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on January 14, 2010
It is such a privilege to be a part of the blogger review team with Thomas Nelson Publishing. The Sweet By and By written by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck was much different than I had anticipated.

The Sweet By and By is a novel that really makes you think. The main character, Jade, is preparing to get married and hasn't shared most of her past with her fiance. Jade and Max, her fiance, have a pact that the past is the past and they aren't going to share it with each other. I was shocked at the idea of doing this. I am engaged to a wonderful Christian man and we have been extremely open about the experiences that have formed us over our lifetimes.

Jade soon discovers the challenges of leaving the skeletons in her closets when one by one she is forced to re-encounter them and decide how to handle them right before her wedding.

I was very disappointed with this book. When I began the journey with Jade I found it to be a very, heavy and slow moving book. I tend to get emotionally involved with the characters in stories and this one left me sad, depressed, and frustrated many times.

I recommend it more as a group study book. There are wonderful study questions in the back of the book for that exact purpose. Light Christian reading, it is not.
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on December 16, 2009
The Sweet By and By written by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck is a beautiful story that touched my heart deeply and will stick with me for a long time.

The authors practically bring these characters to life. After reading the book, the characters seem more like real people that I know and I find myself wondering how they are doing and what happened to them after this story. Jade Fitzgerald, the story's heroine, has been through so much in her lifetime that she has tried to run away and close off her past and pretend it never existed. I felt myself relating to her on so many different levels and rooting for her.

The story gives a beautiful picture of God's love and mercy. From the very beginning of the book I was drawn in by the dynamic relationships between these characters and the drama of a wounded family. No matter how wonderful our family is, we all have relationship problems at times, and the issues in this book just felt so true to life for me. It's a story about people who are more "real" and I truly enjoyed this book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. In fact, I would say that this book is at the top of my list of books from 2009 that I would consider a must read!

Rachel Hauck has been a favorite of mine for awhile, and I am hoping these two ladies will collaborate again in the future. They very obviously write well together!

A complimentary copy was provided for an honest review.
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on January 5, 2010
The Sweet By and By is about Jade, whose upcoming marriage is swiftly approaching. She debates whether or not to invite her mother, Beryl - who is just about Jade's polar opposite, a free spirit who enjoyed Woodstock, in comparison to Jade's staid existence as a shop owner and the soon-to-be wife of a lawyer who often suffers from panic attacks. Before Jade's marriage, she has to come to grips with her past and her family - as well as adapting to the differences in the family she's marrying into. Will Jade be able to let go and heal from her past or is her upcoming marriage going to fail before they even exchange their vows?

Overall, I mostly enjoyed The Sweet By and By. The family dynamics in both Jade's and Max's (her fiancé) families were interesting. Also, having a novel with romantic elements but without premarital intercourse was a refreshing surprise. The writing is clear.

However, as I read, the plot seemed to all move along well enough until about three-quarters of the way through. Then it all seemed to rush into a huge climax ... and then peter out a little. The pacing in the beginning worked well. Toward the end ... I just am not so sure about it.

The plot is original enough. Some events are a little predictable, but not too many. The characters are original and have believable dialogue. Still, with all the strong points, I don't know that I would re-read this novel. But, if you're looking for a quick read without graphic language or sex scenes, this might be the book for you.

I am a reviewer for Thomas Nelson Publishing. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this book review. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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on January 14, 2010
I just finished my copy of The Sweet By and By written by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck. I've always loved Rachel Hauck's books, so I figured it would be good, but wow, what a great debut for Sara Evans.

I admit when I first heard of the collaboration I wondered if we'd be able to distinguish the different writer voice of each author. I have to say, the cohesive feel of the story impresses me. Not sure how a collaboration like this works, but whatever system these two have-- it came together perfectly.

Also, this might seem unimportant to some, but this book even looks appealing. I'm one of those people who sometimes judges a book by it's cover, and I'm thrilled with this one. I have the hard copy and I LOVE hard copy books. Especially when they don't have paper covers. I hate trying to keep paper covers looking new. The exterior loveliness of this book will add to its appeal as a gift book.

Now for the review. The story is about Jade. A young woman in her early thirties who you can tell has some childhood issues she'd rather just forget. Jade is preparing for her wedding to Max, who happens to be from a very upper class family. The story starts with Jade unable to mail her wedding invitations because of one person in particular that she's not sure she wants to see. Her mother.

Jade's mother, Beryl, is the epitome of the 60's and early 70's hippie. She's always believed in finding her own happiness whatever that may be. And sadly, it never involved her children. She up and left them with her parents any time she felt like it and it's taken a toll on Jade.

I don't want to give a play by play of the whole book and ruin it for you, but the story travels back and forth from present day to the times in Jade's life when things were not all that great. Memories surface that she'd just as soon forget and Jade is forced to reconcile her past before she can move forward with the man she loves.

This story touched me like few do these days. Being a daughter with a horribly dysfunctional relationship with my mother, I was unable to put this book down. I had to see if Jade was able to dig her way out of the hurts of the past. Could she travel through the darkest hours of her life and still come out whole? I wanted her too. No. I needed her too.

The authors did a fabulous job making this story about Jade, but also about all of us as women. I felt like I could relate to so many of the feelings these women experienced.

This was an emotionally charged book that will make you contemplate your choices as a woman, as a daughter, and as a mother. What a satisfying women's fiction read.
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on January 4, 2010
Jade has been through a tough childhood. She's stuck between the life she's wanting to live and her past, with all its memories, mistakes and scars. She's going to get married and with that, she must not only come clean with her future family, but the one she was hoping to leave behind. The story reveals that God meets us wherever we are and no matter how long it takes for us to reach out to Him, He was always there.

This is a charming, funny, humbling story of redemption, loss, love and forgiveness. For a 305-page book, I didn't expect a quick read, but I became engrossed and breezed through it in two sittings. I would definitely recommend to others.

I laughed and chuckled at the descriptions and nuances of the characters; grumbled and furled my brow at some of their misdeeds; and yes, cried. I think women will identify with holding grudges, cutting people out of our lives, wondering if God loves us, coming to terms with our pasts and finally finding true love and acceptance. I'm glad the book dealt with those emotions and didn't button everything up neatly. I appreciated the vulnerability of the characters.

And, as I closed the book, I did feel a bit sad that the story had come to an end. I'm happy to hear a series has been started and another book is on its way.

I am a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program [...]
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on December 31, 2009
The Sweet By and By is a book that bears the name of Sara Evans as the author "with" Rachel Hauck. This is a chic-flic in book form, and it will satisfy those in need of emotional angst that ends in emotional giddiness. It's not a bad read, really, just predictable. The daughter, Jade, basically despises her hippie mom, Beryl. She's getting married. Her mom comes to the wedding three weeks early. And thus the drama begins.

This story is as much about Jade facing her past and being honest with her fiancé as it is about she and her mom finally coming face to face with their own very difficult relationship. This is a story of mistakes, bad ones, that finally surface and demand to be dealt with. It's about a messed up family facing God after facing their own frailty.

I enjoyed the story for the most part, but for the first time, the design of the book got on my nerves. Sara Evans name overshadows the title of the book itself, and then a full length body shot, complete with cowboy boots and a white cotton dress, adorns a third of the back cover. Sara's face is even on the book spine...can we say vain? A tad egocentric if you ask me. I guess Sara's country music fame is supposed to sell the book Anyway, it was a bit over-the-top.

So, if you like chic-flics, you'll like this book. Drama abounds. There are some spiritual moments, but even those tend to be dramatic. Did I mention there is lots of angst? And drama? Okay....on to something else.
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on January 11, 2010
I was excited when I saw that Sara Evans had written a book "The Sweet By and By" ISBN 978-1595544896. We lived in Columbia, MO for years which is with minutes from her home town of New Franklin. Just gotta root for the hometown girl...even though we have both since relocated to Nashville. Go figure. I was expecting a biography, but to my surprise it was fiction. I love a good fiction read. In "The Sweet By and By" you'll find compelling characters that you can relate to. You'll find Jade - the independent first born who is controlled by images of her dysfunctional past. You'll find Willow - the youngest and constant thrill seeker. You'll find Aiden - the middle child pleaser and the one who is grounded in the truth. And, first and foremost you'll find Beryl - the mother who trys to raise her children the best she can, even when her best is tearing the family apart. The story contains just enough twists and turns to keep you interested. Just when you think you know the next move...something new comes up. My only critique - of which is mostly a personal preference - is that the story is written where one chapter is in the present...then the next chapter flips to the past...and then back again. Just not my personal preference. I like a story where I'm given the background and then the rest of the novel takes me on the journey. Not a big fan of the flip flop. Unless they are in the form of footwear.
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on December 24, 2009
An amazing story of forgiveness. Truly AMAZING!!! I was completely captivated from the very beginning. A page turner that made me smile, laugh, and cry a bit, too! The characters fit the plot in a wonderful way and I felt as if I was takend straight into the pages, living the pain with the characters and the love with them and the faith. I could really relate to alot of the things that happened in the pages of the book. God really spoke to me!

From struggles of preparing for a wedding to having estranged parents to having to fully rely on God, the authors of this new book, use southern charm to draw the reader in. It's a book that really touched my heart and one that I will read again and again!

How do I rate this book? I am giving this book most definitely 5 stars, two thumbs up, and all the highest praises!!!!

Would I change anything about this book? ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is the best contemporary Christian fiction novel that I have read since reading Karen Kingsbury's books! I give this emotional, witty, page turning book definite MUST READ recommendation!!!

*This book was provided by Thomas Nelson for review.*
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on January 4, 2010
The Sweet By And By is a very enjoyable read. The story is both compelling and current. I love for the stories I read to have heart, and this book certainly has that. The characters are likeable and complex. Each chapter seemed to peel away one more layer of the main character, Jade. I couldn't put the book down, wanting to learn more and more about her troubled past. I found myself near tears many times. Jade's story will grab hold of your heart and pull in.

Like many of us, Jade struggles with feeling as if she is unworthy of the wonderful things that are happening in her life. It is through an important lesson in faith that she learns her worth. A wonderful lesson for us all. The Sweet By And By is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.
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VINE VOICEon March 11, 2010
The Sweet By and By is one of the best books I've read all year. What a great finish to 2009. The book follows Jade as she prepares for her wedding to Max. Jade finds herself in some situations that bring on panic attacks and she finally faces her past. Willow is Jade's mother and the book goes back and forth from her point of view to Jades. It also goes back several years to Jade's youth. The authors have done such a good job of writing this book that it all flows together seamlessly. Rachel and Sara should continue to work together as it rewards the reader with a book that is heartwarming, bittersweet and redemptive all at the same time. I can't wait to read more from these two!
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