©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Perennials

Julie Cantrell writes interesting books, but like my last review, faith wasn't an integral part of the book.  However, Julie has hit on some tough family dynamics that nearly every family has experienced--sibling rivalry.  Bitsy and Lovey have a rivalry that defies explanation, and Bitsy has an irrational jealousy of Lovey that refuses to heal, despite Lovey's attempts. 

Julie uses the flashback device throughout the book quite successfully to keep the reader informed of what's going on with the characters and how they are feeling and why. 

Lovey has an important job in an ad agency and is trying to bring in an account that will solve a lot of financial problems for her firm when her father calls her and asks her to come home for his fiftieth anniversary with her mother.  He is not one to allow no to be the answer to his request, especially this time. 

Bitsy resents that Lovey came home and has taken part of the limelight away from her. But Lovey meets Fisher--a childhood friend--again who is able to put some new perspective on Bitsy's irrational attitude. 

I was ready to give up on this book, but it hooked me in at just the right time and held onto me until I closed the last page. 

Much of the book revolves around perennial flowers and the garden that Bitsy and Lovey's father is having built for their mother.  He takes the group around to towns close by Oxford, Mississippi, to collect cuttings for the garden and to keep their mother from guessing what's going on. 

This is truly a five star book, two thumbs up, and hydrangea cuttings for your Mary Garden

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

Blue Ridge Sunrise

Denise Hunter usually writes sweet books of small town life and romance.  I found that Blue Ridge Sunrise didn't fit the "sweet" description.  Too many of the books I have read lately have only given "ink service" to faith within the narrative and its characters.  This one in particular didn't seem to give that much word space to faith, but I do have to admit I didn't finish the book.  When the kissing scenes become R rated, I'll put the book down and move on. I can get my own R rated kisses in real life.  I don't need to know how the hero "punished her lips" or how it was the best kiss she'd ever received.  I've read some of Denise's other books and enjoyed them, but this one missed my mark. 

Two Stars. 

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

The Regency Brides Collection

Barbour Books is making their mark on the novella anthologies with the Regency Brides Collection, they have departed from their normal nine novella format to have only seven novellas in the book. This is a good thing in my mind.  I just wish they'd come down to only four.  From a reviewing standpoint, four seems to be my highwater mark for keeping the plots of the stories straight.  That being said, this collection is quite light hearted and fun. 

My favorite one of this collection includes a governess of three children and their guardian.  The children's antics make the story fun and engaging. 

The authors of this collection know what they are doing in preparing a full plot to go in a small package. 

Five Star Collection, Two Thumbs Up, and an afternoon cup of tea while entertaining visitors.

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Belle and the Beast

Sarah Price has started a new series of Amish Fiction based on well-known fairy tales.  The first one is a modern-Amish retelling of Beauty and the Beast. 

Belle is the youngest daughter of Melvin Beiler and the one who does most of the work around the house while Melvin works on his inventions.  Little do Belle and her sisters know is that their father has frittered away his money on his newest invention and the mortgage is about to come due.

Adam Herschberger is a man scarred from a fire that killed his mother.  Children look at him and run from him, calling him a beast.  Townspeople look the other way when he comes into town, or they stare with undisguised disgust. 

Adam has bought the Beiler farm and has put into motion the eviction of Belle and her family.  He has paid a generous amount for the farm, but it won't take care of all the bills and give them enough to find another place to live.   Belle approaches Adam to see how she can save the farm so her family won't be homeless.  He is willing to allow her family to stay on the farm if she will marry him and give him a son to inherit her family's farm. 

Melanie Dickerson has written several Young Adult books based on fairy tales and I have enjoyed all of them, but I love how Sarah Price has not only put this one together, and how she's planted the seed for the next ones in the series.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and some homemade cheese from your very own dairy. 

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

A Place at Our Table

So here's the deal.  Kayla's brother, Simeon, was killed in a fire as a firefighter. For that reason alone, she doesn't like firefighters.  When her family's barn catches fire, Jamie Riehl is one of the firefighters who responds to the call.  Kayla is attracted to him, and he to her, but her mental block against his profession stands in the way.  Jamie and his friends who are all part of the crew that put out the blaze show up the next week to put up a new barn for Kayla's father.

Circumstances, events, happenings all conspire to keep these two star-crossed lovers apart.  Kayla hates him for what he does, but then she loves him for how he stands in to help her family.  When his life falls apart, he hides from Kayla and anyone else in his life.  He hates himself, he can't love Kayla.  Their story switches back and forth so quickly I got reader's whiplash just trying to keep up with whether they are together or not. 

Most of the time, I really enjoy the writings of Amy Clipston, but this one didn't really tickle my fancy as much as her other writings did.  I still say it's a solid four stars.  A Place at Our Table does tackle grief in all its emanations.

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Promise of Dawn

Lauraine Snelling's claim to fame is her novels about Scandanavian immigrants to the Midwest--including several families in the Blessing series.  The Promise of Dawn is the beginning of a new series that still gives a nod to the characters in the Blessing series.

Einar and Gerd write to their relatives in Norway seeing if Rune and his family can come and help.  Gerd is not doing well and Einar needs help felling trees.

Just as Rune and Signe leave for Amerika (sic), Signe finds that she's pregnant one more time.  When they reach Einar's farm, they find all is not what it was purported to be.  Einar is an angry man who looks to take out his frustrations on anyone in proximity.  Gerd is bedfast and unable to do anything for herself.

Signe sees much of this as a challenge--getting Gerd back on her feet, standing up for her boys, and ultimately, making sure they get their due from Einar. 

Lauraine has given a full development to her characters, as well as genuine conflict.  She's a quality writer who puts out quality narratives. She's given us a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a slice of cornbread with your dinner.

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Where Do We Belong?

Picture it:  1890 in the Sahara Desert looking for a monastery that is supposed to have ancient documents and codices that will prove the verity of the Bible. Two sisters, two of their servants, and several Bedouin guides as well as a sheik are riding camels across the desert toward the monastery.  Each of the sisters and both of the servants get a voice in telling the story of this book.

Lynn Austin has woven together a cohesive narrative from four viewpoints that entertains her readers as well as challenges them.  I love it when a book I read for enjoyment has nuggets of truth that will push me to see what there is beyond my own little world. 

Rebecca and Flora are sisters who live for adventure.  At the young ages of 14 and 12 respectively, they begin their first adventure by skipping school and planning a trip to Europe.  They want all the information in hand to present to their father before asking for the trip.  Rebecca is thoroughly engulfed in finding what her purpose is in God's Kingdom, she wants to know where she belongs.  She is fearless in seeking her place and in her adventures because only God knows the end of her days. 

Flora finds her purpose rather early on--to reach the children who have no one to speak for them or to protect them.  She goes along with Rebecca's adventures because she doesn't want Rebecca to be alone.  A "Good Samaritan" situation allows Flora to find the love of her life who will stand beside her and help her with her purpose--funding and founding an orphanage that will provide a place for children who have lost their parents, or been abandoned by them, or for whatever reason are living on the streets.

The two servants along on the last adventure are street children that Rebecca and Flora have taken in to show them what love is all about.  Soren and Kate are incredulous that there are people in their small  worlds who will put themselves out for them. 

All of these characters are finding "Where We Belong" throughout the book.  Sometimes the hunt for place is longer and more involved than at other times, but the getting there is entertaining and intriguing.  I've read many of Lynn Austin's books and she NEVER disappoints.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a camel ride across the desert.

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bygone Christmas Brides

So, Christmas is just around the corner and you are single and need escorts to all the balls and parties.  What can you do?  Well, these stories are just the thing to give you some inspiration.  Maybe your father meddles in your life.  Maybe you just meet by accident.  It doesn't matter, it's Christmas magic.
That's what you'll get when you read Bygone Christmas Brides put out by Barbour Publishing.  Six stories by six great authors who know how to put together a great story for an afternoon's reading.  Each story goes great with your favorite hot drink as you sit beside your Christmas tree.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a cup of wassail.

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home

I've enjoyed reading many of Kim Vogel Sawyer's books and I have found this newest one to be as engaging as her other books.

Hazel Mae is asked by her mother to take her little sister, Maggie,  with her to the blackberry woods and pick blackberries for a cobbler for their father. While Hazel is trying to scare a snake away from a bunny's nest, Maggie went missing.  The whole community searched for days to try to find Maggie to no avail.

Speed ahead seventy years.  Hazel overreacted to the disappearance of her sister by being overprotecting her daughter. Her daughter, Dianne, reacted to the overprotection by keeping a hands off policy with her own daughter, Meghan.

Meghan, in her working life is a cold-case detective, but she's off work due to being in a three-car pile up and breaking her foot.  Since she has to be off for six weeks, she goes to her grandmother's house for a visit.  As soon as she gets there she finds her mother there as well.

First thing, Kim has taken the situations of a family dynamic on the verge of eruption, and made it the core of her plot.  Hazel hasn't forgiven herself for Maggie's disappearance.  Dianne has built up a resentment of Hazel and Meghan, because of Hazel's overprotectiveness, and because Hazel has given Meghan the love she wants.

These three women all need something and Kim has brought about the filling of that need by bringing them all to the place where they have to reach to God because there is nowhere else to reach. She has shown that God is the only answer to the questions that haunt our lives.

I read this book much more slowly than normal because it needs to be pondered, perused, and puzzled over. This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a family reunion that brings healing with it.

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


Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Crooked Path

In my last review of a book by Irma Joubert, I said that I'd read several of her books.  I guess now that I have read three of her books, I can claim that. There are some remarks I made that I will stand by for a long time.
 I find each one to be exquisite in plot, character, and depth. Her writing ability is unsurpassed and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She's not afraid to tackle hard subjects in her writing and her research bears out in all the historical details she includes in her novels. 
This book, The Crooked Path is a sequel to Child of the River, and many of the same characters show up in the book, along with a whole company of new ones.  Lettie is the daughter of the village doctor in South Africa, and desires to be a doctor in her own right.  Her marks in school and in university are the envy of those who don't work as hard.

Marco is in love with a Jewess but in Italy as well as the rest of Europe, the Jews are in danger.  After hiding her family in a cave for three years, they are all found and relocated to a concentration camp.  When the war ends, Marco finds that his love is dead along with the rest of her family, and Marco is very sick.  His brother Lorenzo comes to take him home from the hospital so his mother can nurse him.  His brother Antonio was a prisoner of war, taken to South Africa to work on a farm where he fell in love with the daughter of the farmer.  When he goes back to South Africa, he convinces Marco to come along--the dry climate is going to be better for his health.

While the book starts during World War II, it ends with the advent of the polio vaccine.  Marco and Lettie's love story is a happy/sad one all at the same time.  Because Marco is so fragile, he doesn't want Lettie to get pregnant, but he finally gives in and they have two beautiful daughters.

Irma has woven the stories of a number of characters into one cohesive novel that engages the reader from the very beginning, and doesn't let go until after the last page has been read.  This is one of the best books I've read in a while, and I appreciate Irma's talent in writing the story.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an Opera at La Scala!

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Home All Along

I can't believe I forgot to write a review for a book I read, but I guess it happens.

Beth Wiseman writes incredible Amish Fiction and Home All Along is no less compelling than her other books.  

Charlotte has come to live in the house her brother left her in the midst of an Amish community.  She is "almost Amish" in the way she lives--her house has no electricity, she has no electronics, she attends the worship services of the church in the district, but she still drives her truck and that separates her from being Amish. 

Daniel is Charlotte's boyfriend and is just waiting for Charlotte to join the church so they can be married, but there are obstacles.....

Charlotte's mother has died from a drug overdose, Daniel's mom is pregnant, Charlotte's sister shows up to manipulate and use her, and Charlotte feels her life spiraling out of control. 

Beth's characters are believable, likable, and real.  Her settings are realistic and imaginative.  Her plot moves with compelling pace to keep the reader intrigued and involved in the story.  This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and some fine Amish Cooking.

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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Amish Cooking Class--The Blessing

Heidi and Lyle opened their home to a troubled teenager who was expecting a baby after she agreed to let them adopt the babe.  But coming toward the end of the pregnancy, her parents asked her to come back home and offered to help rear the baby too. Heidi was heartbroken, and so was Lyle, but he saw a way out of the grief and that was to get Heidi to give another one of her cooking classes.  There are six characters who show up to learn what Heidi has to teach.

Todd is a food critic with no time for God
Lisa is a caterer wanting to expand her repertoire
Bill wants to impress his hunting buddies
Nicole is the teen daughter of a single father who expects her to cook for him and her siblings
Allie was given the class as a gift from her husband
Lance just wants to learn what Heidi teaches because he smells her cooking every day when he delivers her mail.

Each character in the book gets to tell the story from their own point of view, which makes the book so much more interesting.  The other character is Kendra, the pregnant teen who sees something in Heidi and Lyle that she wants in her own life.

Wanda Brunstetter includes the recipes at the end of the book that Heidi teaches her class.  I have a couple of them I want to try for myself in the coming week.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a piece of apple cornbread for a snack.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Colors of Christmas

When I saw that Olivia Newport had written this book, at first I assumed it was Amish fiction, but I was surprised that it wasn't.  There are two novellas in this book and they are delightful stories.

Christmas in Gold describes Astrid's life under the Nazi regime.  She's telling her story to a young woman who is just at the edge of despair.  By revealing all the secrets, she's giving hope to the young woman.

Christmas in Blue details Angela's life after she's been given the responsibility for arranging the Christmas festival for her town.  Angela really resents being handed this responsibility because it belonged to her best friend who passed away in the spring.  A stranger shows up in town that no one seems to know, but he's got the ideas for the festival and helps Angela make it work with the scant supplies she has.

Both of these narratives encompass every aspect of hope that the Christmas season brings.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and Golden ornaments with Blue lights.

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

The Captive Brides Romance Collection

Usually I like reading the anthologies Barbour Publishing puts out.  However I was not held captive by the Captive Brides Collection.  The stories just weren't up my alley.  It could be mood or reading taste, but I couldn't find myself reading these stories about women who had been enslaved or indentured and then finding love.  There is nothing wrong with the writing or anything else about the book.  It was that I couldn't relate to the subject.  I'll give this three stars.

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

To Wager Her Heart

There are a few authors whose books I will read without reading the blurbs because I know that the writing will be excellent and the plot will be intriguing.  Tamera Alexander is one such author, and her newest novel is no exception.  To Wager Her Heart follows Belle Meade Mansion and the history of the railroad through Tennessee.  Tamera has woven historical fact in with the elements of her novel.

Alexandra Jamison wants nothing more than to teach, especially the freed slaves in the post war South. She applies to teach at the Fisk University and even without a teaching credential, she is hired to teach the beginning classes.

Sylas Rutledge is trying to clear his father's name in the train crash on Dutchman's Curve a year earlier.  It wasn't enough that his father died, but he had to be charged with causing the crash.

These two have to fight prejudices of friends and family to accomplish what they set out to do.  I must say that I did not anticipate the ending of this book (and no, I didn't cheat and read the ending first), but it was thoroughly satisfying.

I give this Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and some stock in a railroad.

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Daughter's Legacy

Previously I reviewed book #2 in this series here and I made some statements that showed I didn't know what I was talking about:

 One thing I would change in this book is to leave out the murder of the man in the cabin. While it allowed a few extra characters and a bit of cloak and dagger action, it really didn't add to the plot lines except as a distraction. I feel the book would have been a whole story without that particular device.   
In book #3, My Daughter's Legacy, the murder is explained along with a few other mysteries within the two stories.  In keeping with my format in the last review, I'm going to go with my favorites in this story.

Modern Day Character:  Nicole has overcome some pretty extreme things in her life just to get to where she is, recovering from drug addiction, running from the demons that plague her thoughts and dreams, and holding onto her grandfather's secret for many years--a secret she should have never been asked to hold.

Historical Character: Michael Talbot has come home from France after most of the Civil War has been fought.  He is reviled by his neighbors for being to cowardly to fight. He joins up anyway as a medic for the local battalion.  Using his position as a cover, he spies for the Union army instead of the Confederates in Tennessee.  While he was in France he happened upon an illustrated manuscript belonging to a family he knew back in America. He bought the manuscript and brought it home.

The whole of the novel revolves around finding this manuscript and returning it to its rightful owner.  The manuscript is stolen a couple of times throughout the book, but is finally found and one more attempt to steal it is committed.

Leslie Gould and Mindy Starns Clark are both excellent writers in their own right, but together, they are an unbeatable team.  I can't wait to see what more comes out of their collaborative pens.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an original illustrated manuscript to protect.

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

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Letter from Lancaster County

Kate Lloyd writes impeccably.  Her characters are always fully developed and fit into the scenes where they are placed.  Saying this, I could not get myself interested in her book, A Letter from Lancaster County.  I have read other of her books and enjoyed them all, but even with a well-liked author, the random book will come along that just doesn't fit my taste.  This is no criticism on Kate or on her book.  It's a matter of personal taste.

Angela and Rose have received a letter from their Aunt Silvia in Lancaster County asking them to come for a visit.  Each chapter is devoted to Angela or Rose in alternating fashion, giving their viewpoints on the things that are happening.

I just wish I could have lost myself in the book like I do with so many of the books I read, but this one eluded me.  Three stars--just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gathering the Threads

Cindy Woodsmall's series The Amish of Summer Grove comes to completion with Gathering the Threads. Ariana and Skylar both have been through a lot due to an error made by a midwife when they were born.  They are both in situations that cause them to reconsider and reevaluate their lives in light of what they've learned.  For Ariana, she's had to learn to question what men tell her and to find the source of the information before making an opinion.  This new learning doesn't always set well with her family.  Skylar is not thrilled that Ariana is back and wants what Ariana has.  She wants a family that loves her and doesn't realize that she already has that love.

There are so many threads of life that come together in a way that makes a tapestry and we may not see what the final design is because we are looking at it from the wrong side.
Skylar and Ariana are working on completing the tapestry of their lives and they are seeing the messy yarn ends.

It has been Cindy's task to draw these threads into coherent stitches and her engaging style of writing makes the denouement of this story extremely satisfying.  Cindy certainly ranks at the top of my list of favorite Amish Authors.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the most beautiful tapestry you've ever seen.

My thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for allowing me to read and review this book as part of the Cindy Woodsmall Launch Team

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mary's Home

I started reading Jerry Eicher's Peace in the Valley series thinking I'd meet some characters and then follow them through their lives. I met three different main characters, and they had some interesting stories, but they didn't show up again in any of the other novels in the series. What this means is that while these stories take place in one geographic location, the stories stand alone.

 Mary is committed to her church community and feels so strongly about it that she's already been baptized into membership.  Her sister, Betsy, wants to "jump the fence" so badly she can taste it.  Part of Betsy's reason is that she was burned badly on her face and neck and there is nothing that can cover her scars.  None of the local Amish boys will look at her.  Mary has met and fallen in love with Josiah, a boy from another community.  As the date draws near to the wedding, Josiah writes her a letter, telling her that he has met someone else and would be married on the same day they were supposed to marry.  

Often on her way to work at the co-op store, she would stop by an elderly woman's house and see how she was doing.  One time, she meets the woman's grandson and becomes intrigued by him.  He is a missionary to Kenya and his work there aroused Mary's interest even more.  He invited her to listen to his fundraising speech at a local church, where he described street urchins that his mission reached out to.  The more Mary hears, the more fascinated she becomes.  

Meanwhile, an old flame comes back to claim Betsy's heart and gives the reader the surprise of who jumps the fence and who stays faithful.  This is an interesting read with great characters and settings.  Five stars, two thumbs up, and the opportunity to rescue a glue boy. 

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

Phoebe's Gift

I started reading Jerry Eicher's Peace in the Valley series thinking I'd meet some characters and then follow them through their lives.  I met three different main characters, and they had some interesting stories, but they didn't show up again in any of the other novels in the series.  What this means is that while these stories take place in one geographic location, the stories stand alone.

So now we come to Phoebe's Gift.  She has been taking care of her grandmother and now her grandmother has passed.  Through a series of unexpected events, Phoebe finds out that her grandmother wanted her pony farm to become a respite farm for at-risk children, for a week at a time.  With David helping her with the farm and the children, Phoebe finds herself  a bit over her head, but still at peace with the choice she made to keep the farm and follow her grandmother's dream.  She has passed the county's foster parenting requirements, and once the children start coming, she loses her heart to each child who comes through her doors.

Jerry Eicher knows how to write Amish fiction and this one is great!  His characters are easy to understand, and to some degree, I wish I could meet them in person.  There is much I'd like to learn from them.

Five Stars, two thumbs up, and an Assateague pony to ride.

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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Silvia's Rose

If this book were a show, the title character would not appear in the show at all.  She is a memory of Joseph's and has died before the book begins.

Jerry Eicher writes Amish fiction of extremely high quality.  He has worked this story out so that the reader cannot figure out exactly how it is going to end.

Esther's husband, Lonnie, has died, and she moves with her daughter to the South Lancaster County community.  She's hoping to catch the attention of Isaiah, a man her radar has honed in on for a long time.

Arlene is Dorrine's cousin and is seeking a husband.  She feels Joseph is just the man for her, if she can change him to her liking.

Joseph takes some things that his late wife, Silvia, taught him about hybridizing plants and is working on a rose just to commemorate the memory of his love for her.

These are the stars of this particular show, with some minor characters who like to throw wrenches into the works.

The book is a great read with interesting people, events, and settings.  It is meant to be savored, each word taken in and pondered.  This is a five star book, two thumbs up, and a rose created just for you.

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Freedom's Ring

From the Boston Massacre to the bombing at the Boston Marathon, this book is filled with poignant histories of two ladies.  Heidi Chiavaroli has written a book that is meant to be savored.  She tells the stories of Liberty, whose brother was killed in the Massacre; and Anaya, a runner who was injured in the bombing.

When Anaya was injured in the bombing, a man wearing a Red Sox sweatshirt took her to safety, and gave her a ring. After she recovered, she looked for the man, but was never able to find him.  When Anaya's mother calls her to tell her that her sister may be moving to England, Anaya decides to make contact with her sister and her niece. It wasn't a great homecoming. Anaya's sister is bitter about Anaya's desertion of her family.

Liberty has come to Boston to search for her brother.  She has no money, no means of support, and no idea where her brother is.  A compassionate "Lobster Back" (English soldier) offers her a job as his housekeeper.  When she finally finds her brother, she's somewhat afraid to tell him who she works for, even though, her employers politics don't dovetail to hers.  A couple of weeks later, Liberty's brother, James, was the first fatality.

The men in the book are strong men, who know how to face their fears--eventually.  They are matched well to the women and stand well in their roles as leading men.

This is my first book that I've read by Heidi, but I am sure it won't be the last one I read by her.  She has a fresh voice in Christian fiction and her books are worth every minute to read them.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a signet ring that follows the family through the ages.

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fraying at the Edge

When last we left our heroines, both were overcoming stresses of their new situations.  Arianna is living with the people who raised Skylar, and Skylar is living with the people who raised Arianna.  Living in the Englisch world is beyond a challenge for Arianna.  Her biological father wants her to learn to live in the world, question it, and embrace it.  He has no belief in God and wants to tear down hers.  He not only wants to change her inside, but outside as well.  He wants her hair cut, her clothing totally changed, and her attitudes changed.  He writes a bucket list for her and expects her to fulfill it as a condition to returning to her Amish family.

For Skylar, the Amish world is totally backwards, and living by their rules is going to drive her to the looney bin.  She thinks she can hide her drugs and her habit, but Lovina, Skylar's biological mother, is wise to to Skylar's actions.

In the interim, Arianna's sisters and her twin are running the cafe with mixed results.  To save her sanity, and to have access to a phone, Skylar pitches in to help with the cafe.  After her last drugs run out, Lovina confronts Skylar and forces her to detox, but stands beside her to help her through the withdrawal.

Arianna feels pushed into a corner to fulfill the bucket list, even though much of it goes against her conscience.  When Arianna's friend, Quill, finds out what all is on the list, he confronts Ari's biological father and explains to him what loving a child is all about.  I think that is my favorite part of the book.

One thing about Cindy Woodsmall's series is that she sometimes leaves her characters hanging off the metaphoric cliff and makes her readers wait until the next installment.  Fraying at the Edge does exactly that, but it's still worth five stars, two thumbs up, and a cup of coffee, a scone, and a bucket list.

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

Ties That Bind

Cindy Woodsmall writes Amish fiction with a flourish.  Her characters have depth that I doubt I have as a person in real life. Her settings are imaginative but believable.  Her plots are impeccable. She writes five star stuff, Almost. Every. Single. Time.

Ties that Bind tells a story that has probably happened more than once--babies switched at birth in the busyness of a birth center.  Except that at this birth center, the busyness was a fire that allowed two baby girls to be switched. Now the girls are adults and have lived quite different lives which makes them different girls than they would have been.

When I was in college, I had to take a class in special education, primarily for the purpose of understanding what constitutes a special needs child.  One of the basic conundrums we encountered in this class is the influence of nurture versus nature.  How a child was raised, nurtured, and loved by his/her parents made a huge impact in that child's life.  But then there were the genetics of a child that tied into a child's behavior and characteristics as that child grew. The conundrum is--which one has the greater effect? And the answer is, I don't know.

This book and this series take a deep look at the effects of nature and nurture.  Arianna believes she's a twin to Abram, she loves her family, loves God, and loves to bake.  She works hard to buy a cafe so that she can contribute to her family, serve her community, and use her talents to the best of her abilities.

Skylar is a drama student and she's addicted to drugs.  When Arianna's friend Quill sees Skylar performing on stage, he realizes the looks amazingly like Arianna's sister Salome.  He does some research to find that Skylar and Arianna could have been switched at birth.  When Skylar's parents find out, they threaten a law suit unless Arianna comes to live with them for at least a year.  Then they give Skylar the option of living with Arianna's family or going to rehab.

It was hard for me to read this book and then wait for the next one to come out, but each page couldn't be read or turned fast enough.  Cindy's treatment of the situation is gentle and compassionate, yet at the same time engaging and compelling.  This is a five star book with two thumbs up, and a cup of the best coffee to be had.

Waterbrook/Multnomah put out this book and it holds to the high quality standards of the company.

Christmas at Carnton

Once in a while, I read a book, novella, or story of some kind where all the pieces fit together in such a way that there is no disconnect, no disjointed pieces, nothing but an enjoyable story with a completeness that brings satisfaction to the reader. Tamera Alexander's Christmas at Carnton is that kind of story.

Aletta is a war widow with a young son about to lose her house to foreclosure.  She looks all over town for a job, any job, just to keep the bills paid, and a roof over her and her son's heads.

Jake Winston is a sharp shooter who has been injured  and may never see well enough to do his job again.

Both of them end up at Carnton, a Franklin, Tennessee, planttion--Aletta to work, and Jake to recuperate from his injuries.  They end up working together on a couple of projects and a friendship forms.

All of the characters are believable--and I found it quite easy to put myself in their circumstances.  Aletta is not only skilled in the kitchen, she is also skilled in the woodshop--a deviation from the norm of the day.  Jake helps her build a nativity for the front lawn of Carnton to house a live nativity during the auction to raise money for the soldiers.  It's fun to watch Jake's opinions change as he sees that the ladies contributing to the auction really feel they have played a part in helping their loved ones.

I give this short novel five stars, two thumbs up, and a hot, flaky biscuit first thing in the morning.

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

On Love's Gentle Shore

Because many of the books I read are e-galleys, I don't often see the covers or synopsis before I read the books on my list.  On Love's Gentle Shore gave me the impression that it might be an historical novel, and I wanted a change of pace. I finally settled down to read the book, and, boy, was I surprised.

This is the third novel in the Prince Edward Islands Dreams series, and while the novels have some of the same characters, it will stand alone pretty well by itself.

Natalie O'Ryan is returning to Prince Edward Island to get married.  It wasn't her idea, nor her desire to marry in her home town. It held very few happy memories for her and lots of bitter ones where she was the object of all the town gossip.

Now she's having to plan her own wedding alone, because her fiance is called out of town for some kind of business emergency.  Her only port in this particular storm is the only friend she ever had as a child growing up--Justin Kane.

Liz Johnson writes with incredible skill and her novels are so compelling and engaging they are extremely hard to put down.  If it weren't for the fact that my dog wakes me up around 5:00 AM every morning, I'd stay up late reading her books.  I really can't wait until her next one comes out.

This is a five-star, two thumbs up book, and a lighthouse to hide letters in.

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Promise of Breeze Hill

I don't know that I have read any books by Pam Hillman, but she is worth the time to read.  The Promise of Breeze Hill is the story of several people trying to tie themselves to the coat tails of the plantation called Breeze Hill.  One of the surest ways to get their grubby little hands on the land is to marry the daughter of the owner, Isabella Bartholomew. What most of the men don't realize is that Isabella's widowed sister-in-law is pregnant and her baby may be the heir to inherit the plantation.

The full gamut of characters populate the pages of this book--impostors, posers, milquetoasts, and ruffians.  Isabella and her family are the primary honest characters with a couple of other exceptions--one being Connor O'Shea, an Irish immigrant who has indentured himself in order to bring his brothers from Ireland.

From the time that Isabella bought Connor's indenture papers through the end of the book, Connor has felt it was his duty to protect Isabella.   When she gets a message that Leah, her sister-in-law, is having trouble with her baby, she leaves from Natchez to get back to Breeze Hill.  Connor decided to accompany her and it was a good thing he did.  Her trip wasn't as dire as she originally thought, and she didn't need to put herself into more danger than she already faced.

This is a good book, with quality writing, but it didn't engage me.  I can't put my finger on what I didn't like about it, but it's still a four star book.

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


Thursday, July 27, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Michelle Griep is an author I've always enjoyed ever since I found her.  12 Days at Bleakly Manor is a rollicking read that takes place over Christmas. A random group of people have been invited to spend the twelve days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor.  A skeleton staff has been left to see to the needs of the guests.  What the guests don't really know is that they are being watched.

This book reminds me of those parties where the guests play characters in a murder mystery and the job of each one is to find out "who-dunit."  Clara Chapman and Benjamin Lane are two of the guests.  A year ago, they were supposed to be married, but Ben stood Clara up at the altar, or so she thought.

While the rest of the guests are having to find what is missing in their lives, Clara and Ben are having to find what they've lost.

This is one of the most compelling books I've read in a while.  I give it five stars, two thumbs up, and a stay at a manor house.

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

A Plain and Sweet Christmas Romance Collection

As I began reading this book, I felt like I was visiting an old friend.  As a matter of fact I was.  On August 8, 2016, I published a review of the same book.  My opinions haven't changed, and I still believe everything I said.

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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Heart Belongs in Shenandoah Valley: Lily's Dilemma

I didn't hate this book, but I didn't really like it either. It reminded me too much of the melodrama plays put on by the students in the school where my mother used to teach. In those melodramas, there are heroines who are very likable, heroes who have to overcome significant obstacles to achieve the love of the heroine. and dastardly ne'er-do-wells who try to take advantage of the heroines.

Lily is the heroine who is about to lose her family home.

Mac is the hero who is the unwitting pawn of the bad guy.

Mr. Everett (I think is his name, but I can't be sure), is the bad guy, and his description type cast him into the role.

I've read several other books by Andrea Boeshaar and found her writing style to be compelling, but this book reads rather formulaic.  I am sure I have read books that are like this but I enjoyed the book anyway because it took place some place I've lived. I am sure readers from the Shenandoah Valley will find something to connect to in the book, but I can give the book only two stars.

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

Brides of Montana

Cathy Marie Hake is an author with a significant humorous streak to her writing.  I have loved her stuff for many years.  Kelly Eileen Hake is Cathy Marie's daughter and writes in the same genre and for a long time, I felt she needed to grow to be as good as her mother.  With the three novellas in the collection, Brides of Montana, Kelly has grown up.  These are the best offerings she has produced. 

Using the passage from Ecclesiastes 3, she uses a single theme for each novella, and each novella covers a generation of a group of families who all moved to Montana together.  Taking place in the years 1864, 1886, and 1916, the families all face different challenges that make the stories come together.  The repetition of characters throughout the novels allows for significant development.  

Delana and Dustin move through misunderstandings before they get their act together.  Rosalinnd wants adventure and the coming of the railroad brings the opportunities for those adventures.  Nessa and Isaac have been paired together by their families ever since they were born.  It takes a new family coming to town to show them what true love is. 

This is a five-star book, two thumbs up, and a homestead in Montana. 

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


Friday, July 21, 2017

Love Held Captive

Ethan and Devin both served for the Confederacy and were both taken captive and held at Johnson's Island POW camp.  Both of them have some rather harsh memories of their time of service.

Lizbeth and Julianne both lived through the war but came out scarred and in great pain, and the scars for both women were inflicted by the same man.

After Ethan met Lizbeth and Devin met Julianne, all four began to believe that there could be a way out of the pain, but for the men, it means taking care of the man who caused it all.

Shelley Shephard Gray has used an interesting device in writing her novel Love Held Captive.  She uses flashbacks for the men and the things that happened at the prison camp.  The one thorn in Ethan's and Devin's sides is Adam Bushnell, a man who abuses women and threw his weight around the camp.  When Ethan and Devin find out just how depraved Adam is, they decide it's time to take matters into their own hands and deal with him once and for all.

While Shelley writes about Lizbeth's and Julianne's falling in love with Ethan and Devin, it seems the main focus of the story is the men's time in camp and how that changed them one way or another.

It was a thought-provoking read, but not necessarily compelling.  I thought it was good, but I was glad when it was done.  Four stars.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jane of Austin

Hillary Manton Lodge writes books that are a feast for the senses.  Jane of Austin takes tea drinking to a whole new level.  She also outshines me in the baking department too.  I keep wishing that Hillary would put out a cookbook so that all her recipes are in one place.  I would be first in line to buy it.

Jane, Celia, and Margot are sisters who lose their home when their father loses his job amid a scandal.  Celia loses her job soon after and Jane has to quit school for lack of money.  The only thing left to do is to start a tea room with baked goods to go with the teas.  When the landlords of the tea room decide to evict them, Celia and Jane decide to move to Austin, Texas, where they have a cousin willing to take them in.  Part of the deciding factor is Celia's breakup with her boyfriend.

On the road to Austin, the canopy blows off their truck and Sean Willis stops to help.  He catches Jane's eye just as Jane catches his.  I guess every book needs a Sean to counteract the goodness in Jane and her sisters. Sometimes the villains don't appear to be villains--looks can be deceiving.

Arriving in Austin about the same time as the sisters is Callum Becket, a dedicated Marine who lost a leg in the Mid-East and is coming home to figure out life.  They all stay with the sisters' cousin, Ian, a kind man with a welcoming family and lots of money.

Hillary has written this book in alternating first persons with Jane and Callum narrating the plot.  She has given an interesting look inside brewing tea to extrude the best flavors and matching teas to pastries with the best flavor profiles.  Like mixing the tea blends and the pastries, there is a lot of trial and error in mixing the people.  And in brewing the perfect cup of tea, there must be patience in getting the flavors of the characters to rise and bring their aromas to bear in the plot.

My one criticism is that the end of the book seems a bit rushed and too many things happen at once.  I would not have minded a longer book to more fully develop the denouement.  Still this is a five-star book, with two thumbs up, and a nicely brewed cup of tea.

My thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for allowing me to read and review this book.  And to Hillary Manton Lodge, keep the great books coming.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love

Four incredibly talented authors write some significant Amish fiction in this collection of novellas.  It is a Five Star, Two Thumbs Up, and a Christmas Cookie type olio.

Rather than take on each novella, I want to review my favorite one.  The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston is not a typical romantic novel, but more of the reminiscences of an elderly lady who is sharing with four young people who came to bring her some cookies.  She tells the story of falling in love with her husband, and how their love grew through the years, even though their one wish was never fulfilled.  She tells of the struggles of their early years and trying to open a hardware store and not lose their house for lack of money.

These stories have a warmth to them that is lacking in a lot of stories that are published today.  These four ladies who put these novellas together do their due diligence in research and in creating believable stories for those who love Amish fiction.

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



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Beloved Hope

Hope is one of the fictional survivors of the Whitman Massacre in the book by Tracie Peterson.  Hope and her sisters, Grace and Mercy are still recovering from the events of the massacre, Hope more than any of them.  She is mistrustful of all men and of the natives particularly.  When the instigators come to trial, Hope is afraid that she will be called on to testify against her particular attacker and it scares her spitless that she will have to face him in the courtroom.

There are several spiritual lessons to be learned in Beloved Hope, first to put your fears in God's hands--there will be no peace from them unless you do.  Second, forgive your tormentors, holding onto the hate only imprisons you.  Third, never take for granted any support God puts in your way.

Support came for Hope in the person of Lance Kenner.  He was attached to the Army when Hope first met him, but he mustered out and stayed in the area where Hope was living, wanting to earn enough money to go back to his plantation in New Orleans.  The more time Lance spends with Hope, the more he feels something for her, but he has his own past, and people to forgive--and they teach each other the freedom of forgiveness.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the freedom to forgive

My thanks to Bethany House for choosing Tracie Peterson as an author, and for allowing me to read and review this book.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Name Unknown

Roseanna M White is a talented author without a nom de plume, but she certainly does her name no shame. This newest offering by her outranks her previous novels by a mile.

Rosemary is part of a "family" of thieves who live by their wits and practiced abilities just to put food on the table.  Barclay is the head of the group, and with Rosemary, there are twelve of them in age from twenty down to about six.

There is a man called V who hires Rosemary to steal some information about Peter Holstein, a recluse who is thought to have the ear of the king. Peter owns a manor house and needs some help organizing his library.  Rosemary applies for the job, and Peter likes her on sight. Peter has some things he needs to hold onto his lands and mansion and he feels that Rosemary is just the person to find the documents.  Peter holds a couple of secrets--that he writes novels under a pen name, and that he still has holdings in Germany.

The political world is in a set of upheaval with Germany making noises of taking over Europe, feelings of distrust among some of the other European nations, and Britain trying to decide what to do about the whole situation.  People on the whole were not enamored with folks of German descent, even though they may be loyal to the crown.  All of this plays into the plot of Roseanna's novel.  Learning some about the history of World War I was quite interesting.  Learning to learn faith was inspiring.

This is a five star, two thumbs up novel with a nom de plume for your most secret writings.

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Promise of a Letter

When I was growing up, I went to a church that had three ways of joining--believer's baptism, the promise of a letter, or statement of faith.  When this title came up on my reading list, I thought it might have something to do with joining a church.  Boy, was I wrong!  This is one of the best Amish fiction books I've ever read.  One of the reasons I loved it was that the main character's name was Leanna--my daughter's name.  It's not a common name, but to me, it's a beautiful name.

Leanna works for Daniel as a mechanic on small engines.  She's part of the reason his business is so successful.  When Daniel's wife hears a two women from their church talking in the grocery store about Leanna and Daniel--accusing them of having an affair, it moves Daniel to fire her, but he gives her no explanation.

The same day that Daniel fires Leanna, Daniel's brother, Roman, comes back, at the request of their recently deceased grandmother.  She knows that there is a long-standing rift between Daniel and Roman and she knows that the only way for these two boys to heal from their upbringing is to heal their rift.

Kathleen Fuller writes truly engaging Amish fiction and this novel is no different. The Promise of a Letter is the promise of healing through Daniel's and Roman's grandmother's letters. I find that Kathleen's writing style is compelling and captivating.  She knows how to hook the readers in and keep them on her line until the book is finished. At least that's how it was for me.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a repaired relationship to go along with the repaired engine.

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Weddings at Promise Lodge

This is the third book in a series and the first book of the series that I've read. It can stand alone, but it would read better if the previous books had been in my reading list.

Three sisters have bought what used to be a church camp and a few other plain folk have bought land around it to make a new settlement.

Mattie and Christine are widowed sisters, and Rosette is older, but never married.  Mattie ties her knot first with Amos, one of the preachers.  Christine and Rosette both have beaux lined up for their own nuptials.  Christine is going to marry Munroe--the new bishop, and Rosette is going to marry Truman--a Mennonite.

The only problem is a couple of flies in the ointment--Leola thinks she's in love with Munroe, and Maria has known Truman for most of her life, and both women interrupt the road to true love for Christine and Rosette.

Charlotte Hubbard has put quite a bit of humor and misadventure in the Weddings at Promise Lodge. She uses the humor to keep the reader involved in the story and to keep the reader entertained, and she does it with aplomb.  I truly enjoyed this book and hated to see it end.  I wish now I'd read the previous ones.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a wedding pie

My thanks to Kensington/Zebra publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trusting Grace

Maggie Brendan writes with quite a bit of humor in her novels.  She wants her readers to laugh at some of the antics of her characters and the situations that happen.  She also adds a bit of suspense to her stories.  She wants to keep her readers engaged in the narrative. She has done so with her newest offering--Trusting Grace.

Grace Bidwell would like to be married, but she's taking care of her father and her potato farm--there really isn't time to look for a suitable mate.

Robert Frasier has become the father of his late wife's three children.  Robert doesn't have two dimes to rub together and his children need food, shelter, and clothing.

The two come together when Grace mentions to her friend that she needs a hired hand.

Maggie introduces her suspense in the character of Warren, who seems to be a nefarious type from the very beginning, and he lives up to his characterization.

This is a book that grabs the reader's attention and shakes it around before letting go.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a potato farm to keep food on the table.

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

High as the Heavens

Kate Breslin is one of the absolute best authors around for Christian Fiction.  Her research is impeccable, her characters are most believable, her settings are real, and her plot lines are incredible.  I just finished High as the Heavens a couple of days ago, and I have been stewing on how to review it.  It is not a light read, but it is worth every minute spent reading it.

When I was a child, I absolutely loved the show Hogan's Heroes.  While Kate's book is not in any sense "comedic" like the television show, there are some parallel plot lines.  High as the Heavens is a World War I book, Hogan's Heroes is World War II.  The similarities include an underground group of people working for freedom from the Kaiser in Germany.  Spies and counter-spies are just some of the people who populate this book.

Eve is a Red Cross nurse working in a hospital in Belgium when her husband, who she thought was dead, shows up in her ward.  Between her work at the hospital and at her aunt's cafe, she has quite the job to do to get her husband out of the hospital without the Germans knowing where he went.  That is the starting point for all of the adventures to follow.

This is a five star book, two thumbs up, and a coded message for the underground.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.

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

Brides of Kansas

Every now and again, I encounter a book that I've read a long time ago and it's like being reacquainted with an old friend.  Brides of Kansas is a compilation of three books featuring one family in Kansas.  Cassidy is raising her niece, Emily, after her brother passed away, and she's going west on a wagon train. She is looking for work and sees an advertisement in the general store for a wife and/or housekeeper for a man and his four children.  She decides this might be the answer she's looking for.

Tarah fell in love with Anthony years ago, and now he's back in town, but Louisa Thompson has her claws into him.

Laney wants to be in charge of her life, regardless.

These three women find love unexpectedly and delightfully.

Tracey V Bateman is one talented author who not only develops her characters one by one, but continues their development throughout the collection of novels.  She is one of my favorite authors and certainly hits the mark with these three stories.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a ranch in Kansas.

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Prodigal's Welcome

Kristen Billerbeck and Peggy Darty have each contributed a novel to this book.  And both novels have similar actions in their respective plots. Both of the novels were fun enough to read, but I nearly got whiplash from the speed at which the heroines changed their attitudes about their beloveds.

In the Prodigal's Welcome, Nathaniel comes home after the war to find that his brother is going to marry his sweetheart. At first she would have nothing to do with him, then she proclaims her love for him within a day.

Grace is working herself ragged on her family's farm when a stranger comes bearing a message from her father.  She and her mother ask him to stay for the night and share their meal.  By the end of the evening, Grace is falling in love with him.

Both of the ladies in these novels fall into and out of love with their heroes with amazing speed.  If the men haven't made a bone-headed mistake, they've said something that have made the ladies mad. Overall, the novels are quick reads, I just wish they spent more time developing the love story.  Four stars.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bread of Angels

Lydia knows all of her father's secret recipes for making dyes, especially purple dyes.  People want her recipes and make her life a misery in order to get them.  When she has to leave Thyatira because of accusations against her father, she meets a young lady named Rebekah, a Jewess, who teaches her about God while Lydia teaches Rebekah about dying and weaving fabric.

When Lydia gets to Philippi, she seems to have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. There is someone who wants her formulas and is willing to spare no expense, and no length is too far to go for him.  But while in Philippi, Lydia finds a patroness who champions her cause.

Tessa Afshar has raised the art of writing biblical fiction to new heights.  She has taken people from the Bible who have only been given a few lines of text, and added color, dimension, and texture to their stories.  She researches the culture of the era to give even more believability to her novels.  Bread of Angels relates the story of Lydia, mentioned in the Bible only as a seller of purple and as a woman who prayed.  Tessa takes these few lines and fleshes them out into a novel that is hard to put down (My kindle reader's battery died while I was reading it).

Five stars, two thumbs up, and some manna for a reading snack.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Gladden the Heart

Olivia Newport has written some of the best Amish Fiction I've ever read.  While to some degree, Amish fiction has an historical element to it.  The Amish faith holds to some historic practices by foregoing modern conveniences.  In Gladden the Heart, Olivia has taken the Amish life as it has been lived for the last four hundred years, and put it into the 1800s.

Susanna's favorite cousin, Noah, has had an illness overcome him after the church services.  When he "came to," he began preaching repentance.  He was totally unconscious of what he was doing at the time and never remembered what he'd done.  The bishop believes that Noah is trying to lead the members of the church astray, and objects to Noah's preaching.  As the illness takes over Noah, he stands in his home and preaches at the windows daily.  People from town come to watch the spectacle of Noah's demonstration, and that gives the bishop even more ammunition for his objections.

Adam has been dating Susanna and hopes to propose to her, but he can't get over her support of her cousin.

There are conundrums, crankiness, and conflicts within the warp and woof of the novel.  Those all give the story oomph and substance.  This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a sermon that gladdens your heart.

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

Second Chance Brides

Barbour Books is the most prolific publisher of novella anthologies, and this is another one of their quality collections.  These olios are best for reading during rainy afternoons or when the reader has a spare hour.

These brides may be a little older, long in the tooth, and a bit more weathered by life.  They may be widowed, or jilted, or have lost a fiance through death.  Some of the novellas take place during or after one of the wars the US has been involved in.  Some of the men are needing wives because they have children, or an inheritance to claim, or for some other reason.  Some of the men just see a vulnerable woman and step in to take care of her and end up falling in love.

The authors of these tales are quality writers who have written for Barbour before.  The settings are as varied as the authors who write the stories.  Post World War I, post Civil War, post Revolutionary War, the eras are as vast as the settings and characters.

This is a five star collection, two thumbs up, and a second chance.

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Road to Paradise

Karen Barnett has begun writing a new series about National Parks beginning with Mount Rainier National Park.  I decided I wanted to read this book because Mount Rainier is only a three hour drive from my house.  I have been to the Paradise area of the park and I have camped in one of the campgrounds.  My husband has hiked the Wonderland Trail around the base of the mountain.  It truly is a natural playground.

Margie has come to the park to work for the summer and to escape what is alluded to be an abusive relationship.  She has studied flora and fauna of the park and wants to learn even more.  Her father is a Senator who made a generous donation to the park so that Margie could work there.

Ford is the chief ranger of the park and is charged with supervising Margie.  At first he believes she's nothing but an air-headed distraction, but once she gets involved in working at the park, he realizes he's very wrong about her intelligence.  And then he begins to realize she's more than just a distraction.

The fly in the ointment is Philip, who thinks that Margie belongs to him and he will do anything to make it so.  Unfortunately, he's unscrupulous and underhanded, and he plays dirty to boot.  Nothing stands in the way of what he wants and what he wants is money.

Karen has such a way with words that her descriptions are easily imagined and feed the soul.  Her characters have such a depth that make them friends to the reader.  This is a five star book with two thumbs up and a bouquet of lupines, penstemons, and phlox.

My thanks to WaterBrook/Multnomah for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Stolen Heart

Lydia Crawford has been promised marriage by Edgar Ellis once she can get to Cimarron Creek, Texas.  The big BUT is that he's left town and left behind his pregnant wife.  The sheriff takes pity on Lydia and puts her up with his great aunt, Bertha.  Every now and again, she runs into the sheriff and sparks fly between them.  Now that Lydia has come to town, Cimarron Creek is experiencing a crime spree that has the people questioning whether or not Travis was the right man for the job.

Amanda Cabot has written some of my very favorite books and this one meets her high standard of quality writing.  While Cimarron Creek may be a fictional town in Texas, the setting is easily imaginable.  The people are typical of any small town and the mystery of the crimes is quite believable.

This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and some special confections for your next party.

Friday, June 2, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars

I decided to read this book because my family loves to be outdoors, loves to live a life with a wildness; and right now, my husband is out on the Pacific Crest Trail, living out of a tent, eating dehydrated food, and traveling each mile by foot.  There are so many chapters in this book that perfectly relate to the life my family lives.

I appreciate what Roger W Thompson has pointed out in this book, and that is that we were born with a wildness instinctively within us.  When we think about how God created the world, He made man in the wilderness, there were no tents, no houses, no "indoors" or "outdoors."  And the point I gather from Roger's writing is that we need to reclaim that wildness in our own lives, especially with God. Once we reclaim that wildness, we need to share it.  We need to create our own opportunities to stand upon the stars.

Some of the chapters are laugh-out-loud funny, some are poignant, some are somewhere in-between, but each chapter has some nugget the reader takes away from the reading.

I have to give this five stars, two thumbs up, and a VW Vanagon that has a marginal track record.

My thanks to WaterBrook/Multnomah for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Love So True

The Teaville Moral Society is at it again.  The purpose of the ladies' group is to help wherever needed, and Evelyn wants to help the soiled doves more than anything.  Melissa Jagears has brought us to another fascinating time with the Moral Society.  Evelyn meets David quite by accident, but he keeps looking for ways to bump into her and see her, while she shies away from him, not wanting to be involved with a man.

A Love So True is one of those books that not only entertain, but inspire.  After I finished the book, I wanted to look around to see what I could do for others.  Right now, my husband and I are trying to raise money for a Serious Fun Network Camp, called Camp Korey. Even so, this doesn't seem like enough to do.  I've got to think this thing through.

But back to Evelyn and David...Evelyn's parents are helping her run an orphanage, populated mostly by children of the soiled doves Evelyn so wants to help.  David is in Teaville at the behest of his father to sell a glassworks that he won in a poker game.  David's father has a wife picked out for David and his feelings for Evelyn have no place in his father's plans.

This is definitely a five star book, meant to be savored as you read it, two thumbs up, and a rescued soiled dove.

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