©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Secrets of Ruth

Elimelech and Naomi had a crop failure because of a drought in Israel, so they traveled a bit to the east to the land of Moab and settled there. While they were there, their sons, Mahlon and Chilion, both married Moabite women, and Elimelech died. Eventually Mahlon and Chilion also die. Embittered, Naomi decides to go back to Israel. Ruth and Orpah, the daughters-in-law, follow, but Orpah turns back after Naomi's urgings. Ruth commits to staying by Naomi's side, whatever the cost, whatever the outcome.

Patricia Mitchell has drawn out the life of Ruth and exposed the work God did in her life and how it applies to us. It is in a devotional format in easy-to-read, short daily snippets. Secrets of Ruth speaks to the heart of women who want to do what matters most to God and that is exactly what Patricia has done in this book. One thing that will stand out to the reader is that following God isn't always easy, nor is it without cost, just as Ruth found out herself.

This is a five star book for women who matter to God.

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

Secrets and Sisters

I have participated in Secret Santa and secret sister type gift exchanges. They were lots of fun and yielded so many blessings--for me as the giver as well as the receiver.

Jessica and Liz have taken on a ministry started by Jessica's Aunt Rose, one that requires absolute secrecy so that the recipient is totally surprised. Lydia is their first project. She lost her husband, Henry, in the same fire that took Jessica's Aunt Rose. Liz and Jessica bought Henry's shirts at an auction of all his belongings, took them home and made a quilt from them. In the dead of night, they snuck the quilt back to Lydia's.

Lydia went into town to run a few errands and to look for a job. She stops in Rose's Knit One, Quilt Too Cottage during a rush and ends up helping Jessica with the rush. Jessica offers Lydia a job and now the sisters are a complete three-some.

The Sisters of Sugarcreek is a sweet story with just a touch of romance thrown in for good measure. Cathy Liggett has done a masterful job of creating this story and weaving some Amish customs and lore into the plot. That Lydia is the only Amish person among the sisters matters not to Jessica and Liz, she is accepted as she is and encircled into their friendship. The plot has more to do with friendship than romance and that made it a breath of fresh air for me. While Lydia is an accomplished Amish cook and Liz knows quite a bit about cooking, cooking isn't the mainstay of this book, knitting and quilting are.

This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a recipe for Amish peanut butter spread.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Matchmaker Brides

I met my husband on a blind date. I had been seeing one of his coworkers who told me that my husband was soon going to be moving and he wanted someone to go out with him before he moved. So I guess you could say that I was set up by a matchmaker. It wasn't any big deal, but we hit it off and six months later, we got married.

The book I just finished is a potpouri of novellas about matchmakers who meet their match. A couple of the authors are among my favorites and these novellas all meet the quality of writing I enjoy most. I think my favorite of the olio is the last one in the book (whose title I have forgotten--the story was more important)--Len Montgomery is the new pastor in town and someone from Des Moines writes him a letter asking him to find a wife to help him on the farm and mother his five children. Cora Thomas is the postmistress who handles the mail. Rusty is the newspaper editor who publishes the letter that creates a nationwide hubbub of people looking to be matched up. Cora and Len work together to answer the letters and to try to find matches for all these seekers. What they don't realize is that they are matches themselves.

These are cute stories with busy-body matchmakers who meet their own matches and find themselves heading toward nuptial bliss. Barbour Books publishes a lot of these collections--historical and contemporary, and each one is a gem in its own right. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a matchmaker to make a match for you.

I appreciate Barbour Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Innkeeper

I absolutely adore Julie Klassen and have since I read her first book, Lady of Milkweed Manor, and now she is releasing her first book of a series. This means that there are guaranteed books to come by a favorite author!!!!!!!!!!!!

I finished The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill this afternoon and it really struck me that Julie changed her writing style somewhat for this book. While there is quite a bit of narrative, the story moves along based on conversations. The characters are developed through conversations. The setting is furthered through conversations. The whole book revolves around conversations, moreso than other books I've read. I know that sometimes actions move the plot along, it was a bright discovery to find that conversations move the plot just as well.

Amazon summarizes the book with these words:
The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place.

This book is not a romance in the sense that Jane, the protagonist, becomes enamored of a suitor, but there are small bits of romance woven into the warp and woof of the novel, and help to move the plot forward. This is a five-star, two thumbs up book, with a night at a roadside inn for your rest.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The American Heiress Brides Collection

The American Heiress Brides Collection is such a great olio of novellas, I had a hard time putting it down. Some of the stories had me in tears, some had me laughing out loud, some had me reaching for wishes that I could befriend the protagonists. In each of the narratives, each girl was wealthy, or at least had been wealthy at one time, and she had the challenge of finding a man who would not be gold-digging money-grubber. In many cases, the men had wealth of their own and did not need his bride's money.

This was a perfect book for my Sunday this past weekend--I spent most of the day in one airport or another, or in one airplane or another, where I had almost unlimited time to read. I was thrilled to have such a good collection of narratives to read.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an unexpected inheritance.

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

My Heart Belongs

Once in a while, I find myself reading a book by a favorite author that just doesn't fulfill that author's usual quality of writing. My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas, is just one of those books. Erica Vetsch writes with a deft hand and I've read many of her novellas and enjoyed every single word. This one dragged from the very beginning and never let up.

Amazon's synopsis of the book states:
Introducing a new series of historical romances created for readers who love historical destinations. Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin’ eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?

There are a few twists in the plot, but I didn't find them all that compelling. This is a matter of tasted, and I am in no way abandoning Erica as a favorite author. This book is just a miss--FOR ME.

Two Stars

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Valentine

Darlene and her father are Jewish people living in New York City, and she helps him in his tailoring shop. Pierce and his father frequent the shop and are friends with Darlene's father. Pierce and his father are also Christians and have been talking to Darlene's father about Jesus being the Messiah.

Tracie Peterson has wrapped the ultimate love story into this story of love growing between two people. She does it in such a way that does not come across preachy, but comes across as genuine. She has told the story of coming to terms with who Jesus is to each one of us, and how His love is so complete that it allows us to love others as He loves us.

Sally Laity has written the bonus story in this book--Little Shoes and Mistletoe. Eliza has come to New York to stay with her elderly aunt after her fiancee jilted her and ran off with her best friend. Through her aunt, she meets Micah, whose mission in life is to minister to the poor and needy. He takes her along on some of his relief work and she meets two little girls whose mother has just passed away. Through these children, Eliza's heart is opened to love again. There's only one hitch. Micah is supposed to marry Anabelle, but the two just don't mesh well. All things work out as they must do in these kinds of books, but it is still a very sweet story about fulfilling needs and sharing of what's been given to us.

Definitely a five star book with two thumbs up and real men who rescue us from ourselves.

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

Where Two Hearts Meet

I read and reviewed the first book of the Red Door Inn Series and absolutely loved it. In this second installment, Marie and Seth are pretty much esconced in running the Red Door Inn, while Caden is running the kitchen. The only fly in the ointment is that the Inn needs some repairs and money is tight. The only saving grace is that a travel writer is coming to spend some time at the Inn and the publicity can make or break the Inn.

Adam Jacobs has been exiled to Prince Edward Island in order to get his mind back on straight and write his final story in his contract. His first sin is to invade Caden's kitchen and then Marie asks Caden to show him around the island, thinking he is the travel writer. Adam's story is supposed to be the story of Marie's family and her father's ruthlessness in his real estate dealings.

In the meantime, Caden has to come up with a lobster dish to compete in the island's festival, competing against her high school nemesis. One of the well-known Toronto restauranteurs is one of the judges who comes to the Inn and sees Caden in action--especially her program to teach some high school students basic cooking.

Liz Johnson creates mouth-watering descriptions of characters, places, and food. Her characters become friends who can make you cry, laugh, and help you pig out on some of the best pastries you've ever put into your mouth. The places become as familiar as your hometown, and the food is to die for.

This is a book worth five stars, two thumbs up, and a melt-in-your-mouth pastry

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

One of the Few

I hate doing posts like this, and I know I will be in the minority in my opinions, but this time I have to do what I have to do. Jason B Ladd has written a book about Marine Life and the Christian World View and what they need to have in common. He comes from a lineage of service and serves gladly on his own, but it is where his Marine life and his Christianity collided that make this book what it is.

I found his narratives about his life in the Marines--while growing up, and as an adult--fascinating. The discipline required to be a Marine is incomparable in any other setting. The discipline required to be a Christian is also incomparable in any setting. Here is where Jason tries to merge the two cultures.

Here are my criticisms:

1. The narrative of the story is disjointed--hopping back and forth in time and place. It makes the line of thought hard to follow.
2. The comparisons between Marine and Christianity becomes preachy. I found that to be rather off-putting. For someone who is already a Christian, it is rather like beating a dead horse. For someone who is not a Christian, it becomes a point of resistance. I am sure there are other readers who find this kind of material uplifting, but I read another book with the same kind of "preachiness" in it and also found it to be over the top.

I will not say there is not a place for this book, but I did not find my place with it. Two Stars.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

An Amish Home

This collection of four novellas is different from most books of this sort. Yes, it's a bit of a romance collection, but it's more of a telling of couples who are already married and who are facing troubles that put their marriages in danger. It's a narrative of overcoming the trials that every couple faces from one time or another. These stories are written by four top drawer authors who have pretty much perfected their craft in writing full length novels but they do not lose any quality in writing these shorter novellas. Each of the couples learns so much about depending on God for guidance, for support, for protection; and they learn to lean on each other with love and prayer. One of the stories is about a Christian couple who are not Amish but he work for an Amish man and is influenced by the Amish man's faith and steadfastness. This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and an Amish friend who can point you in the right direction.

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