©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sundays in Fredericksburg

This book is a collection of four novellas encompassing the years from 1897 to present day. Each story details the loves and lives of a different generation in the same family.

When Amelia moves to Fredericksburg to become the teacher, she has to fight her growing attraction to Hank Zimmermann, her next door neighbor. She also has to adjust to life in a small town where people only live there on weekends in their "Sunday Houses." To throw a monkey wrench into her plans, her neighbor's father gets custody of his neices and nephew and wants to ship them off to orphanages instead of raising them.

Mildred has come home from being a nurse during World War I hoping to rest, but the Spanish Influenza epidemic is running rampant through Fredericksburg. Nelson has been recruited to help the doctor--Mildred's uncle--with his growing practice. Mildred gets drafted back into her nursing to help with the epidemic and Nelson gets called back to his home to see his family through the flu.

Bryan Delaney is doing research for a magazine on how Americans are coping with life during World War II. Trudy Meier allows him to live in the family's Sunday House for a very reasonable rent. It becomes her job to bring Bryan's daily meals to him and serves as his guide around town. While she's helping Bryan, she finds out he is really a Zimmermann.

Gwen meets Clay after her father is put in the hospital for chest pains. Clay has injured his ACL tendon in his knee while supervising some students on a geological internship. They live next door to each other in a couple of Sunday Houses--Gwen in the Zimmermann house, and Clay in the Wurst one. Gwen wants to go back to school and finish her last semester, and Clay wants a different degree than his family has planned for him. They only have the summer together.

Each of these books is a sweet romantic story but somewhat predictable. It's an emjoyable escape for a few hours for anyone who likes following a series through generations. A strong 4 stars.

Authors are:
Connie Stevens
Marjorie Vawter
Lynette Sowell
Eileen Key

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Shelly has been a flight attendant for the last five years and now her airline is downsizing, possibly going under. So Shelly has moved back to her parents' home in Seattle to her childhood home where memories flood over her like the Red Sea over the Egyptians--memories of her best friend Jonathan (who lived next door) and the system of communication they had--the whistles and the bucket; the treehouse where they spent many memorable hours; and the first innocent kiss. They were inseperable until Jonathan was to go off to college and Shelly to flight attendant school. Jonathan prepared a date with Shelly, but didn't tell her what it was until they got there. He drove them to Whidby Island, took their bicycles out of the truck, and they rode to a little cafe for dinner where Jonathan proposed. Shelly panicked and turned him down because his plans put hers on hold.

Now that Shelly is back home, she's trying to find her place in the world. Her sister needs to go to Germany and wants Shelly to go with her. When they get there, they find that Jonathan is there and they bump into him and his fiancee. Everything seems lost to Shelly. Her job is tanking, she's never felt so far from God, and now Jonathan is getting married. Her poor heart just can't take any more.

Robin Jones Gunn spins a great story. I have loved every single one of the Glenbrooke series that I've read because while each book connects to the others, they can all stand alone as well. Each book is its own story and doesn't confuse the reader because of missed aspects in previous books. Now I want to read the rest of the books in the series. Clouds is a must read for Robin's fans.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a whistle.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Threads of Love

I love compilation books that have a theme running through all the novellas in the book. And when four different authors can do this seamlessly, it's a huge bonus. So the book is Threads of Love, and the authors are: Frances Devine, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Leach, and Winter A. Peck.

Grams passed away a year ago, and now her four granddaughters must get together to finish a quilt she started. Her hopes are that her four daughters will overcome their hurts and reconcile their relationships, and that her four granddaughters will build relationships as friends as well as cousins.

Carla leaves a bit early to go back and reconnect with her home town while finishing her blocks. She takes the time to go back to the ice rink to enjoy a bit of her childhood that held good memories. She is encouraged by her former skating partner to reconsider training again. She tries it out but finds out that her partner hasn't given up his careless habits. Meanwhile back in Kansas, her boss is missing her like crazy. When he shows up to see her and make sure she's still coming back, she's surprised by his declarations and . . . .

Zoe decides to drive back and on the way her car breaks down. She had taken back roads, so there weren't any towns around. She decides to hunker down in her car and as luck would have it, her high school boyfriend happens along with a tow-truck. She has to come to terms with how she left him after high school and what life might have in store for her now. She convinces him to take her to her grandmother's so that she can meet her cousins and on the way they have an accident and he ends up with a concussion. But that's not all he ends up with . . . .

Danni flies in to spend a bit of extra time before meeting with her cousins. An old flame meets her at the airport and instead of going to her home where her mom has skipped out, she ends up going with him to his family's home for a few days. He is coming in from two tours in the Mid-East and is suffering from PTSD, but won't talk about it. She is on a medical leave of absence as a beach volleyball player because of a torn ACL surgery. She has to go down memory lane to find the quilt block her mother left for her to use and then she has to decide what to do about his proposition or proposal . . . .

Eve comes a bit early to spend some time reminiscing about Grams and to look over the quilt blocks she has, but before she gets an opportunity to look them over, the box containing them is stolen from her room while she is taking a shower. She calls on the hotel security who gives her a brush off because something more valuable has been stolen. For Eve, the blocks were just as valuable as the gilt covered box edged in pearls that was holding the blocks. She wants the security to take a more active role in finding her blocks and the security guard doesn't seem to be taking her seriously but he's drawn to her just the same. She starts following the man who helped her with her baggage and almost gets herself into a pickle . . . .

When the girls get together with their blocks and Grams' attorney tells them they have 72 hours to finish the quilt in order to inherit the $50,000 each. The girls spend some time talking about it and decide they want to compile the blocks into four quilts, so that each girl will have their memories of Grams to take with them, and memories of the weekend they are spending together. The attorney says that will fit in with the constraints of the will. And so . . . .

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Quilt Block

Getting from Here to There

I just finished reading Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey, by Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper, and it gave me a whole insight into being a "holistic" Christian. If we were to meet in person, you'd find out in a hurry that I despise, hate, abhor, and loathe catchphrases that pervade our society, especially in the business world. We can't go out and do business--whatever that means--we have to be pro-active about it. We have to have a list of "Core Values," a "Mission Statement," and a "Vision." It's no longer good enough to serve to the best of our abilities and allow God to use us as we are and teach us as we grow. We have to know our purpose, with a mission and vision, our personal list of core values. Bleah. So when I use the word "holistic," you know I feel strongly about this--we have to be whole people worshipping a Whole God with our whole beings and this is what the authors are trying to teach. We can't compartmentalize our lives like waffles--over here is worship, that one is my study, this one is my meditation, this one is my evangelization. As you go through the book, you are learning how to incorporate each aspect of spiritual life into regular life, how to make your regular life a spiritual life, and how to be a WHOLE Christian person, not just a whole person and a whole Christian in separate aspects of life. This is a book I will revisit and read again and recommend to my friends. It's worth more than a quick read, it's worth the time it will take to study it.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Road Atlas

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sisters of Mercy Flats

Once upon a time there were three orphaned sisters who grew up in a convent with very loving nuns. They grew to be very beautiful women who had a knack for fleecing unsuspecting men of their hard-earned money to help support the nuns. One example of their perfidy was when they sold a herd of longhorn cattle they didn't own. Eventually they got caught and were being transferred to a different jail when a band of Comanche came and attacked the wagon they were in, stealing the horses, and killing the driver. Three men happened to come on the scene a few moments later and each man rescued one of the sisters. Hershall Digman rescued Abigail and kept her with him as he was heading to Shreveport to deliver some messages. He was disguised as a shoe salesman but really he had a secret identity and really needed to get to Shreveport as soon as possible.

Well, at least that's the gist of how Sisters of Mercy Flats begins. Lori Copeland tells a tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat: kidnapping, marauders, storms, orphaned babies, a spy in a shoe salesman's garb, and a con-artist in a nun's garb. Falling in love was in no one's plans but it happened anyway.

Lori does an excellent job weaving a tale and this one doesn't disappoint in that regard.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an orphaned baby to adopt.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I've Got a Secret

Long, long ago, when the world existed in black and white, and dinosaurs roamed the earth, there was a television program called, "I've Got a Secret." Someone with a significant secret would come on the show and a panel of four celebrities would attempt to find out what the secret was by asking "yes-no" questions. This isn't what Robin Jones Gunn's book is about.

Jessica is moving to Glenbrooke, Oregon, to get out from under her father's ever watchful eye. On her way into town, she rolls her car and is rescued by the hunky firefighter, Kyle. She is coming to town to take up a teaching position at the high school as the English teacher. After an overnight stay in the hospital, she finds that her former professor and the principal who gave her her job is in the hospital after suffering a stroke. He is replaced by Charlotte Mendolssen, who seems to have a chip on her shoulder where Jessica is concerned. Charlotte has her heart set on Kyle and sees Jessica as competition--but Kyle doesn't see a competition at all, his attitude toward Charlotte is totally professional.

Jessica can't let anyone know who she truly is because she knows her father wants her under his control in his multi-million dollar enterprise, while she truly wants a simple life. So Jessica has assumed a new name, a new life, and a new home; but fear drives her into a prideful privacy that has her going without food for a few days because her money is scarce until payday. Even on payday, Charlotte has her check held up because she is sure Jessica is doing something illegal.

Jessica encounters many twists and turns before turning to the One who will never let her go. She goes with Kyle and the youth group from Kyle's church to Mexico to finish building a church there and during the trip, finds herself alone with only God to reach out to. When she returns from the trip, Kyle pushes the issues of her secrets and encourages her to visit her father and settle those conflicts.

I was three-fourths of the way through this book before I realized I'd read it before. Doesn't matter. It's a good read, with strong moral teaching. This is a definite Five Star, Two Thumbs Up, and a Million Dollar Book!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Cowboy at Heart

Jonas has homesteaded a ranch in Kansas in the Amish settlement of Apple Grove. His daughters have married Englisch and moved away from Apple Grove.

Katie is a young widow living with her in-laws after the death of her husband. Her father-in-law is the Bishop of the Apple Grove settlement. She is also the healer for the Amish community.

Jesse Montgomery is a Cowboy at Heart living with Jonas' daughter's family. He's getting a bit itchy-footed and wanting to move on.

In comes Andrew Littlefield who tries to poach Jonas' land. In order to help Jonas, Jesse tries to talk to Andrew but is shot in the back for his efforts. Katie is called in to come and help nurse Jesse back to health. In the meantime, Jonas is still trying to figure out how to get his land back from the squatter, or even what to do about the squatter. The Bishop recommends just giving up the land to Littlefield, and moving to another farm. Jesse resists this answer and feels there's a better way.

With all of Katie's care, Jesse feels he is falling in love with her, but Katie resists all of his advances because he is not Amish and because she feels she is barren. Butch is a young orphan who has been helping Jonas out and becomes the last answer to Katie's reluctance to be Jesse's wife.

I never have a hard time with spoilers, but I know some who do. It's so hard for me to be good and not spill the rest of the story, =) but Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith have put together a great story that is entertaining with bits of comedy worked in.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Homesteaded Farm.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Where Treasure Hides is one incredible book. Let me start out by saying it's worth ten stars, but I can only give it five stars, two thumbs up and one Rembrandt.

Alison Schuyler is on a mission for her grandfather, Hendrick Van Schuyler, that has taken her to Paris and London and now she's on her way back to Rotterdam. While waiting for her train at the Waterloo Station, she observes Ian Devlin intervening on behalf of a child carrying a violin. The child is a refugee from Germany who is being sent to live with relatives in northern England. Alison takes out her sketch pad and draws the scene before her and gives it to the young boy. Ian is intrigued with Alison from the very beginning. He does everything he can to get her to stay a bit longer with him, including taking her to Minivers for scones, a favorite treat of hers.

Alison makes her way back to Rotterdam while Ian can't get her out of his mind. Alison won't answer any of his correspondence because while she does feel a pull for Ian, she feels that she is under the "Van Schuyler Curse." She won't subject him to that. In the meantime Theodor wants Alison's attentions for himself. In pursuing Alison, he brings Goring to the family art gallery. Goring insults the painting Alison loves most and because of Alison's remarks, tries to shoot it. She jumps in the way to protect the painting and gets grazed by the bullet in the process. After this incident Alison's grandfather hides the valuable artwork from the gallery and substitutes it with lesser artwork.

An opportunity comes up for Ian to travel to The Hague in Holland and he makes a side trip to see Alison. He finds Alison still recovering from the gunshot. His visit brings a much needed "shot in the arm" to Alison's spirits and speeds her recovery.

I love World War II novels because of my father's service--it's a tie to him. Alison's and Ian's love story is one fraught with many hills and battles, Ian is captured at Dunkirk, Alison is evacuated to London with a friend's twins, Ian is moved from one prison camp to another because of his escape attempts. He does escape Colditz and slowly makes his way back to London, finding that Alison got there one day ahead of him. The surprise is that while hiding at a farm, he becomes guardian for a young girl, Leiba, also called Libby, who thinks Ian is her Papi. He brings her back to England with him and after he and Alison are married, begin to raise her as their own.

Alison is tricked into going back to Germany through Theodor's treachery and his own desire to have her as his wife. And there, I will leave the rest of the story untold.

There is enough love to keep any true romantic involved in the story. There is enough suspense to keep the reader fully engaged, and there is enough history to learn something in the process. The one thing that sings out in this book more than anything else is the grace and mercy God pours into each of our lives. We have history to learn from, and we have God's grace and mercy pouring into our lives. Even in fiction, we can still find God through the pens of talented authors like Johnnie Alexander Donley. I'll be excitedly awaiting more to read from her.