©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Empty Cup

Rosanna has been used, abused, and unthanked for much of her work. She gives and gives and gives without expecting in return, which is a good thing, since she rarely gets anything in return. Timothy, her husband, spends more and more of his time drinking and being abusive with his words to Rosanna and their children. When he dies, Rosanna doesn't believe she will marry again, but Reuben Troyer shows up to court her. After their marriage, Rosanna keeps her habit of giving and never receiving.

Sarah Price has written a book dealing with some of our society's ills placed in an Amish world. Because of the abuse of her first husband, Rosanna is loathe to rock the boat or upset Reuben. When Reuben hires a young lady to work in his leather shop, he ends up working more hours to keep up with the orders that keep coming in, instead of being able to spend more time with Rosanna. If Rosanna tries to suggest a solution, Reuben doesn't listen to her or believe her ideas have merit. As more things happen, Rosanna becomes more involved and overloaded until it comes to a head with a mental breakdown, complete with anxiety attacks and full-out catatonia.

One of Rosanna's friends counsels her to allow her cup to fill up or she will be an empty cup with nothing to give, and this is wise counsel for every Christian woman. I love when I can read a book and come away with a lesson to apply to my own spiritual life.

This is no less than a Five Star book, with Two Thumbs Up, and a full cup to allow you to give AND receive.

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

Among the Fair Magnolias

Tamera Alexander--To Mend a Dream
Shelley Gray--An Outlaw's Heart
Dorothy Love--A Heart So True
Elizabeth Musser--Love Beyond Limits

All of these ladies write incredible love stories and they have been put together in one anthology of novellas for readers' enjoyment. Taking place from late 1850's to 1880's, this collection of stories matches unlikely people together with romantic intentions. I spent several enjoyable hours reading them. I only had one hiccup in my reading because one of the plots was too much like another book I've read.

All four authors know how to write quality fiction and do it often with amazing results. With the small space of a novella, there is not much time to truly develop a plot or the characters. That doesn't stop these four ladies. They give these shorter stories the same research and attention they give their novels. They have worked in the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression as it is called in one of the stories), the reconstruction, and post-war living where northerners move to the south to live. A variety of occupations and situations keep the reader engaged in the stories, and one of them even includes sewing (a favorite hobby of mine).

All in all, if it weren't for the soooooo similar plot line in one of the novellas, I'd give every story here five stars, but overall, I'd have to give this one a strong four stars.

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Her Brother's Keeper

All Charlotte wants is answers and the only way (in her mind) to get them is to go into an Amish community in disguise. She comes to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to visit her long-lost "cousins" to find out why her brother killed himself. His fiancee's family took her in and made her part of the family, taught her many things about the Amish, and got her hooked on home-made bread. While at first, her conscience only bothered her a little bit, later on, as she became more and more aware of God and His desired relationship with her, it bothered her more and more until she thought she was going to have to leave the family and go back to her home in Texas.

For once, I have read a romance novel that the ending wasn't obvious from the beginning. That's not to say the others are not good novels, but it's to say that Beth Wiseman has put together a story that takes unexpected twists and turns and the girls get their men, but it wasn't as I expected. When I first started this book, I just knew that Charlotte was going to join the Amish church and marry an Amish man, that her brother, Ethan, was going to have been murdered, and I wasn't sure about Hannah's fate at all. I missed on both counts and Hannah's life made some turns I never anticipated.

The plot of Her Brother's Keeper is one that creates a bond with the reader that is not easily broken. It is quite simple to get hooked into the story and forget the rest of the world.

The major characters are so sympathetic, the reader wants these ladies as her own friends, with one or two minor exceptions. And the gifts Hannah gave Charlotte have me desiring to receive them myself, especially the box of recipes. It's fun to see a bit of jealousy in Hannah as Charlotte (known to Hannah as Mary) asks Isaac on a picnic. What Charlotte is actually after is more information about Ethan's death.

There are parts of the story that are not as satisfying, but that is not the fault of the author, it is the realism in the book. Why Ethan killed himself, the way Charlotte's relationship ended with Hannah and her family, and the way truth sometimes takes a person by surprise all work together to make a believable novel. I have to give this one Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a slice of hot-from-the-oven home-made bread.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser

The opinions expressed here are solely the property of the blog owner. That being said, I will say that I did not enjoy The Curiosity Keeper as much as I expected. I've read and enjoyed books by Sarah Ladd before and I expect to again. She writes quality novels with incredible characters and great plots, and I will not disagree that she's done that here as well, but I will say this one just didn't fit my tastes.

Camille Iverson is the daughter of a curiosity shop owner. What she doesn't know about her father is that he's not honest in his dealings and not immune to using violence or out and out thievery to get ahead.

Jonathan Gilchrist is the son of an estate owner and curiosity collector. When the estate is burgled and a priceless ruby is stolen, Jonathan is tasked with retrieving the ruby to restore the fortunes of the estate.

Ian Gilchrist is Jonathan's father and at the beginning of the book cares more for money than he does people. He does take care of the people in his village by providing food for those who have no other way to get it, and by providing a school for children who have nowhere else to go. Somehow or other, he undergoes a change toward the end of the book, but Sarah doesn't explain how he comes about this change. I would have liked to have known.

Penelope Gilchrist is Ian's daughter and she's engaged to be married, but her father has squandered her dowry and her fiance is really desirous of her dowry. She seems to be a flibbertigibbet most of the time in the book, but Camille shows her compassion beyond what Penelope showed Camille.

From the beginning, it is obvious that Camille and Jonathan will become a couple, and it's not a huge stretch to figure out how they will fall in love.

Like I said, this book didn't fit my tastes, but there is a lot to like about it. Four stars.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor

I don't know what I was thinking when I chose this book for review. I do read the blurbs about the books, but for some reason I had this book in mind as an historical novel, and to some extent it was historical, but not as I had assumed.

Melanie Dobson has written a book that captures the reader in a "take no prisoners" manner. While bouncing back and forth from the 1950's and 1960's to present day, the story is completely told and completely resolved in this novel.

Heather spent most of her adult years as a single mother raising a daughter with no father-figure in the picture at all. Now Heather's father has passed away and she has to go back to England to clean out the family cottage. While she's there she finds her sister's drawings, and some answers to questions she didn't know she had. She knew she had an older sister, but thought her sister had died before she was born. She finds out that not only is her sister still alive, but her sister is really her birth mother. Even more mysteries are settled for Heather while she is staying in England, and Heather even finds love.

Heather's sister, Libby, is depicted as rather odd, and a bit slow cognitively, but she's quite an artist. Her favorite subject is butterflies and each butterfly she draws has a name and a story. If Libby had been born in a later era, she would have been diagnosed in the Autism spectrum. She has the social disconnects and some cognitive disabilities.

Heather's daughter is most supportive of her mother's dig into history and even when her mother tells her who her father really is.

While this is Heather's story, it cannot be understood without understanding her parents' story too and that is why the flashbacks to the earlier era is so key to the plot. Melanie has done a masterful job of weaving the history into the warp and woof of Heather's life.

Melanie did not make God an overt part of the story, but you see His hand throughout. He clearly resides in most of the characters and makes a difference in their lives.

I have no other choice than to give this book Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a butterfly painting just for you.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fireflies, I Miss You

Once again, I am reviewing for a blog tour, and once again, I absolutely loved the book I chose for the tour. Everything I've read by Amanda Cabot has been top drawer as far as her quality of writing, the plots she weaves, and the characters she develops. In Firefly Valley is another example of Amanda's excellent writing abilities.

Marisa is moving back to Dupree, Texas, because she got fired from what she thought was her dream job. Blake Kendall is coming to Dupree, Texas, and the Rainbow's End Resort, because he has hit a major writer's block. To find that his friend who owns the resort is getting married is icing on Blake's cake.

Lauren is Marisa's friend and the mother of seven-year-old Fiona. Lauren has been widowed for a year and Fiona's biggest wish is a new daddy. Drew Carroll is moving to Dupree after he came to a parting of the ways with the new owners of his company.

Carmen is Marisa's mother, and she has been mourning her husband's disappearance for the last eight years. When Eric shows up at the resort, Carmen accepts him with open arms, but Marisa is less welcoming than an iceberg. Her father deserted her on her graduation day and missed most of her important childhood events because of his drinking.

Each of these people has something to overcome, a place in his or her own heart to open up, and, most of all, grace to accept. Marisa has to release the anger she feels against her father and come to a place where she can forgive him. Blake needs an idea that will keep him meeting his contract deadline. Lauren has to come to a point where she is ready to love again, and Drew has to overcome a reputation as a ladies' man.

While Amanda has woven three love stories into this novel, she has done it skillfully, seamlessly, and engagingly. Her characters have depth, empathy, and gumption. The pacing of her plot is neither too fast, nor too slow. Goldilocks would definitely approve.

One of the things I miss from my childhood is chasing fireflies (only I called them Lightning Bugs), and Amanda has added a special memory of fireflies into the warp and woof of this novel. The fireflies create a touchpoint to connect most of the characters, especially for Lauren and Marissa with Marissa's father.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a summer evening chasing fireflies.

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

As Love Blooms

I love blog tours, especially participating in them. It's so much fun to find a new book, read it, and then give it a review. It's especially fun when I can give a good review, when I've truly enjoyed the book so much it was too hard to put down. As Love Blooms is my current Blog Tour book and it completes a series that's been a while in the making. First there was Hannah's story, then Charlotte's story, now it's Tessa's turn to have her story told. Lorna Seilstad's heroines are not cut from "average" cloth; no, they flout conventions, they blaze trails, they test norms and break them into tiny, little pieces....

Tessa Gregory has been studying horticulture for the last two years at the University of Minnesota, but because of rules that she felt were too tight, she was invited not to return. She has to find a way to make her way in the world instead of going to school, and she feels that the best way is by getting a job at one of the horticultural parks in St Paul. The only problem is that the superintendent of the park won't hire women. Walking through the park, she notices that the pansies need to be dead-headed, but the security officer on patrol takes issue with her taking the dead blooms off the stems. Reese King, the gardener in charge of this particular plot, notices what she's done and steps in to take control of the situation. He figures she's done him a favor and wants to return it. This is where their relationship begins. Reese offers to help her with getting the superintendent to notice her work and she offers to help him with setting up a new garden. In order to prevent discovery of her gender, Tessa wears a big straw hat, overalls, a working shirt, and men's boots. She takes care to keep her face hidden while working and works just as hard as Reese does, but she's doing more work than just at the park--she's working to get a conservatory for the park as a way to get the superintendent to notice her.

Lorna has a way of writing that is inviting for the reader. There is a quote that says, "Well-behaved women seldom make history." These are the kinds of women Lorna puts in her books, and this is the kind of woman Tessa is. None of the Gregory sisters will be the kind of well-behaved woman ignored by history, and I would dearly love to meet them in person, although, I'm not sure they have the time to sit down and just have a chat. They are women on the move. The mates Lorna has created for them are their exact match, their complement, their spiritual mate. Reese is just the man Tessa needs--one who will stand beside her, encourage her, and work with her to achieve her goals--and when it comes down to it, he's also the one who will rescue her.

Lorna's plots speed along in a way that the reader loses track of time while reading the book. There are adventures to be had, mysteries to solve, damsels in distress to rescue, and gardens to plot out. Tessa and Reese are characters with a depth that make them believable, likable, and relatable. The settings in the book only add to the story instead of being a distraction. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the most beautiful rose you've ever seen!

My Thanks to Revell for allowing me to read, review, and participate in this blog tour!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Together with You

Victoria Bylin has taken some hard topics and woven them into a cohesive novel that grips the reader and doesn't let go until the last page. She takes on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, unequally yoked couples, finding salvation, and unending guilt and creates a riveting story with all these facets in it.

Penny is a young girl who has just lost her mother and has gone to live with the father she didn't know she had. The disruption to her life is near tragic proportions, and without impulse control, she often runs away from things that bother her or she has major meltdowns. Penny is also the victim of fetal alcohol, and while she is not full blown syndrome, she exhibits some of the characteristics.

Carly is the assistant manager of a stuffed animal emporium and absolutely loves the children who come into her store.

Ryan, an optometrist, is Penny's father, who is at a complete loss as to how to deal with Penny. He is also at a complete loss as to how to deal with his teenage sons while their mother is overseas for the summer on a missions trip.

Kyle and Eric are the sons.

These are the major players in the book.

The excitement begins when Eric loses Penny in the mall and Carly finds her in her store. When Ryan sees how Carly is able to relate to Penny, he offers her a job as Penny's nanny on the spot. It takes some talking from Ryan and an interview that includes the family to convince Carly that she will be willing to help the family.

Ryan is agnostic, though his sons are not, and the more time he spends around Carly, the more he falls in love with her. When he sees the progress she makes with Penny and her ability to help him connect with his sons, he begins to believe that he MUST have her in his life.

Carly knows that Ryan has no relationship with Christ, and she tries to guard her heart, but Ryan is hard to resist, and it becomes even harder for her to resist him when he insists she move into the nanny suite after a murder in her apartment building.

Victoria's ability to make this a seamless novel sets her apart as a novelist. Her characters are deep and relatable, their struggles are real, their pathos believable. Her plot pacing keeps the reader engaged and committed to finding out how Carly and Ryan do end up married. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There will be something that almost any reader can relate to.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a meltdown-free day.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wild West Brides

Lori Copeland has a penchant for writing some rootin', tootin', rip-roarin' books and each one is a gem in its own right. I just finished a trilogy of Wild West Brides and I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them.

Three Claxton brothers are returning home from the uncivil Civil War, and each one encounters love in a significantly different way. Wynne Elliot is on her way to River Run, Missouri, to find Cass Claxton to do him a serious injury because he took her money and left her standing at the altar. While on her journey, she is overrun by the Beeson gang and robbed of her last bit of money to finance her trip. Cole and Beau Claxton happen on the stage just moments after the robbery occured, and offered to take her into town and help her out for a bit. What Wynne doesn't know is that they are Cass's brothers. When she finds out, she decides to strike out on her own to find Cass and do him in. Cole can't let that happen, so he follows her and from there, all kinds of sparks fly.

Beau comes home from the war to marry his high school sweetheart, Betsy. About a year later, Bets is bitten by a rattlesnake that kills her and their unborn child. After the funeral, Beau leaves River Run--in an effort to run from his grief. His running leads him to Cherry Grove, Kansas, and into the mouth of an angry, injured wolf--which does him a great injury itself. Charity Burk sees what happens and drags him to her house and takes care of his injuries until he gets better. In the meantime, her best friend, Letty, dies in childbirth and her husband leaves the baby in Charity's care. In order for Charity to keep her claim and keep the baby, she needs to marry Beau, it's just getting Beau to come around to her way of thinking.

On his way home from Kansas City, Cass drops in on Beau--the day he marries Charity--and helps him prove up Charity's land. On a trip to town, he and Beau encounter Leviticus McCord and his daughter Susanne. Susanne is rather spoiled and not afraid to throw a major hissy fit in public in order to get her way. She ends up hitting Cass in the face with her purse and later comes to Charity's house to try to talk Cass into taking her to St Louis. When her original plan doesn't work, she resorts to blackmail to force Cass to marry her and take her to St Louis. When Cass drops her off, he demands that she get the marriage annulled. Six years pass by and now Susanne needs a place to run her orphanage and house "her" nine children, and the place she finds to fill her needs is owned by Cass Claxton. When he won't lease the place to her, she decides to move the children back to Cherry Grove to live with her father. She manipulates Cass by sending a telegram to him "from" Beau telling him he needs Cass's help. On the way to and after they reach Cherry Grove, Susanne does a lot of growing up, especially in her spiritual life. This one of the three novels had me crying for more than half an hour.

Lori has done a tremendous job with these three novels. There was a bit of repetition in SOME of the elements of the books--Charity and Susanne both do a bit of manipulation to get their way and their man. Both of them retreat from their manipulation, but not until they have done some serious damage to their relationships. That is the only real criticism I have for these books or for Lori's writings. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a wagon train ride west.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Gentleman's Kiss

This is a collection of nine novellas where a single kiss seals the deal between a single man and a single woman, written by nine incredible authors. As I was reading through the stories, I kept finding that I liked each one better than the previous one, with a couple of exceptions.

The problem with these collections is that there isn't space enough to give the characters the depth they need to make a good story, but these authors seem to make it work within the constraints. There are a couple of novellas out of sequence in the galley I read, but for the most part, all nine stories stand alone. I feel that some of them have been previously published in other collections, but what caused the them to make the cut in this collection is the fact of a mind-bending kiss between the protagonists. The settings vary from story to story but adds to the spice of the whole anthology. Two of the stories revolve around music, several of them revolve around former loves moving back home, but all of them revolve around Jesus Christ. One, in fact, uses the story as a tool to point out the gospel in such a way that every reader MUST make a decision for or against Jesus.

The book's list of novellas and authors can be found on Amazon by clicking on the picture of the book and then the table of contents. Each is listed in the order it appears in the book. It was such a pleasure to read this book. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a kiss to knock your socks off.

My thanks to Barbour Books for allowing me to read and review this anthology.

Undercover Bride

Once again, I have jumped into the middle of a series, but once again, it doesn't really matter. The characters stand alone and the reader does not feel that she is missing something.

Maggie Cartwright, aka Maggie Taylor is Garrett Thomas' mail order bride, but in reality, Maggie is a Pinkerton agent out to prove that Garrett was the Whistle-Stop Bandit. Once Maggie meets Garrett, she begins to doubt that Garrett actually WAS the Bandit. Still it's her job to find the evidence to prove the charges one way or the other. In the meantime, Maggie falls in love with Garrett's two children, and then falls in love with Garrett himself.

While Margaret Brownley did follow the accepted romance formula, she did it in a most entertaining way. Her books are always marked with humor and light-heartedness and this one is no different.

Maggie has had to take on many roles in her job as a Pinkerton, but she's never really learned the homemaking arts--especially the essentials like cooking, so she hides her discrepancies as best as she can. She uses a cookbook but she doesn't let anyone else know about it by hiding it after she uses it.

I have loved every one of Margaret Brownley's books that I've read. I recommend this one to anyone who likes light-hearted historical romance. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a Pinkerton Agent who'll find all your secrets.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sand in My Sandwich

Sarah Parshall Perry has written a memoir describing her life with her two autistic sons and her neurotypical daughter. This was an intriguing book to read because I know parents of autistic children, I have an autistic nephew, and I have known some autistic people.

What I have brought away from reading this book is that there is no manual for raising children, but even more so for raising autistic children. One of the more poignant things that Sarah has said in this book is that if you've met an autistic child, you've met ONE autistic child. There is no "typical" autistic child, each one exhibits his brain synapses differently. I have a friend with seven children, three with sensory processing disorders (but not the same ones), two with autism, and these five neuro-differences encompass only three of her children. One thing that my friend is vocal about is that autistic behavior is not always a spoiled child acting out, it is a matter of sensory overload and the inability to process what all the senses are saying. Sarah Perry says this too.

At one time, autism was a rare and baffling condition, but now, while it's still baffling, it's not rare, about 1% of all children have some form of autism. With no known cause, there is no known cure--not that an autistic child needs to be cured, but it is in some cases a debilitating disease that prevents the sufferer from having a normal life or even normal human interaction. I have a degree in Elementary Education which means I don't know much about a lot of subjects, and what little I do know is incomplete. I thank Sarah for writing this book that gives a glimpse into her day-to-day life with two autistic children, and into her desire to raise them to be followers of God. It's a hard thing she does, even with the help of her husband and I hope that her children will rise up and call her blessed.

For mothers everywhere, this is a five star book!

I thank Revell for allowing me to read and review this book. You have done a great service by publishing it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Hope Remembered

I don't always choose to read World War I era books--my understanding of the history of the war is that the whole era was depressing, but for some reason this book made it to my reading list. And, it made it to the top of the queue, so yesterday, I read it, and I loved it. I didn't realize that A Hope Remembered was part of a series until I started writing this review.

I've not encountered Stacy Henrie in my reading forays yet, but I am glad I stumbled upon her writing now. She is talented in the way she puts a plot together with romance and a bit of suspense, and she develops her characters to make the reader believe they are real people.

Colin and his brother, Christian, are pilots in the Royal Flying Corps (as it was called during WWI) and often fly their missions together. In one of their conversations together, Christian makes Colin promise to go back to their home in Elmthwaite if anything happens to him, and in the next mission, Christian is shot down. Colin goes home, not because he wants to, but because of his promise.

Nora has inherited a sheep farm just down the lane from Elmthwaite and since her parents died unexpectedly in the influenza epidemic, she sells the family farm to move to England where her sheep farm is. She shows up on the doorstep of Elmthwaite to get the key to her cottage. They begin to develop a friendship that grows beyond just friendship. When the neighbor's son, Jack Tuttle, starts spending time with Nora, Colin feels the green-eyed monster grow in his heart.

In the midst of all this, Colin's father wants him to encourage Nora to sell him her place so he can build a hotel on her field--all in the name of helping the family coffers. And in the meantime, someone is vandalizing Nora's place and creating havoc for her--even to the point of stealing her puppy.

This book does follow the generally accepted romance formula (first mentioned here), but it doesn't detract from the sweetness of the plot. The setting and the time work together to make this a quiet read--and I am not sure how to explain it except to say this isn't a loud, gonging plot, but it moves along quietly with a few bumps and hiccups here and there.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a sheep to shear.

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Promise of Grace

Belinda was killed in an accident about a year ago and now Silas and the children are moving to Pinecraft, near Sarasota, Florida. Living in Pinecraft is Rochelle Keim, once a girlfriend of Silas. They have a past together that they have to get through before they can have a future together. When Silas' daughter has an acute attack of appendicitis, some hidden truths have to come out that should have been revealed a long time ago.

Lynette Sowell has written an engaging Plain novel in a series taking place in Pinecraft, Florida. I was introduced to the Plain peoples living in Pinecraft in novels by Anna Schmidt and thoroughly enjoyed them. There are Mennonites, Old Order Amish, and other Plain people in between living in Pinecraft.

I will get the worst criticism out of the way first. Silas' daughter, Lena, needed a blood transfusion, and her blood type was O-, which the nurse is telling Silas that the blood type is very rare. Silas is quoted as having AB blood type. I googled blood types by percentages and found this information:

The approximate distribution of blood types in the U.S. population is as follows:
O-positive: 38 percent.
O-negative: 7 percent.
A-positive: 34 percent.
A-negative: 6 percent.
B-positive: 9 percent.
B-negative: 2 percent.
AB-positive: 3 percent.
AB-negative: 1 percent.

I don't always remember things I learned in high school, but I did learn that O- is the universal donor--O- blood is often used when the blood type is unknown because it is least likely to cause a reaction in the one needing the transfusion. AB+ is the universal receiver, least likely to have a reaction from the wrong blood type given. I found Lynette's description just a bit off, or maybe because of my own health issues, I have enough medical knowledge to be dangerous. This is the WORST criticism I have for the book.

Silas is a sympathetic main character who is finding his way after losing his wife. His primary desire after his family is to go back to Africa and be Mission Aviator. Even though it has been twenty years since seeing Rochelle, he still loves her, but he has to settle some of their history before he can truly re-enter into a relationship with her.

Rochelle is a dedicated woman who wants to finish her nursing degree and go into missions herself. Right at the beginning of the book, her two nieces live with her while they prepare for their weddings. They encourage her relationship with Silas, and she still has feelings for Silas, but again, their history has to be dealt with.

Lynette has put together a great story that sets roots down in your heart and brings dessert with it.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and dessert.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Beyond the Ashes

It seems that lately I am jumping into series of books in the middle of the series, and with Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett, I did it again. I have to say that the book stands well alone. While some of the characters were featured in the previous book in the series, it didn't feel as though I was jumping into the middle of a conversation, and I didn't feel as though I was missing something.

Recently, I watched a Ken Burns series called, "Cancer, the Emperor of Maladies." The series went back to the early ages of radiation therapies for cancer and the dangers the early pioneers faced in using radiation. I have cancer. I don't talk about it much because I don't wish to bore the populace about it. I will gladly answser questions about my condition, my treatments, and how my condition places limits on me. Just ask!

Ruby is a widow and a nurse needing a change of scenery, so she moves from Sacramento to San Francisco where her brother is soon to be married, and where the city is suffering the after-effects of the earthquake that tore it to shreds. She finds her brother and his fiancee, Abby, living with his partner in his medical research. His partner, Dr Gerald Larkspur, shuffles things around in his home to make room for Ruby, and at the same time shuffles his heart around to make room for her too. Ruby begins working at the hospital with her brother and Gerald, and accompanies Abby to the shanty-town area to treat the homeless because of the earthquake. Abby's mother and Gerald's mother are also living in the house and spend their time in the kitchen trying to outdo each other in the sweets making department.

Ruby is estranged from God when she arrives in San Francisco, but Gerald's gentle ways re-introduce her to God and helps her faith to grow. In the meantime, Patrick shows up on the scene with his own interest in Ruby. He's the minister to the shanty-town people and it's easy for him to fall for Ruby's generous, servant's heart. Ruby has to decide which man truly holds her heart.

There are moments in this book that make you want to cry, moments that make you laugh, and moments that make you just say, "Awwwwwww." This is definitely a five star, two thumbs up, and a piece of cake kind of book.

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