©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Saddle Maker's Son

It hasn't been that long ago that I reviewed Kelly Irvin's novella in An Amish Market. So now she has a full length novel to follow her novella.

The Saddle Maker's Son takes on a new couple of people in Bee County, Texas--Rebekah and Tobias, but it also includes the romance between Susan, Rebekah's aenti, and Levi, Tobias' father. There is a cruise ship full of characters in this book and sometimes it is hard to keep them straight, but the charm is not diminished in the least by the plethora of people populating the pages of this novel.

Sometimes it is the side issues in the novel that make the rest of the plot keep its pace, and that is true here. Rebekah is helping out in the classroom when she finds some children in the school's shed--children from El Salvador who were coming to find their father and live with him. It is around and through these children that Rebekah and Tobias, and Susan and Levi make their connections, and it is for these children that all four work together so closely to help them stay in the country and start the life their grandmother wanted for them.

I found this story to be captivatingly compelling and worthy of a whole afternoon's time to read it.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a big Amish family to keep laughter in your walls.

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

The Courtship Basket

Rachel was betrayed by her boyfriend and her best friend at the same time. When her cousin Malinda asks her to come and teach with her, she sees it as a way to occupy her mind as well as her self without dwelling on the actions of those who betrayed her. Her first special student is John who lost his mother and is about to lose his father. His brother Mike is taking care of both of them. Every day Rachel is charged with sending notes home for all the students in her class and gets a bit put out with Mike when he doesn't answer her notes, especially the ones about John's behavior and refusal to obey the rules. Rachel takes the bull by the horns and accosts Mike at his work. Afterwards, she feels horrible about the situation, especially when she finds out exactly how much pressure Mike is under with his father's illness and taking care of the family business. As a way of repairing the damage she's done, she begins preparing meals for John to take home after school a couple of nights a week, using the basket her father used to court her mother.

Amy Clipston
is a gifted writer about the Amish world--her descriptions put the reader right into the scene with the characters, her characters seem like long lost friends, and the plot moves along just like a day in the life.

The Courtship Basket is a five star, two thumbs up, and a pan of brownies kind of book.

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

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Habits for Our Holiness

When I read non-fiction, more often than not, I will only read one chapter a day so that I can ingest and digest the information given. For a book like Habits for Our Holiness, that was a necessary strategy. Learning how others have come before me and walked the walk of faith always aids my own walk. My first tour through the Christian disciplines is Donald Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Both of these books offer quite the same information, but both of the books are worth reading more than once.

When I was a student getting my degree in education, one of the things we learned is how we learned--we could be visual learners (I am), auditory learners, or kinetic learners, or any combination of all of the above. In fact, we all have some degree of all three learning styles in us. I could take notes in a class and bring the notes back up in my mind when I was taking a test and read until I got to the answer I needed. Making things stick in our minds is easier when we take our own notes and read them in our own handwriting, or we read them aloud in our own voices, or we act it out with our own bodies. This in and of itself is why it's good to read the same kinds of information with more than one author.

So here's what I brought away from the chapter on Bible Study: We have to question each passage of scripture--it's like asking the teacher to explain something we don't understand.

1. How does this passage reveal God's character?
2. How does this passage reveal God's redemptive plan?
3. How did the passage apply to the original hearers?
4. How does this truth affect my relationship with Christ?
5. In what ways do I rebel against the truth in the passage?
6. What is the impact of the passage on the church?

Philip Nation has brought the disciplines together in an extremely readable way, understandable by any student of the Christian life. This is a five star book worth reading, meditating on, and digesting, simply to understand God and His word better.

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

Tender Mercies

I think this is my first foray into books by Mary Manners, and while it is a really good book, there are some themes that are overdone. Lexi and Cooper used to date, but Cooper goes on to become an NFL football player while Lexi is left holding her heart in her hands and Cooper's baby in her womb. Lexi loses the baby, and when Cooper comes back to town it disrupts her whole life, especially since her heart has not truly gotten over her love for Cooper. I've read that theme more than once. It still works for this book, but it offered nothing new. That is my worst criticism of the book.

Lexi and her friend Renee run an after-school program called Thursday's Child, and the program is hurting for an infusion of money to keep operating. Their lease is up in August, and they either need to come up with money to buy the building, or they need new digs for the program. To get some funding for day to day expenses, they have an auction for mystery dates. Lexi allows Renee to talk her into becoming one of the auctionees. When Cooper sees Lexi on tv in an interview about the program and the auction, he looks up the Thursday's Child website to see that Lexi is, in fact, up for bids. He doesn't dig very deep for his first bid, but when he sees that he's been outbid, he digs a bit deeper to insure that he will win the date with Lexi. One of the ways Cooper worms his way back into Lexi's heart is through her nephew, Andy, who is living with her.

This is a definite four-star book; it's not very long, doesn't take very long to read, and is enjoyable for fluffy read that doesn't require much concentration.

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

Treading the Boards

So, Jen Turano is completing another series with some pretty interesting characters and lots of humor.

Abigail Hart has taken in three girls who were living in a tenement apartment in New York City, and as is her wont, she has matched Millie and Harriet, leaving only Lucetta to marry off. And Abigail has the perfect match for Lucetta--her grandson, Bram Haverstein.

When Lucetta's step-father shows up after one of her performances on the stage wanting the deed to Lucetta's plantation in Virginia, or in lieu of the plantation, he wanted her to give herself to Silas Ruff as a means of settling a gambling debt. When Silas shows up at the theater to collect on his debt, Lucetta's bodyguard spirits her away to Abigail's and Abigail spirits her away to Ravenwood, which is Bram's house. As much as Abigail wants Bram to fall for Lucetta and vice versa, both are harboring secrets they do not feel comfortable sharing. Though Lucetta's secrets have to do with how her mother treated her when she was growing up, Bram's secret is harder to divulge--he is the popular author Mr. Grimstone, and he does his writing in a dungeon in his castle.

Bram has a strange group of employees in his castle--ex cons, former homeless, and tenement dwellers whom he is trying to raise up into more acceptable circumstances. The only ones he didn't hire himself are the housekeeper and the butler, ones he inherited with the purchase of the castle.

There is no rest for the wicked or the weary in this book as the plot speeds along at the speed of a race car in the Indianapolis 500. The characters have to solve mystery after mystery despite all the obstacles thrown into their paths--obstables like Geoffrey the goat who doesn't like women, a kidnapping, the dogs, a horse that is light sensitive, confronting meddling or distant parents, and random cannon fire.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a random cannon shot

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Small Town Brides

I have decided that writing a novella for a collection is one of the hardest things an author has to do. The difficulties include character development and plot movement with fewer words. Done well, the stories are better than a lot of full length novels. Most of the novellas in this olio are tremendous and it would be a long post indeed if I were to review them all. So I will only review my favorite one.

The Caretaker by Kelly Eileen Hake I have reviewed some of Kelly's work before and I panned her once, but in this instance, she SHINES.

Amy Ross is a widow who runs an orphanage with sixteen girls. Tyler Samuels has moved in next door for the sole purpose of watching the orphanage to be sure all the children are treated well. He watched his sister die of neglect and abuse in an orphanage and he wasn't going to allow that to happen to another child. When one of the girls believes he's the caretaker of the house next door, he doesn't set the child straight and continues the ruse.

Kelly has included some really interesting characters, including Amy's mother-in-law, who reminds Amy frequently who holds the purse strings as well as the deed to the house Amy lives in. When Tyler hears her berate Amy one time too many, well, let's just say words get said.

Overall this is a great collection of ladies finding true love while everyone in town keeps a close eye on things--especially the town gossip.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a small town life regardless of where you live.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Heart's Heritage and the Magistrate's Folly

This book is a two-fer, two novels for the price of one.

First off, we have Heart's Heritage by Ramona K Cecil. It recounts quite the adventure where Brock and Annie inherit the same land equally, Annie gets kidnapped by the Shawnee, Brock gets arrested for desertion from the Army, Brock and Annie get married, Anna has a baby that was fathered by her first husband who was murdered by a man who hoped Annie would marry him.

This book has a plot that keeps the reader involved and engaged throughout the whole story. It is a Five Star tale worth reading.

Secondly, we have The Magistrate's Folly by Lisa Karon Richardson. This narrative tells the story of Merry Lattimore who was deported from England to Virginia on false charges of theft from her former employer. The magistrate in the case finds out that the former employer's son is the one who stole the jewels Merry was accused of taking. Graham Sinclair, the magistrate, decides to come to America to find Merry and let her know of her exoneration. While he's there, Merry's indenture owner is poisoned and dies. Merry takes it upon herself to find the true culprit in the case before a woman is executed for something she didn't do.

I found this one rather staid in plot ideas, but it could be my taste. I kept wanting to push the plot forward to stay engaged in the story. I am sure it is a good read, but it dragged for me. Four Stars.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Red Door Inn

Marie has effectively run away from home because her father has betrayed her in the worst possible way. Jack sees Marie in the ferry terminal counting and recounting her change and he knows she doesn't have enough to get a ferry ticket, so he convinces her he needs her decorating expertise to complete his bed and breakfast inn. Jack doesn't know much about how he wants his inn to look, except that he wants it to have a red door and he wants to call it the Red Door Inn.

Seth is Jack's nephew and has been swindled out of his last dime, so he's working for Jack doing the handyman repairs on the inn. He mistrusts Marie and wants to find her ulterior motive before she swindles his uncle Jack out of all his money.

Jack sees something between Marie and Seth and puts them together whenever he can, which, for Seth, suits him just fine.

Marie knows that her time away from home is short because her father's private detective will catch up to her sooner or later. When disaster strikes the inn and Jack is about to run out of money, Marie decides that sooner is better than later, since she can help bail Jack out.

Liz Johnson has written a soulful book with some real-life angst-filled problems. She has the characters solve them in ways that are realistic and logical.

This is a five star book, two thumbs up, and a night at the Red Door Inn.

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

Sit, Stay, Love

First thoughts, this book is incredibly silly. Second thoughts, it's meant to be silly and it works. When you put a substitute teacher; a crabby, professional baseball player; and an overweight, old dog together, silly is all you can get out of it. The lesser characters include the baseball player's uncle and aunt who sponsor a baseball team for blind children, a stalking photographer, and a former beau with an adorable son.

When Gina's cousin needs a stand-in dog-walker, Gina is excited to fill in. She loves the dog at first sight, the dog's owner--not so much. Cal Crawford is working to get his game back and he has no use for the dog and really wants to get rid of her. Gina makes it her mission to talk Cal into keeping the dog.

Things that tickled my funny bone: The dog's name is Tippy and the dog I had growing up was named Tippy. Both Tippies were not well-behaved, and, in fact, both were totally unpredictable. My Tippy was known for his kleptomaniac ways--he stole a neighbor's catch of fish and strewed them all over then neighborhood. The book Tippy was known for grabbing car keys and running away.

Dana Mentink has written a cute, readable, silly book that is worth every single star I can give it. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a dog named Tippy

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

PS When I get another dog, I plan to get a female and I want to name her Kitty, so that when I am home alone, I can yell, "Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!" and have her gallop up to whoever is at the door.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hope in the Land

If this book were a television show, it would be a drama on the order of Little House on the Prairie, just a bit more grown up. Olivia Newport has a way of spinning a story that keeps the readers engaged and involved. Hope in the Land takes the reader back to the Great Depression where the Amish may have just been the wealthiest people in the nation because of all they could do for themselves.

Gloria and Marlin have a housefull of children--but the boys have married and moved to their own homes on the farm, leaving only the five girls at home. Minerva and Ernie have just one child still at home. These two couples are next door neighbors, but Gloria and Minerva have a history of competition going back to early primary school, even though Gloria wanted nothing to do with competing.

Polly is in love with Thomas, but he seems more interested in her sister, Lena. Henry is an agent from a WPA program doing research on family farms and how they are managing to get through the Depression. Rose is Minerva and Ernie's daughter, but she's also intrigued by Henry, interested in farming, wants to learn more of the homemaking arts that her mother hasn't taught her.

Minerva's favorite thing to do is spend money, and Ernie finds out that Minerva has spent their reserve money on frivolous things and makes her take them back or sell them or somehow get the money out of them so they won't lose the farm.

This all seems disjointed, but they are all subplots to the main plot of the book, and they all make the book the readable tome that it is. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and some self-sufficiency in your life.

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

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Thorn Keeper

This book is the second in a series and obviously so, but that doesn't detract from its allure. Pepper D Basham has worked in so much in the way of spiritual truth in her book that it is hard to put down, even though it is quite long.

The era is World War I, the scene is a manor house in Ednesbury, England, that is tripling as a hospital for the war wounded and an orphanage for the children left behind due to the war. The key players are David Ross, the doctor, and Catherine Dougall, the daughter of the owner of the manor house. Catherine is a new believer in Christ with a reputation behind her that is hard for her to overcome. David's great aunt has bought enough of the buildings in Ednesbury that she can dictate how the renters can do business, and that is a hard pill for Catherine to swallow.

One of the coolest aspects of the book is that Catherine's friend, a French dress designer, takes in some of Catherine's designs and hires some of the poorer women in town to come in and sew them. While David's great aunt tries to thwart Catherine at every turn, Catherine is able to come out on top with her servant's heart serving her well. Catherine has an eye for design and even allows using some of her older gowns to be remade into the newer designs.

With the hospital in dire need of newer equipment, more space, supplies, and just a general need for money, Catherine came up with the idea for a ball and a bazaar to let some of the disenfranchised to show what kinds of work they can do, given the chance.

All the while, David is falling in love with Catherine, and Catherine with David, but Catherine thinks David deserves better than she. He keeps trying to get closer to her, but she keeps pushing him away. It's quite the dance the two of them engage in, trying to be understood by the other, and yet not quite making it.

Here's my one and only criticism: the book has so much truth in it that I wanted my daughter to read it just for that, but the more intimate moments in the book would turn her so off, that she wouldn't be able to see the truth that's there. Pepper is just a bit too explicit in those descriptions.

Still, Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a new dress design for your next ball.

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Reluctant Duchess

I loved Roseanna M White's Culper Spy Ring series and thought I'd like The Reluctant Duchess, but either the timing was wrong, or the plot was wrong.

Rowena Kinnaird wants to leave Lochabar and get away from Malcolm--the man her father promised her to. Brice Nottingham has come to his country estate, and Rowena's lady's maid, Lilias, thinks he might be the way to rescue Rowena from Malcolm.

There are several elements in this book that are common to many of this type of book. There are gems that are in demand by more than one person, a few bitter people who all want the same thing--Brice, and a marriage of convenience.

I appreciated the fact that Brice was tuned in to God and listened to Him intently and then obeyed. I liked that Rowena finally found her chutzpah, but most of the rest of the story was truly extraneous. This is, at best, a three star book.

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

More Than Friendship

Last night I needed a sweet read and one that I could lose myself in. Amy Lillard's More Than Friendship came up on my list and fit the bill perfectly.

Clara Rose Yutzy is engaged to Thomas Lapp and excited about getting married, but her friend, Obie, doesn't want her to marry Thomas. At every opportunity, Obie reminds Clara Rose that he doesn't want her to marry Thomas, but he never really comes out and tells her why. This is the whole basis for the book. Obie wants something different for Clara Rose, but it's not until he's backed against the wall does he tell her why.

Some of the most entertaining parts of the book are the sewing circles where a lot of the women in the community get together to make quilts for the auction that benefits the children's hospital, the times Clara Rose spends with her grossmammi and her retired racehorse for her buggy, Obie's endless hollow leg that allows him to show up whenever there is food around, and the puppies Obie's dog had.

For a quick read, this is a great book. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a friend who is more than a friend.

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Midwife's Dilemma

Delia Parr is bringing her Midwife trilogy to a close by using the formula for writing a romance, but it completes the story in a way no other format would have worked.

Martha Cade is wanting to close out her era of midwifery and move on with her life, especially now that she's found out that her daughter wants to marry the local doctor. Part of her motivation is Tom Dillon, the former mayor of Trinity, who wants to marry her. There are several adventures included in this book that make it so funny--like Bella, the horse who doesn't like women but does like sweets; like Bird, the yellow warbler that has been rehabilitating in Martha's room above the confectionary; like Sam, Fancy, and Will, two old sailors and a young boy who all live together and try to watch over Martha. When Ivy and Fern return from their trip, they bring Jane Trew and her daughter, Cassie, to work in the confectionary. While Martha is looking all over the county looking for a new midwife, Jane is quietly working at the confectionary keeping her midwifing light under a basket.

The Midwife's Dilemma is a satisfying completion of the trilogy and makes the whole story a pleasurable reading experience. This is not only a five star book, but also a five star series, two thumbs up, and your favorite confectionary sweet.

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

Running on Red Dog Road

Every now and again, a person needs to read a good memoir--one with humor, innocence, and just a bit of pathos. Drema Hall Berkheimer has written such a memoir, delineating her growing up in Appalachia with her widowed mother, her sister, her deaf brother, and her grandparents.

Running on Red Dog Road begins this way

“Mining companies piled trash coal in a slag heap and set it ablaze. The coal burned up, but the slate didn’t. The heat turned it rose and orange and lavender. The dirt road I lived on was paved with that sharp-edged rock. We called it red dog. Grandma told me, Don’t you go running on that red dog road. But I do.”

and from there, the reader is drawn in to Drema's world--a world of a child during World War II whose mother was a Rosie the Riveter, a world of a child growing up in coal country. and a world of a child growing up in the loving care of her grandparents. Drema had one great uncle who would drink rubbing alcohol in the absence of any other kind, and one with an account with a moon-shiner. Her world included neighbors who went to churches that handled snakes, victory gardens, squabbles with her sister, and a rural lifestyle.

This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, a fossil found in the red dog road.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Silver Suitcase

About five generations of women are covered in this book by new (to me, at least) author, Terrie Todd. The most significant portion of the book to me is Cornellia's visit by Aziel, the angel whose name means "The Power of God." While Terrie uses flash-backs throughout the book, there is still a continuity to the story and to the way the book reads. She also exhibits a lot of wisdom through her characters that often isn't seen in real people today.

Benita's best friend is her grandmother Cornelia and for a project for school finds out that her Gram knew the very first Canadian fatality of World War II. Gram tells Benita the story and flashes back to the days of the beginning of the war, to meeting Henry, through the summer of Henry's courtship, and then to his death. But she doesn't tell the whole story--however, the whole story is kept in her diaries--the diaries that she won't share with anyone until after she dies, then they will go to Benita.

Just days after Cornelia passed away, Benita's bosses die in a car crash and leave Benita and her husband both out of work. When Grace calls Benita to come help clean out Cornelia's home, Benita receives a silver suitcase full of things that Cornelia wanted to pass down to her, including her diaries. It is through reading the diaries that Cornelia's whole story is revealed, including the baby Cornelia had after Henry died, the one she gave up for adoption.

This is by far and away more than a Five Star book, two thumbs up, and a silver suitcase full of diaries.

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

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Much-Too-Sweet Misfortune

I've read a couple of Maggie Brendan's books and thoroughly enjoyed them. I chose to read A Sweet Misfortune, thinking it would be up to Maggie's usual quality. I really hate to say I was mistaken.

Preston has asked his friend, John McIntyre, to rescue his sister from the Wild Horse Saloon where she makes her living as a dance hall girl. John rides into town, walks into the saloon and grabs Rachel off the stage and takes her to his home to live with his grandmother and him. Therein lies all the excitement and action the book holds. Rachel begins working in the millinery store owned by John's grandmother, Estelle, and begins to be noticed by several of the single young men in town, but especially by John.

What the book has going for it is that Rachel has much bitterness and anger to overcome, and it is by Estelle's and John's example of gratefulness in many circumstances that she is able to see the error of her ways and confesses her sins to the Lord. She is also able to show one of her dance hall girlfriends the way to Christ.

If you like super-sweet books, this one will fit your bill. I liked it well enough, but it lacked something for me.

Three stars.

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Bags to Riches

Sandra Bricker has completed her Jessie Stanton series in a most satisfying fashion. Jessie has come full circle--from being abandoned by Jack to being married to Danny; from losing everything she ever owned to having more than she could ever imagine; from living at a distance from God to living fully surrendered to Him. I almost feel that saying more would be spoiling the book for other readers. A lot of the same characters are in this book that were in the earlier ones, even the despicable Jack. It's just in this book, you get to see just how despicable Jack is. In the first book of the series, all Jessie has is her clothes and the diamond ring Jack gave her. She sold the ring in order to get an apartment and to open a designer clothing on consignment store. Now Jack is back and he wants the ring back. He's not exactly thrilled that Jessie has sold it. While the book is not about Jack, he is one of those characters that must be understood to understand the motives of the other characters and to understand what underlies Jessie's distance from God and her journey to God.

This is a solid four star book.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Year of Laine's Dying

Celeste Fletcher McHale wrote a book that had me crying for hours. The Secret of the Hummingbird Cake details the friendship of Carrington, Laine, and Ella Rae; especially during Laine's last year of life. The three gals have been friends since childhood and during this last year for Laine, they become closer than ever.

Carrington was married to Jack, Ella Rae was married to Tommy, and only Laine was unmarried. The pathos of this book takes the reader through the real ups and downs of life. Carrington believes that Jack is having an affair, so she has one to match his. Ella Rae and Laine try to bring her back to her senses, but her angst keeps Carrington in a dark place for a long time. When Laine reveals her secret, Carrington rails at the world, at God, at the injustice of something like this happening to someone so young. Ella tries to stay strong, but she's incredibly confused and has always followed Carrington's whims. Laine was always the voice of reason among the three.

Laine is the one who made the Hummingbird Cake for Carrington and Ella, and Carrington always wanted the recipe, but Laine wasn't ready to give up her secret ingredient--not until the very end.

The writing in this book is beyond stellar, the emotions are so real that the reader needs a towel to wipe the tears--a box of tissues just won't be enough, and the characters are real with depth and complexity of genuine people. This is a Five Star book, two thumbs up, and a towel for the tears.

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

Monday, March 7, 2016

To Market, To Market

With the frequency with which I am posting lately, one would think that I don't do much of anything but read. That's true, but not entirely. I have a rotator cuff problem and so I can't do much of anything BUT read, and that's a good thing for my TBR pile.

An Amish Market
is a collection of novellas centered around Amish Markets and the people who live and work around them. These were written by four A-Class authors who have researched the Amish lifestyle and written compelling stories that are just plain un-put-down-able.

Ellie is looking for a way to help her mamm out since her brother died when a chance conversation reveals that a local gift shop needs some part time help. Ellie has also noticed her brother's best friend, Lloyd, and his talents for carving wooden birds. The store needs an influx of handmade goods by Amish people. As much as Ellie cajoles Lloyd, she can't convince him to sell his carvings to her boss. When Lloyd finds out why Ellie was so adamant about him selling his birds, the tables turn, and so do Lloyd's attentions. Love Birds by Amy Clipston

Hannah Lynne takes her fresh-churned butter to the Monday market and every week Ezra Yutzy comes to buy some. Hannah Lynne is hoping against hope that Ezra would notice her, but it's not until the yearly auction when Hannah Lynne sees a quilt so similar to one she has loved for a long time. She goes through her purse and bids all she has on it, but someone else wins it. When Ezra sees the disappointment on Hannah Lynne's face, he goes to the winner to buy it from her. When his mamm tells him how happy she is he got the quilt back, Ezra has to talk to Hannah Lynne and get the quilt back for his mother, but there is more in store for that quilt than meets the eye. A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller

Isabella makes a great first impression. Her first trip into the store to deliver some canned goods from her aunt's canning frolic ended up with a jar of beets broken and staining the floor of the market. This was the first time she met Will. The next time she meets Will, she's been on an "outing" with an Englisch girl that wasn't what she thought it would be. But Will sees something in Isabella that he's not seen in other girls, but his heart still hurts over his cousin and a one-time girlfriend. He wants to ask Isabella to wait for him, but feels it is unfair to ask. Sweeter than Honey by Kelly Irvin

David works at the Amish Mill as a docent in the Ice House. Stella is the tour guide, but she's had a hard hand dealt to her and has allowed a root of bitterness to take hold of her life. David sees in her all the potential that is there, but she can't see past the raw blow to her life. When someone starts playing practical jokes at the mill that lead a bit too far, Stella and David have to team up to solve the issue. Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman

This is Five star reading, two thumbs up, with a carved wooden bird, a pound of butter, some pickled beets, and a mystery to solve.

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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Hearts We Mend

Kathryn Springer has written a novel that will challenge the thinking of many Christian women. Evie is the women's ministry director at her church and she is always on the lookout for a way to reach out. But first, she has to get her son married off and get the garden walk off and running. While she was getting ready for the wedding, she met the fill-in custodian for the church--Jack Vale--and something sparks.

But there are a lot of hurting hearts that need a balm soothed over them--Jack's brother, Travis, is a drug addict, and he needs Jack to take care of his daughter, Lily; there are several people who just need a purpose; and Jack and Evie have no idea that God is leading them to a common purpose.

This is a sequel to The Dandelion Field that I reviewed here. Kathryn has continued her quality writing and developed some more characters to become the reader's friends. There are a lot of people to keep track of in this book, but it is not too hard. The major players are clearly defined and are completely developed. I loved this book and read it all at once. It is too hard to put down. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a garden walk to refresh your soul.

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

The Prophetess

I have known that Jill Eileen Smith writes biblical fiction, but I've never convinced myself to read one of her books. The Prophetess is a great book to read for an introduction to this author. She has woven the historical customs into her interpretation of the years of Deborah's stint as a judge of Israel and used them to make a seamless story woven of whole cloth.

Deborah is portrayed here as one who listens to God and tries to follow His dictates. In her dreams all she sees is war, and she knows why God is showing her these thing--because the Israelites have gone after foreign gods and forsaken Him. Deborah's right hand man, Barak is given a mission to find and take out two cruel enemy kings--Sisera and Jabin. Because he wouldn't go into battle alone, Deborah told him that a woman would be given the honor of killing Sisera.

Jill has added a family and all the dynamics that go with children who are growing up and stretching their wings, especially a daughter for Deborah who wants to marry Barak. Talya, the daughter, often goes toe-to-toe with her mother, especially when her skills with a bow or a sling are in question. Talya especially wanted to be the one to take Sisera down, but there was another woman God had in mind for that job. When Talya sees what her willfulness has done, she repents. There are other conflicts that Jill works into her novel that aid the plot in keeping the reader involved and caught up in the action of the story.

This is a FIVE STAR book that I cannot recommend highly enough.

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

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes

This book isn't exactly a Cinderella story, but Ruth Reid has written a story of miracles and movement by the hand of God.

Mattie Diener has all she can do to keep body and soul together raising two children after the death of her husband. When her son is in the emergency room because of blisters in his mouth, the doctor believes she is abusing her son. When he comes back a few days later with bruises all over his body, the doctor is sure she is abusing her son and takes legal measures to have her arrested and her children removed from her care. From there, things go from bad to worse.

Bo is Mattie's caseworker with the Child Services and tries to pull a few strings to get Mattie freed from all that is hanging over her head. While it seems he is only muddying the waters, he is helping her to the best of his abilities. But, while helping Mattie, he has to face some demons from his past.

I found this an easily readable book with very likable characters, and some completely unlikable ones. The plot dragged in a few places, but overall moved along quite nicely. I give this book a strong four stars.

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

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Fifty Year Silence

I guess I have been silent long enough on this book. I chose to read and review it because of the era it covered, but I found myself a bit confused as the author, Miranda Richmond Mouillot, bounced back and forth between history and current times, and between her grandmother and her grandfather. The ins and outs of her grandparents relationship was quite dramatic and somewhat over the top, but it was interesting to read about--just not interesting enough to compel me to read all the way through. I found it easy to put down and find something that held my attention more. I don't really have anything against the book, I feel that my criticisms have more to do with my own personal taste than with the author's quality of writing.

I can still give this book four stars and I thank Random House for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

An Unbroken Heart

This is the second book in a series by Kathleen Fuller. I didn't realize I'd read the first book until I went back and looked through my blog. I also saw how many other books I've read by Kathleen. I have to say that Kathleen catches attention with her first sentences and doesn't release it until the book is finished.

In this episode, Joanna Schrock is about to be released from the rehab center after the hit and run accident that took her parents and left her badly broken. Her long-time crush, Andrew Beiler, comes to ask her to marry him, and while it's the right thing, it's the wrong time, but she accepts anyway. In the time leading up to her wedding, Joanna has many doubts, nightmares, and quite a bit of confusion about her upcoming marriage.

The subplots include the hit and run that killed her parents, her sister's failed romance, secrets about Andrew's father coming out, and some former residents of Birch Creek returning.

The reader gets the impression that Andrew is not as anxious to get married as he lets on, but when Joanna wants to postpone the wedding, he is seriously hurt by her actions. It takes a while for him to get over his hurt and to really see what Joanna was trying to tell him.

Even though it has been a while since I'd read the first book in the series, this book does not lose any of its charm. It can stand alone, or just be a continuation of the story. I can't wait to have the third book in this series to come up on my e-reader. When I reread my review of the first book in the series, I gave it only four stars, saying that the characters lacked depth and the plot needed beefing up for substance. I feel that Kathleen corrected these minor faults in this book and garnered herself a FIVE star review.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book. My only obligation was to tell my honest opinion.

Delighting in God

A W Tozer was a tremendous preacher of his day and he was one of those preachers who spoke against the grain of his time. I grew up during the times of hellfire and brimstone preaching, including pulpit pounding, shouting, and the depiction of God as a judgmental being ready to strike down any who would oppose Him. Tozer, on the other hand, preaches a God who loves His children, who delights in them, who gave everything He had in order to have a relationship with them. James Snyder researched Tozer's sermons and articles to pull together this book to show us that we can have that loving relationship with God. Before I go too much farther, I want to say that this is not a mushy, lovey-dovey type book, but it is one that plumbs depths of God's being to find out what delights God and how we can find our delight in Him.

One thing Tozer and Snyder make very clear is that if we can fully understand God, He's not God and he's too small to do us any good. His mystery should lead us to worship in the deepest way that we possibly can. It means that our prayers should be seeking His heart and His will in our lives. Having our prayers heard and answered depend on our obedience to God and our living our lives in the center of God's will.

I have already recommended this book to several of my friends, bought copies for my husband and children, and I plan to take another read through this book and make some serious notes to enhance my Bible study times. I wish I could give it ten stars, but five seem to be the limit.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Where the Heart Is

When you need to curl up with a good story for forty-five minutes to an hour or so, grab this collection of novellas. There is something for everyone here--cowboys, mail order brides, sheep herders, knights in shining armor(?), arranged marriages, and just plain, old-fashioned falling in love. Some of the stories have been published before, but they fit in with this olio and are as enjoyable as sitting down with old friends. I have enjoyed every minute of the time it took me to read the nine stories. The heroines were sassy, sweet, strong, and sublime. The heroes are stalwart, swarthy, strapping, and suave. Where the Heart Is is truly a great medley of stories to fill those few minutes in between projects or chores, or appointments. Five Whopping, Shiney Stars!

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