©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Threads of Red

This Scarlet Cord by Joan Wolf is an enjoyable novel that tells a story of a young woman in Jericho before the Israelites took it. Joan did her research into the times and customs of the day. She uses these facts and ideas to weave a story of young love in a turbulent time.

Joan tells the story of Rahab, Sala, their families, and the Israelite conquest of Jericho. The book chronicles Rahab's childhood, growth into young adulthood, her desire to know Yahweh. There is enough action in the book to keep your attention, enough intrigue to keep you wanting more.

As Joan says in her notes at the end of the book, there are only five paragraphs about Rahab in the Bible and she had to rely on her research to make the story. She does this well and makes an incredibly readable book.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Hard Path to Take

Over the last week, I've taken a short vacation, visited one of my many doctors, and read a few books. One of the books is A Path Toward Love by Cara Lynn James. Katherine Osborne is between the proverbial rock and hard place. She needs money to meet the expenses of her late husband's orchard, her foreman is leaving, and her mother wants her to come home and get married as soon as possible. Her father is willing to lend her the money provided that she come home and let her mother reintroduce her to society. All Katherine wants is to live a quiet life and to take care of her citrus orchard.

Katherine has to live through her mother's machinations in trying to arrange a marriage for her, the demands of her late husband's lover for child support, and the lethargy of the summer. Her mother sees her desires to work as unreasonable and wants her to make a suitable to society marriage match. Her father would only listen to her but then back up her mother as an unwitting ally in her manipulations. Katherine's only friend throughout all this is her father's employee.

This is one of those books that is easy to get lost in, Katherine was a "real" woman with real struggles that many people even today can relate with, and the scripture in the book was woven in seamlessly. I related so well to Katherine because I hate being manipulated, myself. Just ask my daughter.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Guest Book

When I was in college, I loved hearing Jim Croce sing. I had one of his albums and played it over and over and over and over again (ad nauseum). One song made its way into my memory "Time in a Bottle" and that song is key to The Guest Book by Mary Beth Whalen. Macy is a single-mom with a five year old daughter, Emma. She is also a daughter to Brenda and a sister to Max. She grew up going to the beach every year for vacation and spending it in a cabin named "Time in a Bottle." Her father encouraged her to draw a picture in the guest book every year when they visited the cabin. After the first time, she came back to find a picture drawn in response to hers. It became something of a correspondence between Macy and some anonymous boy. Ten years after her last visit to the cabin, Brenda, Max, Macy, and Emma return to the cabin to put some family ghosts to sleep and to enjoy one more vacation. Macy begins a journey to find the anonymous respondent to her drawings in the guest book. The journey takes the whole vacation to find her mysterious correspondent, but along the way, Macy makes some life-changing discoveries about herself.

I've never read anything by Mary Beth before, but I really enjoyed this story. She uses flash-backs creatively without disturbing the flow of the story. The journey of self-discovery as well as God-discovery Macy embarked on is real, something similar to one of my own.

I give this book a real five stars, with a bottle full of time.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Feed Your Soul Some Good Nourishment

Feeding Your Soul has been on my bookshelf for quite some time. I am doing a more in-depth study on prayer for the purpose of potentially teaching an adult study on it. I have found this book to be a most valuable resource for my own personal growth as well as for the teaching purposes.

Jean Fleming defines what quiet time is, why a quiet time is needed, how to fit your quiet time to you for your best growth with your loving Father, and how to make the most of your quiet time. She does this in such a loving way that you never feel judged for inadequacy, but you feel inspired. The whole purpose of the quiet time is deepening of your relationship with God.

I gave a copy of this book to my mother a number of years ago, and she had me order her a few more copies because she wanted to give them as gifts. She felt this was one of the most important books she'd ever read. I do too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Glamorous Illusions

I've read a few of Lisa Tawn Bergren's books and truly enjoyed them. This one has me confused. It ends in the middle of the story, or so it seems. I understand this is part of a series and I love reading serial novels. I guess my expectations are that each novel will tell a complete story, and this doesn't deliver my expectations.

Glamorous Illusions begins in the early 1900's with Cora returning home after a year at Normal School. She comes home to find her father ill and the farm in disarray. She takes over the farm chores as her father recovers from a stroke. When he suffers a second stroke, it sets in motion a series of events that throw her world totally upside down.

The man she believes to be her father (and he is her father in every way that counts), is of no biological kin to her. Her natural father is a wealthy copper baron who desires to claim his kinship to her and debut her into society and send her on a grand tour of Europe.

The book is endearing, exciting, and pulls out all of your empathy for Cora, or at least it did for me. I could relate to her discomfiture, to her feeling out of place in this world of glamor.

I will anxiously await the rest of the books in this series because I want to know if Cora finishes her education and gets a teaching job, or if she falls in love with Will or Pierre.

Solid 4 stars.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Harvest of Rubies

​​​​​​Who can find a wife of noble character?
For her value is far more than rubies (Prov 31:10 NET)

Sarah is a young Jewish girl living in Persia during the reign of Artaxerxes. She is also a cousin of Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer. She's an anomaly because she can read and write in several languages as well as cipher. It was unusual for a girl to be educated. Through her cousin's influence, she becomes the scribe to the Queen and later the wife of Darius.

This was my first book to read by Tessa Afshar--I was amazed at the depth of her research into the culture and daily life of Persia, and her ability to seamlessly weave it into the story she's telling and make it an essential part of her story.

One of my favorite characters in the book is Bardia, the gardener at Darius' Perseopolis estate. He is the picture of the husbandman Jesus talks about in John 15 when He tells us to abide in Him because He is the True Vine. Pruning is one very important technique in growing good fruit, and Bardia knows it well. When Sarah sees the fruits of Bardia's labor, she calls the beautiful fruit a harvest of rubies.

This book deserves two thumbs up, five stars, and a cluster of the tastiest grapes you've ever eaten.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Wedding Dress

I haven't ever read a book by Rachel Hauck before, but this first foray into her novels has me wanting more.

2012--Charlotte Malone is about to get married, but her heart is unsure so she goes up to Red Mountain to pray. When she gets there, she finds an auction in progress and while not intending to buy anything, she ends up buying a trunk with unknown contents.

1912--Emily Canton is about to get married, but her heart is unsure--she has doubts about her fiance and can't decide if he truly is the one for her. In the meantime, her mother wants to get Emily's dress made and wants to use a highly touted dressmaker. Emily wants to use a "colored" woman on the other side of town.

More than the story of these two women 100 years apart, it's also the story of the dress and the four women who wear the dress. It's about the courage to make the right decisions instead of the popular ones.

I usually read for a bit before going to sleep at night. It only took two nights to finish The Wedding Dress, and I must say, Rachel writes a compelling story. Two thumbs up, five stars, and a diamond tiara!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shadow on the Quilt

Juliana is married to Sterling Sutton and lives with his aunts in the largest house in Lincoln, Nebraska. Sterling is building an even larger house on the outskirts of town and Juliana calls it a monstrosity. The first heartbreak to Juliana is finding a locket among Sterling's things--a locket engraved to another woman from Sterling. The second heartbreak is when a fire breaks out in town and Juliana hitches up her buggy to find out where the fire is. The building ablaze is the local "house of ill-repute," and Sterling's body is brought out with one of the soiled doves, both killed in the fire. Now Juliana has to put her life back together and find the wherewithal to carry on and take care of the estate Sterling has amassed. There are several people who come into Juliana's life to aid her in her heartbreak.

Stephanie Grace Whitson is a great author with many titles to her name. Everything she's written that I have read has taught me something. The Shadow on the Quilt taught me forgiveness. Juliana had to come to a place where she could forgive Sterling, his lovers, and several others including herself. The other thing I learned from this book is how to live my Christian walk. Juliana set aside her mourning to continue to work on her philanthropies and to take care of her late husband's aunts. I give this book a two-thumbs up, five stars, and a twirl!