©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Beyond These Hills

Lauren Jackson is the daughter of Rani and Matthew and has grown up in Cades Cove, but life in Cades Cove is about to change and change is not something she wants to see. This is the third installment of the Smokey Mountain Dreams series and brings us up to the Great Depression and the Civilian Conservation Corps prior to the start of World War II.

Andy has come to Cades Cove to try to get the last hold-outs to sell their property to the government to make the Smokey Mountains National Park. Andy and Lauren have an instant attraction, but because of Andy's purpose for being in the Cove, Lauren fights her attraction and treats him as an enemy. No matter how hard Lauren fights, Andy continues to see Lauren and wants to develop a friendship with her--and even more.

Beyond These Hills depicts Andy's journey to find God, Lauren's journey to find her heart, their journey to find each other. Sandra Robbins has written a great book that will entertain for several hours as well as teach a few concepts of faith-building.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a trip to a National Park.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Moses Quilt

Mazie can't decide how to answer Edward's life-changing question--he wants her to be his wife. She loves him dearly but there's something that's holding her back. Mazie has just finished her teaching degree and has a job lined up for the fall, but in the meantime, she helps her mom take care of her great-grandmother Mimi. Mimi has a quilt that details the life of Harriet Tubman and wants to tell Mazie about it. Mimi knows her time is limited and the story must be told before her 93 year old frail body gives up its life on earth.

The Moses Quilt is so named because Harriet Tubman was known as the Moses of her times. Harriet not only witnessed the atrocities owners heaped on slaves, but she suffered from them as well. Each block on this quilt has its own story and Mimi is trying to tell it before it's too late.

Kathi Macias has written a spine tingling story with an intensity that keeps the readers on their seats. The story of Mazie and Edward is sweet and compelling. Mimi's story of Harriet and her connection is riveting. I read half of this book last night, and finished this afternoon while riding in the car.

This is an amazing book--I found myself looking for a book of patterns for the quilt blocks Mimi described. I give this one five stars, two thumbs up, and a hand-made quilt with a history.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Noble Groom

A few years ago, I came across a book called "The Preacher's Bride," by Jody Hedlund, and read it all the way through before I realized it was a biographical novel about John Bunyan and his wife. Jody told the story so well, it kept me engaged, enthralled, and intrigued throughout the whole book. Then I read "The Doctor's Lady" about Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and couldn't wait for Jody's next book. I have Jody's third book, but have had no time to read it yet, although with Jody's quality of writing, I am sure I will be pleased. However, this review is about "A Noble Groom," Jody's fourth book.

Annalisa is married to Hans Werner, a farmer with a gambling problem and an anger management problem--though this terminology wasn't in use at the time. Annalisa and Hans also have a two year old daughter named Gretchen. When Annalisa goes out to work in the field, she finds Hans face down in the field, dead, with a gash in his head. She'd just figured out that he had found her stash of money meant to pay off the loan on their farm so that they could protect it from the man who wants to take it away from them and open a sawmill. The farm next to Annalisa's is that of her parents. After Hans' death, her father wants her married again right away. Annalisa is reluctant to marry because of the match her father made for her sister Idette, a man who uses her and beats her.

When Carl Richards shows up with a letter from Annalisa's uncle in Germany, Annalisa is given time to wait for marriage until her father's cousin can come, but she's also given the services of Carl to work her farm and try to earn enough money to pay off the remaining loan. Carl works his way into Annalisa's and Gretchen's hearts while doing hard labor he is unaccustomed to--he is hiding the fact that he is part of the von Reichart family that caused the death of Annalisa's brother while the family still lived in Germany.

Annalisa has to overcome the lack of money, drought, fire, threats from a greedy land-monger, typhoid, deaths in her family, and the birth of a now-fatherless baby while trying to work to pay off her loan. In the meantime, she is experiencing the true loving care of a man who would cherish her all of her days. Even when the cousin does show up, she still wants to marry Carl.

Jody writes in such a way, it's hard to put her books down. Her characters have a reality to them that you wish you could pick them up off the page and befriend them. I wanted to pick up and hold Gretchen and Sophie, the baby, so badly--to tickle them and love them and just hold them. I wanted to be there to help Annalisa and just give her the love and friendship she needed. I read this book over two evenings and stayed up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime to do it.

Jody, sweetie, Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and one of Annalisa's famous berry pies.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Home at Trail's End

It's not very often I rate a book with less than a stellar review. Either I am very good at choosing really great books, or I have low standards. Not sure what this says about me. But.....

A Home at Trail's End continues the story of Elizabeth Martin and Eli Kinkade. The story is sweet, the book is easily readable, and this one chronicles the settling of the community and the building of Elizabeth's and Eli's cabin. Eli takes Elizabeth's Percherons and her wagon and goes to Empire City to buy building supplies. He leaves a note for Elizabeth but she doesn't find it. She worries that he has taken her wagon and her horses and left her alone.

That is the most tension in the book and it happens early. The rest is just a chronicle of events. Maybe because I haven't read the first two books in the series, I have missed much of the romance building that I enjoy so much. Melody Carlson writes very enjoyable books, but this one was a bit too mundane.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stitched with Love

This is a collection of nine novellas all connected to quilting or sewing with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. I have enjoyed reading most of these novellas before reading them again this time. There was one I hadn't read before and it's the one I'm going to review here.

The Coat by Tracey V Bateman takes place close to the end of World War II. Leah and her son Collin are trying to make it through each day after Collin's father was killed in the war. Collin got a much sought-after scholarship to the Rosemont Academy but he didn't quite fit in. In fact he was being bullied and teased by the other children--one incident tore his coat. Leah has just lost her job at Rosemont Industries and can't afford to buy him a new coat. She takes her grandmother's quilt and makes a lining for Collin's coat. Once again Collin is teased at school and so the headmaster, Max Reilly, calls on Leah to discuss the situation.

Many twists and turns are taken on these nine roads to love and Leah's road is no less rocky. Max wants to build a relationship with Leah and begins with taking an interest in Collin. Unfortunately Claudia, wife to Jake who is brother to Max, tries to throw a monkey wrench in the works and does a fair job.

Like I said this was not the first time I'd read the other eight stories, but they were all worth the second read, especially for an afternoon of entertainment that was clean, fun, and sweet.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the quilt your grandmother made for you.

Cathy Marie Hake
Tracey V Bateman
Vickie McDonough
Andrea Boeshaar
Sally Laity
Janet Spaeth
Pamela Kaye Tracy

Published by Barbour

Friday, March 15, 2013

Whispers of a New Dawn

When I reviewed a Murray Pura book before, I acknowledged that I'd like to read him again. When Whispers of a New Dawn became available for review, I jumped at the chance because it dealt with two of my favorite subjects: romance and World War II. Before you think I am morbid to enjoy books about war, let me explain. My father and my father-in-law served in World War II, as did most of my uncles. That era of history is dear to me.

Rebecca Whetstone is a pilot who ferries missionaries to and from their duty stations. She is also able to barnstorm and is a legend in her own time as far as her flying abilities are concerned. After her last flight, she and her parents go back to their Pennsylvania home among the Amish. While she is there she meets Moses, a very likable young man and an intriguing one as well. After his untimely death, Rebecca vows to never love again. An opportunity presents itself for her family to move to Hawaii and for Rebecca to teach fighter pilots the barnstorming techniques that could very well save their lives in an air fight situation.

Through her duties as an instructor, she meets Raven, a pilot whose skills are too soft for his commanding officer's liking. Murray Pura has written another good book with almost believable characters. My only criticism is that the passions exhibited by Rebecca and Raven aren't believable with the restraint they also showed. The storyline leading up to the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor.

Definite four stars, two thumbs up, and a barrel roll.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hot Springs, Arkansas

This is the town where I grew up and it is the primary reason I chose this book to read and review. I know the geography of the town and love it.

Violet works in her father's law firm in Little Rock and there is going to be a big announcement made, and Violet is sure that the announcement is her promotion. Instead her father promotes her sister's boyfriend. At the party to celebrate the promotion, Violet's sister announces their engagement and her upcoming marriage in December. When Violet and her sister, Amber, were children they dreamed about their grown up lives. Violet's dream was a December wedding and Amber's was a June wedding.

So not only is Amber stealing Violet's dream, Violet has to find a date for Amber's wedding. Based on a friend's advice, she goes to a online matchmaker who matches her up with her college adversary, Jackson Stratford. He is the one who blew off a presentation and caused her to miss graduating on time. She still can't stand him. She still doesn't want to be in the same room with him at all.

After the fiasco with her sister's fiance at the law firm, Violet's grandmother convinces her to look into opening a bakery in downtown Hot Springs. Jackson offers to allow Violet to stay in his house on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs while she looked at a shop for a potential bakery. Jackson shows up with a contract for a faux relationship to get Violet through Amber's wedding and to get him through a speaking engagement he has.

Annalisa Daughety keeps a cast of characters moving through this entertaining, engaging novel. A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas, takes you downtown, through some of the history, into a bath house, down the promenade and over to the Arlington. Certainly she hit all the major locations in Hot Springs, and I truly relished the trip down memory lane.

Four Stars for sure, two thumbs up, and a cupcake!