Member Reviews

Happy Publication Week to Sara Brunsvold and her sophomore novel The Divine Proverb of Streusel. This outstanding book is my first five-star read of 2024!

As in her debut, Ms. Brunsvold uses intergenerational relationships between women as the framework for powerful storytelling. The Divine Proverb of Streusel explores several themes including the power of legacy and finding one's place in their family of origin.

Plot summary: Her father's devastating actions have Nikki questioning many things in life, and she 'runs away' to her late grandmother's farmhouse seeking time and space to think. There she discovers a handwritten notebook filled with German recipes, wise sayings, and quotes from the Biblical book of Proverbs. As she prepares the recipes, she forms connections to her ancestors, living family members, and the small farming community where generations of her paternal family called home.

This book touched my soul in many ways:
- farm life: I lived on our family farm from birth through age 18.
- Lutheran faith: My lifelong denomination (although I'm a different 'type' of Lutheran).
- German heritage: Both of my parents had rich German ancestry.
- Midwestern sensibility: There's a unique sense to life in the Midwest and the author embodies these rich qualities in her writing.

"Stories are the universal heart language. They bring together what is scattered." This quote from Streusel captures the power of books in general and this novel in particular. I'm so thankful for writers who share their stories so we readers can benefit from them.

Many thanks to Revell and NetGalley for the review copy of this beautiful novel. It's going to touch so many hearts as it did mine.

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Oh mylanta, this book!! (I can see why a Facebook group I'm in is obsessed with The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, if it's anything like this one--I'll find out in short order, as it's rapidly moved up my TBR list after reading this.)

Being in large part about food, it's probably best not to read on an empty stomach, haha--but thankfully, it includes recipes! (And legit ones, not those of yesteryear that--as the book pokes a bit of fun at--give an ingredient without measurements! *cough, laugh*)

The storyline is delightful, and the characters so endearing. I adore Uncle Wes so much, and got a hoot out of his character arc. It was especially enjoyable as I really don't see the uncle-niece relationship much in fiction, let alone as the main arc; that was a neat surprise, and Brunsvold did well with it.

So many feels with this book: humor/laughter, sorrow, anger, healing, and hope above all. The only downside is that it's over!

Definitely recommended.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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#BookRevew : THE DIVINE PROVERB OF STREUSEL by Sara Brunsvold

The Extraordinary Death of Mrs. Kip charmed me, so I was so happy when the author announced her new book. It didn’t disappoint. I wasn’t sure where the story was heading at first. It’s slow in pace at times, but the author's masterful weaving of mystery and emotions kept me enthralled. I love that this book is a tapestry woven with threads of God's truth and the lives of His people.

Niikki was very troubled with her parents divorce. Her visit to her Uncle Wes’ farm was unexpected, challenging and full of revelations. The moment she stumbled upon books hidden in her grandmother's house, I was utterly captivated. I liked that Nikki is a book lover. Her fondness for stories of her grandparents and great grandparents was endearing.

I enjoyed the small town of Eddner and its people. I appreciated Uncle Wes’ patience. Wes and Joyce's shy glances and few interactions were cute, but Wes's aloofness had me intrigued. Aunt Emma was a hoot. She was full of life and lots of stories to tell as well.

I love the recipe notebook. The wisdom and faith added to each recipe are treasures. With each story savored and recipe mastered, wounds healed and paths unfolded. Although flawed, the lessons in this book are flawless, resonating deeply and guiding me with precision. I highly recommend this book!

Rating: 5 ⭐
Pub date: 16 Jan 2024, out now

Thank you Revell and #netgalley for the complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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I really enjoyed reading this book – the characters, the setting, the family dynamics, and especially the recipes with the notes about them. But, I have to confess that the author does not tie everything up in a pretty bow at the end – a little bit like life, which makes the book seem just so real, but not how I like to have a book end. Nikki is a young adult whose dad has just left the family. She discovers community and forgiveness and the value of family ties when, after a particularly trying day, she gets in her car and just drives for hours until she reaches the old family farm in Eddner, Missouri. The more time she spends with her Uncle Wes and gets to know the neighbors who knew her Dad as a kid and her grandparents, the more she learns about herself. And, although Nikki does not ever meet her Great-Aunt Emma in the book, her delightful letters and telephone conversations with Wes and Nikki cracked me up! This is a really good book, sort of reminds me of Mayberry meets Christian fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Author Sara Brunsvold’s The Divine Proverb of Streusel is a heartwarming family drama that twists and turns through Nikki’s struggle with her parent’s divorce and her uncertainty about the future of her own relationship with Isaac.

Nikki’s respite with her uncle seems like just the escape she needs, but her late grandmother’s old recipes and written words of divine wisdom might have the power to set things right in Nikki’s world again.

The Divine Proverb of Streusel is a clean, non-preachy Christian novel that recognizes God amid the messiness of life. It’s a fun, cute, and satisfying read and includes some recipes that I’m tempted to try!

I received an advanced review copy from the publisher, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

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I have been reading books for over six decades now and The Divine Proverb of Streusel ranks in the top few that I would put on my list of to read again. Through the years I have found that when authors write about what they know it comes out in their writing. Sara Brunsvold did just that! Writing about her own personal experience dealing with her parents divorce, and her own family ancestry, served as the inspiration for this novel.

This heartfelt story was filled with recipes from a found cookbook by great-grandma Lena Schoenborn with thought-provoking messages. At the beginning of each recipe grandma shares pearls of wisdom derived from proverbs and her own personal experiences in life. With the faith brought forth in the cookbook and from those around her Nikki grows in faith herself.

The Divine Proverb of Streusel is a beautiful story of finding your place in a family you barely know and finding your legacy. A story dealing with anger, bitterness, forgiveness, healing, how to move forward, wisdom, and faith is so well written by this author I could not put it down. I for one cannot wait to read what Sara Brunsvold writes next.

I received a complimentary copy from Revell via Interviews and Reviews through NetGalley for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review and all opinions are my own.

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This story was a beautiful. I loved Nikki’s character, she was real and relatable. Although at first I wasn’t sure that I would connect with an older male POV, however after a couple of chapters I really appreciated reading from Nikki’s Uncle Wes’ POV, his faith was inspiring but also just reading from a male POV that wasn’t in a romance context was refreshing. I love the way the author used phone calls and emails with a character we never actually met in person, but felt like we knew so well at the end. The whole cast of characters felt well developed.

The journey of this story was emotional and just felt so real. I laughed and grieved alongside them all. I also appreciated that whilst there was a “happy” ending, the author didn’t wrap everything up perfectly, the characters all still had a journey to continue on.

If you love cooking there was a recipe journal that played a large part in the story, recipes included.

Looking forward to reading more from this author,

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley UK for a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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I enjoyed this novel following a young woman finding her way in relationships within the context of exploring her ancestry. I liked all of the recipes and wise sayings Nikki finds in her grandmother's notebook. These recipes are in the text of the novel rather than listed at the end. They look delicious and remind me of my own Dutch heritage. I like how Nikki's experiences during the summer knits together relationships that had unraveled.

Brunsvold is an entertaining writer. The characters are developed well and there are several family and romance issues that must be faced and grown through. While the plot was predictable and was nicely tied up at the end with a kind of fairy tale ending, It was an entertaining read.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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“Sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do is to keep trying to do something for which natural talents are lacking.”

This is my first book by Sara Brunsvold and she has gained another fan. I totally need to read her debut novel which garnered much attention and awards. The author has a beautifully gentle way of escorting you into her world and her characters invite you to stay for a while. This is women’s fiction at its finest - full of self-realization, growth, laughter, family and faith amidst emotional turmoil. I will never look at butter and flour the same way again.

Nikki is a fantastic heroine. She’s angry and broken but also humbled and confused. I loved her heart that keeps coming back to family roots even when she’s mad at her father. Her willingness to delve into her family history and glean wisdom from previous generations of women was endearing, heart-warming, and delightful.
I was not expecting the other main character to be Nikki’s bachelor uncle Wes, so when his story started unfolding I was curious as to where this will go. I loved Wes. His faith is genuine, his kindness and tenderness real, his confused feelings for Joyce almost comical at times. Aunt Emma and her wisdom and zest for life livened up the story.

If you’re on a hunt for great women’s fiction, look no further. This book will wrap around you like a warm hug on a cool breezy day and not let go even after you’ve finished the last page.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell via NetGalley and was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are my own.

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Brunsvold delivers another stunning story with this book. With the theme of redemption woven skillfully through the book, the main character struggles to make sense of life after the divorce of her parents and her father getting remarried. Cooking her way through an old family cookbook to help her find her roots has surprising results.

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I loved The Divine Proverb of Streusel by Sara Brunsvold. I loved her first book and couldn’t wait to read this newest novel.

This story is told from the viewpoints of two characters, Nikki and her uncle Wes. Nikki is devastated when her parents divorce and her father remarries. On top of that things are not going the best with her fiance. Her world feels like it is shattering and she ends up running off. Not really with any plans, but ends up at her uncle’s farm, her father’s family’s farm. Her Uncle Wes welcomes her, though sort of finds himself in the middle, between Nikki and her estranged father.

It’s summer vacation and her drifting self finds an anchor at the farm, helping her uncle spruce up the farm house for future plans of renting it. It’s here that she discovers her heritage and truths from her ancestors in the form of some books found in storage. I loved the notebook she found included not just German recipes, but proverbs and wisdom. As she creates these recipes she finds herself opening up to stories from the past and is realizing everyone has a story, events in their lives that shaped what they have become.

Oh, and I mentioned the notebook included recipes that she tries, well the recipes are printed in the book and as she is making the recipes, with help from a friend, there are little nuggets or tips to help with the recipes.

And yes, through his time with his niece, Wes is learning things as well. And he himself is seeking wisdom from HIS aunt.

I loved the sense of family and learning about one’s heritage. I loved the relationship that Nikki and her uncle developed. Forgiveness was a big part of this story, and being open to understanding others.

Definitely a book I recommend.

I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley and was not required to write a favorable review. These are my own honest thoughts.

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From the author who rocked my world with The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs Kip, now comes this! These characters are so well done, and they dive right into themes of family, forgiveness, and faith. Go grab your copy today!

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"The Divine Proverb of Steusel" was one of the books I highly anticipated reading in 2024, especially in light of the spectacular debut of the author's first book, "The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip." Unfortunately, I walked away disappointed in this book.

The story is about 26 year-old school teacher Nikki Werner, who flees after the last day of school to her grandparents' old farm still run by her Uncle Wes, who she has only met a hand full of times. She runs because her father, who rather aburptly divorced her mother, secretly remarried and announced it on social media. Added to the stress and wounding of that, her boyfriend wants to propose. She is struggling and can't find her way forward. When she finds an old notebook filled with German recipes and wise sayings, she embarks on cooking the recipes in order to find healing for her heart. She also helps renovate the farmhouse for the summer with her Uncle Wes. Will she find healing in this town during the summer?

One of the things that drew me to the book was the description that she would not only make the recipes, but invite people from the town to share their stories with her. This is not an idea of her own, rather one cooked up between her Uncle Wes and the delightful Aunt Emma (who does not get enough page time at all, in my opinion.) However, that concept never comes to fruition in the book. Rather, only two people other than Uncle Wes ever make it to the table. To me, this doesn't serve the plot.

Another issue with the book is with the mentors, step four of the hero's journey. The book actually suffers from too many mentors, who, strangely, never feel they can ever speak straight into Nikki's life. Neither do they ever ask her to talk about her pain. There are huge amounts of avoidance that weigh the plot down. Other reviewers have mentioned Nikki's incredible immaturity for someone her age as a part of this. Put these two things together, and the plot drags as a result.

Avoidance plays into the romance between Uncle Wes and Joyce, which is never truly explained. What could have been a delightful midlife relationship is paralyzed through unknown past trauma that we only ever get hints of. Since the book is about exploring trauma, I expected more there.

Finally, the endings of the book rush everything to tie it up with a happy bow. Some of it doesn't make sense. The instanteous healing of a number of situations leaves the reader with a bit of whiplash.

What is good about the book? It does well with making it clear that the pain of divorce can still be intense and devastating for adult children. They require help and counseling. However, the book takes almost a transcendental path to healing that really doesn't jibe with faith.

The book had a lot of potential but many unfulfilled expectation. I received an advanced reader copy of the book as part of the Revell Reads blogger team in exchange for my honest opinion.

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After greatly enjoying Brunsvold’s first book, I was intrigued to see what her second book would be like. Mom and I ended up getting copies at the same time, so we were somewhat able to read it together—what a good story!

I realized, as I read this book, that I’m used to plot-driven stories—this book is much more character-driven, which made for a more thoughtful read—but the richer for it, in some ways! Nikki is a strong, dynamic main character. I found myself empathizing with her situation, and loved that she ended up at her uncle’s farm—the one happy place from her childhood. I also loved Uncle Wes, his strong dependability and wisdom (even when he struggled to express that!), and the whole subplot around Joyce was hilarious. Aunt Emma, too, was a lot of fun—the kind of spunky old lady I hope to be one day.

I haven’t read many books that delivered the level of wisdom mixed with history mixed with faith that I encountered in this story. This isn’t a book you can just rush through…I tried; it kind of works, but you end up missing out on many nuances. I loved the proverbs sprinkled throughout, and the recipes sure got me wanting to get into the kitchen at times! I loved how often butter was mentioned, since dairy products are among my favorite cooking ingredients. The historical side was fun and interesting—I loved watching Nikki explore that, but also loved the way this book encouraged sharing wisdom with future generations.

I came away from this book with a lot to think about, and overall, it was a good read. There were nuances of the story I struggled with, and it wasn’t until I was most of the way through the book that I felt like I finally got “into” the story—but I suspect that had more to do with my current reading slump than anything else. If you enjoy books that dive deep into the complexities of faith, family, relationships, and where we come from, this could be a great book for you.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.

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Last year, I read Sara Brunsvold’s debut novel, The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip. I loved that book! When I saw her second book coming out, The Divine Proverb of Streusel, I pre-ordered a print copy. I also signed up for a review copy so that I could read it early. It was worth reading!
Nikki is reeling. First, her father walked out on them four months ago, and now he has gotten married again. To add to her struggles, she’s feeling a growing distance from her serious boyfriend, Isaac. One evening, she found herself driving the several hours to her uncle’s farm in Missouri, the family farm, where she had experienced love and peace when they visited her grandmother for Christmas every year when she was a little girl. After arriving, with no luggage and no plan, she ended up deciding to spend the summer and help her uncle restore his mother’s old house.
One of the first things Nikki found as she looked at her grandmother’s belongings was a hand written note book of proverbs and old German recipes. She proceeded to begin cooking her way through the recipes, inviting local people to help eat them and  learning about her heritage as she went. How could she reach across the chasm between her and Isaac, though? Was there a future for them? And what about the unbridgeable divide between her and her father? She didn’t think she even wanted to patch that one up.
Sara Brunsvold has a way of developing characters so that the reader really cares about them. Normally, a side character dying in a book, doesn’t bother me that much, but in this one, it really got me. I had grown to care about that person that much! I very quickly loved certain characters, and disliked others, although I was glad to see that some of those changed enough by the end of the book that I liked them a lot better. The setting of the story felt very real, too. The Divine Proverb of Streusel is set in the community in which the author grew up, and her descriptions made the area come alive. I quickly grew to love the area and the people. I loved the way Nikki learned to make sense of her life and how to get along with the people she loved, by learning about her heritage. There was a lot more I loved, too, but I can’t mention any more lest I give spoilers. Be sure to read this book! It is good; not quite as great, in my opinion, as Mrs. Kip, but well worth spending time with.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.

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The Divine Proverb of Streusel by Sara Brunsvold
Nikki Werner is at her wits end to know what to do with her life. Her father has divorced her mother and according to a social media post, has recently remarried. She is confused and afraid to move forward with her own relationship with her boyfriend, Isaac. After school is out for the summer, she takes off for her grandmother’s farmhouse and her Uncle Wes, a virtual stranger. The summer away, time with her relatives and her grandmother’s handwritten recipes help her to rediscover her roots and mend the broken places in her life.
This book contains some endearing characters. Uncle Wes and Joyce were some of my favorites. I loved how Nikki matured and came to understand her father better through the stories of her relatives.
The plot and characters kept me engaged with the book and provided a satisfying ending. I think other readers will enjoy this book also, especially those who have experienced broken family relationships and need the hope of reconciliation. I am grateful to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this digital book in exchange for my honest review.

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After finishing The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, the author's striking and imaginative debut novel. I was eager to read her follow-up book. This new novel explores the suffering and fallout of divorce on adult children. Because the author has personally dealt with this situation, she has insight into the subject covered that others may not.

The author's personal experience, along with the background and ancestry of her own family, served as inspiration for this novel. I liked how the author gave Nikki a historical and cultural overview of her grandmother's parents in addition to some delicious dishes. Two of which came from the author's grandmother's cookbook. Mother's Schoenborn's Raisin Nut Cookies and Scalloped Cabbage and Raisin Nut Cookies. Concealed inside the recipes are thought-provoking ingredients. The grandma shares pearls of wisdom gleaned from proverbs and her personal encounters.

I liked Nikki’s Uncle Wess who welcomes her with open arms and gives her a safe place to think. Tucked neatly into the recipes are food for thought. The grandmother pours out wisdom from proverbs and her own life’s experiences. She talks about reconciling the most broken relationships.

Aunt Emma had a great sense of humor. I adored her zeal for life and her ability to make a joke out of everything. She could even make a hilarious story out of falling and getting cuts on her face. She would not allow anything to bring her down. I enjoyed how Joyce and Nikki approached their challenging life choices and how they worked on the recipes.

This would make a great book club pick. There is so much to discuss and yummy recipes to make!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I requested and received a 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

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I truly enjoyed this book. It hit home in several ways. I have experienced a lot of what Nikki has experienced but at a totally different age and circumstances.

I thought the idea of the cookbook was very inspiring and unique. It was interesting in both the recipes themselves and the thoughts before the recipes. It was nice to reconnect Nikki with her past.

The book is Christian fiction and I was pleased with the way God was seen in the lives of many.

The editing was well done. I don't remember any errors in the book and the story flowed well.

I requested this book to read and review through Revell Reads. I am not required to leave a positive review. I give this book a solid 4 out of 5-star review.

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This was such a lovely book! True Christian fiction with faith threads that ran throughout.

After having her world shattered by her mother and father’s divorce, Nikki Werner seeks to escape her life—and relationship—in Kansas City.

Hopping in her car with no clear destination in mind, she finds herself pulling into the driveway of her family’s farm hundreds of miles from home—much to the surprise of her uncle who barely knows her.

In the farmhouse where several generations once resided, Nikki finds comfort in cherished possessions from the past that link her to those who came before her. With the aid of her uncle, the good people of Eddner, and a book of handwritten recipes and proverbs, will she be able to face the pain and anger that drove her to the Werner farm?

This was a slow-paced, character-driven read, but it was endearing and precious. Uncle Wes and Aunt Emma were standout characters—such pillars for Nikki with their wisdom and faith. I also loved the strong connection that Nikki felt to learning more about her family’s German history and hearing stories about those who came before her.

Forgiveness is a major theme in this book—as well as the anger and bitterness that well up in our hearts when we refuse to do so. This book shed light on the importance of getting a full picture of someone’s story and the painful parts that may cause them to behave in hurtful ways—and choosing mercy over animosity.

So many other things that make this such a beautiful book, but you’ll just have to read it to find out!

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Nikki Werner’s world as she knew it takes one final blow when she learns—via social media, no less—that her father has gotten remarried, to the woman he divorced her mother for. Seeing her parents’ marriage fall apart so irrevocably has shaken her confidence in her relationship with her long-term boyfriend, Isaac. She thought they’d get married one day, but now, she isn’t so sure. After all, if her parents’ marriage can implode like it has, maybe she’s wrong about Isaac. And instead of talking to him and telling him about the roller coaster of emotion she’s on, she bails. She flees back to her father’s small hometown of Eddner. Her Uncle Wes, her father’s brother, is surprised to see her, but agrees that she can stay with him for the summer until she gets herself sorted out.

My heart just ached for Nikki. Sure, she’s a young adult, but seeing your dad just dump your mom for another woman can’t be easy. And to have him basically disconnect from his daughters’ lives, and then find out he’s remarried through the internet?! I couldn’t wrap my brain around that, and I could see why Nikki would take that very, very hard.

I did want to shake Nikki just a little for painting her father and Isaac with the same negative brush. There were a couple of times I wanted to yell at the book, “Just talk to him! Just answer the dang phone!” But I can’t saddle her with all the fault for the disconnect. Isaac also did his fair share of not responding and might have needed a good shake, too. (Will their relationship issues resolve satisfactorily? Read the book and find out!)

Nikki isn’t ready to talk about her father when people ask about him, but she slowly opens up to the idea of listening to the tales from those who knew him when. She also finds a book penned by her grandmother, and she begins working through the recipes in the book as her own form of therapy. She invites folks from town to try the things she makes, and in getting to know them, she learns more about her father. And in reading the notes, based on the book of Proverbs, that her grandmother jotted down, Nikki begins to understand her heritage, how the women in her family faced hard times—with faith, and through the gift of food.

I love Brunsvold’s use of stories here, both as the bridge that is slowly being restored between Nikki and her father and as the map to Nikki’s family, who she is, the legacy of her ancestors. That is genius. I wish I could find a book with my great-grandmother’s thoughts and recipes in it. What a treasure that would be.

The story is told from the point of view of Nikki and her Uncle Wes, and they’re an interesting duo. Wes is more reserved, and the events of his childhood didn’t have the same impact on him as they did on Nikki’s father, but they definitely affected the man he has become. He does his best to help Nikki understand her father, and in helping her move toward healing, he comes to realize that he may have a need for a little of that healing himself.

This book didn’t leave me a sobbing mess like Mrs. Kip did. But it has made an impression! The message that shone through most clearly for me was doing the next right thing. Taking the next step. Being willing to keep doing good when the Lord calls you to do so, and not giving up. If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be perseverance. And I could use a little reminder to persevere sometimes.

Facing challenges, digging deep to find faith, a touch of romance (and not where you might expect it!), connecting with your roots, this book has it all. (Also, the book includes the recipes Nikki made. I want to try them all now. Y’all know how I am with recipes.) It ends on a hopeful note, but doesn’t wrap it all up in a neat little “happily ever after.” Kind of like life can be.

With The Divine Proverb of Streusel, Sara Brunsvold firmly establishes her place as one of my must-read authors. And it’s only January, but I’m already saying it: this may be one of my favorites for 2024. If you enjoy a good faith-based story with realistically written characters that will make you laugh and tear up and cheer, you need to read this one. Highly recommend.

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