Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Songs That Could Have Been by Amanda Wen

Posted July 10, 2022 by meezcarrie in Amanda Wen, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, historical, romance / 25 Comments

Sedgwick County Chronicles #2

GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Fiction / Romance
PUBLISHER: Kregel Publications
RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2022
PAGES: 333

Two couples in love. Two sets of impossible circumstances. One powerful God of grace.

After a tailspin in her late teens, Lauren Anderson’s life is finally back on track. Her battle with bulimia is under control, her career is taking off, and she’s surrounded by a loving family. Then a chance meeting with Carter Douglas, her first love and the man who broke her heart, leads to old feelings returning with new strength. And suddenly her well-balanced world is thrown off kilter.

Now a TV meteorologist, Carter is determined to make amends with Lauren. After all, she still owns his heart. But the reasons they broke up aren’t lost–and those old demons are forcing him toward the same decision he faced in the past. He isn’t sure he’s courageous enough to make a different choice this time around.

When Lauren’s elderly grandmother, Rosie, begins having nightmares about a man named Ephraim–a name her family has never heard before–a fascinating and forbidden past love comes to light. As Lauren and Carter work to uncover the untold stories of Rosie’s past in 1950s Wichita, they embark on a journey of forgiveness and second chances that will change their lives–and Rosie’s–forever. Along the way they’ll learn that God wastes nothing, his timing is perfect, and nothing is beyond his grace and redemption.

The Songs That Could Have Been is full of the same deftly handled, resonant writing that readers and critics alike enjoyed in Amanda Wen’s first book in the series. Fans of Lisa Wingate and Rachel Hauck will add Amanda Wen to their must-read shelves.


Other Books In This Series

“Just might be that after all the twists and turns, God’s not done writing our story yet.”

I fell in love with Grandma Rosie in Roots of Wood and Stone – in many ways, she reminds me of my own grandmothers and their journey through Alzheimer’s. Her relationship with her grandchildren fed some weary places in my own heart in that first book, but in this book… oh, yall… in this book we get inside Grandma Rosie’s head and heart and soul – and it was everything beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. Wen’s grace-filled writing voice has perfectly captured the essence of a person with Alzheimer’s/dementia, and she uses that gift to elevate the story beyond what you think it will be into something so precious that I’m still thinking about it.

It was lovely to spend time with Garrett and Sloane from book one, too, but it’s Garrett’s sister Lauren who steps into the spotlight in The Songs That Could Have Been. When she stumbles into her first love in the makeup aisle (yes, you read that right – it’s such a fun way to start the story!), she can’t help but be drawn to Carter all over again, despite how his long-ago rejection set her life on a trajectory from which she’s still recovering. Yet she’s not the only one with a secret, self-destructive past, and when these two secrets collide none of us will walk away from this read unchanged. In looking at Carter & Lauren’s past and present journeys – as well as the part of her own history that Grandma Rosie has kept under lock and key – Wen gently and lyrically reminds us that all of us are broken and that only Jesus can fully bind up those broken places and break the chains that have held us captive.

Bottom Line: Against a backdrop that could be overwhelmingly sad in the wrong hands, Amanda Wen instead infuses The Songs That Could Have Been with joy, warmth, love, grace and hope. Moments of well-timed wit and sweet romance subplots will lift your heart, harmonizing exquisitely with the larger melody being sung across the pages and soothing any tender marks the story may have left on your heart (or your toes). I laughed, I swooned, and I cried a little, too – all my emotions were engaged by these layered characters, just as they were while reading book one. But even more importantly I learned some things about myself and was reminded of some things about my Savior. This is a book that will linger in my heart for days to come and should be on everyone’s TBR lists.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 5 stars / fantastic!

KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion

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Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. Her debut novel was a 2021 Christy Award First Novel finalist.

Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. She is the author of Roots of Wood and Stone and The Songs That Could Have Been.

In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. She serves as a choral accompanist as well. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit Readers can also follow her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen).

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This giveaway is hosted by I Read With Audra, not RimSP

What about you? What makes you want to read The Songs That Could Have Been by Amanda Wen?

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25 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Songs That Could Have Been by Amanda Wen

  1. Kay Garrett

    Thank you for your review on “THE SONGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN” by Amanda Wen. Because of it, this wonderful sounding book is now on my TBR list.

    Love dual timeline stories and this one sounds amazing. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review this one.

  2. Suzanne Sellner

    I have Amanda’s first book but haven’t read it yet. The reviews of both are outstanding, so I plan to read both in the order they were written. The books sound amazing!!!

  3. Sunnymay

    Second Chance Love is one of my favorite tropes. I like the plane on the cover as my dad was the pilot of his own small plane and graduated to gliders.

  4. Phyllis

    I helped Amanda launch this one and oh my!! I agree with you! This book was just amazing! It has to be my favorite so far this year and I have read some really great books! I loved the meet cute in the makeup aisle, too! I look forward to so much more from Amanda in the future. I am smitten with her writing style!

  5. Teri DiVincenzo

    I’ve had this on my TBR for a long time…I love the dual timeline premise, and although the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia are heartbreaking, there is a lot to be learned from people who have experienced life and can share their wisdom with others.

  6. Sonnetta Jones

    I enjoy second chance stories and I want to read about her experience with bulimina.

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