grab you and never let you go. It will work for your next book club pick.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog www.bookfun.org
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This is an intriguing story line about Cassie. And discovering one's self. 
This might not sound too difficult, but when you add in the fact that Cassie doesn't know who her parents are, it adds an entirely new dimension.

Cassie returns to her old hometown to care for her 'aunt' Shasta, who is also the only Mom she's ever known. 
As the story progresses, she is given clues as to her backstory. 

I enjoyed the story, I liked getting to know more about Cassie. I wish it would have gone even more into her history.
I also struggled a bit to keep up with the various characters. Parts felt a bit disjointed and unrelated.
Overall, I found this an enjoyable, inspirational read.
Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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Shaped by the Waves by Christina Suzann Nelson is an amazing story that stayed with me after it ended. It is a well written story with wonderful characters that focuses on family, friends, relationships and secrets. This story is actually two stories in one with the main part being Cassie moving back to care for her great aunt and the other part being papers she receives in the mail. I just love the closeness Cassie and her roommate have and how the whole community stepped in to help Cassie with her aunt’s failing health. This story also has mystery as to who is sending Cassie the papers and what they mean. This is not a quick read story as there is so much going on with the two stories blending together. The story does briefly mention sensitive subjects such as abuse, abduction and unfaithfulness.

I voluntarily received a complimentary copy of this story from the publisher through NetGalley, this is my honest review.
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Christina Suzann Nelson is such a talented writer, and as such I really wanted to enjoy Shaped by the Waves as much as I have enjoyed some of her previous novels. I must say though that I did have a tough time getting into this one as much as I would have liked. While the writing is still great, I felt like there was just a lot going on and I personally found that it was a bit difficult for me personally to wrap my head around who was who, how they were connected and just generally keeping some things straight. As I deal with a lot of issues of brain fog and was doing so in trying to read this one... this could very well be a ME problem. The story- though slow going- was a nice story and again written well. While it might not have been one that I found myself drawn into as much, I would certainly still recommend anyone looking for a good emotional read to give this one a chance for themselves. I will still be looking forward to more from the author myself!

**I received a complimentary copy for consideration. All thoughts are my own.
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As with many women's fiction books, this book had many ups and downs. There were moments that I wanted more, then what I got, like there was talk of a health condition that I am quite familiar with, and  felt like it was a part of the story that was not as well developed as it could have been. But I would be quibbling at that. It was well written, engaging and if you are a reader that likes your books almost devoid of romance, besides brief hints to it, this one is for you.
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Christina Suzann Nelson is a go-to author for powerful, thought-provoking, heartwarming stories, and Shaped by the Waves is no exception! The small Oregon town is a charming setting, filled with lots of likable characters. Cassie and her daughter, Lark, are lovable right from the beginning, and their story is a powerful reminder that families are more than just people we're related to. The mystery woven in through the anonymous story Cassie received kept me turning pages late into the night. Fans of Irene Hannon's Hope Harbor series or Robin Jones Gunn's Glennbrooke series will love this book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I adore unique fiction, and this is such an interesting premise. I recommend because of the story itself, writing style, and its ability to transport you into a different world.
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At first I didn’t like the dialogue in the book and thought to myself, “maybe I won’t keep reading.” But then….the story grabbed me and didn’t let go! I believe this is the first book I’ve read by this author but I’d like to read The Way It Should Be since the reviews were so good.

Single mom Cassie is returning to the small Oregon town where she was raised after getting news that her aunt Shasta, who acted as mother to her, is possibly dying. Cassie had run away from her home to study marine ornithology in California and got pregnant with now four-year-old Lark, a precocious child who seems to steal hearts. It’s been years since she’s been home but she feels a duty to Shasta.

Soon the whole town seems to embrace Cassie and Lark as they join in helping out with Shasta. There are friends and also a romantic thread, as well as a mysterious story left for Cassie on her doorstep. The author of this story is revealed at the end, and I had not guessed it beforehand.

I received this book from the publisher via net galley in exchange for an honest review.  Four stars!
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Wow. Another amazing story. The way Christina weaves a story together amazes me. My mind was constantly trying to figure out what was going and how Cassie and Nora’s story was connected, if at all.

Nora’s story also touched me personally as over the last two years I had found out I have a half brother I never knew about and trying to make connections with him. It took him some time to be ready to talk to us.

My favorite part of the book was Cassie’s side of things and her story. I couldn’t wait to find out how everything would fall in place.

If you enjoy women’s fiction and dealing with some tough subjects I recommend this book.


A copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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Nelson weaves yet another intricate story involving the lives of multiple women who need each other to move forward.

Cassie has always felt at home with the ocean while living in Gulls Bay, Oregon with her aunt Shasta.  Her mother was killed in a car accident when she was very young, and Shasta came and got her in Seattle and brought her home to Gulls Bay.  But when she finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy, she decides to move to California and pursue her studies in marine biology where no one knows who she is.  One day she receives a call that changes her life, Shasta has had a stroke and she has been suffering from Parkinson’s for the last five years.

Cassie loads up her daughter Lark and makes the drive back up to Oregon.  There she finds the same people she left behind that treat her as if she was never away.  She soon realizes that she is going to have to be Shasta’s primary caregiver and suffers a series of worries and doubts that she won’t be good enough or strong enough to provide for both her daughter and Shasta.  In the midst of everything, pieces of a manuscript begin to appear outside the apartment that begin to make Cassie question everything about her past, especially when she finds out that a baby with her name is buried in a cemetery in Seattle.  What’s true and what’s not?

Christina Suzann Nelson always manages to craft characters who are hurting, yet strong willed, and make them become a reader’s best friend while trying to help them work out their problems.  I have been a fan of many of her books and this is an excellent addition to the collection.  Cassie will be many things to many different people.  Some will find strength with her as she goes about her struggles.  Others will find a companion to share their burdens with.  Still others will understand the complications of her hesitancy to enter a relationship as a single parent of a young child.  One thing is for sure, she is one of my favorite characters so far this year.

To say this is a difficult, emotional read is not to be taken lightly.  As my parents are aging, I really haven’t put much thought into the future of having to become a caregiver and this book will really make you explore that.  Other readers will probably find this an outlet to agree with the burdens that they are facing.  This will be a great addition to any library.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.
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This novel is sort of an adult coming of age story. Cassie, raised by her aunt, does not know who her parents are. The plot centers on her dealing with the mental and physical decline of the only “mother” she has known while also dealing with tantalizing information about her biological parents.

I have mixed feelings about the character development. Little Lark, Cassie's four year old daughter, is the best. She is vivacious, so innocent, and loves to say what she's thinking. Shasta is a bit of a mystery. We read of her in her mentally declining months so we cannot understand her character from current actions. I wish there had been more fond memories from Cassie, revealing more of who Shasta had been.

One of the major messages of this novel is the need for community. Cassie was supported by many of Shasta's friends. There are many issues explored in this novel including infertility, spousal abuse, infidelity, dementia, surprises from DNA inquiry, and single parenting. I would have rather read of fewer issues, each with more intensity. I felt the issues were not explored as well and as deeply as they could have been.

This is a novel for readers who like women's fiction highlighting needs and the support we can offer one another.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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Shaped by the Waves by Christina Suzann Nelson has Cassie George returning to Gull’s Bay, Oregon to care for Shasta.  Cassie was working on obtaining her doctorate in marine ornithology when she received the call stating that her aunt, Shasta had a stroke and had Parkinson’s disease.  When Cassie sees Shasta, she knows that it is time to move home with her daughter, Lark to care for the woman who raised her.  Cassie received a package in the mail.  It contains typed pages that are someone’s story.  Cassie begins reading and soon becomes engrossed. As Cassie reads, she discovers that this story has ties to her life.  Cassie’s life is about to change in more ways than one.  Shaped by the Waves is not what I expected.  I really wanted to enjoy the story, but I could never get into it.  I found it slow going.  Cassie is not a likeable character.  She is stubborn, rude, and does not like to accept help even when she is overwhelmed.  Cassie has a cute, precocious daughter named Lark.  She is a smart cookie for four years old.  I liked the humor that Lark added to the story.  We get to meet various townspeople.  Most of them are friendly and welcoming.  They want to help Cassie with Lark and Shasta.  They know they need to be creative since Cassie is bound to say no if they ask directly.  Nora is the exception.  She is Cassie’s high school nemesis.  Nora is pregnant with her third girl, and she has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  I found Nora to be just as frustrating as Cassie.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Oregon.  There is a lot going on in Shaped by the Waves.  It can be hard to keep track of the people and the various storylines.  I thought the story lacked cohesion and the pacing was slow (I saw snails waving as they passed me by).  I felt that some information was lacking (such as Cassie getting pregnant).  Some items are overly detailed, and others are missing key points. I thought Nora’s story would tie in with Cassie’s, but it really did not (I wanted to see the stories intersect).  There is romance in the story as well.  Cassie finds herself attracted to a coffee shop employee.  Shaped by the Waves is a Christian story, but you have to search to find the mentions of faith, prayer, and church.  Shaped by the Waves is an emotional novel.  You will definitely need a tissue handy for a scene or two.  I read Shaped by the Waves, but I was never able to immerse myself into the story.  It is a book that I could have put down and easily never returned to.  It had a predictability to it (it is easy to figure out who authored the story sent to Cassie).  Shaped by the Waves has an expected, feel-good ending.  I am afraid that I was not the right audience for Shaped by the Waves.  I suggest you obtain a sample to see if it suits you.  Shaped by the Waves is an expressive tale with a clever child, an ailing aunt, delectable coffee, pretty paintings, a caring community, scrumptious cookies, and a moving manuscript.
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What a heart felt, touching story about community and family. In this fictional story about a child who was switched at birth we see the beautiful threads of adoption and familial ties being stronger than blood. 

To my surprise, one of the characters was named Ainsley, which is my daughters name and that made the connection even more special to the plot. As Ainsley/Cassie searches for her biological mother, she works out pain and insecurity.  The common love of a mother for her daughter runs through out this book. I admit, the middle of the plot seemed a little slow but I was already curious enough to finish the book. 

This book is appropriate for teens and younger readers. I was given a copy of the book in exchange for my review.
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What a fantastic story, I could not stop turning pages! Shaped by the Waves by author Christina Suzann Nelson has several compelling storylines woven together. I thought I had figured out who the author of the mysterious typed story delivered to Cassie was and I was wrong.

Family comes in so many different ways. I so enjoyed this story where all these long-time, small town friends were so loving and supportive of Cassie as she strove to care for her dying "aunt" who raised her like a mother, as she was also caring for her sweet and spunky 4 year old.

Themes of family, loss, friendship, forgiveness, second chances, and love laced with kindness, truth, and humor. Themes of returning home, and returning to the things that are most important, and helping young people find their way also play an important role.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Shaped by the Waves. I highly recommend this beautiful story! It is SO good.

Thank you to the author, Bethany House, and Net Galley for allowing me to read an early copy. All opinions are my own.
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Christina Nelson knows how to write an emotion-tugging book!

At first, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy a book about a woman coming home to care for her aging aunt suffering from Parkinson's. It did take me a while to warm up to the main character Cassie, and I'm not entirely sure that I fully succeeded even in the end. She's quite stubborn and resistant to help from anyone, despite her exhaustion and being overwhelmed. She has an adorable young daughter Lark, who is precocious and added a great deal of comic relief along the way.

I think what made this book more compelling was the mystery surrounding Cassie's past. She receives a mysterious story and as she reads it, she starts to think that it might be about her. I was fully invested in the tale to find out how the story tied into Cassie's life. I'm not sure I completely bought the way everything came together in the conclusion and I had to read through it a couple of times to puzzle out the connections. I think my main problem was that there is a side storyline of another woman in town learning things about her own past, and for whatever reason I thought the two stories were going to end up being connected and they weren't. I kept trying to connect them the entire time and that's why I got so confused.

The two other things that elevate this novel are the emotional impact and the setting. The Oregon coast is my stomping grounds, and everything about the descriptions of the small town and the coastline were familiar and vivid. As Cassie grows to understand that her aunt's time is short, she has to come to terms with losing the woman who has functioned as her mother for most of her life. This is heart wrenching and the emotions are so real, I definitely shed some tears. I wished I had been able to know Aunt Shasta as part of the story, before she developed her illness, so I could have made a connection with her. As it was, we just get Cassie's point of view about their relationship and it lacks some depth.

Overall this is a very worthwhile read from a fantastic writer.
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Cassie George lives in the tide of regret. Regret over relationship choices she made in college. But not the consequence of those choices—her four-year-old daughter Lark. Regret over the shame that’s kept her from Gull’s Bay, the tiny Oregon town that practically raised her. But she holds no regret over her unusual upbringing. Regret because she’s drifted away from her Aunt Shasta, the woman who raised her. But always pulled to the sacrificial love her aunt poured over her. 

When her aunt’s health declines, Cassie walks away from her doctoral program in California to return to the one place she’s loved above all others. As she settles in, a mysterious package appears in the mail. A package filled with an anonymous manuscript with the power to rock her world. 

A handsome new employee at her aunt’s coffee shop makes Cassie question the boundaries she set in place after conceiving Lark. But until she figures out the mystery of her identity, she won’t know how the past will shape her future. 

Why I Loved this Book

As a narrator, Cassie represents the uncertainty a young woman struggles with as she learns to make adult decisions. She straddles a world between young motherhood, academia, and the antics of the aging community of Gull’s Bay. 

At times, her life feels as chaotic as an ocean storm, but the quirky characters of Gull’s Bay always provide a safe harbor. This poignant, funny, and endearing novel will echo in your heart long after you close the cover of the book.

Fans of Emma St. Clair and Elizabeth Baylor Younts will love this book.
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Loved the small town atmosphere with neighbors helping each other. The characters were likeable and interesting. A lot is going on throughout the book, the main plot plus several subplots. I found at times the story was confusing. Loved Lark! I loved Cassie's compassion for her aunt.
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