©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Right Book This Time

I had two books on my kindle with the same title. I read the wrong one first (reviewed here), so I read the right one this time. It's just one of those things. I'm sure it happens to everyone at some time or another.

Elizabeth is on her way home after her mother dies and hopes to take her place in her home. The only thing holding her back from that is her father's icy reception, her brother's hatred of her, and the servants lack of respect for her. Just a few little obstacles to overcome. Her father sent her to live with her great aunt Victoria in order to catch a suitable husband, but the only husband she wants is Rourke O'Malley.

This is the novel that Christine Johnson has set up for our reading pleasure. Love's Rescue takes place prior to the Civil War in Key West, Florida, and the characters battle all kinds of obstacles to true love--including hurricanes, prejudices, and lack of respect.

The following is OPINION only: I didn't like the book as well as I have liked others.

That being said, I will say this--the novel has well-developed characters, conflict, and resolution. The plot drags in a few places, but not overmuch. The setting is suitable for the activities of the characters. It's a good book, I just didn't like it as much. That's a taste thing, not a quality thing.

Four Stars

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reaping a Rich Harvest

It is seldom that a book as resonant as Until the Harvest comes along and enriches the readers through the reading. Sarah Loudin Thomas has put together a great novel that really spoke to me. The novel takes place during the mid to late seventies (years I was coming of age, myself), which was a rather turbulent time. The US was still coming out from under the Watergate scandal, Viet Nam had been declared a decided defeat, and the sexual revolution was picking up steam and rolling forward.

Henry Phillips was home from school for the Christmas holidays when his father suddenly dies in his sleep. Henry makes the decision to stay home instead of going back to school. In the process, he gets involved in running moonshine for Clint Simmons. Clint's son, Charlie gets Henry involved in transporting marijuana, without Henry's knowledge of the drug. One of Charlie's escapades lands Henry in trouble thinking he'd gotten a girl pregnant.

Margaret Hoffman is the daughter of a social climber, and works as a housekeeper for Henry's grandmother, Emily. Margaret's mother sees Margaret's work as beneath her and insists that she either move out or quit her job. She will not be held in the contempt of her peers for Margaret's life and work. All Margaret ever wanted was to live on a farm and grow things. With a bit of finagling, Margaret gets her parents to allow her little sister, Mayfair, to come live with her.

Mayfair Hoffman is a tender-hearted young girl who has a special "touch" when it comes to helping others. The only problem is that when she helps someone, it causes a significant drop in her blood sugar and makes her pass out. One incident (with the milk-cow, Bertie) sends her into a diabetic coma and keeps her in the hospital for about a week.

These are just a few of the obstacles Henry and Margaret have to overcome to find that they truly belong together and that they truly love each other.

In reading some of the blurbs about this book, it is the second in a series by Sarah, but I do have to say that this book can and does stand alone quite well. The rural setting and the farming atmosphere is familiar to me and enhanced my enjoyment of the book. To see Henry wake up and take stock of his life is a sparkling gem in this story. The events keep the reader engaged and the characters are compelling. Changes in some of the lesser characters of the book are satisfying and well-thought-out. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, but no moonshine or marijuana.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Love's Rescue

I read the wrong book. I was supposed to be reading Love's Rescue, but I read Love's Rescue instead. I must say it was a good novel anyway. Tammy Barley has done a masterful job setting up her story and bringing it to an enchanting conclusion. Her characters are so well developed, the reader feels as if she knows them well.

Jessica Hale is a young lady who helps her father and his business partner in their import business. When she tries to find out what happened to her brother, she starts a firestorm that necessitates her rescue by Jake Bennett and being taken to his ranch far out in the wilds of Nevada.

In this book are unlikely friendships, gunfights, daring rescues, a mustang round up, secrets, and surprises--something will appeal to almost any reader. It is hard to put this book down and easy to read. It is enchanting, compelling, and engaging. In other words, I loved the book! Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a mustang to saddle-break.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All Tangled Up

Carey Scott has written a book that discusses how we get tangled up in the world and how only God can untangle us. She begins with her own entanglements which began when she was molested at the age of four, but we all get tangled up when we try to get our worth from the world's ideas. She uses biblical examples to show us how easy to is get ourselves tangled in knots that are detrimental to our spirits, our health, and even our souls.

While I was not molested as a child, I understand where Carey has come from in discussing the bad decisions we make, and the entanglements those decisions put on us. This book is a valuable tool for people who are still trapped in their entanglements and want to find the way out. Carey has done a great job in showing the solutions in the Bible and showing us how to untangle ourselves in the process. I could have used this book twenty years ago, but I am happy to have this book now to be able share with someone else going through the transformation of untangling.

Five Stars.

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Flying Affair

Carla Stewart has written a novel that soars above the normal novel in ways that are intriguing, engaging, and compelling. A Flying Affair takes place during the Prohibition Era, the Amelia Earhardt Era, the Charles Lindburgh Era, and the novel brings all of these together into a cohesive story that is hard to put down.

Mittie Humphreys wants to fly with her whole being. While being on the back of a horse gives her some semblance of flight, it's not the whole enchilada to her. When Ames Dewberry shows up in town in a barnstorming gig, he takes her up in his plane and lets her take the controls. This feeds her desires even more. About the same time, Bobby York comes to open a flying school and both men find Mittie to be the cat's pajamas. Mittie enjoys the company of both men and values both their friendships, but for some reason Mittie falls in love with Ames, even though he's rather sketchy at times.

Most of the time, authors tip their hands on the romantic interests of the heroines and the reader knows whom she will marry. Carla has mastered the art of keeping readers involved in the book from start to finish. Her characters are compelling, well developed, and deep. The history Carla has added into the story only adds more depth and color to the story and makes it better.

This is a clean novel that would probably sell well on the secular market as well as the Christian market. While faith is not integral to the story, it is a clear undernote. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a flying lesson or two.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2015


A while ago, I decided I was tired of answering "How are you?" with "good, and you?" If anyone asks me how I am, I answer, "Peaceful." It starts a conversation where I can tell anyone interested that my peace comes from my relationship with Jesus. When I chose to read Bobby Schuller's Happiness According to Jesus, I could tell that it was not going to be a "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" kind of book. I was right (I love it when that happens). Bobby has taken the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and exposed the teachings of Jesus into understandable and applicable language.

The most important point he makes is you can't just rest in knowing what Jesus wants you to do, you have to do it! In one of the later chapters of the book, Bobby takes on the Golden Rule and comparing it to the Silver Rule. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you want to be treated. The Silver Rule is don't treat others the way you don't want to be treated. The Golden Rule is what the Good Samaritan did when he came upon the man who had been robbed on the Jericho Road. The Silver Rule is what the Levite and Rabbi did. They didn't beat and rob the man, but neither did they help him.

Bobby says:
Every day is an opportunity to do what Jesus taught. It's never easy but always fulfilling. Jesus has a way of living.
He wants us to be the light of the world.
He wants us to relent from our anger.
He wants us to stop lying.
He wants us to love our enemies.
He wants us to care for those who speak badly about us.
He wants us to care for the needy, those who are hungry, those who are thirsty.
He wants us to care about justice and not do it for our own glory, but do it for others.
He wants us to be praying people, who pray simply, and pray because we know that God is listening.
He wants us to be fasting people.
He wants us to be people who stop worrying, who don't think with concern about tomorrow or regret yesterday, but live today in the easy rhythms of grace.
He wants us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth where moths and rust destroy, but to store up real heavenly treasure that we can access today, that never goes away.
He wants us to stop judging people, to stop shoving religion down people's throats.
He wants us to know that if we need something, we can ask Him.
Jesus is going to come. He's going to deliver. We know that we serve a good God. There is a way of living and a way of doing, and we're going to do it.

Five Stars.

My Thanks to Worthy Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Innocent

I've read several of Ann Gabhart's books and enjoyed them immensely, but I haven't felt compelled to read her Shaker series, until now. I will state now that most of what I write here is a matter of taste. I chose to read The Innocent, but I forced myself to slog through it. I didn't like the plot and that is all a matter of taste.

The characters:
Carlyn Kearney believes her husband is still alive, even though the war has been over for a couple of years, and he hasn't returned home.
Mitchell Brodie is the sheriff who finds himself falling in love with Carlyn.
Curt Whitlow owns the mortgage on the farm Carlyn and her husband bought before the war, and he wants his payment in ways that Carlyn is loath to give.
Sister Edna is the sister assigned to Carlyn when she goes to the Shakers for help.
Elder Derron is the elder who is in charge of all acquisitions the Shakers receive.

The Shakers are a sect that does not believe in marriage or procreation, or owning property. They do believe that we can live a sinless life here on earth as long as Mother Ann Lee's rules are followed to the jot and tittle. Unlike the Amish, they are all for using machines to accomplish whatever needs to be done in a timely manner, but like the Amish, they dress plainly and modestly.

Ann has done her research well for her Shaker series. She is a gifted writer who knows how to move a plot, who knows how to include fully developed characters to fill out the plot, and who knows how to engage her readers. I have liked her other books that I have read, including Angel Sister and Small Town Girl. Those really piqued my interest.

I will give this a grudging five stars, not that I begrudge giving the stars to Ann, but just that I didn't care for the plot line THIS TIME. I really recommend that you take the time to read something Ann has written. She's that good.

I want to thank Revell for allowing me to read and review this book.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Convenient Brides

I just finished reading a collection of nine novellas where the protagonists married for convenience rather than love. Wait a minute, eight of the novellas contained marriages of convenience. The ninth one did have a marriage for love. The reasons for the marriages varied--a single father needing a mother for his children, a woman needing a husband to gain her inheritance, a woman needing a husband to keep her ranch--myriads of reasons to make a marriage where love came after rather than before.

These authors are quality writers, but some of the stories were better than others. Some of the authors developed their characters well within the constraints of the length of each of the stories while others were a bit shallower. This did not in any way detract from the fun-ness of the collection. The tales are satisfying for reading for an afternoon, and then coming back to read another on a different afternoon.

A solid four stars.

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

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Radical Cross

There is a point in time that changes history all together, it is the time that all of God's grace was poured out on earth and salvation was secured for anyone willing to take up his* cross and follow. The things Jesus did as He lived changed the lives that He touched. His final act was to lay His own life down so that ANYONE can receive God's grace and that's when history changed. A W Tozer wrote this book before 1963 (not sure of the exact date), but what Tozer says in this book is sooooooooooooooooooooooo relevant to today's society and today's problems that it seems like it was written yesterday. One thing about this book is that the truth is the truth, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the Supreme Court decisions, regardless of my wishes for what it could be. Truth is Truth and only God is the Truth.

I found some quotes from the book that can stand on their own, but they tie so well to all that Tozer has to say in the book:

“When God justifies a sinner everything in God is on the sinner's side.”

“In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross. If he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar, but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.”

“The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment.”

“The work of Christ on the cross did not influence God to love us, did not increase that love by one degree, did not open any fount of grace or mercy in His heart. He had loved us from old eternity and needed nothing to stimulate that love. The cross is not responsible for God's love; rather it was His love which conceived the cross as the one method by which we could be saved. God felt no different toward us after Christ had died for us, for in the mind of God Christ had already died before the foundation of the world. God never saw us except through atonement. The human race could not have existed one day in its fallen state had not Christ spread His mantle of atonement over it. And this He did in eternal purpose long ages before they led Him out to die on the hill above Jerusalem. All God's dealings with man have been conditioned upon the cross.”

To consider the last fifty or so years we can see that the order of God's world deteriorate even further into chaos, and that in itself is a clarion call for everyone to pick up his own cross and experience the grace of God.

Five solid stars!

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

*I am not at all threatened by using he/him/his as a gender-neutral pronoun.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reservations for Two

It's not often a reader comes across a book that is so captivating that it is so hard to put it down. Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge is just such a book. Not only does Hillary write such an enthralling book, but she includes recipes that are woven into the warp and woof of the plot. This is book two in the Two Blue Doors series. I read the first one with the same kind of enrapture and even tried out a couple of the recipes. There will be more than one recipe in this book that I will be trying out too!

Reservations for Two picks up where Table by the Window left off--Julietta and Nico are working so hard to get Two Blue Doors up and running, with Julietta in Paris to find some suppliers for the restaurant and to find the answer to some family mysteries. Their mother has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is having some difficulties in spite of the treatments. Julietta's online romance has become an "in-person" romance when Neil shows up in Paris and stays throughout the rest of her time in Europe. Julietta even goes to see Neil in Memphis a short time after their European rendezvous.

Hillary has pulled the family together with strong characters, with a history of written letters that sometimes surprises, sometimes delights and sometimes brings sadness, with the pathos of an uncertain cure for a deadly illness, with the delights of a new romance, and with the heartbreak of that romance breaking up. Her recipes cause drooling, again just by reading the ingredients list. Her setting descriptions make the reader want to fly out and go there RIGHT NOW. I go to Portland frequently because of some health issues, and Hillary's writings make me wish that Two Blue Doors was a real restaurant.

Again, this is a FIVE STAR book, two thumbs up, and a jar of lavender honey.

My Thanks to WaterBrook Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.