©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Two Roads Home

I have not read the first book in the Chicory Inn series, I just jumped into book two and I LOVED IT. Romance is my genre, but this is not a typical romance. This would fit more into a more generic Women's Fiction genre, but it is suspenseful, romantic, and engaging. I've read some of Deborah Raney's books, and I have enjoyed them immensely. This book is no different. Even though it is part of a series, I didn't feel like I came into the middle of anything. The characters pretty much stood on their own two feet.

Jesse works for a high-tech vacuum cleaner company in their sales department. This requires him to travel quite a bit and to travel with a beautiful, single girl who works with him. Michaela would truly love to be involved with Jesse, but he's in love with his wife, Corinne. When he openly rebuffed her advances, she makes allegations of sexual harrassment against Jesse, then ups her game by stalking Corinne and their daughters. Out of this morass of trauma comes a solution that Corrinne and Jesse never pictured happening--Jesse was going to quit his job and go back to school to get his teaching degree.

For Jesse to go back to school required selling their house, finding a smaller one, possibly Corinne getting a job, and Jesse finding a job as well. The solutions work out so beautifully, God's hand had to be on the whole situation.

Deborah has taken an unfortunately common situation and brought the characters through the trauma showing how God's hand is in every part of our lives with grace and humor. Her characters have real emotions and real faults. Corinne and Jesse's love for each other is not a super-sweet, over the top kind of love, but it is a real, muddle through the trials kind of love.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a house swap to fit your goals.

My thanks to Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hand Me Downs

I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from my sister, my cousins, and possibly friends. The other clothes I had, Mama made them for me, but I didn't know what to expect when I chose to read Hand Me Down Husband. Rosanna Huffman has written a compelling novel about second hand and hand me down things. Suzanne Bloomer teaches high school classes at New Vision Christian School. She is the middle daughter of three girls born to Jim and Connie Bloomer, who doted on their oldest and youngest daughters and left Suzanne out in the cold, so to speak. In the beginning of the novel, Suzanne is acting principal, and teaching all of the high school classes at the same time. When Mitchell Sanderson is asked to be principal, he takes the job where he'll be supervising his own grandchildren. Suzanne has a history with one of Mitchell's daughters and one of his sons, and not the kind of history that engenders good memories.

Some events in the book that carry through the story are:
Suzanne is asked to vacate the house she's been renting because the landlord's son is getting married and needs to live there for a while.
She finds a less expensive mobile home that has been well used and abused to move into.
Mitchell's eldest daughter wants her father to revere her mother's memory by never marrying again.
Mitchell finds that his early mornings with Suzanne have become precious to him in ways he never imagined.

Let me tell you that while my tears are easy to jerk at times, this book had me crying in despair at what Mitchell's oldest daughter tells Suzanne, and in joy when things all work out.

I love the way Rosanna worked out the meeting with Mitchell and his children so that all the cards are on the table about Suzanne and him. He speaks without mincing words, and he makes his position clear.

Rosanna has well developed characters, but my only criticism is that the plot pace is a bit slow--but not so slow that the reader gives up before reaching the end. Strong four stars.

My thanks to Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On a Ring and a Prayer

Jessie was having lunch with her best friend when her car got towed away. She calls to find out that her husband has cancelled her lease on her car. She goes home to find that he has left her, sold her house, cancelled her phone, and left the country. Nice guy, huh? After finding a detective to find all he can about her husband, she gets a small apartment, she finds a new friend, she sells her wedding rings for a small sum, and she opens a new business renting designer clothes to those who live on a ginger ale budget.

Sandra Bricker has written a great story, but I found it a bit incomplete. Jessie ends up landing on her feet, and finding the man of her dreams--after finding out that her dreams weren't what she thought they were. Sandra takes Jessie on a spiritual journey but doesn't quite complete it. Sandra built into Danny, the private detective, a strong faith that grew out of tragedy; but Jessie only has a spark of faith that by the end of the book has not quite fanned into flame. She's open, but she's not there yet. If Danny is true to his faith, he won't follow through with a relationship with Jessie. Sandra alludes to this in the book, but still doesn't quite make it complete. This is my worst criticism of the book.

I found the story compelling, especially the way Sandra wove in Jessie's life with her Grampy as flashbacks in the chapters. The way Sandra brought the characters together and pulled the warp and woof of their lives into a cohesive group is engaging and entertainer. The pacing of the plot keeps the reader involved in the book and reading onward, desiring the good ending.

Four Stars

My thanks to Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Troubled Patience

Patience has inherited a dilapidated boarding house that she is determined to rehabilitate and reopen. Her mother is not all that happy about Patience getting the boarding house, and that Patience is doing well on her own.

Maggie Brendan is known for her western romances and has done a great job with this one.

Patience, the new proprietor of the Creekside Inn boarding house, is a curvy woman with strong beliefs that she's not afraid to voice when the need arises.

Jed is the sheriff who is charged with keeping the peace in town. He has a past that he's not really all that sure he wants bandied about.

Joe is the town drunk who has an eye on the town baker, Hannah. Hannah won't have anything to do with him until he cleans up his act.

Emily is the waitress in the diner who becomes Patience's partner in the boarding house.

John and Judith are the owners of the largest ranch in the area. John is killed in the book and Jed has to find who killed him.

Cody is a boarder who has an eye on Patience and likes helping her out.

Monty is the ranch foreman and Emily's boyfriend.

Charity is Patience's mother who tries Patience's patience (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist).

With this many characters roaming around in the book, it would seem to be hard to keep them all straight and add any depth to them, but Maggie accomplishes this with seeming ease. The plot keeps up a steady pace and keeps the reader involved. There are sweet moments, funny moments, suspenseful moments, and satisfying moments. My only wish is that Maggie had included Patience's recipe for biscuits. I'm still trying to master them.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a buttered biscuit fresh from the oven.

My thanks to Revell for allowing me to read and review this book.

Miriam's Blessing

Miriam is still in Oklahoma teaching at the Amish school, stil dating her uncle's hired hand, still the owner of a productive farm, and still in possession of two million dollars.

Miriam's sister, Shirley, has gone back to Possum Valley and back to her old habits, to her parents' dismay. When an outing with Jonas Beachy turns tragic, everything in Miriam's world begins to turn upside-down. Shirley suffers facial scarring. Soon after that, Miriam's old boyfriend is in a buggy accident that kills his wife.

And then, there's the tornado that tears through the town where Miriam is living, and with untold devastation.

Every thing that happens has a direct effect on Miriam and it takes serious faith and strength of will to see the blessings she truly has.

Jerry Eicher has done a masterful job in writing this novel. The more he writes about Miriam, the more you wish you could be her friend.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an all-pervading sense of peace.

My thanks to Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to read and review this book.

Singing Grace

Sometimes you pick up a book simply because of the reputation of the author. This is book two of Kim Vogel Sawyer's Zimmerman series, and I loved it!

Alexa is now running Grace Notes Bed and Breakfast Inn and taking care of her grandmother, Abigail.

Briley Forrester has been assigned to expose the plain people's warts and misdeeds. He is staying at the B&B for as long as his research takes.

Stephen and Anna-Grace are planning their wedding and their life after. Stephen has been gifted with his grandfather's farm, but he doesn't want to farm it--he wants to teach.

Alexa has found out the circumstances of her birth and wonders where she fits in.

Briley really wants the dirt but once he finds out what it is, he is torn between using it or not.

Anna-Grace has always known she was adopted, but now her birth parents have written letters to her telling her who they are. She's not sure she wants to know.

All these conundrums work together to make a pretty awesome story. Interspersed into the novel are family get-togethers, a stranded family, and descriptions of mouth-watering desserts. To get Alexa's recipe for peach pecan pie is reason enough to read the book, but truly the plot makes it all worthwhile. The characters are believable with real-life problems. The pace of the plot is just right. The minor characters add richness to the story and while Kim does not resolve every single issue, she brings them to a satisfying point to where you eagerly await the next book in the series.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a piece of peach pecan pie.

My thanks to Waterbrook Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

A Heart's Betrayal

The e-galley provided to me for review seems to be only part of the story.

Emmie is newly widowed when she finds that she truly wasn't married at all, and none of the belongings she has are really her own.

She hears of a long-time friend living in Wyoming in need of a companion, so she goes to be with the friend. When her friend's husband is transferred to fort, Emmie finds out that her life is about to be more complicated than she thought, and this is where my galley ended.

Overall, it was shaping up to be a lovely story, with beautiful descriptions, and great characterizations. The plot being incomplete brings book down to a four-star story. Colleen Coble is a gifted writer, I'm just sorry that I didnt' get to read the whole thing.

Love Arrives . . .

In this sequel to All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Betsy St Amant has created terribly flawed characters. Stella seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress a year after her divorce. She's out of work and needs a job badly if she's going to keep her own place. Enter mother, Claire, who believes she has just the job for Stella--redesigning and decorating the Ninth Cameo Theater as part of a revitalization project. Stella agrees to take the job before she finds the fly is already in ointment--her ex-boyfriend, Chase Taylor. Stella encounters difficulty coming up with a design, a color scheme, and a whole lot more. With the extent of her dysfunction, I'm surprised she was able to complete the job.

Chase, on the other hand, spends half of his time crossing Stella's boundaries and half of his time being in love with her. When he kisses her, it's all roses and violins, but other times, he's mis-stepping or rescuing her from a dead faint.

On the surface, this book looks like it shouldhave a lot of comedy. Instead, there was needless drama, an out-of-character preacher's wife/pageant mother. While the story takes place in the south, Stella's mom is far too overbearing for her role.

I read the book completely through, but not with the joy I've had reading other books. The PTSD Stella exhibits seems way over the top to me. I have a daughter who was the victim of YEARS of emotional and verbal abuse and truly has PTSD. The two situations don't even compare. Maybe my opinion is so negative because of what my daughter has gone through. It's hard to say.

Three Stars.

My thanks to Zondervan for allowing me to read and review this book.


I've been quiet for about a week on my blog. Here's how the last seven days shook down for me:
Thursday: drive to Spokane, fly to Boston, read
Friday: my first attempt to ride a subway, took a walk in downtown Boston, read
Saturday: Whale Watch, Freedom Trail in Boston, Italian food for dinner, read
Sunday: Imax movie, walked around Boston, seafood, met up with a niece and her boyfriend for dinner, read
Monday: cold, wet, rainy, windy--daughter ran Boston Marathon, read
Tuesday: walked around Boston, lunch with niece and boyfriend (Boston has some really good restaurants!), fly back to Spokane, drive home, read
Wednesday: go to clinic for injection(two days late), stops at Hastings, Staples, and Wal-Mart, read
Today: buy groceries, go for a walk, post several reviews, read

While I was in Boston, I was staying in a hotel where internet was available for a price--$13/day. So I wrote out the reviews for the books I read on paper. Each one of these reviews will have its own post:

Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St Amant
A Heart's Betrayal by Colleen Coble
When Grace Sings by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Miriam's Blessings by Jerry Eicher

Boston is a town that has a rich history and I would love to go back to explore it further--maybe. Maybe I'll just stick to reading stories that take place in Boston and remember the richness of the town.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bringing Narnia Home

I was not familiar with C S Lewis and his writings until I had children who were interested in reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I decided to read them too--that was about twenty years ago. When I saw Bringing Narnia Home on the review list, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. Devin Brown has studied these books with the intensity of a private eye on the case. He recommends reading the books in the series first before you read his book and it's a good bit of advice. I wish I had had the time to do so, even though I read them years ago.

So here's the scoop: According to Mr Brown, C S Lewis wrote a treatise on living the Christian life that children can understand. Some of the precepts he described are that life is an adventure and it needs to be lived, evil masquerades as something good, adventures begin in unusual circumstances, sometimes the most positive experiences come out of negative circumstances.

Central to Mr Brown's book is Aslan, who was also central to Mr Lewis' books too. Aslan is not safe, by any means, but he is always good. Aslan loves, guides, corrects, reproves, and teaches the Pevensie children along with Jill and Eustace. Aslan is not one particular person of the Trinity, but embodies the traits of all three persons of the Godhead.

I have to say that early in Mr Brown's book, I found myself in tears, and, at other times, I found myself laughing out loud. I could easily find myself in the children portrayed in the Chronicles--especially in their less than stellar moments.

While Mr Brown recommends reading the Chronicles first, I would also advise to read Mr Brown's book with a notebook and pencil nearby. I took copious notes and I feel that this book can lend itself to a great Bible study and discussion book. Chapter by chapter, the precepts in this book can also be found in the Bible, but in a way that lend themselves to immediate application.

I cannot endorse this book highly enough. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a day in the Wardrobe.

My thanks to Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book. My thanks to Abingdon Press for publishing this book.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lies, Lies, Lies

Kelli Hutchinson grew up being loved by her father and her stepmother, believing her mother, brother and sister had been killed in a fire in Louisiana. After a car accident, Kelli is left alone to figure out her way in the world. Because of the debts her father left, she has had to sell his house and now she has to clean it out. When she opens the safe, she finds some manilla envelopes containing newspaper articles and pictures of a totally different life. Kelli's father had staged his and her deaths when she was still a baby and moved to California. Now Kelli wants to know who she really is, and this is what Finding Me is all about.

Kathryn Cushman has written a book that would tear at any mother's heartstrings. To lose a child is grief beyond all comprehension.

I think I am going to hit the shortcomings first, and get them out of the way: (caveat: These are my OPINIONS)
a. There is a definite lack of anger when Alison finds out her Darcy is the girl who has come to town going by Kelli. To find out your husband hasn't been dead all these years, and that he had the daughter you also believed to be dead all this time, some anger has to bubble up. To find out this girl you've befriended has been hiding significant secrets from you should cause a bit of anger too, but neither of these situations even dredge up an "Oh, drat" between them.
b. There are a few key characters who seem to be shallow in development.
That really is it for the shortcomings of the book.

Here are the strengths:
a. There are too many kidnappings by non-custodial parents to think this couldn't happen. It could. Kathryn has written an extremely believable story around this particular situation.
b. Her characters add so much more to the plot--and they make you want to root for them. They are likable, relatable, and empathetic.
c. There are several conflicts going on in the book--Kelli's spiritual conflict--and lack of understanding about it, the whole finding the family conflict, the Shane and Kelli conflict, and the Kenmore and Shane conflict. Most of these reach a reasonably satisfying conclusion.
d. The book is hard to put down. The plot's pace keeps the reader engaged from front cover to back cover and every page in between. Can't get much better than that.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a manilla envelope of memories--good ones.

My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Story Worth Telling

When I was in elementary school, it was a yearly assignment to write an autobiography. I could never think of anything to write. My life just wasn't that exciting. As I got older and the assignment kept coming, I wrote about breaking my arm at six, have measles, mumps, and chicken pox all within a few months of each other, and then being hit by a car. Those were the most memorable events in my life. I did add my salvation and baptism as those happened, but still there was nothing else of note in my life. Friends talked about their mothers bringing home baby siblings from the hospital or what they did on vacations, or other things they did with their families.

I chose to read this book, thinking it would help me write my own story. That's not precisely what this is all about. Bill Blankschaen has written a travel guide, adventure map, and how-to for leaving a legacy worth knowing, for writing a story with your life that is worth reading, and for making a difference in your world. As I read the book, I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 3:1-3

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

This passage alone makes this book very important in today's world because so many people have not even seen a Bible, so being able to see what God is doing through our lives is imperative. There are parts of this book that will stay with me for a long time. It's a fairly fast read, but it still packs a great punch.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a travelogue of your life.

My thanks to Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book.


I read the second book in this series first and reviewed it here. Last night I finished the first book in the series with many of the same characters and it makes the reader feel like part of a family, or in this case, part of a small town. Varina Denman has a way of writing that involves the reader in the thick of the plot and makes the reader feel what the characters are feeling.

Ruthie graduated from high school in Trapp two years ago, and because of her mother's inabilities to hold a job, Ruthie works at two jobs. When Dodd Cunningham and his family move into town, he is immediately taken with Ruthie and he would like to know her better. He is not only the new math teacher at the high school, he is also the new preacher of the church where all the movers and shakers go. Ruthie is reluctant to allow him into her heart and mind, and with good reason. Years before, when her father left, someone told the elders of the church that Ruthie's mother had committed adultery and that's why her husband left. That's when the church withdrew their fellowship--and literally ex-communicated Ruthie's mother, Lynda. Ruthie has a healthy mistrust of the church and its members.

Part of the plot of the book revolves around the secrets people carry around with them. Neil Blaylock hides that he lied about Lynda's adultery, and even hides other things as well. Clyde Felton has recently come back to the town after serving twenty years for statutory rape; he hides what really happened in that situation. Lynda hides her previous relationship with Neil and the lies he told that caused her husband to leave. As secrets unfold, it allows some healing to occur, but it also allows bitterness to blossom and bear fruit.

While this story is somewhat of a romance, it is also a cautionary tale of the abuse of power within a church and the depth of damage secrets in the church can do. Jaded is an accurate title for those reasons. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and healing for the soul.

My thanks to David C Cook for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tiffany Girl

I had a hard time with DeeAnne Gist's last book that I reviewed here, and some of the same issues exist with her newest offering: Tiffany Girl. The essence of the story revolves around the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, and some of the exhibits and exhibitors. Louis Tiffany has been commissioned to do a series of twelve stained glass windows and needs to hire some "Tiffany Girls," so he goes to the art school to choose some of the more promising art students to fill in for the men who have gone on strike. Among those girls is Flossie Jayne, a New Woman who wants to assert her independence with a job, her own money, and her own place to live. In her new boarding house, she rooms next door to a newspaper reporter, Reeve Wilder, who doesn't have many good things to say about these New Women. In fact, he writes a satirical piece on the New Woman, Marylee Merrily, basing her very closely on Flossie. He never intended for the piece to be published, but it got submitted with some of his other work and now his editor wants a whole series. The residents of the boarding house gather every week for the next installment of the satire, enjoying it immensely. It wasn't what Reeve intended, but it was out of his hands.

In this book, there are sympathetic characters, bad-guy characters who prey on the innocents, and enough filler characters to make the story flow. My problem with this book is the way the story leaps over periods of time. Sometimes it's only a couple of days or a week or two, other times it is months to more than a year. Overall the novel is a good read, a solid four stars.

My thanks to Howard Books for allowing me to read and review this novel.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

At Home in Last Chance

Cathleen Armstrong has a writing style that grabs the reader from the first sentence and doesn't let go until long after the book has been closed. I loved One More Last Chance when I read it. So, when At Home in Last Chance became available, of course, I jumped on it. Several of the same characters show up again, with only one or two new ones for me.

This is the story of Kaitlin Reed finding out that her home is truly in Last Chance, even though she hates working in the diner for her brother. Juanita is still Juanita--a law unto herself, a woman who doesn't seem to be able to whisper quietly or even have an "inside voice." Whatever Juanita knows, all of Last Chance knows. Olivia is growing up, and figuring out what a seven-year-old's life is supposed to look like. Chris is still marrying Sarah, and Elizabeth is still everyone's Gran. The newest addition to the picture is Steven--and it seems he's only there temporarily until he goes to the law enforcement academy. When Elizabeth falls and breaks her leg, it seems that everyone's life is turned upside down. Olivia is TICKED that she can't see Elizabeth in the hospital, but is appeased when she gets to go to Elizabeth's house everyday and take care of Sam, the cat.

Steven is taken with Kaitlin and wants to explore what a relationship with her would be like. Kaitlin is scared of making another bad decision that hurts her daughter, and is reluctant to let Steven in her life.

What you find when you read this book is a small town that truly cares about its residents, that joins together for every occasion, that takes pride in its ability to help at a moment's notice, and where the residents find strength to stand up for what they feel is right; but, dang it, it's hard to accept someone new into its fold, and Kaitlin had the hardest time settling into Last Chance because of her previous poor decisions.

Cathleen's talent as a writer shines through her characters, her settings, and her plot. She is a truly enjoyable author to read. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and dinner at the Dip 'N Dine.

My thanks to Revell publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

The Plain Choice

To find out why someone would want to join a Plain Community, you would need to read Sherry Gore's biography, The Plain Choice. There you will discover what kinds of circumstances can lead to such a choice and lead to such peace that is beyond description and understanding.

To understand Sherry's choice, you have to understand Sherry herself. She didn't have an idyllic upbringing in a loving, Amish/Mennonite family. Her childhood was spent between her mother and her father on opposite coasts, but after her father remarried, she found his home less than loving--his new wife told Sherry she didn't even like her, much less love her. When Sherry goes back to Florida, her mother tries to shuffle her out because her new husband needs space. Sherry ends up homeless until a cousin finds her living on the beach and brings her home. All this time, Sherry does not even have a speaking relationship with God. Sherry enters into a disastrous marriage with an abusive, bullying conniver who marries her because of her father's wealth. He even used their child as a weapon against her. After some soul searching, she found seh couldn't stay with him, and she had to use every bit of wits she had to get out of the marriage. From there her life takes some dramatic turns and unexpected twists. She does meet another man and marries him, and then she finds her ultimate destiny--Jesus Christ.

From there, Sherry describes her growth and her experiences in the church and her desire for a church that would meet her needs. Through a conversation with a new-found Christian friend, she finds what she needs to look for in a church. She was told, "The church is like a back brace. In the beginning your muscles are weak and it's hard to stand up straight. So you have to use the church, use those who love and support you, to grow stronger. Then one day you'll stand upright and you'll find you don't need the brace any longer. . . . Only when you are standing upright and tall yourself can you lean over and help brace the person next to you." This friend of Sherry's describes what being a Christian is all about--leaning on each other until we are all strong enough to allow others to lean on us.

There will be tears as you read this book, there are laugh out loud moments (Sherry's daughters and a ball are irresistable for a laugh), there are moments when you will nod your head and understand what Sherry is saying because you've been there too. It's all there, along with a fried pie or two--which took me back to my own childhood and the pies my mother used to make. (I just wish Sherry had posted her recipe for fried pies--that's my only criticism!)

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Sherry has bared her soul in a way that you feel like you are having tea with a close, trusted friend.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a fried pie with a cup of tea.

My thanks to Zondervan Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book!

Friday, April 3, 2015

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

and make believe it came from you. . . .

Hannah Brencher is the author of a new memoir called If You Find This Letter. She started writing letters because of someone she saw on a subway train in New York City, someone who needed to hear something special, something affirming, something that reaches into the heart and deposits worth into the soul. At first, it was just okay for her to write the letters and leave them around town--on the train, in coffee shops, on bulletin boards, in community centers--any place where people might need to read something that builds. Then she posted on her blog what she was doing, and people wrote to her asking for letters for themselves and for others. The whole circumstance of the letters has brought about a campaign of writing letters to people all over the country who need to hear good words. She has set up a website to allow people to volunteer to write letters and to allow others to nominate worthy recipients for letter bundles.

Hannah is honest with her writing--as only a memoir should be written. She understands the need for these letters and the desire to make a difference in this world, and she does it one letter at a time. One of the things that really struck me about Hannah's writing is her desire to give of the best of herself in each letter. She also wants to be part of something bigger than herself. She had great encouragement from her friends to keep the letters going.

She details all the events that were formative in her life--from her year as a volunteer with the UN and in a community center, to the death of one of her closest friends. Her writing is personal and personable, yet pulls no punches. Readers will laugh with her, cry with her, ache with her, and be inspired by her. I would encourage anyone to read this book and then sign up to be a letter writer. There are so many people who have never received a hand-written letter in their lives. This is one thing my mother did when she was still alive and she did it well. People knew how she felt about them and were often touched by her thoughtfulness. I do write letters, but not enough of them and I don't always say what needs to be said, but I try, and that is all that is needed.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a letter to lift your day.

My thanks to Howard Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's Not a Bucket List

Anita Higman writes beautiful fiction that really reaches readers where they are. Summer's List is no exception. Summer's Granny Snow has written a list that she wants Summer to accomplish--including finding an old friend, take a hot air balloon ride, fall in love with a dog, right an old wrong, and kiss someone you love. There are other items on the list, but this gives a good start to the list. Granny has been holding something back from Summer--she's dying of congestive heart failure and there is nothing that can be done about it. She wants Summer to do these things in order to find out what God has planned for her.

In reconnecting with a friend, the friend on Granny's mind is Martin Langtree--a friend from Summer's childhood who was adopted after his mother died and Summer lost track of him. Then Granny wanted Martin to accompany Summer on the quest of completing the list. Granny knew that Summer would need someone sympathetic to help her through some rough times coming up, and it wouldn't be the fiance she just broke up with.

Martin lives behind his brothers in a caretaker's cottage on his parents' estate. His brothers live in the big house and all three are somewhat happy with the arrangement. The only mystery is where their parents are. Desmond and Ivan don't care for Martin and Martin is not sure why there is such animosity. The brothers tried all their lives to get their father's approval while Martin was working for their mother's approval. None of them got what they wanted while they were growing up, and that added to the family dysfunction.

This is the setup for Summer's List. Working through animosities and bringing healing to the characters is one of the tasks Anita put in front of herself in writing this novel. Her characters are empathetic, with their own set of foibles and warts while trying to find their way through life's difficulties. Her settings are whimsical and totally complement the plot. The plot pacing is quite comfortable--neither too fast nor too slow. It was quite a delight to read Anita's latest offering. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a list of adventures to keep you intrigued.

My thanks to Moody Publishers for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I hate when I read books out of order, but when I finished Justified last night, I was totally enthralled. I will go back and read the first book in the series. Varina Denman has enthralled me with Justified, and now I MUST go read Jaded when I get a chance.

So we have a young lady who has done things not quite in order--she's pregnant and not quite married. It's not that the father of her baby doesn't want to marry her, he does. It's that he's too much like her father and a bit too handy to hit or slap her. Fawn Blaylock's family threw her out of the house when she turned up pregnant and it was the best thing that happened to her. She found her feet, she found her strength, and she found someone to love. She's had to wade through rattlesnakes, the ex-boyfriend turning stalker, giving birth in a Texas dust storm, standing up to her father, and finding out the man she thought to be her father really wasn't. Those are just some of the things that happened, the others include being the object of gossip in church, finding a job to support herself, going to school to finish a degree, finding out what a true friend is, finding out what true love is, and getting past some of the hurts incurred in her life.

I have looked briefly at Varina's blog and see that she has encountered hurt within her church, and she knows she's not the only one. She has this in common with a lot of people who are not very vocal about their pained hearts because of the church. That she has woven so tenderly and seamlessly into this novel the fact that Christians are notorious for shooting their own wounded makes her a definite must-read. Real-life is well described through Varina's fiction--people seeing what they want to see, people being what they think others want them to be, people with misplaced desires and loyalties, and people falsely accused of things they didn't do.

What we want is to find acceptance from the others around us, but what we need is only the acceptance God gives. It's hard to overlook things that happen to us in the realm of the church without becoming embittered by them. It's hard to let those things go, especially the guilt from our own sins. And yet at the same time, we will overlook our own sins to point the finger at someone else's sins. We are a scurvy lot.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a cup of Fawn's iced coffee

My thanks to David C Cook for allowing me to read and review this book. It was well worth the time spent.