©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ashton Park

I have never encountered Murray Pura before, but his book, Ashton Park, is a great introduction to his works. This is the story of a family during and after World War I. The Danforths have three sons in the military and four daughters to watch over. While two of the sons are fighting on the continent, one son is fighting in Ireland. One daughter is married to a minister who had lost an arm in the war, one daughter is married to an Irishman watching over the shipping interests of Sir William, two daughters are at home.

There are several flies in this family's ointment:

Norah, the maid who liked to spread malicious gossip
Albert, Catherine's husband who cuckolds her
William's prejudice
Edward's bitterness
Victoria's love for a "mere" stable boy
Kipp's broken engagement with Caroline

This book is a fascinating read and surely will be a hit for every fan of Upstairs, Downstairs or Downton Abbey. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an armistice.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Mother's Promise

By joining several "blogging for books" sites, I am introduced to many new and new-to-me authors. Anna Schmidt is just one of those "new-to-me" authors, but I found her work well worth my time.

A Mother's Promise tells the story of Rachel Kauffman and her son Justin. Rachel and Justin are Old Order Mennonite, and while not shying away from technology as the Amish do, they still live a separated life. Rachel and Justin have lived through the death of Rachel's husband James, James' brother taking over the family farm, and Rachel losing her job when they decide to move to Florida for a promise of a job there.

Rachel promises Justin that life will be better in Florida and works hard to make that promise come true. In taking the job at a new hospital as the assistant to the chaplain working primarily with children, Rachel becomes wrapped up in her work and Justin seems to take a back seat. He falls into a bad group of friends who delight in bullying a girl who has spent the past year in treatment for leukemia. When Rachel finally realizes what is going on, she decides to make some changes--they move to a Mennonite neighborhood and school, Rachel quits her job to look for something to allow her more time with Justin, and they join a group going on a missions trip to Costa Rica all in an effort to get their feet firmly back on the ground.

There are many positives about this book. Rachel knows how to stick to her guns, stand for what she believes, and protect her family--whatever it takes. Rachel is a strong woman, but not so strong as not to be believable. She loves her family fully, and takes all of her responsibilities seriously. There is a bit of romance between Rachel and Dr Booker from the hospital, and the romance has its ups and downs that require Rachel and Dr Booker to work through them. This is definitely a five-star, two thumbs up book that brings you into the characters' lives. Extremely readable book!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Trouble With Cowboys

According to Annie, cowboys are Trouble with a capital T; especially good-looking, personable cowboys like Dylan Taylor. Dylan sees in Annie someone to spend the rest of his life with. Annie would rather run far, far away in the opposite direction whenever Dylan is near.

Annie is supporting her sister and her nephew while her sister finishes school, and she does this by training horses and writing a column in the Montana magazine. Dylan has a horse that has gone blind and needs Annie's help with the horse. Annie can't turn down a horse in need, so she takes on Dylan's horse in spite of her misgivings.

Denise Hunter has written a hum-dinger of a book that has a bit of mystery, a good dose of humor, and the antics of an unpredictable sister. The Trouble with Cowboys is that they are soooooo hard to ignore.

It's a great book to read on a cold, rainy afternoon when you are snuggled under a cozy blanket. Five stars, two thumbs up, and a bale of hay.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Confessions of a Bible Thumper

I rarely quit reading a book before I finish it, but once in a while it happens. This time I had to quit for my own sanity. I cannot disagree with Michael Camp's premise more, and the longer I read, the angrier I became. Michael's Confessions were not totally baseless, but instead of seeking to understand more than to be understood, he missed what were to me some obvious points. He wants God to be a god only of love, but not a god of justice. I will not disagree that there are abusers, misusers, and twisters of the Bible, but taken in and of itself, it will speak volumes to us, if we only let it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lady in the Making

My parents despaired of me ever growing up, but even more, they despaired of me being a lady--and I haven't made it yet. Susan Page Davis wrote an entertaining novel with a bit of mystery, a bit of adventure, and a whole lot of humor.

Millie wants to make restitution for wrongs she had done to David Stone. She had no hopes of ever seeing him again, but ends up sharing a stage coach with him for a trip east. She wants forgiveness, she wants to repay the debt she owes, and she wants to prove to him that she's changed by the grace of God. She gets her chance when the stage coach has an accident and David breaks his leg. She nurses him until he is able to complete his trip and during that time, well, . . . I won't spoil the story for you.

Susan has written a story that so completely explains redemption, forgiveness, and grace. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a stage coach ride.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Strong and Stubborn

Kelly Eileen Hake is a chip off her mother's block. They both write with a healthy dose of humor and a modicum of suspense. Strong and Stubborn certainly fits this bill. Naomi is the last of the brides in Hope Falls, CO, from the advertisement to hire a husband. The rules the ladies have made among themselves is that they will all get married on the same day and the other two must approve the choice of groom.

Now, enter Michael Strode and his son Luke. Michael enters town to find a collapsed mine entrance and people trapped inside. He jumps in to help free Lacey and Dunstan, whom he doesn't know from Adam. Before the rescue party leaves for the mine, he stops to offer prayer for a successful rescue. This one action sticks in Naomi's mind for the rest of the book.

The romance in this book isn't as syrupy as in some books, but it's still there. The mystery is not easily solved or resolved by the reader before the end of the book, and the story comes to a satisfying end. This book definitely earns Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a clear mine entrance!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hot Pursuit of Lucy

Lucy Banning is a woman during a time when women were mostly ornaments. She wanted more--to pursue a college education, to help orphans, and to live out a true faith. Her parents want her to marry Daniel, the son of long-time friends, and Daniel wants her to be his ornament and nothing more.

Lucy's brother, Leo, runs into a friend he met in Princeton, Will Edwards, who is an engineer working for an architectural firm. Leo introduces Will to Lucy and a friendship grows between them. Daniel becomes jealous of the friendship and does everything he can to thwart the growing relationship and discredit Will.

A Pursuit of Lucy Banning is such a good read--it only took me one day to complete it. I have a bad habit of reading way past my bedtime and this book fed my habit. This is my first book by Olivia Newport but it won't be my last.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a good alarm clock.

A Wreath of Snow

Liz Curtis Higgs is a special lady who lives to encourage. She's been a favorite author of mine for quite some time. When I picked up A Wreath of Snow, I read it with great anticipation.

Meg went home for Christmas from Edinburgh to Stirling, but left in a hurry because of the atmosphere her brother creates. Her brother had been injured by a wreckless man throwing a curling stone, and his bitterness since the accident has only grown over the years.

On the train, she meets Gordon Shaw, the one responsible for her brother's condition. He's waited for years to make amends for the injury, but the family has never allowed him past the door, much less allowed him to speak.

This is a sweet story about forgiveness, mercy, and grace all woven into one. Liz knows how to tell a story and tell it well, and that is the recipe for a good Christmas story.