©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Saturday, June 29, 2013


I was asked a long time ago to review this book and took on the project with every good intention of reading the book and giving the review in a timely manner. Angie, I am so sorry. Life gets in the way sometimes and my life did. I thought I might back up ten years and give you a bit of my background. I have neuroendocrine tumors in my liver and I've had my diagnosis for nearly ten years (so you see why I am backing up that far =} ). Another name for my cancer is carcinoid; it is a non-aggressive, slow-growing, incurable cancer. In the last year, I've had three fairly intense treatments for my tumors: one chemo-embolization, one radio-embolization, and thirty radiation treatments for one tumor that can't be reached through its blood supply. Oh yeah, for three months, I was teaching the adult Bible study at church on Sunday mornings. Something in my life had to give, and it was part of my reading/exercise program. I am finally at a point to pick it back up and finish my obligations.

I've forgotten how I stumbled upon Angie Smith's blog, but it had to do with her story about her daughter, Audrey Rose, and the impact this little one had during her very brief life. So when I was offered Angie's book, Mended, to read and review, I jumped at the chance. This isn't Audrey's story, but it is the story of how God has mended Angie's life in so many ways and how God wants to mend our lives too. When I read the first chapter of the book, I knew this book had something for me and something for me to share. The picture on the front cover of the book is of a broken pitcher that's been glued back together. Angie uses the first chapter to tell how God instructs her to break a pitcher and then glue it back together, how God uses those broken parts to make us beautiful in spite of our leaks and cracks.

The Japanese will often use gold to mend a piece of broken pottery to make it more valuable. I have shards of pottery from Chinese kilns that have been mounted in silver and made into objets d'art: a hand mirror, pill boxes, compacts, pendants. Just because something has been broken doesn't mean it's not useful anymore. We are all broken pieces, but in God's hands, we become beautiful just the same because we are made in His image and we are being remade into His image. It's a lifelong process and no one's process is the same as anyone else's.

I truly appreciate how Angie has brought this out clearly with biblical explanations through listening to God's voice. That voice can be audible to all of us, we just have to listen. With Angie's help, we can all do that better.

This book is Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Mended vase.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Great Plains Brides

This is a compilation book with two complete novels--not three or four novellas. These novels are full-length with complete plot development and the book is well worth its price.

A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas, by Ramona Cecil, is a well-written book detailing Addie's desire to keep her uncle's portrait studio going in light of the fact that the banker wants to foreclose on the loan her uncle took out to open the studio. She works hard at being the best, including taking a picture of a cowboy with his horse in her studio.

When Vin Rutter shows up in town wanting the money Addie's former fiance had stolen, Addie has no clue where it is, but Vin doesn't believe her. In the meantime Deputy Miles Carr also has connections to the past she wants to keep hidden, and Vin crosses paths with Miles as well. Miles wants an excuse to arrest Vin because he knows Vin has broken the law but for some reason charges have never stuck. Miles, in his role as deputy, is asked to escort Addie to her boarding house when she works late in her studio and during the escorting duties comes to fall in love with her. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome the path to true love, including murder, vandalism, and a missing picture.

A Bride's Sweet Surprise in Sauers, Indiana, by Erica Vetsch, is the sweet story of Regina and Deidrich and how an arranged marriage becomes a marriage of love. Regina's father has sent money to Venne, Germany, to bring Deidrich and his father to the United States, so that Deidrich can marry Regina and inherit her father's farm. Neither wants the marriage and convince their fathers to wait until the debt for their passage is paid off. Regina tries really hard to turn Deidrich's attentions away from her, while at the same time Deidrich is doing the same thing. Along the way, Regina finds out she's adopted, and Deidrich finds out he's falling in love with her. There is so much to this story that engages the reader and compels said reader to stay up way past bedtime in order to finish the book.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, A Portrait and a Farm!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sweet Mercy

Ann Tatlock is a well-known and well-written author who has put together a wonderful story in her newest book Sweet Mercy.

Eve Marryat is a seventeen year old girl whose parents are moving from St Paul, Minnesota, to Mercy, Ohio, during the depression. Eve is never so glad to leave a place because she feels St Paul is the capital of organized crime. She is glad to leave behind the speak-easies and the bootlegging of St Paul and to start a new life in Ohio with her uncles and the quiet life of a quiet town. The only problem is that things are not what they seem on the surface and the quiet life she was seeking wasn't the life she found in Ohio. While she made a new friend right away, she also found a step-cousin she didn't know about, and even gets a boyfriend. As events unfold, Eve begins to realize that things are not always what they seem, and the quiet town isn't without its own bootleggers and ne'er-do-wells.

I love the way Ann tells the story through the eyes of Eve looking back over her life and relating the events to her grandson. There's a winsomeness to the story that wouldn't otherwise be there because the story has to be told plainly. The sophistication is still there but with a simplicity that allows the story to be told to a preteen boy. This book is compelling, intriguing, and thoroughly entertaining.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and no bootleggers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Farmer in the Dell

I read six novellas so that I could review The Farmer's Bride and give a reasonable account of the stories it contained. Every single story is one of those "feel good" stories with the happy ending one of my friends accuses me of loving. Um, it's true, I love happy endings and I am unashamed of it.

One of my favorites was "The Tie that Binds," by Susan K Downs. This story includes an orphan train, a perpetual offer for marriage and the adoption of a brother and sister, and a prairie fire. I've read this story several times before and it always entertained me.

All of the stories are entertaining and amusing. There are a couple of Laugh Out Loud places which make it an all the more compelling read. It will be released August 1, 2013. Make haste to get it then! Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and at least one orphan train.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Matched Pearls

I inherited my mother's matched pearl necklace, and it is gorgeous. More important than the pearls is the woman who wore them. I'd rather have Mama than the pearls anyday.

Constance is a young college girl whose main focus is having fun and looking good. To that end, she does what she has to do to get her grandmother's matched pearls--she joins the church. There is nothing behind her commitment to the church, no faith, no relationship, nothing, just a desire for pearls for an upcoming dance.

The pearls lose some of their lustre when Constance learns the cost of commitment. Graham Seagrave, a rather shabby-looking young man has become taken with Constance but when he finds she doesn't share his trust in Christ, knows he can't pursue a relationship with her. Instead he pursues her knowledge of Christ. He wants to introduce her to his closest Friend.

Constance really doesn't want to know Christ, feels she doesn't need to know Him, and would rather run with her normal crowd. Still there is something bothering her, niggling at the back of her mind, something compelling about Seagrave and his knowledge of Christ. Until her roommate Doris is seriously and severely injured in an auto accident, Constance doesn't see that she needs the peace that only Jesus can give.

Grace Livingston Hill wrote many, many lovely stories during her time. This one's theme is the peace only Jesus Christ can offer and the sweet communion of sharing that peace with someone else. To see the changes Constance goes through is worth the time it takes to read it. Definitely a great book to pick up.