Book Reviews

Book Review and Giveaway: All Our Empty Places by Alicia Ruggieri

I’m bringing you a new chance to win All Our Empty Places, but first I want to share my personal review and some insider info on the inspiration behind this series. I hope enjoy!

Book cover - All Our Empty Places (1)

In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.
Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.
However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.
Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.
Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.

I can’t say enough good things about Alicia’s latest book. You’re just going to have to pick it up for yourself.

Rating: Some books are worth all five stars and then some, and this is one of those books.

What I Liked: I really enjoyed The Fragrance of Geraniums, and was greatly looking forward to sitting down with this lovable family again. What I was most impressed with in both books of this series was how Christ focused the stories are. I didn’t find the message to be heavy, but rather thorough. Particularly in All Our Empty Places, the image of God’s mercy and grace was clearly seen throughout the story. I won’t lie to you, this isn’t an “it’s all coming up roses” type of story. Mrs. Ruggieri put her characters through the wringer, but they came out the other side stronger. Even when my heart ached alongside these characters, I KNEW there was hope. I knew that joy would come in the morning for these characters if I could only persevere with them until they reached the end. I was greatly blessed and I know you will be too.  This story of grace was beautifully done and I anticipate the next and final book in the series!

Who I’d Recommend it to: All Our Empty Places is perfect for those who enjoy getting a solid message along with an entertaining story or for those that enjoy a story that isn’t cookie cutter and mass produced.

Alicia’s Inspiration

Why did you choose the  depression era as a setting for “A Time of Grace” series?

My grandmother’s stories of her childhood have held a charm over my imagination since I was a little girl, and I’d always had a hankering to set a story in that era. I’d thought of the “geranium” part of the first book in the A Time of Grace trilogy many years ago, but when I went to write it, thinking it would be a contemporary story, the 1930s setting just fell into my lap, so to speak. It fit the characters and their story so well – the brokenness, the emptiness in the nation during that decade echoed the inner life of the Grace, Sarah, and the rest of the Picoletti family.

Many people find this decade to be a very somber and sad time. How does it make you feel when your mind travels back to this era?

Nostalgic, probably because my grandmother peppered my childhood with the stories of her growing up in that decade. Yet, like you say, Anita, there’s a somberness to it. The part about Grace using elastic bands to hold her shoes together as well as her moment of genius when she cuts cardboard inserts for the winter – both come straight from my grandmother’s stories of her Depression-era childhood.

Most authors keep various images to help them develop the characters and their setting. Will you show us a little something you used to inspire this real life backdrop?


The children are just early 20th-century oyster-shuckers, which was a common job for kids — It just gave me a feeling for New England around the turn of the century. smile emoticon Not really directly applicable to the series.


He served as inspiration for  Dr. Giorgi.


The girl reminded me of the Ruth Ann, Grace’s friend.


This is a photo of the real Crescent Park circa 1920 — the setting for an important scene for Paulie and Grace


And this young man served as inspiration for Ben.

Thanks so much for sharing some of your inspiration board with us. It’s so much fun to see what an author is looking at in their head. And I love this background on Ben’s picture. It really puts things in perspective. 

Here’s another chance to win a copy of All Our Empty Places!

Release Tour - giveaway (1)One winner will receive – a signed softcover of All Our Empty Places; a mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it; Caramel Apple Biscotti; and Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate mix. (Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.)

You can enter the giveaway here

Author photo - Alicia G. RuggieriABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.


Twitter: @aliciaruggieri


All Our Empty Places (A Time of Grace, Book 2)
The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, Book 1) – ON SALE for $0.99 through October 31, 2015

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