©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Winnowing Season

For the first time, I must say I was disappointed about the way this book ended. I am the kind of person who cannot wait to see how things work out and I am not ashamed to say I will read the end of a book before I've read it all the way through, but with The Winnowing Season, the story doesn't end at the end of the book. Now I have to wait until the next one comes out before I know how the series ends. The nerve of some authors!

Actually Cindy Woodsmall has crafted a well-told story. The fact that I am disgruntled because I am unsatisfied with the ending shows how well she's done her job as an author. The fact that I want more means she's put her hooks in me and will have me dutifully waiting for her next book. In fact I've gone and ordered her previous series just to tide me over until the next one in THIS series comes out this fall.

Rhoda, Jacob, Samuel, Landon, Leah, and Rhoda's brother and his family are getting ready to move to Maine to restore the old orchard there. The night before they are to leave, Rhoda is called before the elders of her church because Samuel wrote a letter about Reuben Glickman's destruction of her herb and berry garden. Because God has gifted her with a gift of prophecy, Rhoda is treated with scorn because the others in her Amish community fear what her gift truly means. After a meeting where Rhoda is not given an opportunity to explain herself, she is finally given permission to go with the others to help establish the new community and to help restore the old orchard.

Right before the meeting Jacob is called away by someone he knew while he was living in the Englisch world and doesn't show up in Maine until they'd been there a week. Jacob's friend Sandy and her daughter Casey depend on Jacob to help her out when trouble comes knocking at her door. This time he helps Sandy move to avoid people who knew where her skeletons were hiding.

Samuel has been hiding the fact that he loves Rhoda and doesn't know what to do with his feelings. Instead of reaching out in friendship, Samuel is argumentative and abrupt with Rhoda, until . . .

Leah still is enamored with the Englisch world and still seeks the thrills she finds there. She engages with Landon, Rhoda's Englisch friend, to help her experience more of the Englisch world.

Rhoda begins working in the greenhouses to establish her herb gardens and in the process finds some teen girls who are drinking and smoking in the last greenhouse in the orchard. Rhoda asks the girls to leave and not come back because they are trespassing, and unknowingly opens Pandora's box that ends up haunting her all the way back to her Pennsylvania community and the people who were supposed to come to the new community.

I've skimmed over many of the details of the book so that I don't spoil the story, but this book is so good I can't recommend it enough.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Greenhouse full of herbs.

You can read the first chapter here. Just click on the Excerpt tab.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary

Oh. My. Goodness. This book is such a delightful experience, a never-to-be-missed experience, a must-read for every lover of Christian Romance. Micah Hatcher has received a letter from Allan Eldredge commanding him to come and take up his responsibilities as the father of Lydia's son. This letter spins off a series of events that bring Lydia and Micah together in a way neither expected. The need Allan was trying to fill was to provide a safety net for Nicky whose mother died at his birth. Nicky's natural father wants custody of his son so he can sell him to get morphine to feed his addiction, and Lydia is the only mother Nicky knows.

Micah helps Lydia by giving her ideas of what to do to legally adopt Nicky by proving that Nicky's mother wanted her to raise him and that his father is unfit. All Lydia has to do is find the midwife who delivered Nicky, and thus begins a journey for both Lydia and Micah.

Meanwhile Micah has his own secrets--a brother, a missionary in Hitler's Europe, who smuggles Jewish children to the United States for Micah to pick up and take to the local synagogue for placement with adoptive families. During one of Micah's pickups at the docks, he gets a small blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who looks nothing like the local Jewish congregation. Micah decided to keep her and adopt her himself, which causes a bit of misunderstanding between Micah and Lydia.

There is so much in this book that will engage and intrigue the reader. I love Kim Vogel Sawyer's writings and this book is one of the most compelling book of hers I've ever read. I read it in two sittings, staying up till 5:00 AM to finish it.

I wish I could give it more than Five Stars, or Two Thumbs Up, and a sweet blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl.

Bethany House provided the book for my personal review. These opinions are mine alone. I was not recompensed for them.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Dance

I have loved everything I've read by Dan Walsh and that is why I signed up to read and review this book. Dan co-wrote The Dance with Gary Smalley, a noted marriage psychologist.

Marilyn and Jim are a happily married couple on the surface, but underneath Marilyn was miserable and had reached her breaking point. Every time she tried to talk to Jim, he talked over her and went on about his business without really hearing what she had to say. She did what she had to do for her own sanity: she left him.

At first, Jim is angry, uncontrollably so. He wants Marilyn back and he wants her back NOW! He can't see that his anger is part of the problem, he can't see that he holds responsibility in how the relationship has rocked. After meeting and talking to Audrey Windsor, the elderly former owner of the dance studio where Marilyn is taking lessons, Jim's anger begins to cool and he begins to dig deeply into the mechanics of his marriage difficulties.

I plowed through this book, which is an easy read, but I didn't find it as enjoyable as Dan's other books. The writing was pretty one-sided about the troubles in the marriage, which is generally never true in real life. Jim is characterized as a selfish, controlling, autocrat. Marilyn is characterized as a doormat who gets a backbone and makes a new life for herself.

The series plans to cover the lives of the three children and their restorations while continuing to chronicle Marilyn and Jim's journey into healthier relationship.

Disclaimer: my opinion is just that--an opinion. This book wasn't my cup of tea. There are very valuable insights to be gained in reading this book and that alone makes it worth reading.

Four Stars.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Didn't Sign Up For This

Elijah has a varied career as a prophet of God, highs and lows, miracles and ordinaries, and a whirlwind with chariots of fire. There were times he was discouraged and depressed and felt overwhelmed by his circumstances. His life mirrors our own, with the notable exception of the fiery chariots lifting us out of this life and possibly the miracles he performed. He had powerful enemies who were out to get him and he had feelings of being abandoned by God.

I chose to read this book because there are circumstances in my life I didn't sign up for. I have cancer--the ultimate "I didn't sign up for this" kind of thing. It is treatable but not curable and I will be under treatment for the rest of my life. Next week, I will be undergoing still another kind of treatment to add to the others already tried, all of them only palliative for relieving symptoms.

Often we look at our spiritual circumstances and the spiritual battles as those things we didn't sign up for, but once we surrendered our lives to Christ, we actually did. That moment we signed on for a life-long battle and all of the fall-out that comes from the fight. I have the loss of my health, others have wayward children, others have addictions, and one friend has special needs children.

The rest of the story is that while we didn't sign up for these things, God enrolled us in His School of Spiritual Strength and Reimaging. In this school, we are being reformed and remolded into the very image of Christ. We have to go through these things to become more fully like Christ. We only THINK we didn't sign up for this, but in the end, it's all worth it. Aaron Sharp has written a great book to help us navigate those detours life takes us on in the process of reimaging us into the very likeness of Christ.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Fiery Chariot

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Millie's Treasure

I hate giving bad reviews, I hate being disappointed by a favorite author, but I must say Kathleen Y'Barbo missed on this one. Millie's Treasure has elements of intrigue, romance, and Wild, Wild West. Instead of James West and Artemus Gordon, we have Millie and Kyle. Millie is being courted by William Trueck "from" England, and Kyle is a Pinkerton agent who is also an inventor. The inventions play a large part in the story-line and in the finding of Millie's Treasure.

All opinions stated in my blog are my own and I will own them. I didn't find this book as good as Kathleen's other books. For me, it was a bit too predictable. That was my biggest disappointment--the predictability just didn't hold my interest while I read the book. Three Stars.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I've not read all of Siri Mitchell's books, but the ones I have read I have absolutely loved. Unrivaled is no different. Lucy has been abroad with her uncle and aunt and has now returned home to St Louis. As she arrives at her home, she finds that her father has had a heart attack and his confectionary business is struggling.

Charlie has gotten in trouble in Chicago so his mother and step-father send him to St Louis to live with his father who is running the most successful confectionary business in direct competition with Lucy's father's. In fact, his father wants to put Lucy's father out of business.

Lucy decides she wants to try to save the confectionary while Charlie has to be his father's minion in trying to close it down. From plastering posters all over town, covering up the posters Lucy's father had put up, to seeking to make exclusive contracts with the sellers of the candy, Charlie has to do his father's bidding while trying to get into Lucy's good graces.

Lucy tries everything she can think of to bolster her father's business and get an edge on the market. All of her attempts seem to backfire in her face--her new candy doesn't appeal, she cancels Standard's shipments which doesn't have the effect she'd hoped. She finally gives in to her mother's desires to sell the confectionary.

When Standard confectionary burns down, Charlie imposes on Lucy to recreate the Royal Taffy recipe.

Siri has used a device where she tells the story from Lucy's and Charlie's view point by alternating chapters between Lucy and Charlie. Occasionally, I wanted to continue Lucy's or Charlie's story without interruption, but not often. This is a truly enjoyable book worth five stars, two thumbs up, and a Royal Taffy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Josiah's Treasure

Daniel has come to San Francisco to retrieve money that he feels is owed him when his father abandoned the family years ago. He finds Sarah Whittier living in his father's house and heir to his father's fortune. The rumor is that Josiah had gold nuggets stashed away in a secret space in his house.

Sarah spent the last few years of Josiah's life as his live-in nurse. She inherited his meager estate and was using it to start an art business--teaching art to girls who had no other honest way to make a living, but they had the talent to be artists in their own right.

Daniel wanted Josiah's Treasure, not for himself, but for his twin ten-year-old sisters. Since their mother died, the responsiblity for them has landed on Daniel's shoulders and it's one he does not take lightly. He knows that Sarah is living in his father's house and has inherited his father's estate. He knows that overturning his father's will is going to be tough. But when he meets Sarah, his heart becomes torn between needing to supply for his sisters and his growing attraction to Sarah.

Nancy Herriman has written a sweet story with some intrigue woven into the story--a fortune hunter wanting the gold that is rumored to be in the house, opposition to Sarah's art store, even the lives of the girls Sarah is working with add to the intrigue. This story will only take a few hours to read (according to my e-reader) but it will hold your interest all the way through. It's definitely a Five Star, Two Thumbs Up, and a gold nugget kind of book.