©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Appointments Are Divine

I recently reviewed Charlene Ann Baumbich's Finding Our Way Home, book three in the Snowglobes Series. Last night I finished her Divine Appointments. I am reading this series in backwards order, but all three books can be stand-alones. Not knowing the information in the first book did not detract from the other two.

Josie Victor Brooks is an efficiency consultant currently living in Chicago working to help streamline Diamond Mutual. She is known as the hatchet woman among other nicknames among the DM employees.

Her snowglobe is a scene of a creek with trees around it. While she doesn't understand why she was drawn to this particular snowglobe, it does have an impact on her life. Josie is not a woman drawn to knicknacks or dust-catchers. She moves nearly every year and desires a simple life. Her art has to speak to her or it's not worth her time. This snowglobe, at times, gurgles and "bubbles" like a brook, drawing her attention and perplexity time and again. Because of her nomadic life, Josie doesn't have many friends. But the realtor who sold her the condo where she lives has reached out in friendship. Amelia becomes Josie's sounding board, her confidant, the one she can pour out her heart to. Amelia is only one of Josie's divine appointments.

The divine appointments don't end with Amelia and Josie, there are others all through the book and they lead the readers to look for the divine appointments in their own lives. This is a truly enjoyable book with a deeper theme than just entertainment.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's the Buzz?

I just finished reading Bees in the Butterfly Garden and I must say it was incredible! I don't think I have read anything by Maureen Lang until now but I like her style.

Meg Davenport has lived at Madame Marisse's school for young ladies in Connecticut since she was nine years old. She's now eighteen and her life has taken a turn--completely upside down. She is told her father has passed away, so she journeys to New York to attend his wake and find out why he never wanted her to live with him. What she finds out serves to steel her resolve to become her father's daughter, a shyster and a cheat. She desires to partner up with Ian Maguire, the man who was her father's partner before he passed away, but Ian knows this isn't the life her father desired for her. He tries everything at his disposal to to disuade Meg, but she is firm in her quest.

Meg chooses not to go back to Madame Marisse's but instead writes to an acquaintance she met there, Claire Pemberton, and offers to come build a butterfly garden for Claire's mother. Claire invites Meg to come and stay the summer not knowing that Meg is there to find out where the Pembertons keep their gold and then feed the information to Ian.

Maureen has written a tightly woven novel that will keep you intrigued until the very last page. It's hard to put down a book that is so well done. I absolutely LOVED it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's In C S Lewis' Library

James Stuart Bell put together a topical book of writings that influenced C S Lewis, a well-loved author from the last century (it feels so odd to say that. This is not the kind of book you want to sit down and read through like a book on Christian life or like a novel. It just doesn't read that way. This is the kind of book you read when you need a reference for a specific topic on your mind and you need specific wisdom for it.

First, I was surprised to see how many authors on my own shelf that were also on C S Lewis' shelf.

Second, I was thrilled to read thoughts that met a specific need of my own. Receiving this book was timely because of research I am doing to prepare an adult Bible Study series on prayer. I gleaned much from this book and will use it as a reference for years to come!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Apples and Peaches and Pears, Oh My!

Deanna Nowadnick asked me to read her book Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God's Grace. It was a quick and simple read but it had some very hard-hitting concepts. It is a memoir of Deanna's spiritual life in the context of Galatians 5:22-23.

One of my personal hobby-horses, soap-boxes, tinder-box-issues is what people commonly refer to the "Fruits of the Spirit" and then mention the nine characteristics of these verses. These are not the only "Fruits of the Spirit," but only ONE fruit. But I digress. This was not Deanna's intention--she was telling a story of how God had developed these characteristics in her own life and this book is an able vehicle for that.

One of the most important concepts in this book is detailed in a conversation between a pastor and music conductor. The music conductor asked the pastor, "What is your business?" and the pastor started in on a litany of activities and duties associated with his position. The pastor, in turn, asked the conductor, "What do you do?" and the conductor said, "There is a difference in what my business is and what I do. My business is to bring others to Christ. To do that, I conduct music."

My business is to bring others to Christ. To do that, I write this blog, I pray, I read, I participate in a small group, I have cancer, and I give.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.”
- John Berger

The little book of hours of Amiens Nicolas Blairie, carefully written on a thin Ruling rose, but modestly decorated with some original illuminations in ink has the curious shape of an almond when it is closed. When it opens, the two halves of the almond bloom to fit the contours of a heart, concrete evocation of the heart of the person praying the prayer that opens.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Messenger

Siri Mitchell is a deep writer. Her books have a depth that sometimes baffles me because I am not quite that deep myself. This weekend I read The Messenger and devoured it.

Hannah is a member of a Quaker Meeting group in Philadelphia. Jeremiah is a tavern owner who is disillusioned with the British occupation of the Colonies. Hannah's brother is imprisoned by the British for being a Rebel Colonialist. These characters set the stage for this fascinating look into Quaker culture, Colonial life, and a behind the scenes look at the Revolutionary War.

I love a well-researched book and Siri's book is that, but one thing Siri does and does well is that she makes her factual content flow seamlessly into the story. It's a great read that really touches your heart and also feeds your mind. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Better Than Chocolate!

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Fairer" Is More Than Fair

I just finished reading Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott, and let me tell you, this book captured me from the first page all the way through to the end. It was not hard to fall in love with Ann Miller trying to raise her little sisters and take care of her father. Knowing that Ann watched her mother die was heart-breaking, but knowing she lost her mother when she herself was so young nearly tore me in two.

After meeting Ann, Will shows up in the landscape of the book with a new apprentice master, Jacob Good, who wasn't good at all. He was a mean, vindictive, abusive, lying, cheating master who didn't mind tearing into his apprentices without provocation. Will endures his abuse until Jacob kills his next-door-neighbor's prize sow and then lies about it in court. After court, Jacob delivers a beating to Will that nearly kills him. As soon as Will can stand, he runs away and ends up living with the Millers in Ohio. Will eventually decides to go back to Pittsburg to face his master and Ann's father wants to buy out the remaining term of Will's apprentice contract which was a contract of indenture. Jacob refuses to be bought, but instead wants his day in court that proves his own undoing.

This book was hard to put down in so many ways. The writing was tremendous, the story-line completely believable, and some of the side stories touched my heart. After I read the book, I read the author's note that explains that this story is based in fact. I love historical novels that are based in fact and not just based in a specific historical era. Rosslyn rates two thumbs up, five stars, and a WOW!!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Some Friday Funnies

Beauty for Ashes

Dorothy Love writes southern historical romance with a touch of sweet tea and a flaky biscuit with a "bless your heart" thrown in for good measure. Carrie Daly is a Civil War widow living with her brother. She watched him marry a woman with two children and while she loves the fact that he is finding love, she is doubtful about his chosen bride--a woman who is spoiled and feels entitled to be waited on hand and foot. Carrie deals with an intolerable situation by moving into the women's boarding house. She works for her long-time friend Nate at his book store to pay for her room. In the meantime, Nate marries another boarder, Carrie's brother goes to Chicago to find work so that he can keep the family farm, Carrie's sister-in-law finds she's pregnant and needs Carrie to move back home. In the midst of all this, she befriends a horse-trainer named Griff and takes care of him when he suffers a concussion after falling from his horse in a race.

Beauty for Ashes is a sequel to Beyond All Measure but could stand alone on its own merits. It is fun to watch Carrie develop as a character, to see her grow as she tames her new nephews, to watch her take care of those she has come to love, and especially to see the love grow between Griff and Carrie. I'll be waiting for the next one to come out. Definitely worth the price of admission!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mozart's Sister

So, here's the deal: last night I was up past 4:00 AM this morning finishing this book by Nancy Moser. In 1984, Amadeus won the Academy Award for best picture and my husband and I saw it when it came out--from then on, I have LOVED Mozart's music, especially Ein Klein Nachtmusik (one of my phone's ringtones). But this book isn't so much about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as it is about his sister, Nannerl, who lived in her brother's shadow. It's about a father's unending quest for notoriety and fame while exploiting his children's and later, his son's talents. It's about Nannerl's quest for her own identity as a musician, and later her desire to be a wife and a mother.

I had a really hard time not being angry with Leopold Mozart, with his imperiousness, the way he ignored his daughter as if she were less than, and later, the way he used his daughter to be his servant. I wanted Maria Anna to have a backbone and tell her husband she needed him, and I wanted both of them to not depend on their children to provide the income for them.

One of the marks of a good story is when the reader gets emotionally involved. I was there, totally there. Mozart's Sister is a must-read for historical fans.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Finding Our Way Home

This is the first book I've read by Charlene Ann Baumbich, but I want to read more. Even though my preferred reading genre leads more to romance, this book of intergenerational friendship touched my heart in ways that I cannot describe. I absolutely love Evelyn's prayer, "Grace, Amen." That just about covers it.

Sasha needs a live-in companion/caretaker, Evelyn needs a job, and the two make an unusual duo. Evelyn is a nineteen-year-old dynamo who rides her bicycle everywhere. Sasha is a prima ballerina who has been injured quite severely in her dance and ended her dance career. Each woman has something to offer the other but along the way heart healing has to happen for both of them.

Finding Our Way Home is one of the Snowglobe Connections novels and the snowglobe of the ballet dancer figures into the story quite strongly. Sasha's snowglobe was a gift from her mother on her fifth birthday and it went with her to every dance and performance she had. It became to her a talisman of luck and then after her injury, a vision of what could be.

Now that I have read this book, I cannot wait to get more of her books, especially the Snowglobe Connections, and read them.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Fun Time

Hearts Safe Passage

Belinda Chapman's husband is a prisoner of the British Navy. Belinda wants him back. Rafe Docherty is a British Privateer who wants George Chapman for purposes of his own. Phoebe Lee is Belinda's sister-in-law and Belinda wants Phoebe to be her midwife, so she kidnaps Phoebe to sail on Rafe's brigantine.

This book has everything, Laurie Alice Eakes knows how to spin a story and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's got swashbuckling fights, deep emotions, mutiny, intrigue, forgiveness, and much more. Hearts Safe Passage is the second novel in the Midwives Series and if there is another book to this series, I can't wait to read it.