©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Liza's Second Chance

Liza Schrock is the widowed owner of the Charm Bakery and runs it with her sister-in-law, Esther, and niece, Hannah.  Esther is happily married and believe's Liza should try marriage again.  What Esther doesn't know is that Liza's late husband was a tyrant at home while putting forward a very compassionate face within the community. 

Jacob Graber has moved to Charm with his daughter, Ellie, following his wife's death.  He loves the community and after meeting Liza at the bakery, he's decided that Charm has more charms than he originally anticipated.  The fly in his ointment is that his daughter, Ellie, has been hard to reach through her tough exterior since her mother's passing.  She's run away from home once before and he really believes that she'll do it again.

When Mae Chupp comes to dinner at Esther's house with her son, Peter--a lively six year old boy, it seems the answer to Ellie's wandering is right in front of them.  Ellie accepts a job as Peter's nanny, but. . .

Liza's Second Chance is the first of Molly Jebber's books that I can remember reading, but it was worth my time and energy.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a molasses cookie. 

My thanks to Zebra Books for allowing me to read and review this book

Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers

Barbour books has taken a bit of a turn with this particular novella collection.  All of the stories include the same characters, the same plot line, and the same villains.   Seven young Texas Rangers have been transferred to Hartville with the task of capturing the Cass Markham gang who have been terrorizing the area. 

The captain of the group is recently married and his wife is anxious that all of the rangers in his command also find the joys of marriage, and therefore makes it her mission to match them all up.  Each ranger finds himself in the company of  a woman who is his heart-match, and through the machinations of the Markham gang, finds the woman in trouble and it takes all of his best tricks to rescue her and capture the gang. 

As it works out, the gang is captured one by one as the rangers fall one by one to a woman's charms.  Because each novella ties into the previous one and into the story as a whole, it is really better than most collections like this.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Texas Ranger to come to your rescue. 

My thanks to Barbour Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Until We Find Home

Until I read this book, I had one favorite WWII era author, Sarah Sundin.  Now I have another one on equal footing with Sarah.  Her name is Cathy Gohlke and the book I just read is Until We Find Home.  Claire is an American in Paris, wanting to become a writer, until she is charged with helping five Jewish children to escape the coming Nazi invasion.  She is ferried with her children to England and then to the countryside where she has an aunt that she hopes will take in the children.

Her aunt will take in the children as long as Claire stays to take care of them, but Claire wants to get back to Paris as soon as possible to continue her writing.  Her aunt explains that her American heritage will not protect her in France.  Soon after Claire comes, another contingent of children are dropped on her aunt---these children are from Germany. 

David Campbell is another American working in England and has been billeted with Claire and her ersatz family.  She sometimes doesn't know how to take him and sometimes wants to throw a vase at his head, but as she comes to know him, she begins to love him. 

My favorite part of the book is the look into the cultural lives of the Jewish children.  The German children didn't get along with the French at first, and vice versa.  The only exceptions are two rapscallions named Gaston and Josef.  They created an alliance of mischief and chaos. But Josef becomes key in helping to re-capture an escaped German prisoner of war.

Cathy has done her research in preparing this manuscript and clearly described her characters, her settings, and the era she was writing about.  The characters are believable and real, the setting is easily imagined, and the era fascinates me because my father served in the Coast Guard during WWII.

This is a five star book, two thumbs up, and a secret garden for your creativity. 

My thanks to Tyndale House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Holding the Fort

I think there needs to be another category of Christian fiction--we have historical, contemporary, romance, mystery, sci fi, horror (spiritual warfare), but what we need is Western.  There are many writers who write romances in western settings.  These are often funny with typical western situations and characters.  That being said, Holding the Fort fits into this western category. 

Louisa is known as Lola Bell, the singer in a saloon.  When the owner of the saloon brings in someone new to sing in his saloon, Louisa saw the writing on the wall and knew she needed to find a new situation. 

On the way to see her brother at Fort Reno in the Indian Territories.  On her way she runs into a missionary who was heading to the fort to take on educating the Major's daughters. However, the missionary has taken ill and asks Louisa to carry the text books on to the fort. 

Regina Jennings writes her historical/western romances with a liberal dose of humor.  That's what I enjoy most about reading her books.  The only criticism I have for her book is that for the most part, it is predictable.  The major has two daughters: one compliant, one rather head-strong and resistant.  Louisa is charged with winning both girls over as well as educating them.   I've read this plot device several times.  The girls and their father all fall in love with Louisa. There is always something to overcome in these stories for the road to true love to smooth out.  In spite of this one point, this is an enjoyable read and great for whiling a couple of hours away.   Four strong stars.

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ivy Cottage in Ivy Hill

This is the second of the books in the Ivy Hill series by Julie Klassen. I vaccillated between liking and not liking the book.  There are so many characters that it's hard to keep the story straight and to figure out who the book was about.  First, there are several main characters in the book and the story switches back and forth between them at a hectic pace. The setting is still the same Ivy Hill Village, but there are new characters and a few new places, but the characters from Ivy Hill are settling into their lives.  Once the relationships among the women are figured out, the book is easier to read. 

For the most part, it's a good book, but there are several ends left untied, which leads the reader to believe there will be a third book in the series. But, the book wasn't exactly what I was expecting.  The sheer number of characters is daunting as well as keeping up with who is dating whom, although dating isn't what it was called during the Regency Era.  I give this book 3.5 stars, but I'll round it up to four. 

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Words from the Heart

Ivy has been writing to John King, an Amish man she met in Michigan while she was helping her cousin the previous year.  BUT, John only wrote to Ivy once and never replied to any of her letters.  She finally comes to the conclusion that there is no reason to try to continue keeping in touch with him.

Cevilla Schlabach is an elderly neighbor to Ivy and her family and she engages Ivy to help her nephew, Noah, to clean out her attic.  There are boxes and boxes and boxes of goods from her stepmother's home. Many of the boxes contain crocheted doilies, lots and lots and lots of doilies.  But in a few of the boxes are a few treasures that Noah would like to investigate for his auction business. 

Cevilla wants to see Noah and Ivy get together and marry.  Ivy's mother would like to see Ivy and Noah get together, but Ivy convinces her mother to let her conduct her own life. 

Letters weave their way throughout this book.  Kathleen Fuller knows the Amish life and the Amish psyche and has brought it to life through her characters.  Cevilla is not known for holding her tongue, Ivy is known to be a strong woman in spite of her petite size, Noah is a sweet, unassuming man who loves his aunt.  In Words from the Heart, Kathleen has added a love story from the Korean War years and then ties all the letters together with a ribbon of a story that will keep the reader involved from page one all the way through.  This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a wooden chest to keep your letters in.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Out of the Ordinary

Jen Turano writes with wit, humor, and her characters live life at a frenetic pace.  I wonder where she gets the names for her characters:  Gertrude Cadwalader, Clementine Flowerdew, Permelia Griswold.  But, those names fit the personalities:  Gertrude is a companion for a society lady with a penchant for lifting baubles that are not hers.  It then becomes Gertrude's job to return the items to the proper owners.  Clementine is a young lady on the look out for a husband and she doesn't care who she runs over to get one.  Permelia dances with an exuberance that belies the fact that she can't dance.  At the party to celebrate her engagement to Asher Rutherford, she had the members of the orchestra running for their lives.  The title of this book, Out of the Ordinary, is apt for the contents.  There is nothing ordinary about this story. 

One thing I do like about the one main character I've not mentioned yet--Harrison Sinclair--is that he dresses with a flair that would make any onlooker reach for the nearest pair of sunglasses. What the reader is led to believe is that Harrison is color-blind.  He sees most nearly everything in shades of orange, but in reality, he might be wearing a lime green jacket with sky blue pants that have clovers all over them. 

The road to true love for Gertrude and Harrison is never smooth and easy.  His mother has Gertrude arrested.  He ruins the clothing they are wearing when he's trying to be gallant.  He nearly dislocates Gertrude's shoulder when he rides up on his horse and pulls her aboard the horse.  He doesn't realize that some of the little things he already does touches Gertrude's heart

This is a fun book to read, five stars, two thumbs up, and a garish outfit for the dance tonight.

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.