When Sparrows Fall

( 54 )

Overview

Freedom. Safety. Love. Miranda vows to reclaim them--for herself, and for her children.
 
A widow and mother of six, Miranda Hanford leads a quiet, private life. When the pastor of her close-knit church announces his plans to move the entire congregation to another state, Miranda jumps at the opportunity to dissolve ties with Mason Chandler and his controlling method of ruling his flock. But then Mason threatens to unearth secrets from her...
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Overview

Freedom. Safety. Love. Miranda vows to reclaim them--for herself, and for her children.
 
A widow and mother of six, Miranda Hanford leads a quiet, private life. When the pastor of her close-knit church announces his plans to move the entire congregation to another state, Miranda jumps at the opportunity to dissolve ties with Mason Chandler and his controlling method of ruling his flock. But then Mason threatens to unearth secrets from her past, and Miranda feels trapped, terrified she’ll be unable to protect her children.

College professor Jack Hanford is more than surprised when he gets a call from his estranged sister-in-law’s oldest son, Timothy, informing him that Miranda has taken a serious fall and he has been named legal guardian of her children while she recovers. Quickly charmed by Miranda’s children, Jack brings some much-needed life into the sheltered household. But his constant challenging of the family’s conservative lifestyle makes the recovering mother uneasy and defensive—despite Jack’s unnerving appeal.

As Jack tries to make sense of the mysterious Miranda and the secrets she holds so tightly, Mason’s pressure on her increases. With her emotions stirring and freedom calling, can Miranda find a way to unshackle her family without losing everything?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for When Sparrows Fall

“Rich, deep, and painfully honest. When Sparrows Fall is a lovely work of fiction that portrays a side to American freedoms that is too real to ignore.”
—Cindy Woodsmall, New York Times best-selling author of When the Soul Mends

“Meg Moseley is the diamond in the haystack you’ve been looking for. She’s a rising star who will have a permanent place on my keeper shelf.  In her remarkable debut novel, When Sparrows Fall, Moseley spins a tale of depth, poignancy, and humor. I savored every page and after I turned the last, I simply sat for a while, basking in the aftermath of a story well told.”
—Deanne Gist, author of Maid to Match and A Bride Most Begrudging

“Meg Moseley has penned a fantastic debut with When Sparrows Fall. It’s a story of darkness and light which she masterfully weaves so tightly, the reader can fully understand just how those seeking God can fall victims to the cult-like practices of false prophets. Still, in this thought-provoking, cautionary tale of extremism, Moseley drops in delightful moments of pure joy. Hers is a fresh new voice that readers—like me—should welcome with open arms.”
—Allison Pittman, author of Lilies in Moonlight

“With her debut When Sparrows Fall, Meg Moseley writes with passion and daring about a young woman’s  fight for truth and spiritual freedom providing a brave, new voice in Christian fiction.”
—River Jordan, author of The Miracle of Mercy Land and Saints in Limbo

“When a college professor becomes unwitting guardian to a brood of precocious and sheltered home-schoolers, the resulting culture clash is just the tip of the iceberg. Meg Moseley writes with a deft hand, bringing a deep sense of humanity to her struggling, sometimes haunted characters. When Sparrows Fall packs plenty of surprises, not the least of which is the way grace can break out in the most unexpected places and the hardest of hearts.”
—J. Mark Bertrand, author of Back on Murder
 
Library Journal
Widow Miranda Hanford feels stuck in her oppressive church. As long as the pastor lords her past over her head, there is no hope of escape. When he announces that he is moving his congregation to another state, Miranda finally senses her escape. But after she takes a serious fall, her eldest son calls Jack, Miranda's estranged college professor brother-in-law, who arrives to care for Miranda's six children while she heals. Though Miranda shudders at Jack's progressive ways, there is an attraction there, and for the first time, Miranda can see how she might be free and feel safe and loved. VERDICT This debut novel is a bit too melodramatic for this reviewer's taste. Still, the writing is crisp and the characters well drawn. Recommend it to readers who enjoy a little bit of romance and suspense with their preaching.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601423559
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Moseley is a Californian at heart although she’s lived more than half her life in other states. She formerly wrote human-interest columns for a suburban section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and home schooled for more than twenty years. Meg enjoys reading books, traveling, gardening, her three grown children, and motorcycle rides with her husband Jon. They make their home in northern Georgia. 

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Read an Excerpt

When Sparrows Fall

A Novel
By Meg Moseley

Multnomah Books

Copyright © 2011 Meg Moseley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781601423559

If running late showed a streak of rebellion, Miranda Hanford was already in trouble. Pulling her van to the side of the narrow road, she tallied the other vehicles lined up on the shoulder. She wasn’t the last to arrive at Mason’s emergency meeting. She could steal a moment with Jezebel.

She picked up her camera and climbed out. Working quickly in the cold, she framed the last sliver of sun, as red as a forest fire above the pine-stubbled peaks. In the foreground, a maple sapling curled its bare limbs around the sunset, unwilling to let go—like sweet, stubborn Martha at bedtime, refusing to believe the day was over.

Miranda clicked the shutter. Before the sun abandoned the Blue Ridge to the night, she nailed five promising shots. She tucked the camera into its case and locked it in the van. An old lady who’d seen more of the world than her owner ever would, Jezebel deserved tender care.

Holding her cape closed, Miranda hurried up the long, steep driveway. Mason had called only the single women for this meeting. Six who hadn’t married yet and two widows.

She hated that word. Widows were supposed to be meek, gray things with grandchildren and arthritis.

Around the last bend of the driveway, the lights of the house shone their welcome. Snow flurries swirled like silver glitter as she ran up the steps to the porch.

She knocked lightly and joined the women in the living room. They’d congregated in a semicircle of folding chairs near the feeble warmth of the fireplace, their hands clasped in their laps and their voices subdued. Like the others, Miranda left her cape on, but a draft crept under her skirt and up her legs like icy fingers. She sat beside Lenore Schwartz, the other widow.

“Where’s Nicole?” someone asked.

No one knew. Abigail too was missing, her absence making the room colder still. If Mason’s wife had been home, she would have been dispensing hugs and peppermint tea.

The ladies hushed when their pastor strode into the room. Mason crossed to the hearth and picked up the poker. He shoved the logs into compliance, making sparks fly.

Amid the smell of smoke and ashes, he hung up the poker. He cut a handsome figure, his temples barely touched with gray and his face remarkably unlined for his fifty-some years.

“Ladies, thank you for coming on such short notice. I want to share what I announced at the men’s meeting last night.” He paused, surveying the semicircle like a watchful shepherd inspecting his lambs.

One of the flawed lambs, Miranda shifted in her chair. It squeaked in the silence.

“I have a word from the Lord.” Again, Mason took a moment to study the women. “I am to move from Slades Creek.”

Mason leaving town? Miranda’s heart made an unexpected leap, but Lenore bleated in distress and twisted her age-spotted hands together. “We’re moving to North Carolina,” he said, “to a beautiful little town called McCabe. Where people take care of themselves and each other. Where the government stays out of people’s business.”

Miranda fidgeted again, and her chair betrayed her restlessness with another creak. If the government didn’t stay out of people’s business in Georgia, it wasn’t likely to be much better in North Carolina.

“If it’s the Lord’s will, it’s the Lord’s will,” Lenore said, “but I don’t know how we’ll get along without you and Abigail. We’ll miss you terribly.”

“No, you won’t.” Mason smiled. “You’re coming with us. All of you. It’s a new beginning for the whole church. There are jobs in McCabe. Inexpensive housing too, and clean air and water. It’s practically paradise.”

A wave of excited whispers rustled through the room, but defiance woke within Miranda and prowled like an angry cat. She couldn’t leave Slades Creek. She wouldn’t.

“I’ve already put our house on the market,” Mason said, “and the other men will follow suit as soon as they can.” He nodded at Lenore, then Miranda, the only single women in the church who owned homes. “I’ll be glad to help you start the process.” Some of the men might have argued, but these women without men didn’t. They embraced their marching orders with joy.

All but Miranda. She saw an escape route.

Yet, as Mason answered questions with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes, she felt a pang of loss. The church had become her family. She would miss the women, especially Abigail. Friends, secret-sharers, burden-bearers, these
women were the sisters Miranda had never had. The mother she’d lost to an Ohio jail.

Once the discussion had played itself out, she spoke, veiling her agitation with a downcast gaze and a respectful tone. “I’ll miss everyone—very much—but Carl wouldn’t have wanted me to move.”

The room hushed to a shocked stillness, punctuated by the snapping and hissing of the fire.

“I only want to honor his wishes,” she added. “He always said we should hang on to the land, no matter what. For the children’s sake. He said it’s as good as money in the bank.”

Mason’s silver blue eyes flashed a warning. “We’ll discuss it later, Miranda.” She studied the blunt toes of her sturdy brown shoes. Now she’d reinforced her status as a troublemaker.

But so what? Her pastor was leaving town. And soon.

She frowned. Why the rush? Well, Mason and Abigail could hurry. They had no family. No children to uproot from their home or leave behind. Miranda looked up, startled, when a paper appeared before her, in Mason’s hands. She took it, and he gave one to Lenore too.

“A checklist to help expedite the process,” he said. “Weed out, fix up, sell. It’s almost spring. The perfect time to attract buyers.”

The photocopied list was written in Mason’s neat, square printing. With bullet points. With tips for increasing the value of a home. With phone numbers of handymen, painters, and real estate companies. He’d even included the donation drop-off hours for the local thrift store.

He dismissed the meeting. Each woman folded her chair and leaned it against the wall beside the piano. Abigail’s living room returned to normal except for her absence.

“Somebody needs to tell Nicole,” Lenore said. “I wonder why she never showed up. And where’s Abigail?”

Mason laughed and opened the front door, admitting a gust of cold. “Why should my wife attend a meeting of single ladies?”

Because she’d attended every other women’s meeting, Miranda thought, wondering if Abigail’s absence was related to Nicole’s.

“Well, tell her we missed her.” Lenore turned to Miranda. “You’ll find another nice piece of property, honey. You’ll find a new husband too. You’re so young.” Lenore seized her oversized handbag in one hand and her cane in the other and led the charge to the front door. “All you pretty young things, you’ll find husbands there.”

Miranda hung back as the chattering pack traipsed onto the porch, exchanging their good-nights. When Mason closed the door on the cold and faced her, she’d never felt so much like an ungrateful and obstinate child.

“Miranda, Miranda,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I hope you aren’t serious about staying behind.”

“I am.” She folded his checklist in half, then in half again. “I can’t imagine uprooting the children. And the land has been in Carl’s mother’s family for generations. I can’t sell.”

“Land is only land. Your children are young enough to adjust to a move. So are you. You’re young enough to start over.”

The paper rustled in her fingers as she folded it twice more, making it a tiny rectangle. “I don’t want to start over. I want to raise my family right here in Slades Creek.”

“It’ll be harder to raise your family if you don’t have help from the church when you can’t quite pay the bills.”

“Yes, but—”

“And what if there’s a good, godly man waiting for you in McCabe? What if God plans to play matchmaker? Don’t take this lightly, Miranda. If you deny God the chance to act, you may be depriving yourself of a husband. Depriving your children of a father. You need to hear from God about this. It’s a question that deserves fasting and prayer.”

She would start fasting, all right. She’d fast down to skin and bones so no man in his right mind would want her.

“You’d better start packing,” Mason said. “The move will take you beyond the chastisement of God to true repentance and blessings.”

“Wouldn’t the church be better off if a black sheep like me stayed behind? I know I’ve been a trial to you and Abigail.”

“No, no. Black sheep or not, you’re part of my flock. Of course you’ll move. And you’ll be careful not to sow seeds of rebellion in the others.” She hesitated, wary of his new sternness. “I need to do what’s best for my children.”

“Then you’ll submit to the authority God has placed over you.” Mason shook his head. “I’ve invested in your life for years, Miranda. I’m the one who made sure Carl had excellent life insurance, and I’m the one who writes the checks from the benevolence fund. You would have lost your property years ago if I hadn’t looked after you, and now you won’t listen to my guidance?” He still spoke softly, but this wasn’t the genial pastor who preached on Sundays and prayed for the sick and made a mean chili for potluck suppers. This was a different man. A hard, unreasonable man.

“What’s right for the church as a whole isn’t necessarily right for me,” she said, quaking inside.

“Remember, Miranda, ‘rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.’”

The prowling cat inside her tested its claws. “I’m no witch, and it’s not rebellion to make my own decisions.”

“Before you make this particular decision, remember you’re still paying for some of Carl’s unwise choices.”

Her knees went weak. “What does that have to do with it?”

“This is your opportunity to put some distance between yourself and the things you’d like to keep quiet. If the state ever gets wind of what happened, if DFCS steps in…”

She twisted her hands together behind her back. “I’ll take my chances.” “Don’t be foolish. As you said, you have to do what’s best for the children. You want to protect them, don’t you?”

Tears stung her eyes. “Of course. Always.”

“Then you’ll move to McCabe.” Mason came closer, exhaling minty toothpaste. “I won’t be held accountable for the consequences if you stay.”

The veiled threat took her breath away.

She imagined a car in her driveway. A car that bore the state seal on its doors. At the wheel, a social worker who had the right to tear a woman’s children from her arms and feed them to the foster-care system, backed up by the Bartram County Sheriff’s Department. It happened, all too often. It happened even to parents who’d done nothing wrong.

“Agreed?” he asked. “You’ll sell? You’ll move with the rest of us?”

She shivered. She’d seen his anger before, she’d even been the target of it, but she’d never seen him as an enemy.

Now, though, he had threatened her children.

Slowly, she nodded. Fingers crossed behind her back. A liar.

Mason squinted, seeming to assess her sincerity. His somber expression warmed with that Hollywood smile. “Excellent. Now, don’t make waves. Don’t try to sway anyone into staying behind. Good night, Miranda.” He dismissed her with a nod.

Speechless, she stepped outside, jamming the checklist into the pocket of her cape. Night had fallen, and the cold mountain air chilled her to the core. She stared numbly at a cardboard box in the corner of the porch, stuffed so full
of clothing that its flaps refused to stay folded down.

Abigail must have started weeding out their closets for the move. Her Christmas pullover lay on top, the same red as the construction-paper hearts the girls had cut out for Valentine’s Day. Abigail’s sister had mailed it from Topeka, but Mason said the color wasn’t appropriate for a pastor’s wife and the neckline was indecent.

Rubbish. It was perfectly modest.

Miranda tiptoed across the porch and snatched the sweater. She tucked it under her cape and ran down the steps. Now she was a thief too, but what was one more black mark against her?

She jogged down the steep driveway, slick with the barely-there snowfall. “I’m not moving. You can’t make me.” The jolting of her footsteps made her voice bounce as if she were jiggling a baby on her knee. That was what finally made her cry.

Her children. He had threatened to send the state after her children. They’d be like the family that had been in the news, their little ones scattered to different foster homes and the parents helpless against the authorities. In the morning, she would ask her attorney about naming a new guardian. Someone outside the church. Someone with no ties to Mason. She had no family though, with Auntie Lou long gone. No brothers, no sisters, no cousins. Jack? It might have to be him, but she couldn’t call him yet. Couldn’t risk giving him the idea of showing up on her doorstep again. Not until it was safe. With unsteady fingers, she unlocked the van. She fumbled the key into the ignition and shone the headlights on the dark, twisting road before her. She hadn’t felt so alone in years. Nine years.

It was even longer since she’d felt free.

Two weeks of fasting and early-morning prayer walks had left Miranda shaky but clearheaded. She eased the back door closed, allowing only a faint click that couldn’t possibly wake the children, and hung her camera around her neck.
Making no sound, she walked down the weathered steps. The wind snatched at her skirt and cape, flapping them around her like wings of blue and gray. She hoped God knew she’d started her fast not because Mason had told her to, but because she wanted to hear God too. She wanted to hear Him tell her to stay in Slades Creek.

Fighting the dizziness that always accompanied a fast, she kept her eyes on her shoes as they nosed through long grass and the first violets. By the time the girls finished their morning studies and went outside to pick a teacup bouquet for the kitchen table, Mason might have called again. He didn’t give up easily. “I don’t either,” she said under her breath.

Her choices were limited, but she wasn’t helpless. She could arrange for child care and hold down at least a part-time job. She could earn money with her photography, and she had the monthly income that she never would have seen if Mason hadn’t talked some sense into Carl, years ago.

Yes, Mason was smart about money. He was smart about a lot of things. He liked to document everything. He kept better records than God, she’d heard somebody say at one of the Sunday meetings. He’d probably hung on to his notes from that long-ago counseling session.

With the old fears nipping her heels, she slipped behind the barn and into the clearing. The camera rocked against her stomach and kept time with her footsteps and the swishing of her skirt. The faraway bleating of the goats faded
as she ducked beneath the big dogwood and entered the dripping woods. Thinking she heard footsteps, she looked behind her. No one was there, of course. It was only the wind making bare branches sway and creak.

She faced forward again. Her foot skidded across last year’s dead leaves, slippery with moisture. She nearly fell but regained her balance and walked on. Rounding the last bend, she slowed to take in the view that never got old.

The mountain peaks still hid in the mist, but the sun was fighting its way through in a glorious dazzle of white light. She held her breath and savored the sensation of standing in a cloud that had descended to her little piece of the
earth.

No matter what Mason held over her, she couldn’t sell her family’s land. Venturing closer to the heart-stopping drop-off, she peered over the edge of the cliff to the rock-choked creek far below, crisscrossed with fallen trees. It had been years since she’d dared to stand so close to the edge. The first time she and Carl had walked his late mother’s property together, he’d reminded her that the cliffs were no place for children or even for surefooted goats. When he was a boy, one of his grandfather’s young goats had fallen the twenty feet to the bottom. She’d landed on a boulder, breaking her neck.

Miranda had swallowed, sickened by the imagined sound of slender bones snapping.

The far side of the ravine wasn’t an abrupt fall like the near side, but it was treacherous too, especially when wildflowers came into bloom and disguised its dangers. Rock-cress, bloodroot, stonecrops, and bluebells would soon soften every cranny.

By the time the asters blossomed in the fall, Mason might have moved far away.

She reached into the pocket of her cape and pulled out his checklist, still folded in a neat, thick rectangle. She opened up the paper, just enough that she could crumple it, and pitched the lightweight ball into the air. The small white wad bounced off a mossy ledge and disappeared into a tangle of leafless brush. “Lord, help,” she said softly, as if anybody could hear her so far from the house. “Help me outsmart him.”

There were no sounds but the soft splashing of water on rocks and a few birds singing. Far from the commotion of her household, she could almost believe that God would speak to her, but either He wasn’t answering or He’d struck her heart deaf to punish her sins.

Mason heard God though, or claimed to. If he heard correctly, heaven had asked a hard thing of her. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Miranda removed the lens cap from her camera. The fog was lifting. If she worked fast, she could capture the mountains veiled with fog but kissed by the sunrise.

There it was. The perfect moment. She tripped the shutter.

A new wave of dizziness blindsided her. She hung her head to send blood to it, the camera still held to her face, and smiled at the silliness of staying in picture-taking mode when she had only a clump of dry weeds in the viewfinder.

She fought to step away from the cliff’s edge, but her feet melted beneath her. Someone dropped a curtain from the sky, shutting out the light.

Continues...

Excerpted from When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley Copyright © 2011 by Meg Moseley. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 3, 2011

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    Great book!

    I have to admit that I was a little concerned when I read the email from the publicist in which she told me that she was sending me a book that was popular with homeschool moms. I'm not exactly a traditional homeschool mom (notice I didn't say "typical" - there is no such thing as a "typical" homeschool mom), so I started wondering exactly what was in this book.

    No need to worry. This book represents most homeschoolers in a positive light. Miranda's late husband has kept his family tightly under his control, and he in turn was kept in line by the leader of their church (read "cult"). The children were allowed no outside influences. This is not a healthy reason to homeschool and this author recognizes that and throughout the book, Jack slowly pulls Miranda and the children out into the world, without ever telling her she should put the kids in school. (Although I think there was one argument in which he told her she was doing her kids a great disservice by not teaching them certain subjects.)

    As for the story, it's at turns heartbreaking and heartwarming. Because of a past tragedy and circumstances beyond her control, Miranda lives under a cloud of fear and guilt. This is part of what allows the church leader to control her even after her husband is gone. Jack comes into their life, and even as the children warm to him and Miranda gets to see more and more of the God of grace and mercy that Jack serves, she still can't completely let go. This book isn't about homeschooling. It's loving and trusting God and others and letting them love you.

    My biggest issue with the book is a bit of a spoiler, and I usually don't put spoilers in my reviews, but it's something that really bothered me. As Jack and Miranda build a relationship, they become more affectionate to each other in front of the children. Obviously, they're not doing anything inappropriate, but after reading through the book that for the past 14 years, she's lived a very strict, pious life, and kept her kids in a bubble in which they were not even allowed to read fiction, I find it hard to believe that she would suddenly feel comfortable kissing a man in front of her children. It just felt out of character.

    Over all, though, I did like the story... And I think other homeschool moms will, too. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

    I received this book for free from Multnomah Books in exchange for an honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book!

    I actually know Meg Mosley... I used to go to her church. I got first dibs and read the book before it hit the market. We are all very proud of her and hope she comes our with a sequel. She says she's planing too... but anyway, I highly reccommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

    Great Read!

    *When Sparrows Fall*, by Meg Moseley is her first novel. I enjoyed reading her book and could not put it down! I can't wait to read more books by her in the near future. This is a story of forgiveness and sacrifice. Miranda, a widowed mother of six, is being told by her Pastor that she and the rest of congregation are to repair their homes to sale, pack things up, and move. Miranda is determined to stay in Georgia and not move her children to North Carolina. Miranda's church is strict--men cannot really vote, music is bad, fiction books are sinful, and the ladies have to wear baggy clothes. If Miranda does not move Pastor Mason threatens to give away Miranda's secret. One day, Miranda takes a bad fall which lands her in the hospital--and her six children needing care. One day, Jack receives a phone call from his oldest nephew telling him that he is the guardian of the children while Miranda recovers. Jack and the children are thrown together and both are "cultured shocked" to say the least. Jack finally gets to meet the family that his brother kept away from him. He falls for every one of the children and does everything he can for them. The story has a little bit of mystery to it---which I liked because I had to keep on reading why Mason wanted to "tell" on Miranda. This is a story of a mother who was willing to do what she can to get her children out of an environment that was harming them---a life that showed a "wolf is sheep's clothing." This is story of love for family and for learning to forgive themselves for things that happened in their life. WHAT A GREAT READ!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

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    Captures Your Attention!

    "When Sparrows Fall" was a wonderfully written novel that captured my attention from page one and never let it go. This was a book that once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down until I reached the end. I liked almost everything in this book, especially how Jack would call Michael and Gabriel (Miranda's two middle children) "the archangels" and that Miranda named her camera "Jezebel", because her church had forbidden her to use it to make money. Some of the things I didn't like in the book were 1)That the story jumped ahead - sometimes by weeks; 2)How Jack would openly defy Miranda and the rules she had in raising her children; and 3)That Jack secretly, on three different occasions, gave Miranda a pain pill which he knew she did not want to take. The reason I listed numbers 2 and 3 is because the book makes it seem as though what Jack did was right. I think the last one bothers me the most. I know if I didn't want to take pain medication and someone secretively put it into my food, I would be so angry that I would have a hard time trusting that person again. It's because of these reasons that I'm giving this book 4 1/2 stars. Overall this is a well-crafted novel that is an enjoyable read. The characters are well developed and you can't help but fall in love with Miranda's children. I think that Meg Moseley did a superb job for her first novel. I highly recommend reading "When Sparrows Fall". Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was not required to give a positive review, only to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Disappointed

    There is no doubt that Meg Moseley is a gifted writer and I am sure we will see more of her work. Her first novel, When Sparrows Fall, is an intriguing page turner about a widow whose life has been full of controlling men. Beginning with her tyrannical husband, who expected complete obedience and submission; and ending with a pastor who required a cult-like loyalty from his congregation; Miranda Hanford finds herself and her six children in a situation that she cannot escape from. Then she has an accident and her estranged brother-in-law comes to help out. Both of them have secrets from the past to work through as they try to do what is best for her family. The result is a story that keeps you turning the pages to the very end of the book to see how it all works out. There were many things to like about this book. Clear, descriptive writing, well developed characters, and an interesting plot that keeps you reading to find out the dreadful secret that Miranda kept so very well for so long. The story gives a glimpse into how good, well meaning people can get themselves caught up into a religious cult without ever realizing what they are doing. I have no doubt that most people will find this book to be a great read and give it wonderful reviews. Having said all that, I must admit that my personal reaction to the book is really one of anger. I am disappointed with the brother-in-law who is supposed to be a Christian but cusses, drinks and smokes, while being so concerned about his nieces and nephews not being "normal". While I understand that many religious cults use homeschooling to indoctrinate the children in their midst, I was surprised to learn that a former home school mom wrote this book and would choose to exaggerate the negative side of home education. As a "retired" home school mom, I am very aware of the public opinion of home schoolers and it is usually not good. I am tired of the Christian market producing book after book that portrays the "home school loonies" of society while being careful to give lip service to those who "do it right". It's high time we had some books that portray the thousands of home schooling families who "do it right" every year and manage to let their children still be normal. Might I suggest that Christian parents can also succumb to the peer pressure of the public school agenda and be brainwashed by that just as easily as by a fanatical cult? I will not recommend this book to anyone. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2014

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    *WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS* I kicked the romance novel reading hab

    *WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS*

    I kicked the romance novel reading habit by the time I graduated college and haven’t been interested in them since, save as a mere academic curiosity. But when I noticed homeschool historian Milton Gaither’s review on a recently published Christian romance novel, I thought I’ve give the genre another try. Homeschool mother Meg Moseley, the author of When Sparrows Fall: A Novel, cited influences such as Hillary McFarland, who’s controversial blog and book Quivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy made plenty of waves within the Christian homeschool community. I was curious how Moseley would tackle the oppressive cult problem while coming out in the end strong for Christianity and home education.

    When most of us think of homeschooling cults, the effect on daughters comes to mind. When Sparrows Fall: A Novel, instead, is about a mother, someone with whom the author might more closely identify. Burdened with a guilty past, widow Miranda Hanford desperately seeks freedom from the clutches of cult leader Mason Chandler. When an accident places her and her six children under the care of her dead husband’s half-brother Jack, Miranda has to learn how to trust a liberal outsider and take control over her life.

    Like the worst of fiction (both “Christian” and “secular”), Moseley’s suffers from an epidemic use of deus ex machine (“god out of the machine”). The heroine’s conflict and its timely resolution are brought about providentially rather than through any deliberate action on her part. The reader is expected to believe that Miranda didn’t try to commit suicide, even though everything points to it. The reader is also expected to believe that the no-nonsense sheriff’s office suddenly and without reason becomes sympathetic and willing to side-step the law to save time. Apparently, even the friendly, neighborhood country lawmen are corrupt.

    The plot has other problems too. When Miranda tries to inspire her fellow sheep to break free from the wolf shepherd, it’s as if everyone’s programmed to suddenly see the light. As many women who’ve had real cult experiences have written, there’s often a lot of conflict between members of the congregation as they try to justify the leader’s behavior and reach their own conclusions about the situation. I believe that’s what Moseley was trying to show in her book, but it didn’t come out that way. Instead she trivializes how difficult it actually is for people to get out of the subservient cult mindset, and she preserves family units (e.g., spouses join sides with each other, children join sides with parents), rather than showing the type of alienation many suffer when challenging cult authorities.

    The characters collectively are a bit wooden with occasional spouts of personality. Most of the time, they seem to be parroting their lines off a script. Miranda is almost bi-polar, convincingly torn between her old puritanical self and her new rebellious one. Her children’s childish antics are genuine. I’m sure a lot of mothers reading the book will get a good laugh from a number of the scenes. Jack, however, is unbelievable in a really bad way. An objective researcher, he’s able to come to all of the “right” conclusions about Christianity and homeschooling, relying on the Internet to tell him what’s “normal” rather than what he sees firsthand in Miranda’s household. Unrealistic to say the least. And that’s not the last of Jack’s problems.

    The male lead is a tenure-track professor with graduate students who’s hounded at work as if he’s a desperate adjunct lecturer. His lady boss, Farnsworth, is so badly stereotyped, I can tell you she’s a white, feminist BabyBoomer who doesn’t show up for office hours with her students. Forget the uncomfortable hint of incest. What woman in her right mind would want a hen-pecked anti-social bachelor who couldn’t even man up and rescue her at the end of the book? It just goes to convince me that Jack is Miranda’s “rebound man.” As soon as her health and household are back in order, she’ll find someone else to kiss. And unless you’re still intrigued by Moseley’s plot, I suggest you find another book read.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

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    I Also Recommend:

    This is one of those books that lingers with you long after you

    This is one of those books that lingers with you long after you finish it. It deals with some interesting issues. Love this author's writing style--wonderfully descriptive, touching and real--without the syrupy sweetness. The dialogue is great, especially between Jack and Miranda, punctuated by his literary references and obscure vocabulary. Fell in love with little 4 year old Martha and her honesty. Recommend! 4.5 stars

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  • Posted November 12, 2012

    I picked this up because it was nominated for the 2012 Carol Awa

    I picked this up because it was nominated for the 2012 Carol Award, and I wasn't disappointed. In this novel, Moseley deals with a Christian in a church on the fringes of the faith, a church following a wayward and domineering pastor who is certain he is hearing from God, not only about what he should do, but about what his entire church should do. Miranda is caught in the middle. She's afraid to cross her pastor but determined to break away from him. And then when she injures herself, the brother of her late husband shows up to help out with her six children, throwing more trouble into the mix.

    As a former home schooler, I worried Moseley wouldn't treat home schooling with respect, but she handled the situation beautifully, highlighting both the benefits of it as well as the difficulties, especially for a family that separates itself from society.

    With a great story line and a unique voice, Moseley has written a compelling book I couldn't put down.

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  • Posted August 13, 2011

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    "WHEN SPARROWS FALL" (REVIEW)

    "WHEN SPARROWS FALL" BY MEG MOSELY

    A story of love, deception, and blackmail. A woman, Miranda Hanford, finds herself being manipulated into protecting her children and all those who know her from her secret past.

    This is a fast-paced read full of intrigue and mystery.

    -Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club

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  • Posted June 15, 2011

    FIVE STARS!!!

    I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book,and can't wait to read more from this author. Highly recommend!

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

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    good but could have been better

    This book has me wondering just how common these sort of harsh religious beliefs are and how close they are to my neighborhood. When Sparrows Fall is about young widow Miranda who belongs to a church with these harsh beliefs and when things get to be too twisted she decides it is time to break away! Before she can do that though she gets severely injured and her husband's half-brother Jack shows up to help!! There is so much more that goes on but I will not reveal any secrets!!

    There were a lot of moments in this book where I wanted to just scream and say "this is not God"!! The actions of the pastor and the husbands had me on the edge of my seat. Meg Moseley painted a gripping yet compassionate view!!

    The characters were all great, especially Jack and the children. I loved Jack because he just seemed so real about who he was and what he believed in. He wasn't afraid to admit that he was a sinner yet he knew how to lead a life worthy to be called a Jesus follower! He might have drunk one or two drinks or smoked a cigar but I felt that just made him more genuine. I have kids the same ages as some of the kids in this book and I felt the author really captured their innocence and energy!

    The only thing that bothered me is that I felt like the beginning got off to a rough start. I wasn't sure if I would like it or not and had mixed opinions about Miranda all the way until about half way through the book. However, it did pick up nicely and I'm glad I continued reading.

    I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
    for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2011

    Great Read

    When I first started reading this book, I couldn't tell if it was set in modern time or back in the day, but soon realized it was modern time. The way Miranda was "brainwashed" made me so mad at this so called "pastor", and her deceased husband.

    I love when Jack came in to the picture and showed the kids what the world had to offer them. You could almost feel the kids excitement when they went through the car wash, and then the joy of getting to wash his car over and over again.

    I really liked they way this book ended.

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  • Posted June 8, 2011

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    Believable and Intriguing

    I was delighted to receive the review copy of Meg Moseley's powerful, thought provoking debut novel. She gives the reader a peek into how an impressionable young girl falls for an older man and in the process loses more than her freedom, she loses her identity. Meg gives a chilling, believable scenario of what happens to Miranda when she marries a religious man who aims to control every aspect of her life, I couldn't stop reading it!

    Miranda's a widow and mother of six children. Her world hasn't changed much since her husband Carl died two years ago. Pastor Mason kept them on the straight and narrow. He visited Miranda's family unexpectedly and constantly reminded Miranda that women should be focused on matters of the home. Mason also told her to never forget Carl was the absolute ruler in her home.

    Pastor Mason announced to the whole church he'd heard from the Lord and the whole church was soon to move to another state. Miranda sensed her inner alarm bells ringing. She started to pray that the Lord would give her the courage to stand up to this man who enjoyed playing God and using his congregation like they were puppets. He was a wolf in sheep clothing - she had to expose him for what he was. God help her.

    Then college professor, Jack Hanford enters Miranda's life. Miranda is unnerved and relieved that Jack came to help. He just might be the help she needed to expose Mason for what he was. She wasn't sure she could trust him though. Jack sees the strict rules this family lives by. He wanted to help them be free. Free to have fun and enjoy life and each other.

    I enjoyed Meg Moseley's writing style and Miranda's six children and how they interacted with their Uncle Jack. Jack was the light in their darkness. Meg reveals many layers of Miranda's complex life. Could she get out of this complicated web? I adored Jack, his love for his nieces and nephews and his passion for teaching young minds. Jack had a strong desire to expose these children to the world around them. First on the agenda was convincing Miranda reading fiction books was a good thing!

    Meg's story hooked me from the first page! I like how she handled this tough topic showing a scary scenario of control and one girl's courage to do the right thing no matter what the cost. I was totally absorbed into this story as Meg reminded me of the precious gift we all take for granted - religious freedom - freedom to worship Him and not follow a bunch of rules that kill people's spirit! This was potent. I can't wait to see where Meg takes us next!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2011

    Recommended to everyone--to let you know that this stuff really happens

    Wow. That is all I can say about how this book affected me. Miranda is a single mother caught up in a church where the pastor rules by manipulation and guilt--psycological abuse. He decides to move the entire church to another state, claiming the Lord told him to. She knows something isn't right about it but feels powerless to do anything about it. Enter what I think of as a divine accident, which brings her brother-in-law, Jack, to town to take care of her and her six children. Miranda learns about freedom in Christ through Jack, who is at a loss about these harsh teachings that Miranda has lived under. Very well written and fast paced, we are slowly revealed many secrets closely kept in all the character's lives. I felt particularly close to Miranda and could understand her ways, even though I was cheering her on to stand up to this pastor and his church.<br/><br/>When reading this book I felt as if the author were writing my own personal story. I come from a background exactly like Miranda in the book did, and this book forced me to relive many painful memories from my childhood and even into my early adulthood, when I finally was able to escape. However the scars are still there and may always be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading "When Sparrows Fall".

    "When Sparrows Fall" was a wonderful read. It was relaxing yet had the element of anticipation, not knowing what the end will bring. Well written with nuggets of truth I would recommend Meg's first novel to anyone who enjoys reading.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    A Lovely Book

    This is a quiet, yet powerful novel with many layers and wonderfully descriptive language. The reader is immediately drawn into the the tension and conflict between Jack, a kind yet imperfect divorced professor, and his widowed sister-in-law Miranda, a fragile woman with six children who has learned not to speak up for herself. Jack and Miranda are thrust into a situation that they could not have prepared themselves for, and struggle to cope as best they can.

    I believe that the author fairly and accurately portrayed the characters - including the delightful, intelligent children, and the issues - especially Jack and Miranda's respective opinions on homeschooling, and the domineering pastor and his church members - who seemed determined to do the right thing, but instead let the pastor run their lives, even when he led them in the wrong direction.

    I was easily drawn into this well-written book and its memorable characters as they struggled with loyalty, trust, deception, faith, and love. Highly recommended.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

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    Hope, Love, Freedom

    Miranda is a widow with six children who is trying to keep things together on her family's remote property in GA. Suddenly, her pastor tells the congregation that God has told him to move everyone to NC. Miranda tries to stand up to him but is told she "shouldn't make waves" and should get ready to sell her property and move. To say that the pastor is legalistic, ultra conservative, and controlling is putting it mildly! Before Miranda can do much about staying put, she has a horrible fall and ends up hospitalized. Enter Jack, her brother-in-law. Jack comes to take care of the children and finds that while they while they are well-mannered and are being home schooled well, much is missing from that education and life. (i.e. computer, freedom in books) He wants to help the children and Miranda as well. Together Miranda and Jack work for the best of the children, disagreeing many times, and find more is in store for themselves. Can Jack help Miranda move from the ultra conservative life she is living enough to breathe? Will she ever get past the ghosts of her past? Can they find peace and love together? And what about Pastor Mason - will he move the group away?

    This is the type of book that has me yelling "Run!" to the characters. It is hard to believe that these harsh belief systems still exist today, and Meg Moseley writes about it with compassion and clarity. I loved the characters, especially the children, and loved watching them as the little, subtle changes occurred. Trust was one thing that I watched grow through the story. This book will make a wonderful gift for an individual reader, but groups will also find this book has a wealth of discussion topics. Thank you to the Blogging For Books program for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    Excellent Read!

    A great book goes on sale today called When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review and am privileged to have been able to read it before it went on sale.

    All Miranda Hanford wants for her and her six children is freedom; freedom from the oppressive ways that they have lived since she was 19 when she married her deceased husband. After her marriage, Miranda quickly learns that her husband and the church they attend are not what they maintain to be, however she finds herself trapped and carrying many secrets. Given the chance to be free, Miranda begins working on a way to get out. But when a serious fall results in her husbands brother-in-law moving in for a while to take care of her and her children, Miranda's plans are threatened.

    Jack Hanford is working hard at obtaining his tenure when he receives a call that his sister-in-law, whom he has only met once, has named him guardian of her six children. While at first Jack is unsure what to do with six children he quickly takes to his role and becomes a great father figure in their lives. It is evident to Jack, however, that the lifestyle and beliefs of his brother and the church have left the children sorely lacking in social, Spiritual, and homeschool skills. As Jack begins to work with Miranda and her children to ensure they are well-rounded in all areas, Miranda becomes nervous that Jack will upset things even more.

    I won't go on with the story here (though I would so love to throw a spoiler alert at you) because I want to leave you intrigued. I was so taken in by Miranda and how, after her husband's death, she has been slowly working her way toward freedom from an opressive pastor and his teachings and how in the middle of all the mess, she does not lose her faith in God. I was equally impressed with Moseley's portrayal of Jack. Though Jack is a man who likes to push Miranda for answers in ways that may not always work for him, he also has a quiet, gentle strength about him. The more Jack gets to know Miranda and her children, the more he falls in love with all of them and desires to help them.

    I was really impressed with Moseley's ability to draw the reader in and keep me interested. I loved how she developed her characters a piece at a time, only revealing details that were necessary at each stage in the story. It wasn't until the very end of the story that the reader finds the entire truth and by that point I was so in love with this family that I found myself feeling every emotion with them. That's what a good book should be like.

    I encourage you to download an e-copy for your Kindle today or pick up a paperback at your local bookstore. This will definitely be a keeper on my bookshelf! And please be sure to go to Blogging for Books and rank my review!!

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

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    An Unforgettable Debut!

    I am SO pleased to have had the opportunity to have been introduced to Meg Mosely and her new book. She is truly a fascinating and talented author. I loved her characters flaws, I love her Godly messages, and I loved her writing style. She is a unique, new author and one that I am going to recommend to all my reader friends!

    Reading how conservative Miranda's church was, reminded me alot of the church I used to go to. There was no TV allowed , things were VERY strict. That's a lot like the church I used to go to... it was quite a not-so-good experience, so I could really feel a connection with Miranda. To live like that is, well, living like you would in a cult. Brainwashing. Controlling. Quite an uncomfortable life when you look back on it. Like Miranda, I could feel her unease with Mason being the controller of his flock. I could feel her unhappiness right down to the nitty gritty. It was like looking into the mirror and seeing myself.

    But, when Miranda becomes hospitalized and her brother-in-law Jack steps up to the plate. Mason is moving is congregation and with Jack's help, Miranda stays behind and is coming to terms with her new faith. Her faith of seeing the real world and trusting in God in a whole new light. Together, Jack and Miranda find a common ground amongst Miranda's 6 children, and they learn the mysteries that make this book a fantastic read!

    Definitely a 5 star novel that I recommend to everyone! This is a thrilling, compelling, God filled look at more than one side of Christianity. Walking in a faith that is true to God is a message that stands out strong for me and I can't wait for another novel like this one by this great new author!

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

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    Complex story with more layers than a wedding cake

    With more layers than a wedding cake, When Sparrows Fall is a complex story of a mother's devotion that will not leave you untouched. Meg Moseley's characters will climb out of the pages and into your heart. Besides the rebellious Miranda, her children include Timothy, two adorable girls, and Jack dubs her youngest boys "the archangels." As unlikely as the pairing seems, I found myself hoping for romance to bloom between Jack and Miranda, but it seems Timothy had a different idea. Thoroughly enjoyable, Novel Journey and I give it a high recommendation.

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