©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It Is Well

When I read that this book was about illness, chronic pain, and aging; I knew I had to review it. It took me a while to read it and I found many good things in the book, but I didn't find all that I was looking for. In 2003, I went to a conference on deepening your prayer life. Shortly after that I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that cannot be cured, but can be lived with. Since then, I've had three surgeries, four treatments that required sedation, and numerous monthly treatments.

It was intriguing to read of the struggles of Shelly Beach and others with whatever debilitates them. I was significantly interested in the hurdles that had to be overcome, especially in attitudes and healing of the heart. It did get tiresome to only read stories of struggles and hurdles. That is the only criticism I have of the book.

A solid four stars.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Finding God in the Hobbit

I have always loved imaginative stories. I loved "A Wrinkle in Time," by Madeleine L'Engle as I was growing up. As I matured in my reading, I read the rest of that series and fell in love with the not-as-widely-known "Many Waters." When I was in high school my Algebra II teacher recommended the Lord of the Rings series. It wasn't until after I was married that I read The Hobbit and the others, but both my husband and I loved the books.

The opportunity came for me to review Finding God in the Hobbit by Jim Ware, and I jumped at the chance. While JRR Tolkein wasn't writing an allegory, there is much allegorical substance to the book, and Jim took the time to find it and bring it to our attention. When I am reading serious books--books for my own edification--I am usually riding my stationary bicycle. I like multi-tasking that way, and reading while I ride helps me get my exercise in. I read most of the book this way, except for the last several chapters, I was reading in the car.

I am going to excerpt the one passage of the book that really spoke to me: "Once upon a time, something happened to someone, and he decided that he would pursue a goal. So he devised a plan of action, and even though there were forces trying to stop him, and he moved forward because there was a lot at stake. And just as things seemed as bad as they could get, he learned an important lesson, and when offered the prize he had sought so strenuously, he had to decide whether or not to take it.

This is how writing instructors Gary Provost and Peter Rubie sum up what they call 'the plot for 90 percent of the stories you've ever read.'"

Jim has taken great care to demonstrate how this fit with Bilbo, but also how the challenges and trials Bilbo faced parallel our own. I loved this book, with snippets of the Bilbo's story and then the spiritual applications that go along with them. I will pass this book around to my family, for sure! Definitely Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a chat with Bilbo on his front porch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I am so far behind I think I am ahead--so this one will have three reviews. Here goes:

The One Who Waits for Me by Lori Copeland is the story of Beth and Joanie Jornigan and their escape from an abusive uncle and an untenable situation at the end of the War of the Northern Aggression (ya gotta be from the South to understand this one). As Beth and Joanie are running away, they set fire to their shanty, but it unexpectedly catches their uncle's cotton field on fire.

On the way Beth and Joanie and their friend Trella meet up with Pierce, Grey Eagle, and Preach--three veterans returning from the war. The ladies strike a protective chord in the men and they do all they can to save them from the uncle. So many things happen to keep the book moving, it is hard to put it down. Like other Lori Copeland books I've read, this one is definitely a five star, two thumbs up, and a cotton boll book!

Lovelier Than Daylight by Rosslyn Elliott continues the Saddler's Legacy series and brings it to a satisfying conclusion. Susanna is going to live with her Uncle Will and Aunt Ann as she goes to Otterbein College, but on her way, she goes to see her sister Rachel and Rachel's children. She finds Rachel's husband drunk and with the news that Rachel has put her children in an orphanage and run off.

This book takes place during the time of the Temperance Movement, and while Susanna is trying to figure out how to get Rachel's children back, the town of Westerville, Ohio, is dealing with an unwanted saloon. Life just gets more puzzling as time goes on--Rachel wants to take custody of her nieces and nephews, and she begins a confusing relationship with the son of a beer brewer. Rachel's husband shows up and wants money in exchange for his releasing the children to her. Before she can gather the money, he dies, again leaving her with almost no recourse to rescue the children.

This book, as well as the whole series, is well worth your time--Five Stars, two thumbs up, and a baby!

I finished Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson late last night/early this morning because it was too hard to put down. Jacqui Abingdon's father is trying to arrange a marriage for his daughter that will be advantageous to him and his business. Jacqui's mother wants her to marry for love and arranges passage for Jacqui on the Titanic so that Jacqui can go to her grandmother's in America. Jacqui wants to marry Peter, the gardener, and convinces Peter to get his sister to stand in for her on the ship.

Tessa is happy to escape her drunken father's "rock prayers," where he makes her kneel on broken rocks to confess sins she never committed. Her knees bear the scars of his frequent attempts to cleanse her soul. But, Tessa is a reluctant to trade identities with Jacqui. She follows through but she can't keep up the pretense forever.

On the ship, she meets Nathan and Jessie. Nathan is a man who is intrigued with Tessa's pure beauty and Jessie is the niece of a preacher who points Tessa to the true knowledge of God and His perfect love.

Again a book worth five stars, two thumbs up, and no shipwrecks!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Captain's Bride

I am so far behind on my blogging, I may never catch up. However, that is the life of one who reads constantly.

I just (and I do mean "just") finished The Captain's Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren and found it to be a book full adventure and unexpected.

Elsa and Peder begin their married life on a ship with other friends from their community emigrating to the United States from Norway. When they are out to sea, they find that Elsa's little sister has stowed away on the ship. Tora is impulsive and selfish, to say the least. She thinks of no one but herself and her own desires and doesn't mind who she hurts in the process. Elsa tries her best to rein Tora in, but Tora resists with everything she has. Tora does acquiesce to caring for the babies of a widower for six months after they land in exchange for her passage to America.

Throughout the book, you will engage with Elsa and her friends in all their troubles and trials: Kaatje raising two babies on the prairies of North Dakota while her husband Soren is off working with the railroad; Elsa and Peder learning to live as husband and wife while beginning a ship-building business; Karl fighting his love for Elsa and leaving his partnership with Peder because of it; Tora being Tora.

Lisa Tawn Bergren writes an engaging story that grabs your attention and never lets it go. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a ship christening.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Something Blue

I have read many Amish novels and enjoyed them, but from time to time I need something different. This fit my bill. This is the story of Megan, a conservative Mennonite woman who works for a charter flight organization that also specializes in missions flights. Her boss is on a short sabbatical and his brother, Chance, fills in for him. Chance tries as hard as he can to get Megan to like him, while the new pastor of Megan's church does the same. Micah, the new pastor, went to college with Megan and wants to renew his friendship with her, and maybe go beyond friendship. Megan's head whirls as the two men vie for her attention.

Something Blue is a great read: light, funny, and at times heart-breaking. It's a story of self-discovery, of persistance, of standing firm. Megan has to discover who she really is, what she really wants, and where she will find what she wants.

This is my first Dianne Christner book, but it won't be my last.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Patchwork Christmas

This is a collection of four short novels all centered around Christmas and quilts. That alone caught my attention. The other attention getter for me was the authors--some of my favorites.

Seams Like Love, by Judith McCoy Miller, describes the life of Karla Stuke--who had been jilted by her fiance--in the Amana Colonies during the late 1800's. She is working on her sister Antje's wedding quilt and has no time for courting, or so she thinks. Her childhood friend, Frank, returns to her village to work with the apothecary after finishing pharmacy school. Frank desires to renew his friendship with Karla with hopes of courting her. Karla doesn't believe that she is worthy of courtship after her last disastrous one. Frank has his work cut out for him to change her mind.

A Patchwork Love, by Stephanie Grace Whitson, tells the story of Jane and her daughter Molly who are traveling by train to meet a man who wants her for a mail-order bride. On the way, the train becomes stuck in a snow bank and since they are the only passengers remaining on the train, Peter Gruber and his mother offer them a place to stay until the train is able to move again. Little Molly has become ill on the train and needs Anna Gruber's healing hands to help her get better. Anna is hoping Jane can look beyond the scars on her Peter's face to see the man he is and com to love him.

In The Bridal Quilt by Nancy Moser, Ada is the daughter of social climbers and they desire for her to make a socially and financially beneficial marriage. She loves Samuel, who wants to make the lives of orphans and street children better. He feels that Ada can't accept what he wants to do, that his grandfather won't approve, so he moves to the orphanage. While running errands for her family, Ada sees Samuel and calls to him, and he looks back at her and becomes the victim of an accident. Ada brings him to her home and nurses him back to health. Now all she has to do is assure him of her love.

Oh my goodness, these books are all well written, all intriguing stories and all endearing. Definitely five stars, two thumbs up, and a patchwork quilt to keep warm while you read.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Come Home to the Mountains

Rani Martin is a young lady who has grown up in Cades Cove and loves her Cove with such an overpowering emotion that she gets "all het up" about the timber company that is razing all the trees in the surrounding areas. She can't stand the thought that it could happen to her beloved Cove, so when she meets Matthew Jackson, who once worked for the timber company, she feels she can't trust him, even as attractive as he is.

Mountain Homecoming is a delightful story that takes place in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, and is the second in the Smokey Mountain Dream Series written by Sandra Robbins. Even though Rani is young (only eighteen years old), she carries a wisdom that not many girls her age have. She has witnessed her best friend marry a man she didn't love and Rani vows never to settle for second best. Rani comes to love Matthew, but he won't let go of his past, nor of the guilt that eats at him all the time. Rani goes to stay with her uncle for a while to get her mind off Matthew and to learn some new pottery methods. She considers her own pottery to be rather primitive in appearance, partially because she pit fires it instead of kiln firing. She meets David Brann through her uncle who takes her under his wing and teaches her all he knows about throwing clay and making pottery. Even though her friendship with David grows, she still can't get Matthew out of her mind. . . . I am not going to spoil the rest of the story for you, you'll just have to get the book and read it. It's well worth your time and effort to do so.

I give it two thumbs up, five stars, and a hand-thrown, pit fired bowl!