©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Twice A Bride

When I finished reading Mona Hodgson's "The Bride Wore Blue," I figured the next book would have Miss Hattie Adams' love story with the girls' father. But, I miscalculated. Twice a Bride is that story but it's more.

Willow is Tucker Raines' sister, introduced in "Too Rich for a Bride." She is a widow, but she's more--she's an artist with a desire to sell her paintings. She finds a help-wanted listing for someone to colorize photographs and paint portraits from them. She applies for the job and meets Trenton Van Der Veer, the town's new photographer.

While none of these four characters--Miss Hattie, Harlan Sinclair, Willow Peterson, and Trenton--were looking for romance, they all end up in love. With unexpected twists and turns, the whole story still comes together seamlessly and the four books become united in a way that leaves the reader with a completely satisfied feeling. Mona has done an excellent job in bringing these two couples together.

The four Sinclair girls: Ida, Kat, Nell, and Vivian have been expecting their father to come to Cripple Creek, Colorado, where they all live. When their father arrives, he brings a surprise, an eight-year-old orphaned girl from France.

In the meantime, Trenton and Willow are trying to find their way as employer/employee, but both want more. Susanna comes to town to throw a wrench into the works, because she wants Trenton's affections.

Mona has written an entertaining series of books and this one is just as good as the first. Five stars; two thumbs up; and a large, happy family.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Irish Healer

I have begun to love books that have been written by "new" authors. I guess I can pick what the good ones will be. The Irish Healer is one of those good ones. Rachel is a healer fleeing her homeland because she was accused (but acquitted) of murder. She never wants to go back to healing again. She must take a job with a doctor who is leaving his practice and needs someone to catalog his library and prepare it for moving. This is just a stop-gap job for her. Ultimately she wants to teach. But, there are always hiccups along the path to our dreams, just like in real life. Rachel and James, the doctor, have just such hiccups, and find more than they bargained for.

One of the lessons I have had to learn the hard way is not to take guilt trips booked for me by someone else. And sometimes I have to quit booking my own guilt trips. It's just that simple. Rachel and James both have had to learn this lesson. I love when I can relate to the characters in a book I am reading. It's more than entertainment; there is usually a lesson for me to learn, relearn, or even meditate on.

Nancy Herriman has done an excellent job in writing this book. I give it five stars, two thumbs up, and a healing herb garden.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

There's Power and then There's Power

I have been a fan of Jennifer Kennedy Dean's writing for a long time. I have read a few of her books and I am hungry for more. That's why I jumped on the chance to review her study, The Life-Changing Power in the Name of Jesus.

She begins the study with explaining how important our names are to our own identities and the power our names carry--hearing our names from our parents with exasperation, hearing our names from our loves, hearing our names from the voice of the One who knows us best--they all carry different meanings, and they all bring different emotions to the fore when we hear them.

So this is the point--Jesus' name carries power for us, in how we use it, in how we allow it to change us, and ultimately, in how we allow it to change our own destinies. The one point Jennifer made in this study resonated with me so much and will be the hallmark of my journey from here on out: "Jesus is the destination." (emphasis mine)

Five stars, two thumbs up, and three steps forward on the journey to real power!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who Is This Man?

I just finished this book by John Ortberg and it wasn't a quick read, but it was an incredible read. It helped me to understand the Man I call my Savior, the Man I call my Lord, and the Man who changed the course of the world, single-handedly.

John is definitely a scholar of Jesus Christ, but he's more than a scholar, he's intimate with the Man whom he researched. John poured his love for Jesus out on the pages of his book, and in pouring it out, he hopes that the reader will come to love Jesus as much as he does.

I found out some pretty incredible things about this Man. As much as the world would like to ignore Him, Jesus' impact cannot be denied--take a look at any calendar--it is based on when Jesus was born. Wherever Jesus went, He either had great popularity or great opposition; but no half-way, namby-pamby, wishy-washy opinions about Him. He attacked money-changers in the Temple, He healed people who were considered less than human, He walked with confidence into enemy territory and confronted false ideas with temerity, He sought out times to be alone with His Father and recharge His soul, and He took the time to enjoy the company of those He loved.

Jesus came at a time when all of Israel wanted freedom from Rome, they wanted a political takeover. Jesus came to bring life, and a freedom they had never imagined. And when Jesus didn't deliver what they wanted, they turned on Him and delivered Him to face the death penalty as only Rome could deliver it--crucifixion.

John Ortberg definitely has influenced my opinions, my faith, and my whole life with this book. It gets five stars, two thumbs up, and a pair of walking shoes to put feet to my faith.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Raising Rain

I read an interesting book by Debbie Fuller Thomas called "Raising Rain." Four women who were roommates in college meet again to plan a Celebration of Life for one of the four who is dying of cancer. I've read a similar book to this before, but this one had something special about it that brings it out from the rest. Jude was the unprecedented Women's Libber, militantly for women's rights, militantly against the Viet Nam war, militantly militant. Bebe was the ingenue, Toni was a glamour diva, Mare was the conscience. Then there is Rain. Rain is really Rainbow Star, Jude's daughter born in this turbulence of college life in the early 1970's. All four women had a hand in raising Rain, in being her family, and in saying good-bye to Jude.

Debbie is a talented writer who brings "real life" to life. Her characters are not syrupy, but seem to take on lives of their own (I would hope to shout!) in the real, nitty-gritty throes of daily life.

For something new and different for my blog, I am going to list the reasons anyone should read this book:

1. Debbie doesn't allow her characters to mince their words. They speak their minds clearly and without apology.

2. The characters are not scripture-spouting do-gooders with a verse for every situation, but people with faults and foibles that are visible for all to see.

3. God is alive and active in the characters just like He is in our own lives--not in a pushy way, but only as we allow Him to be.

4. Debbie's writing is relatable, and the overarching facet of any reading is whether or not I can learn anything. From this book I learned that reconciliation is a vital to our lives.

This book deserves five stars, two thumbs up, and the love of a good friend.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Though Waters Roar

I've read many of Lynn Austin's books and all of them captured my imagination from the very beginning all the way through. She is a writer who understands her plots, her characters, her themes, and her settings; and she knows how to bring them all to life in vivid pictures in your mind as you read them.

Though Waters Roar chronicles Harriet's lineage from Hannah to BeBe to Lucy to Harriet; from the Underground Railroad, to Prohibition, to Women's Suffrage, to a desire to live out a legacy of brave women and be all that she was meant to be. With BeBe narrating most of the story and Harriet listening, the story unfolds bit by bit. As it unfolds, the reader gets to watch how it shapes Harriet.

Harriet's journey to find her place in the world is on a bumpy road that takes unexpected twists and turns, but each twist and turn has its own lesson for Harriet to learn.

This is a five-star, two-thumbs-up, and a get-out-of-jail-free-card book!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Band of Sisters

I have never read a book by Cathy Gohlke before, so this book was a fine introduction to her writing. Band of Sisters chronicles the journey of Maureen and Katie Rose O'Reilly from Ireland to the United States, from homelessness to security, from loss to love.

Maureen holds a letter to her father from a Colonel Wakefield, promising sponsorship should he decide to immigrate to the States because of her father's aid to the Colonel during the Civil War. She goes to the Wakefield's home to find that, like her father, the Colonel has passed away. Maureen has to find a place to live and a way to support her sister or be deported, but Maureen is turned away from the Wakefield home. She is basically on her own, with the temporary help of Mrs. Melkford.

A man, Jaime Flynn, meets Maureen after she has passed through the labyrinth of Ellis Island and gives her thirty dollars and a name of a department store where Maureen could get a job.

There is an understory to the story Cathy is weaving in this book--the story of human sex trafficking. Jaime and Drake are both involved, while Olivia Wakefield and her sister are trying to enjoin with other like-minded women to put a stop to this deplorable practice.

Band of Sisters is a well-written, engrossing novel. I was touched by the plight of Maureen, Katie Rose, and even Maureen's coworkers. One thing I look for in reading Christian literature is what I can take away from the book besides entertainment. I found mercy, I found grace, I found what it really means to look at the heart instead of looking at appearances. Thank you, Cathy, for a job well-done. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and I'd claim you in my "Band of Sisters" any day!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Love's Reckoning

Laura Frantz doesn't have many books out, but what she does have is HIGH quality reading. I finished Love's Reckoning yesterday morning at 4:30, it was that compelling.

Silas Barryntine is the apprentice to Liege Lee, the blacksmith in York County, Pennsylvania. Liege has decided that Silas is to marry one of his daughters, but the daughter Liege has chosen for Silas is not the one Silas would choose. Eden and Elspeth Lee are as different as night and day; and Elspeth tries every trick in her cunning little book to discredit and ruin Eden, especially in Silas' eyes. Because of Eden's tender heart, it's easy for Silas to fall in love with her in spite of Liege's and Elspeth's desires to the contrary.

Love's Reckoning is the kind of historical novel that gives you a great glimpse into life during the late eighteenth century without interfering in the story. Silas and Eden's road to marriage was rocky at best, just like real life. There is just enough of mystery, romance, and drama to keep you fully involved in the story. Sometimes I can read and do other things at the same time, it's not possible with this book. Five stars, two thumbs up, and a lot of wrought iron nails!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

With Every Letter

My parents met shortly after the end of World War II. My dad had several more months in the Coast Guard before he was to be discharged. While Daddy was deployed, he and Mama wrote letters to each other frequently. Mama was still in college, finishing her degree, and getting ready to teach. When Daddy was discharged, he came home to gather what money he could to buy Mama an engagement ring. If Mama refused his proposal, Daddy was going to go to South Carolina to take a job on the railroad. He had had a small herd of cattle he left in the care of his parents when he went into the service. He had a cow, a heifer, and a yearling calf remaining in his "herd." He sold them all and took the money to Mr Finger's jewelry store to buy the best ring he could. He got the clearest, prettiest 1/4 carat diamond his money could buy. His money could have gotten a bigger diamond, but he went for quality over quantity. Mama was his one and only.

When I read Sarah Sundin's new World War II era book, I could totally relate to Melly and Tom. I understood Melly's desire to fit in with the other nurses, her desire to do the best job she absolutely could, and her willingness to enter into an anonymous correspondence.

With Every Letter rises to and surpasses Sarah's writing quality. I've read Sarah's books and have enjoyed, nay, loved every single one. She writes of an era that intrigues me, interests me, and speaks to me of my own history because of my father's service. But I must say I have never been so drawn into a book. Melly grew up feeling out of sync with her world, and had a hard time fitting in. Tom was the same way, but for different reasons. Their anonymous pen-pal relationship made it possible to reveal their true selves to each other, encourage each other, and fall in love. Melly's job as a flight nurse on medical evacuation flights hinged on her ability to fit in with the rest of the nurses--Tom was able to advise her on building friendships. Tom's job as an engineer building airstrips for the moving bases depended on his ability to motivate his men to do the work and not just be one of the guys--Melly encouraged him to find the leadership she felt he had within him.

Sarah consistently makes her characters real, with real feelings and real emotions. They are incredibly relatable and I found myself rejoicing with the triumphs, tearing up at the tests and trials, and anxiously watching these characters grow. Sarah, kudos--you've done it again. Five Stars, a Medal of Commendation, and WOW!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Which Way Do You Read?

“...Samuel rode lightly on top of a book and he balanced happily among ideas the way a man rides white rapids in a canoe. But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands.” John Steinbeck in East of Eden

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Be Still My Soul

I have so many books waiting for my attention (it's all part of my addiction), but this book jumped into my hands and called me to read it. What could I do? I had to obey!

Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof is a story about Lonnie and Gideon, a couple who are victims of Lonnie's father's delusions. He takes what he thinks he sees to manipulate Lonnie and Gideon into marriage, and then they have to learn to find their way into a lasting relationship.

I've not read any books by Joanne Bischof before, so this was a pleasant surprise. She weaves a quite a gripping story. While no specific era is mentioned, the story seems to have taken place in the mid- to late-1800's. Shoe leather express is the mode of transportation used most often because Gideon and Lonnie don't have the resources to own horses. Joanne has painted a real picture of life as it was "back then."

I loved this book so much, I'd read late into the night until my eyes could no longer see, and my brain could no longer process what I was reading. This is a great read, ranking five stars, a new pair of shoes, and a lack of sleep.