©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Love's Faithful Promise

When I began reading this book, I felt like I was becoming acquainted with the friend of a friend and we were hitting it off like gangbusters, with good reason--I'd already read a book in Susan Anne Mason's Courage to Dream series.

The new heroine is Deirdre--a medical student who is called home because her mother had a stroke. Since Kathleen suffered partial paralysis and was not progressing in her healing as fast as she should. James, her father, remembers that there is a doctor in Toronto who has had success with physical therapy in wounded soldiers returning from World War I. He asks Deirdre to go to Toronto to see if he will come to take care of Kathleen. When the doctor's daughter, Phoebe, has a serious episode with her lungs, the decision is made for him to come to the family farm on Long Island. Phoebe blossoms under Deirdre's caring and even begins talking again.

In a second plot, Collin is working with the horses on the farm and hires a young "man," Joe, to help in the stables. When the crankiest horse begins responding to Joe, Collin sees that Joe has something special. It's a while before he realizes that Joe is really Josephine.

I loved Irish Meadows and I loved Love's Faithful Promise. The quality of writing and the character development are spot on. The plot pacing is exquisite, and the drama included in the plot is prime. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and physical therapy to cure your pains.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Elvis Is In The Building

Wise men say
Only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you?

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand,
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand,
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you
For I can't help falling in love with you

This is what the title of this book brings to mind whenever I see it. But the book isn't about an Elvis fan, it's about Narnia fans, especially ones who crawl in wardrobes looking for Narnia.

Emelia is in Oxford, England, hoping to get a job at a non-profit organization, hoping to undo some damage her former job caused.

Peter is a former Olympic grade rower who tore up his rotator cuff that kept him off the team for the Rio Olympics. He's also on the board of the non-profit and the cousin of the originator of the non-profit. When the managing director puts Peter together with Emelia to raise funds for the non-profit and keep them from going under, sparks begin to fly. BUT even more sparks fly when Peter's brother, Victor, throws a wrench into the works.

At the beginning of this book, Emelia is not a believer and Peter is. It takes some listening and asking for Emelia to believe.

Kara Isaac has taken a C S Lewis classic and written a novel around it. It's a good story about looking for places that aren't where they should be, looking for things that don't exist, and trying to find a place in the world while hanging onto baggage. Four Strong Stars.

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Like a Bee to Honey

Jennifer Beckstrand writes Amish fiction with such a deft hand that she can pull unexpected emotions from the reader. This is the final entry in her Honeybee Sisters series with the final sister finding a beau.

Josiah Yoder has loved Rose Christner for so many years, but she has been targeted by someone vandalizing the sisters farm and it has caused a tremendous fear to take up residence in her heart.

The story is about Josiah and Rose, how they manage their friendship, how they fall in love, and how they solve the mystery of the vandalism. Rose seems to take the blame for everything that has happened and considers herself a burden to her family. Her Aunt Bitsy and Josiah come together to help Rose overcome her fears and face life head-on. While Rose wants to be no one's project, she appreciates Josiah's and Bitsy's help.

There were several times I was in tears over this book, several times where I laughed, and a few times I got downright angry. Like a Bee to Honey is a five star, two thumbs up, and a quart of honey book.

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Cherished Quilt

Heirloom Amish Novel series seems to be coming to a close. The Cherished Quilt is the final Fisher daughter to be married. Amy Clipston has written a beautiful novel about love and forgiveness and accepting blessings as God gives them to us.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a lap quilt to keep you warm in your buggy.

Christopher has moved from Ohio to Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania, after the death of his brother. In his anger and grief, Christopher's father has blamed Gabriel's death on Chris. Chris is living with his Uncle Hank and Aunt Tillie and working in Uncle Hank's leather shop. Chris's father wanted Chris to love horse training and feels betrayed when Chris leaves home. In the leather shop, Chris finds his true talent and true vocation. When customers keep asking for horse and buggy key rings, wallets, and coin purses, Chris designs one to emboss into the leather. After setting them out, they sell like hotcakes.

Emily Fisher is the youngest daughter of Leroy and Mattie and the only one without a beau or husband. Her sister, Veronica, found her grandmother's recipe box; her sister, Rachel, got her grandmother's courtship basket; and now Emily wants to make a quilt and her mother gives her her grandmother's fabric scraps.

When Emily first meets Chris, he is so deep into his grief, he can't really connect to Emily. Emily keeps trying to be his friend, to allow him a safe haven. She believes that her gestures are being successful and she's making headway. Then Chris finds out that there's been a fire in his brother's house and suddenly goes back to Ohio to help out and finally confront his father.

The Cherished Quilt is an incredible novel with many lessons for the reader to consume. I have to be careful how much I add to the review, because I don't want to give it away. I am not the kind of person who is distressed by spoilers. I will deliberately look them up myself, I will flip to the back of a book to see how it ends, I will try to find out who wins the race, or the gold medal in some Olympic event. Then I sit and relax knowing the outcome of whatever I am involved in.

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

Love, Henri

I will take any opportunity to read a book by Henri S J Nouwen. I was introduced to his writing in 2003, and through reading his books, I have grown spiritually, and this book will do that. Henri grew up in the Netherlands, where he entered the priesthood. He passed away in Canada in 1996, but in the intervening years, he wrote prolifically. Now, a collection of his letters have been anthologized in this book Love, Henri. There are many little quotes and little bits of wisdom that taken to heart will help the reader grow spiritually. It's a lovely book, giving the reader insight into the life of a lovely man, too soon gone from us.
I hope that all the misery in the country and the world in general will deepen your hope for the Kingdom of God.

...there is not such a thing as an uncommitted ministry. As Christian ministers we are called to speak and act in the name of Jesus Christ.

Brene Brown
wrote a great foreward to the book and really sets up the book with a great background on Henri, and allows the reader to see where Henri came from on a spiritual basis.

This is a Five Star Book

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

To Have and To Hold

When only three novellas are in one collection, they are a bit longer with a bit more plot and character development. This puts me in my happy place. Each one takes more than an hour to read, but the time is most enjoyable.

Two of these novellas involve and ex in some way, and it only adds to the drama and angst the authors are trying to provoke in the reader. Amazon's synopsis says this about the three stories:

Love Takes the Cake: A September Wedding Story by Betsy St. Amant

Charlotte Cantrell is always the baker; never the bride. When Will, a regular at Charlotte’s bakery, catches her attention, she can only hope that he is the reliable man this single mother has always hoped to find. The problem is that he’s regularly stopping in to buy cookies for another girl. But when Charlotte is hired to bake a host of wedding goodies for a difficult bride and finds out Will is the best man, she has the perfect opportunity to get to know him better—and find out how serious Will is about this other girl in his life.

The Perfect Arrangement: An October Wedding Story by Katie Ganshert

Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower and the proud owner of Forget-Me-Nots, a quaint flower shop. Her love life has always been a bit lackluster—until she ends up in an embarrassing fender-bender with handsome Nate Gallagher. Meanwhile, Amelia’s younger brother, William, has proposed to his girlfriend. Amelia would be excited except she has evidence that the fiancĂ©e is not who she says she is. It seems Nate is the only one available for any advice-giving, and he’s good at it—and pretty fun to talk to too. As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people, she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nate still be interested when he learns who she is?

Love in the Details: A November Wedding Story by Becky Wade

When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over. Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she longs to be with Josh but doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her smalltown world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

There is only one of the narratives I'd give less than five stars and that is the first one, because it seemed like the author was in a hurry to finish the tale and just tied it up in a bow without really resolving everything.

Four and a half stars--I guess I'll round it up to five, with two thumbs up, and a fall romance.

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mountain Christmas Brides

It's no secret I love romance novella anthologies. This olio is written by some of my favorite authors who write so well that I will pick up a menu if it had their names on it.

Beginning in the late 1800s and carrying through to the early 1900s, each of these stories celebrates Christmas with a wedding or an engagement in the Rocky Mountains, and one of them brings in a new baby. There are a couple of series included in the collection, so that you get more than one story with some of the same characters involved. It's like making a new friend, and then reconnecting with them a few times to solidify the friendship.

Nine stories in the cover of one book--life just doesn't get much better. Reading it during the heat of summer cools the soul. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a snowball fight in the middle of summer.

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

The Mother Letters

I am well beyond mothering infants and children, but dang it, I wish I had this book when I was in the throes of rearing children! This is the book that needs to make an appearance at every baby shower, at every new birth, at every adoption. This is the book that should be on every parent's book shelf.

The very first letter in the book instructs mothers to give themselves grace. What a freeing, motivating, inspiring, and fulfilling thought. I look back on my children's early years and I wish I had known what grace was as far as my mothering went, and how to give it to myself, to my children, and to my husband.

Amber and Seth Haines have put together a compilation of letters they solicited from mothers to mothers. I can't imagine the time and work it took to pull this together, but it works so well. It's the kind of book that will fit so many situations.

It seems too small to offer this book five stars, two thumbs up, and a bucketfull of grace, but that's all I've got.

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Plain and Sweet Christmas Romance Collection

This title says it all, it's about plain men and women finding romance, whether they are Amish, Quaker, Mennonite, or from Amana Colonies. The sweetness is all there too. The women are sweet, what they cook is sweet. The novellas are overloaded with sweetness, but at the same time, quite a number of the women are strong-willed and not all of them can cook. It's a neat thing to see these women with foibles, even in their plain lifestyles.

The nine novellas are written by respected, experienced authors who put out nothing but quality. These are of the same quality as their full length novels--which I think is a harder thing to pull off because a whole plot has to be condensed into a little over 100 pages. Definite Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and your favorite Christmas cookie recipe.

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

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Within the Veil

I've not read Brandy Vallance's books before trying to read Within the Veil. I can't say I was impressed by this first try of her work. When I looked at the cover, I first thought it was going to be a typical bodice ripper. It's not, but the appearances deceive.

Feya needs food and money for her younger siblings because her father has used her money for drinking. She goes out to meet Maggie, a woman who has promised to allow her to work. She chickens out but decides to go steal some jewels in order to have money to feed her family. From the very beginning the story seemed convoluted to me.

I will say that because I didn't like the book didn't mean that others won't like it. It's purely a matter of personal taste.

Two Stars. My thanks to Lyrical Vine Press for allowing me to read and review this book.

Healing the Wounded Heart

I chose this book because I had a phone call several months ago where someone very close to me told me she was raped at the innocent age of seven. She said the prequel of this book was recommended to her by her counselor and she wanted me to read it. While the circumstances of this young woman's assault are not the main focus of either book, there is good information in both books.

Dan Allender explains in Healing the Wounded Heart that he was sexually abused as a child. In fact, many more people than we could possibly imagine have suffered some sort of abuse in their childhoods.

Most of what Dr. Allender covers in his books deals with continuous abuse by family members and the damage done by these family members. While many of his concepts are helpful to rape victims, most do not help the victims of stranger assault. Dr. Allender's writing style is conversational, with personal stories to flesh out his counsel. He knows his subject because he's walked the same walk as his patients. It's a tough thing to go through and it's a tough thing to get past.

This book is worth reading by victims and family members of victims. Five Stars.

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

Friday, August 5, 2016

Miriam

This book takes my breath away. Miriam is a Hebrew prophetess and midwife, and she hears El Shaddai speak to her in her dreams. The Israelites have been captives of Egypt for over four hundred years, and it's time they came home.

Eleazar is the body guard for Prince Ram, and even though he is a Hebrew, he is loyal to his prince. Their friendship belies the fact that they should be enemies.

Taliah is a governess for one of the Pharaoh's sons and lives in the palace. Her true passion is educating children.

Kopshef is the crown prince who has little control of his temper and less ability in military tactics.

Ramesses is the Pharaoh, and he plays favorites among his sons. He also resents the Hebrews and takes every complaint as a personal affront.

Aaron is Miriam's brother and Eleazar's father. His wife favors her older two sons over her younger two. Eleazar is the third son and Ithamar is the youngest, and a scribe in the Pharaoh's palace.

Moses has been living in Midian tending the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro. He sees a bush burning in the field and goes to investigate it, only to hear Yahweh speak to him.

Hur is Miriam's best friend from long ago, he'd married another young girl, but now he's come back to Miriam and wants to marry her.

These are some of the major players in Mesu Andrews' book, Miriam.

While Exodus gives us an account of the Israelites in Egypt and their mistreatment by the Egyptians, Mesu puts flesh on the people and makes them breathe new life. When Moses brings the ten plagues, Mesu paints a picture for our minds of what it was like to live through those plagues. When the Israelites are finally allowed to leave Egypt, Mesu illuminates how Yahweh's glory is revealed by His own hand. When Miriam struggles with El Shaddai's voice leaving her, Mesu shows us that our own struggles are not something new, but they are as old as time. These are just a few of the reasons I LOVE this book.

This is a five star, two thumbs up book, with a meal eaten in haste because you are about to be evicted from your home of over four hundred years.

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