2020 Book 419: THE RIGHT KIND OF FOOL by Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas 
ISBN: 9780764234019 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780764237843 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781493428144 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781705003466 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08M41K6MF  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B087RTM4JC  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 3, 2020 
Publisher: Bethany House Fiction

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he’d obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.


The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal’s absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family’s basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it’s his father he runs to tell–shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn’t his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family’s hearts again. 

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Small-town life in West Virginia has always been difficult if you’re different. Loyal Raines has a tendency to stick out in people’s minds because he’s deaf, uses sign language, and his father – Creed left the family and headed for the hills. Even though Loyal doesn’t have a relationship with his father, all he really wants is to prove to his father that he is worthy of his love and attention. When Loyal comes upon a dead body, he doesn’t go home to his mother, he climbs the mountain and turns to his father. This action will forever change the dynamics of the Raines family and the community of Beverly.


It seems hard to believe that a teenage deaf child could have such a strong impact on not only his family but an entire community, but Loyal does just that in The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas. It seems as if all of the characters in this story are searching for their rightful places within their family and the community, including Creed and Loyal Raines, teens Rebecca and Michael and their father, community leader and businessman Hadden Westfall, and others. The Right Kind of Fool is more than a coming-of-age story, or a self-discovery story, or even about the courage it takes to be different, it is also a murder mystery that gradually unfolds and touches the lives of numerous families in the community. I found this to be a delightful story and enjoyed the way Ms. Thomas artfully described the signs used by Loyal and his efforts to teach others including his father. I especially enjoyed the developing father-son relationship between Creed and Loyal, the friendship between Loyal, Rebecca, and Michael, and the rekindled romance between Creed and Delphy. There are so many layers to this story and Ms. Thomas has deftly woven them together to craft an amazing story with intriguing characters and action set during an interesting period in West Virginia history. I can’t imagine this story without any of the characters or without the hillside settings. If you enjoy reading historical fiction or stories with unlikely characters, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Right Kind of Fool to read. I’ll be purchasing a book for my 86-y.o. mother (she hasn’t returned any of the books I’ve “loaned” her so far this year, so now I buy books for her personal library!). I hope you’ll enjoy The Right Kind of Fool as much as I did. For now, I’m putting this on my to-be-re-read (TBRR) shelf!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated 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.”

2017 Book 412: THE SOUND OF RAIN by Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas
ISBN: 9780764219610 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781493411962 (ebook)
ASIN: B0718ZQCC6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 7, 2017 
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 


In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,

In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through

Judd Markley knew he could never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother’s life meant leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world was all he knew, he put it behind him and headed for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward’s life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more–maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd’s and Larkin’s dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together–or maybe, it will take a miracle.  



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Judd Markley wakes up after a mine collapse and his only thoughts are for his brother Joe and the other miner’s safety and welfare. When he’s brought out of the mine and recovering in a hospital, he’s told that his younger brother Joe was one of the fatalities at the mine. It is at that moment that Judd realizes he may never be able to go back down in the mines again. Jobs are relatively scarce in West Virginia if you’re not a miner, so the only option for Judd is to leave his family and home state. Traveling south, Judd goes to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to begin working for a timber company. Although he doesn’t know much about logging, he is a diligent, honest, hard worker as well as eager to learn. His diligence and eagerness, along with his mechanical abilities, pay off and he quickly begins to move up within the company. Larkin Heyward wants more from life than to just be a dutiful wife and good mother to an up-and-coming young, local businessman. She would like nothing better than to follow in her older brother’s footsteps and become a missionary in Appalachia. Until she can join her brother, she fills her time as a candy-striper at a local hospital where she brings joy to many she meets and attends to, and begins to enjoy the companionship of Judd Markley. Then a devastating hurricane hits Myrtle Beach and the city will never be quite the same. Judd even takes time off from work to travel back to West Virginia because that same hurricane has caused wreck and ruin at his family’s farm. Larkin is traveling with him and plans to continue on to Kentucky to see someone that Judd only knows as the mysterious “Ben.” Although Judd plans to head back to South Carolina after helping his family, Larkin plans to stay in Appalachia. How can their relationship go to the next step if they’re in different states with seemingly different life goals? Can their relationship go the next step or is this the end? 

I actually read The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas a few weeks ago and as you can see, the story has stuck with me. There are parts of the story that are incredibly sad, but through it all I found this to be an uplifting and heartwarming story and not just because of the religious aspects (yes, this is a religious fiction book, namely Christian fiction but as a non-Christian reader I thoroughly enjoyed it). Ms. Thomas finds a way to incorporate basic ethical and moral values into a story without bashing the reader over the head with the lesson. This story leaned heavily towards Christian fiction as opposed to inspirational fiction simply because there’s more discussion of the Christian faith and numerous scriptural references included in the storyline. At first, I thought Larkin was a bit flighty, but once I got to know her I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity and spirit to overcome the societal norms of the time and try to do something different, even in the face of her father’s disapproval. Judd is a quiet man that works hard, has few good friends, and always tries to see the good in people rather than being judgmental. Yes, there’s romance but the romance is slow to build and is tender and heartwarming. Yes, there is drama and most of it is caused by Larkin and her father. There aren’t really any bad guys in this story, although there are one or two guys that do questionable things. The Sound of Rain is a story about faith, family, romance, and endurance. I could go on and on about this sweet and touching story, but I’ll simply say that if you enjoy reading well-written inspirational or Christian fiction with interesting characters and storylines, then you’ll definitely want to read The Sound of Rain. If you’re not sure about the Christian fiction component, but just want a feel-good historical fiction read, then I suggest you grab a copy of The Sound of Rain to read. I have read everything by this author and am looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

(I enjoyed reading this story so much, I gave a copy to my mother to read. She loved it so much that she gave it to another family member to read after that. That copy is still making the rounds in the family.)


Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated 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.”




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The Sound of Rain

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The Sound of Rain

Book 277: MIRACLE IN A DRY SEASON Review

Miracle in a Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings #1) by Sarah Loudin Thomas
ISBN: 9780764212253 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781441264114 (ebook)
ASIN: B00GHXRQYC (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers


In a Drought, It’s the Darkest Cloud That Brings Hope

It’s 1954 and Perla Long’s arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor…until he meets Perla. She’s everything he’s sought in a woman, but he can’t get past the sense that she’s hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla’s unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.



Being a woman in Appalachia in the 1950s was hard. Being a single woman with a child born out of wedlock is unimaginable, but that is exactly the situation Perla Long is in. Perla knows that she made a mistake and she has sought forgiveness for those mistakes. She regrets her sins but will never regret the birth of her daughter Sadie. Perla left one small West Virginia town to travel to Wise, West Virginia to life with her aunt and her husband. As the newest addition to the town’s population, there are people that are way of her. When things become even harder in this town, Perla becomes the convenient scapegoat. 

Ms. Loudin Thomas has followed her novella, Appalachian Serenade, with the first novel in the Appalachian Blessings series, Miracle in a Dry Season. Perla Long and Casewell Phillips are both people of faith. They differ only in that Casewell is held in high esteem in the community and Perla is viewed with hostility, superstition, and fear. With a little help from Perla’s daughter, Sadie, Casewell and Perla become good friends. It is only because of this friendship and the support of her aunt and uncle that Perla is able to survive in Wise. When the drought worsens and Perla’s gifts of being able to create food to sustain the community becomes questioned, Casewell steps up in support of his new friend. Can people overcome ignorance, superstitions, and fear with tolerance, faith, and love? 

I really enjoyed reading Appalachian Serenade and was eagerly to read Miracle in a Dry Season. I found Appalachian Serenade to be an intriguing inspirational novella that could be enjoyed by people of any faith. This didn’t quite hold true for Miracle in a Dry Season. Don’t get me wrong, Miracle in a Dry Season is another well-written and intriguing story and yes it can be classified as inspirational, but it is decidedly more Christian in its presentation. Although I enjoy reading books about characters that face day-to-day battles and only survive because of their strong faith, it may be difficult for some non-Christians to read and appreciate a story with a decidedly Christian bent. Does this mean non-Christians can’t read Christian fiction? No! It just means that some people may not be able to appreciate that angle of the story. Did I enjoy the story? Yes I did. Will I continue to read this series? Yes I will, simply because Ms. Thomas is an amazing writer and has created characters that are realistic in a setting that is familiar. The people in the Appalachian Blessings series are people that are dealing with poverty with a sense of grace. The community of Wise, West Virginia is one where people may be wary of strangers but they help one another willingly even if means going a little hungry or without sleep. This isn’t quite Mayberry with its idyllic charm, but it does bring to mind that type of small town feel. If you want to read a well-written story set in beautiful environment with realistic characters of strong faith and a clean romance, then Miracle in a Dry Season is just that book. I look forward to the next book in this series, Until the Harvest, scheduled to be released in 2015.


Watch Ms. Thomas as she discusses Miracle in a Dry Season:



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated 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.”



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