©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short Straws Mark a Winner

Karen Witemeyer has hit a home run with her new book, Short Straw Bride. I have loved every single one of her books and this one does not disappoint. I loved Meredith and Travis and the way their love story began when Meri was still a school girl. Meri seemed to have a habit of needing to be rescued and Travis had the habit of being her rescuer. But one day, Meri rescued Travis by warning him of a plot to burn his place down. Travis lived on the family ranch with his three brothers and allowed no one on the ranch except for a select few. Meri was not one of them, but when she heard the plot she had to let him know. This led to a series of events that culminated in her needing to be rescued by Travis once again. I read this book in two sittings (lyings?--I read in bed, but you know what I mean) and stayed up quite late to finish it off. Compelling, entertaining, and well worth the time of a Western Romance lover! Five Stars!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Couple of Reviews

Hometown Fourth of July, by June Foster, is a cute little novel based in the southern Puget Sound, Washington. I had a couple of appointments this week and the time I spent waiting for them gave me ample opportunity to read, and it allowed me to read this whole book. It is the story of Max and his search for his past, and the story of Lynn who feels either unnoticed or unappreciated as the middle child of several. Both are searching for a place to belong. Max knows he's adopted because he's hispanic in a caucasian family, but he wants to find his birth mother and find out why she gave him up. Through an accidental meeting with Lynn, Max begins an all out search for his birth mother and for answers. Lynn uses her computer skills to aid in the search. Because of unforeseen circumstances, Max sinks into a depression and neglects his relationship with Lynn. When God gets ahold of Max's heart and speaks through his pain, Max does everything it takes to make it up to Lynn and then, well, I won't spoil the rest of the story for you.

I will say this, the story was sweet, it was a quick read, but I thought the characters were a bit underdeveloped and the story could have gone deeper.

My other review is Masquerade by Nancy Moser. Lottie is betrothed by her parents to a man in New York City. She's never met him and she doesn't like the thought of marrying someone for any reason except for love. On the ship to New York, Lottie and her companion, Dora, decide to trade places. Lottie wants to give Dora the opportunity to find her own way in the world. As soon as they come ashore in New York, Lottie's money is stolen, and she is reduced to finding her own way--whatever that is. This story takes you to tenements and orphanages, to uptown New York, where high society is everything, and in the process Dora and Lottie both find true love.

I absolutely LOVED this book. I have read a couple of Nancy's other books, but this one really got me hooked!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another Stokes

Till We Meet Again continues the story of Libba, Willie, and Mabel Rae Coltrain along with Link Winsome, Owen Slaughter, and Stork Simpson. Link has been injured and wants to save Libba from having to deal with his injuries. Stork has to talk to him, as my mother would have said, "like a Dutch Uncle," to explain that Link can't make decisions for Libba. Meanwhile, Owen, who has amnesia from an encounter with a German soldier, meets Charlie Coltrain (brother of Willie and Mabel Rae, cousin of Libba) in a German Stalag. Penelope did an excellent job of describing German Prisoner of War camps and the conditions found there. She also continues her skillful work in allowing her readers to escape into her novels while keeping it real.

This series is tremendous. Mabel Rae finds love, Libba and Link reconnect after Libba's father tried to do everything he could to keep them apart, and Willie is still waiting for Owen to come back to her. I am currently reading the third novel in this series and can't wait to finish it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Sound Among The Trees

Susan Meissner is one of those authors who speaks to me on a deep level. I loved her book Blue Heart Blessed for one line especially--when one character tells another that God has designed us for more than we usually give (that's a paraphrase). Last night I finished her newest offering: A Sound Among the Trees. She has an interesting concept in this book about a house and the generations of people who have lived in it, especially the women. While the women are the major characters in the book, the house plays a role as a character as well--which intrigued me all the way through.

So far, I've described this book and interesting and intriguing. I can't say I LOVED this book, but I found it worth my while to read. I was disturbed by the "psychic" properties of the house and that a house could cause good or ill to come into a person's life for whatever reason. Because I believe that Jesus Christ broke the chains that held us in the clutches of evil, I don't believe a Christian can be held by generational curses, which is a concept that seems to come across in the book. However, there were other aspects of the book I loved--i.e. the restoration of the relationship between Adelaide and Caroline, estranged mother and daughter. This restoration came about through the work of Christ in Caroline's life, and that alone made the book most worthwhile. It was a completely believable change in Caroline that could bring to mind someone else who had been through the same situation.

Find out more about Susan here:

Her Other Books
This Book
Read the first chapter

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two Sally Johns and One Penelope Stokes

I really should keep up better with my reviews, but sometimes reading interferes with blogging.

In the Safe Harbor Series by Sally John, A Time to Gather and A Time to Surrender continue the story of Claire and Max Beaumont and their four children.

Erik, the eldest, is in need of an intervention, and the policewoman Rosie knows just where it can happen. Jenna, the second child, is missing her husband Kevin, who re-enlisted with the Marines and got shipped to the Mideast. Danny and Lexi, the twins, each have their own battles to fight. While Max spent most of his children's childhoods working more than being home, the fallout is pouring out of the children like an open spigot.

Again A Time to Gather shows the nitty-gritty of life, and then the work that needs to happen to heal the hurts. There is realness to the struggle of faith for all the characters, a depth to the character development, and a sense of hope that things will work out, at the right time.

A Time to Surrender focuses on the Hacienda Hideaway's new cook, Skylar, and her relationship with Danny, as well as Jenna and Kevin's relationship from far away. Skylar has to learn to trust God while Danny has to learn that life isn't all black and white--there are shades of grey.

Jenna has to find her place in the world of Marine wives, beginning with the funeral of another Marine where a bomb goes off in protest. Jenna is slightly wounded while her friend, Amber, receives a more serious injury. Jenna quickly comes to depend on her principal a little too much. Claire and Max continue to grow closer together and continue to watch their children learn the faith they will need to get them through the bumps and bruises of life.

This whole series was a good read that is definitely worth the time.

Since my father passed away, I have developed an interest in World War II fiction, especially well-researched fiction. Penelope Stokes has a series called Faith on the Homefront. The first book in this series is Home Fires Burning. It begins the story of Libba Coltrain and Link Winsom who fall in love in Eden, Mississippi, before Link ships out to fight in Europe. Penelope has researched WWII, and gave good descriptions of the battles and life in small town America. I cannot wait to read the next two books in this series. Very Promising!

Friday, May 11, 2012

As You Wish

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies--swashbuckling action, revenge, danger, romance, magic, derring-do, white horses and such as the stuff a little girl's dreams are made of. One of the things that has kept my interest in the movie is the fact that this is the depiction of a story being read to a young boy by his grandfather. The boy was sick enough to have to stay home from school and Grandpa came over to read to him and entertain him a bit so that the day wouldn't be so long for him.

I mentioned in my first post that I came home from the first day of school crying because they didn't teach me how to read. This wasn't just something I made up to make that post more humorous, it is true. Books were an integral part of my home life and once I learned how to read, I read anything and everything I could--from the cereal boxes to any book I could get my hands on.

Gilliland Strickland wrote a poem that often has the last stanza quoted, but I think it's worth a full copy here:

The Reading Mother

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a Mother who read to me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Safe Harbor

A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley hit a deep chord with me. In my more than thirty years of marriage, I have experienced the feelings of anger, been the object of mistrust, and the feeling of being smothered by my own life like Claire Beaumont. Sally and Gary were honest in portraying the gamut of emotions and the desire everyone has for feeling safe. Claire and Max have to find their safe harbor in each other and the journey to get there is long and somewhat excruciating. It's a very relatable book that brings a real look into the messiness of life and marriage. There is still a happy ending, but it wasn't effortless, and the book left you with the feeling that Claire and Max will have ups and downs, but they have become a team and will work together. Thumbs Up.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On Hummingbird Wings

Lauraine Snelling writes some books that I dearly love and this one is a good example. Gillian Ormsby has been called by her younger sister Allie to come help with Mom who claims she is dying. Gillian makes a flying trip from New York to Martinez, California, to check out the status of things. While she is in California, she loses her job due to a hostile takeover. She has to fly back to New York to clean out her office and plan her next move. She returns to find her mother still in bed, still claiming she's dying, still being recalcitrant about doing anything to help herself get better, and still very growly about any attempt to help her. Gillian finds friends in unlikely places with neighbors who have cared for one another as long as they have lived in the same neighborhood, friends who include Adam who becomes more than just a friend. Gillian learns how to rely on friends for aide in caring for her mother and learns to trust. If you like conflict, you get that in Gillian's relationship with her sister. If you like growing friendship that turns to romance, this book has it too. It's definitely worth your time.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lilacs in Lilac Season

I just finished reading Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick. I recently got "into" Jane Kirkpatrick books. I had seen her works and had been intrigued, but for some reason, her writing didn't capture my interest.

I like lilacs--my husband doesn't--and the thought of hybridizing the lilacs captures my interest. I guess it stems from a field trip I took to a tree farm in tenth grade, where the owners demonstrated grafting techniques. That's why I chose this book to review.

I loved the story of this book, the biography of Hulda's quest for something more to come from her lilacs, but I found the writing somewhat disjointed. In Jane's quest to show how Hulda touched many lives, she added other stories of other people in a way that confused me more than they added to the story. Hulda's basic story is touching, she is a woman who lets nothing stand in her way, who fights the whims of nature, and who doesn't let grass grow under her feet. She is a woman who knows triumph and sorrow, and a woman I can admire. She is humble, faithful, and gracious. She loves passing on her love for plants to young men and ladies who come to work for her. Her influence is widespread and when her gardens are totally flooded out, she is rewarded by people sending her starts and seeds from lilacs she had given away.

Overall, I did enjoy the book in spite of my confusion, and I am not sure how this story could have been written better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012