©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pattern for Romance

I read this whole book last night, I couldn't put it down. Carla Olson Gade has packed a lot into her Quilts of Love book, Pattern for Romance.

Honour Metcalf is a very talented and dedicated quilter who works for Margaret Wadsworth, the mantua maker in Boston. She is also the guardian for her young sister, Temperance. Honour meets Joshua Sutton in the middle of a hail storm that has given her a concussion. During the storm, she loses her work bag that her mother made for her. In it are all the tools of her trade and losing it seriously handicaps her ability to work.

From the very beginning, Honour intrigues Joshua and he finds reasons to be with her, inviting her employer to share space with his father's business, helping her find her work bag, replacing her lost items from the bag, and intervening on her sister's behalf at school.

There are complications, missed turns, and road blocks on the way to true love, but Honour and Joshua seem to find their way through.

Even though this is a fairly light read, it is a great book. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a quilting needle.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beneath the Dover Sky

Last fall I reviewed the first book in this series and I seriously enjoyed it. I just finished reading the next book in the series, Beneath the Dover Sky, which continues the story of the Danforth family in the years between the two World Wars. Among the seven children, Libby is returning home from the United States, Catherine has moved to the summer home of the Danforths--an estate called Dover Sky, Kipp is widowed when Christelle dies of cancer, Edward runs for a parliament seat and is elected, Robbie and Shannon are stationed in Israel to keep peace among all the factions, Victoria's husband Ben and Libby's husband Mike enter into a flying race and crash--costing Mike his life and Ben his legs, Emma and her husband Jeremy are living in London where Jeremy is a vicar. There are a few new characters in this book, a baron from Germany, a theology professor, a Naval leftenant commander, and a few others to round out the story.

Murray Pura has researched the era he's writing about to show how the political climate allowed Hitler to rise to power, and how the Great Depression in the US affected the rest of the world.

This book is definitely worth the read. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a summer home in Dover.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What Once Was Lost

Christina Willems is the director of the poor farm in Brambleville, Kansas. She oversees an elderly couple, a widowed mother with two children, orphaned twins, two widowed sisters-in-law, a blind boy, and a few others. Her world falls apart when Tommy, the blind boy, smells fire and gets everyone out of the house--the kitchen is on fire. She spends a good part of a day finding people to take in the residents of the poor farm and then finding a place for herself.

Christina makes a deal with the owner of the local boarding house to do the kitchen work for room and board for Cora and her, hoping to have time to see after her charges. Tommy has been placed with the reclusive mill owner, Levi Jonnson, who has decided not to coddle the boy, but make him do for himself. Tommy blossoms under Levi's care but when he is placed with another family, tries to run away because he gets mistreated by that family. Tommy heads in the direction of Levi's mill and home because there he feels safe and cared for.

As Christina works to get the poor farm home rebuilt, the missions board decides not to reopen it. They place the orphaned twins in an orphanage in Kansas City, the elderly couple in another poor farm in another town, and make arrangements to sell the farm. Christina sells her father's watch in order to go to Kansas City and get the twins back only to find they have been placed with adoptive parents who will provide the children with a loving home with many advantages. Rose, one of the sisters-in-law, accompanies Christina on the trip only to be hired as the governess for the twins.

Meanwhile, back in Brambleville, Hamilton Dresden, a former poor farm resident, has decided to create trouble for Christina. He steals the watch she sold to the mercantile along with the cash in the mercantile. Hamilton has also created fear in Tommy by threatening him if he tells what he knows.

How Christina recoups What Once Was Lost is a satisfying story that leaves the reader ready for something more.

With excitement, mystery, and caring, Kim Vogel Sawyer has put together a novel that can't be put down. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an old-fashioned pocket watch.

A Simple Change

The Home to Amana Series has been one of my recent favorites. I began reading the series because I have a friend who was raised in the Amana Colonies in Iowa. Judith Miller has researched and written this series with all the respect it deserves. In A Simple Change, Jancey Rhoder's parents have decided to move back to the Colonies for her mother to spend her waning days. Jancey is caught between her love for teaching the orphans and being with her sick mother. Complicating the decision is Nathan--her father's employee and self-designated boyfriend. Nathan wants to buy her father's construction business and thinks that his relationship with Jancey will aid his cause, but when Jancey moves with her parents, a monkey wrench gets thrown into Nathan's plan.

When Jancey's family arrives at Middle Amana, they are assigned to live with the Hertigs. Sister Hanna works in the kuche, she has time to check on Jancey's mother periodically throughout the day, so that Jancey can work with Sister Margaret in the "outsider's dormitory." The Hertigs have a young daughter Madelyn and an older son Ritter. Madelyn needs help with her school work and Jancey is recruited to help her out. Ritter sits in on the lessons because he likes Jancey and wants to be near her. Pretty soon, Madelyn's friends come to Jancey for extra help too.

Jancey's father has to go back to Kansas City to see about some things that have been happening with his business in Kansas City, Missouri. When he returns, he brings Nathan back with him and Nathan feels that he can change Jancey's mind about staying in Middle Amana. He hates the rules and sees them as restrictive and unfair. He can't understand why Jancey has chosen to live under them or how much Jancey's family means to her. He thinks that he can just tell Jancey what he wants her to do and she'll jump to do it. What he fails to realize is that Jancey has her own mind and she's seeing what Amana has to offer, especially after the elders ask her to teach the younger children.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book as I have enjoyed the other books in the series. Judith Miller writes with a compassionate and engaging style. She draws the reader in and doesn't let go until the book is done. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a child to teach.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On Distant Shores

Sarah Sundin has been a favorite author of mine from the time I read her very first book. She writes World War II fiction with believable characters who have an unwavering faith in God. I love WWII fiction because my father served in the Coast Guard and since his death, my brother has been able to tell me more of his stories. I am sorry I missed hearing them first-hand.

Last night, I did something unusual--I went to bed early so I could read, Sarah's new book was just too fascinating to put down. I NEEDED to read it.

Georgiana is a flight nurse who feels she doesn't fit in, she went into this because her best friend was doing it too. Ward is Georgie's boyfriend back home and he desires for her to get out of flight nursing and come home to him. Her parents also wish for her to come back home and get out of such a dangerous profession. In other words, Georgie is coddled to the point of suffocation.

Georgie has decided to stand on her own two feet and listen to God instead of the cacophony of voices around her telling her what to do. After freezing up on a flight that ended in a collision with another plane on the ground, Georgie was sent back to the States to finish her training. Her commanding officer was hoping that Georgie would fail the training, but Georgie was determined to fulfill God's plan for her. If she failed, it was because she truly didn't have it in her to do the work. Georgie's determination is what got her through the training and allowed her to be transferred back to her original outfit.

Hutch is an enlisted pharmacist who is campaigning for a Pharmacists Corps in the Army which would allow the pharmacists to become officers instead of enlisted personnel. In the midst of his campaign, he forgets his purpose and his calling as a pharmacist, instead he pushes for the "respect" he feels he deserves from the other officers in the hospital.

During the course of their duties, Georgie and Hutch meet and have an attraction to each other, but both are faithful to those who are waiting for them back home: Georgie's Ward and Hutch's Phyllis. While Georgie was home to finish her training, she found that Hutch's Phyllis was already married and had had a son. She forces Phyllis to write to Hutch and tell him of her duplicity. At the same time, Ward's smothering ways and Georgie's decision to listen to God instead of the voices around her cause Ward and Georgie to come to a parting of the ways. When Georgie goes back to Italy, she and Hutch begin a romance, forbidden by the laws of the Army.

One of my favorite things to find in a work of fiction is finding something to learn from the characters in the book. Sarah has written a book that teaches me to block out the noise of the world and find God's voice. It reminds me of the verses in Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. This was the lesson Georgie and Hutch both had to learn, and they learned it well.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a good dose of trust.

Monday, July 22, 2013

All God's Children

I stayed up until 3:30 this morning finishing this book--it just won't let the reader go, and when it does let go, the reader isn't ready for it. There is so much more to come with this story of Josef and Beth. All God's Children is one of those books that grab you from the very first page and keeps you involved all the way through the end.

Beth Bridgewater has been living in Munich for the last eight years with her uncle Franz and aunt Ilse helping them with their daughter Liesl. Hitler has come to power, and the United States is at war with Germany. Because Beth is from the United States, she's treated with suspicion. It doesn't matter that her mother was born in Germany, it doesn't matter that Beth is a Quaker and doesn't believe in war at all, has no allegiance to any political entity, she is still considered an outsider.

Franz is a professor at the university and brings home Josef, one of his students. Josef is a medic in the German army but has been given permission to come back to the university and finish his medical training to become a doctor.

Some of the issues in the book are the fact that Beth no longer has her Visa for living in Germany, Josef does some work in the underground even though his father is part of the SS, and Beth and Josef are attracted to each other.

Anna Schmidt has definitely written a winner with All God's Children. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a traveling Visa.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Into The Whirlwind

Elizabeth Camden has written a book that takes the imagination and captures it for all the pages of her book. Mollie has taken over her father's watchmaking business after his death. She has developed a love for the men and women who worked for the company and the desire of her father to provide them a living. Most of them had served admirably with her father during the War Between the States. When the great Chicago Fire breaks out, Mollie has to get all of her equipment onto a train to save her business.

Zack Kazmarek is the attorney who negotiates between Mollie and the department store that buys her watches. Through that connection, they become friends and he helps her rescue her father's oldest friend from the fire. Zack has always loved Mollie but has kept himself aloof because he's not allowed to fraternize with the vendors or employees of the department store.

After the fire is out, Zack does all he can to help Mollie get back on her feet and get her business back together. While she lives in a refugee camp, her father's friend is murdered over some watches they have hidden in the camp. Zack and Mollie have some rough roads to travel to get to true love and it's interesting to watch them get there.

Elizabeth has written of the Chicago Fire with the personal touch so that the reader feels like they are in the midst of it and helps the reader to understand what the life could have been like to experience it. Into the Whirlwind is compelling, intriguing, and hard to put down.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a fully wound watch.

A Bride for All Seasons

Margaret Brownley, Robin Lee Hatcher, Mary Connealy, and Debra Clopton have joined together to write a series of novellas about mail order brides with humor and grace. Each story tells of a mail-order bride who has been hornswoggled by the mail-order catalog owner; one for each of the four seasons.

A bit of history of the practice:
There are at least two historical roots of the mail-order bride industry that emerged in the 1800s in frontier America: Asian workers in the frontier regions (although Asian workers were scattered throughout the world), and American men who had headed west across the United States to work out on the frontier.

The American men found financial success in the migration West, but the one thing that was missing was the company of a wife. Very few women lived there at this time, so it was hard for these men to settle down and start a family. They attempted to attract women living back East; the men wrote letters to churches and published personal advertisements in magazines and newspapers. In return, the women would write to the men and send them photographs of themselves. Courtship was conducted by letter, until a woman agreed to marry a man she had never met. Many women wanted to escape their present way of living, gain financial security and see what life on the frontier could offer them. Most of these women were single, but some were widows, divorcees or runaways.

While these men and women have needs the other can fill, it's not the most advantageous way to make a match. These men and women work hard to make these matches work. I'd have to say that my favorite novella in this group is Winter Wedding Bells. David marries Megan to take care of his two sons because he's been told he only has about a year to live. Megan refuses to take his prognosis seriously. With her teas and poultices, she brings healing into David's body. With her gentle and indomitable spirit, she brings healing to David's heart. After winter is over, she takes David into town and makes him see the town's new doctor--a doctor who knew the quack that told David he was dying, knew that the quack wanted to sell his snake oil. The story has such a sweet ending that it quickly became my favorite of the four.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an advertisement in the Mail Order Catalog.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Laughing, Crying, Cooking

From the time I first read Worms in My Tea and Other Mixed Blessings, I have been in love with Becky Johnson. I've read MOST of everything she's written. We are even friends on Facebook. Now Becky has joined with her daughter to put together a memoir/cookbook combination called We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. The love affair these two women have with their kitchens is amazing. I relate more to Becky because I can dirty every pot, pan, and bowl in the kitchen while preparing the meals for my family. My husband follows behind me to clean the kitchen and he will grouse (good-naturedly) about the mess I've made.

One of the funniest (to me) stories in the book is when Jared (Rachel's husband) is making his roasted pepper black bean and corn salsa and the smoke alarm goes off--for the whole condo complex. Three firetrucks later, they find out that the smoke alarm was due to another condo resident's burning popcorn. I can so relate to Jared about finding something he likes and having it over and over and over again.

The stories related in the book give you glimpses into the lives of the Johnson/Randolph clan. You get to know them and feel like they are your friends, and you come to love them like they are your family. There is no way this book is less than Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the comfort of a well-stocked kitchen.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Splitting Harriet

split hairs
Fig. to quibble; to try to make petty distinctions. They don't have any serious differences. They are just splitting hairs. Don't waste time splitting hairs. Accept it the way it is.

See also: hair, split

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Splitting Harriet is a delightful story that really struck a chord with me. None of us has ever gotten to where we are without coming through a past. We have to see ourselves through the blood of forgiveness of Jesus Christ. This is one thing Harriet needs to learn through her heart.

Harriet is a waitress at Gloria's Morning Cafe by morning, the Women's Ministry Director at First Grace Church by afternoon, and a friend to the Seniors in the mobile home park by evening. First Grace Church has hired a consultant to come in and observe the workings of the church to see where the programs can be more effective bringing out a more unified church. The consultant, Maddox McCray, has taken a liking to Harriet, despite her objections to the changes the church is going through. Harriet, or Harri, as she is called, works very hard not to like Maddox. Everywhere she turns, Maddox has turned up--at one of her tables in the cafe, at the events she plans for the ladies of the church, at her friends' homes in the mobile home park--she just can't shake him, and she can't get him out of her mind.

While Harri resists all the changes being brought about by Maddox's consulting recommendations, she finds Maddox himself hard to resist. He brings her favorite Jelly Bellys to her, he offers her rides on his motorcycle, and he helps her plan her women's events. He mounts a campaign to work his way into her heart in spite of her resistance.

Tamara Leigh has written a riveting, rollicking tale of learning to forgive, learning to trust, and learning that the past doesn't define us.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a handful of Jelly Bellys.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sixty Acres for $160--Bride Thrown in Free

Regina Jennings has taken the story of Ruth and Naomi and plunked it in the cattle country of Texas. Rosa has moved to Texas from Mexico with her mother-in-law, Louise. Both women are widows because of a silver mine accident. Once they reach their home near Lockhart, Texas, they find that they are four years in arrears on their taxes--about $160.00--with only a few months to pay it. Rosa and Louise begin working on it as soon as they move back into the house. Little by little, their stash of money grows, but not enough. Rosa takes Louise's advice to go to Weston Garner, a cousin to Rosa's husband, and seek help, just as Ruth went to Boaz.

Regina has worked into this story some intrigue, some romance, some humor, and a good dose of faith in her book. All the things I look for in my reading material. Sixty Acres and a Bride--Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a few acres of land.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hello Girls

When I was first introduced to Lorna Seilstad, it was through her Lake Manawa Series. Each of those books told a story with humor and delight. So when her newest book came out, I had to get it and read it. When Love Calls is just as delightful as Lorna's other books and still Lorna manages to teach a very important lesson through the plot of her book.

Hannah Gregory has quit law school and is trying to raise her sisters after the death of their parents. Lincoln Cole has been dispatched from the lawfirm representing the bank that holds the mortgage on her family's farm to foreclose on the farm. Hannah is forced to move into town and to try to get a job as a telephone operator, or a Hello Girl. The one thing Hannah has trouble with is keeping rules. The one thing that the telephone company insists on is keeping rules. But, Hannah has to try, she has her sisters to think about.

When houses and structures around Des Moines start succumbing to the fires of an arsonist, Hannah's friend Walt is accused of setting the fires. Even though Hannah doesn't like it, she goes to Lincoln to help her win Walt's freedom. Hannah's hardest task is trusting Lincoln. Lincoln's hardest task is trusting God where Hannah is concerned.

While telling this story, Lorna weaves in the inviolate truth of trusting God in all our circumstances. When I can learn while being entertained, it's the best of all worlds. Thank you, Lorna.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a telephone call.

Immigrant Brides

I like reading collections of novellas based on a theme and The Immigrant Brides Collection is a great read, especially on a hot summer day. These novellas deal with girls who have immigrated to the United States from various time periods in history. Indentured servants, displaced refugees, arranged marriages, marriages of convenience all form the plots of this collection with all of the brides finding true love.

Each author has crafted a story of entertainment for those times when the reader has only a small bit of time to read.

Capucine: Home to My Heart by Janet Spaeth
The Angel of Nuremberg by Irene Brand
Freedom's Cry by Pamela Griffin
Blessed Land by Nancy J Farrier
Prairie Schoolmarm by JoAnn A Grote
The Golden Cord by Judith Miller
I Take Thee, a Stranger by Kristy Dykes
Promises Kept by Sally Laity
The Blessing Basket by Judith Miller

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an immigrant bride with a story to tell.