Local Author Book Review: A TIME TO SERVE

A TIME TO SERVE: NEVER LIE, NEVER SETTLE, NEVER QUIT is the debut novel of local author Jennifer Widemire Smith. The story has great pacing, lots of heart, a thoughtful way of looking at grief, and more importantly, how to be present for friends who are experiencing grief. Smith is very knowledgeable about SEALs though the military details don’t bog the story down for civilian-readers. Rather, the SEAL way of life becomes a lens in which the characters strive to be their best warrior selves.

While the romance between Jefferies and Evie makes the story come alive, just as equally in my opinion, is the book about Jefferies’ comradery and loyalty to his SEAL team brothers. It seems equal parts about brokenness, grief, hope, and about being there for your loved ones.

I’m very intrigued by Evie’s past which is alluded to but we don’t know much about as the story is solely in Jefferies’ point of view. The discrepancy with her stalker, the subject of her new manuscript (yes, she’s a well-known thriller writer and I adore reading books about writers), etc…

And the biggest unknown… That ending. Whoa, boy. It gave me all the feels. I was not ready for my time reading A Time to Serve to end.

A TIME TO SERVE is out now! Pick up your signed copy at our no-contact curb or have it delivered, either porch-side in select neighborhoods or shipped.

Need more books like this by local authors while you’re being socially responsible and staying home?

If you’re looking for military thriller/romance, Angela recommends Cynthia Eden’s Broken (Last Option Search Team) about an ex-SEAL, as well as Katie Reus’ former Marine in Dark Momento.

If military non-fiction is more your thing, be sure to check out E.B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed and Sid Phillips’ You’ll Be Sor-Ree! both of which inspired the HBO miniseries The Pacific.


Let me tell you, so much amazing happens in this middle grade novel by local author, Emily Blejwas. Reading the back blurb, I initially wondered if this book might be too sad for me with the death of a father (who suffered from PTSD) and the main character, seventh-grader Justin,who is trying to put his life back together. But Mrs. Blejwas is one of those glorious authors who finds the cracks of light in the darkness and opens it up for the rest of us.

This book is about the strength of community which is so important in our own lives right now. I was quickly absorbed into Justin’s world, interestingly set during the Gulf War era. The supporting characters are well-developed and fleshed out from his big brother, Murphy, who is refreshingly not a sulky teen but someone who is trying their best to be their own hero, Justin’s best friend Phuc (pronounced Fo) who has fabulous ideas on sunsets and string theory, to homeless-not-homeless Benny H and his stories of the Dakota, the Indigenous people who used to live in Wicapi, Minnesota—the small-town setting of this novel.

They all come together to create a beautiful story where amazing things happen when we look out for each other and not take the things around us at face value–to look deeper.

LIKE NOTHING AMAZING EVER HAPPENED releases today! Pick up your copy at our no-contact curb or have it delivered, either porch-side in select neighborhoods or shipped.

Need more books to tug on your community-love heartstrings while being socially responsible and staying home?

Other books of Mrs. Blejwas I highly recommend are ONCE YOU KNOW THIS, a middle grade story about going through hard times but having faith in your own strengths and dreams that things will get better by making a plan and sticking to it (even if it quickly goes to Plan B.)

And for adults, THE STORY OF ALABAMA IN FOURTEEN FOODS delves into the history and culture of Alabama by examining the foods, dishes, and beverages we love. It’s part travelogue, part cookbook, and part community and heritage celebration.