©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

True to You

There are three Bradford sisters in this novel, which sets the stage for two more novels to come. There are characters that correspond to the three sisters, which kind of gives huge hints as to what's working in Becky Wade's mind.

Nora is the focus in True to You, she is the middle sister, a genealogist, and she quite doesn't know what to do when a larger than life man rescues her in a training exercise for a security company.  The man is John Lawson, the owner of the company, a former Navy SEAL, and a man who is in search for his birth mother.

Becky writes great novels with believable characters set in incredible settings.  While Washington State has some unbelievable settings, Becky placed this in a fictional town that is near some towns that are real.  I live in Washington State, and I know the area where this takes place.  It is a beautiful place, but it rains a lot on that side of the mountains.  Rain was an infrequent visitor to this novel, but if that is the worst I can say about this novel, it's a pretty good novel for sure.

There is a bit of intensity in the novel that makes it move along and creates an entertaining read.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a well-researched family tree.

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

With You Always

I'm trying to think of what I want to say about With You Always by Jody Hedlund.  It is her first novel in her Orphan Train Series.  I'm trying to figure out if she was using this book as an instrument to introduce the Orphan Trains, or if the Orphan Train was supposed to carry a bigger weight than it did in this book.

Elise is responsible for her younger sisters and two infants that were left with her when their mother died in the tenements of New York.  When the opportunity arises for Elise to go to Chicago to help in a new town being built along the railroad, she takes the chance, hoping to send money back to her sisters to come to be with her.

Thornton and his twin brother, Bradford, are thrown into a contest to see who will inherit the title to their father's throne as CEO of his railroad company.  The challenge is to build a town along the railroad, and fall in love and get married within six months.

Elise and Thornton had met during a storm while she was living at the Seventh Street Mission. Thornton was instantly attracted to Elise and wanted to see her more.  When he found her on the train, he made all kinds of excuses to be with her.  The only fly in his ointment was the fact that he had a girlfriend in New York.

The only way the Orphan Train comes into the plot is that the babies are sent out on the train without the sisters knowing about it.  There is a bit of a hint that the sisters are going to be searching for the babies.

Jody is a quality writer who knows her craft.  She has written an excellent book, with great characters and a compelling plot line.  The problems I have mentioned are truly minor and the way the contest ends is truly satisfying.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a First Class Train Ride

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When Tides Turn

Sarah, you are my BFF for life (that may be a little redundant, but you get my meaning).  Just sayin'.

Sarah Sundin writes WWII era romance and does it better than any other author I've read who also writes for this era.  That being said, When Tides Turn is her newest offering in the genre and it is definitely up to her impeccable standards.

Quintessa Beaumont has been in love with Dan Avery since she met his sister, Lillian while they were growing up.  Dan is a single-focused Navy man with pinpoint vision lasered in on his career.  When Quintessa is overlooked for promotion at Filene's Department Store, she decides to join the WAVES and actually do something for the war effort.  Dan is working to move his career along, but he has one fly in his ointment--an officer he once reported for conduct unbecoming.

Sarah has included a bit of espionage, spy-counter spy activity, murder, attempted murder, and top secret maneuverings.  Then there is romance that has already bloomed and is coming to fruition.  It's quite a rollicking reading.

Things I loved about this novel:

  • The war in the Atlantic against the German U-Boats
  • The destroyer escorts that played a minor role in the book, but a major roll in the war 
  • The aircraft carriers that made a huge difference in the war
  • The accuracy of the war facts woven into the novel
Sarah develops her characters over a series of novels but that only adds to the attraction of her books. 

This is a Five Star, Two Thumbs Up book, with a hot danish to have with your tea. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Captain's Daughter

My first Jennifer Delamere book is The Captain's Daughter detailing the life of Rosalyn Bernay after she left the orphanage when she reached the age of seventeen.  She became a lady's companion and had to leave the post because the lady's new husband was trying to compromise her.

She ran away and through a series of misfortune ends up in London and in a brothel.  She found out where she was and left in the dead of night.

Nate was a man in the "colours" or in the Army and was awaiting medical clearance to go back to his posting, but in the meantime, he took a job mucking out stalls and working in the theater where he met Rosalyn for the second time.

As I read this book, I found it a rather dark read, not quite my taste, but that doesn't mean it's not a good book.  The writing is high quality and contains enough action to move the plot along nicely.  It's not that my expectations were not met, but that my tastes run in another direction.   Four stars.

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Heart on the Line

When I first read a Karen Witemeyer book, it was a serendipity.  I was looking for a new author.  I was wanting to expand my horizons and get some new books to read.  I always read book blurbs to see if I would be interested in reading it.  Once I find an author I like, I quit reading blurbs and just read the books.  So Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer was on the list of books offered by NetGalley for review, I asked to be able to read and review it.

Karen has worked in long-distance romance (almost an historical online romance), kidnapping, attempted murder, impersonation,  new technology, and secret communications.

Harper's Station, Texas, is a town in which the majority of the population is women.  There are only two men in residence among all the women.   Grace is the telegraph operator and she lives in Harper's Station in hiding from a man who had her father killed.  Amos is her friend who is the operator in Denison, Texas. They were conversing after hours when another operator breaks into the line with an emergency for Grace telling her that the man she was hiding from now knew where she was.

There is so much action in this book, I had a hard time putting it down.  Karen writes books that grab the reader from the very first line and doesn't let go until the book is finished.  She has interesting characters in situations that require intelligence and deep thought to figure out.

This is a five star book with two thumbs up, and a telegram of only good news.

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

Amish Brides

Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard have joined together to create a collection of three novellas of Amish Brides.

Jennifer has added another story to her Huckleberry Hill series.

Molly's contribution describes the love of a young Amish maed who is not accepted by her fiance's family because her sister jumped the fence.

Amy's novella, to me, was the best.  She related a story of a spinster maed who longs to be married, but it takes a few mishaps and the machinations of her nieces to get her bu to notice her.

All in all, this collection is great to read to fill an afternoon and the stories are heartwarming.  This is a five star book with two thumbs up, and a slice of homemade apple pie.

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Catching the Wind

Catching the Wind is the best book I've read so far this year.  When the Gestapo come to Dietmar's and Brigitte's homes and arrests their parents, Dietmar and Brigitte (ages 13 and 10) run away from Germany.  Dietmar and Brigitte are best friends and stay together through all kinds of trials and obstacles.  Dietmar is also Brigitte's knight, and he carved a little princess for Brigitte.  Fast forward seventy years later, and Dietmar is now known as Daniel and he wants to find Brigitte.  He hires Quenby Vaughn to investigate and find her.

Melanie Dobson has written the book with a look at World War II as it was lived in England and a look at the present day investigative journalism.  Even though World War II ended over seventy years ago, there are still people who still stand with Germany's Fascism of the era.  Melanie has also included parts of the war most people were unaware of or refused to acknowledge--microphotography, Fascist sympathetic neighbors who were working as double agents, and refugees who were picked up to be used as slaves.

There were times I laughed (but not many) and even more times I cried.  The troubles that Dietmar and Brigitte experienced are beyond my reckoning, but Melanie's skill with a pen brought them to life in a way that makes the reader feel as if he or she is in the middle of the plot.

I wish I could give this more than five stars, but that's all I am allowed, but I'll add my usual two thumbs up, and a carved princess to see you through the trials.

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

Return to Huckleberry Hill

I have read most, if not all, of Jennifer Beckstrand's Huckleberry Hill Amish fiction books.  This latest offering in the series has been a disappointment and that made it hard for me to discipline myself to finish the book.

Reuben Helmuth feels he has been humiliated in his hometown in Ohio, because his girlfriend has decided to throw him over for his best friend.  So he flees to his grandparents place on Huckleberry Hill in Wisconsin.  When he finally feels he is getting his feet underneath him again, he sees his best friend's tagalong sister, Fern, at the church service in Bonduel.

Where Jennifer has had characters with some depth to them, these characters are more of caricatures of who they could be.  Reuben has a mindset that mimics the popularity mentality of some high school students who want to run with the "In" crowd. He wants to be liked, but he has the arrogance of someone who is not only part of the "rich," but also "popular."  The rest of the book centers around his comeuppance and his true humiliation.

I wish I could have liked this book better, because the grandparents, Felty and Anna Helmuth are so likable.

Two Stars.

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

Whispers of the Wind

Frances Devine is the author of the first story of this book and I put off reading this one because sometimes these books are a bit lacking in substance even though they are full in entertainment.  This one is significant in substance and is not only an entertaining read, but is also a meaty read.

Abigail is the new teacher at the Celeste Quincy School for the Deaf and she wants to shake things up--teaching the children sign language for part of their education. She meets with opposition with the director of the school at first.  When the owner of the school visits, she is able to get her idea with the sign language instituted and it works with great success.

Abigail is also assigned to teach a young girl, Lily Ann, who is blind.  She is at the school because there is no place else to take her.  Abigail wants to teach Lily Ann braille and Lily Ann wants to learn sign.

Much of Lily Ann's story reads like how Helen Keller was educated.  Abigail forms the signs in Lily Ann's hands and explains what she's doing.  Before long, Lily Ann can sign to the other students, and they sign in her hands to communicate with her.

In the second story--The Scent of Magnolia, Frances continues the story with one of Abigail's co-teachers at the center of the narrative, and a student, Molly,  Both stories are five star, two thumbs up, and the sign for teacher.

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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories

Celeste Fletcher McHale is a new to me author and she has written a book that deserves to be savored.  It needs to be read slowly and carefully so that each word can sink into the reader and take hold.  This is not just a compelling story line, it is enrapturing!

Jacey is a journalist writing about impoverished people in the deep South.  She gets caught in a flood and ends up on a roof with Lillian, her four boys, and Colin, waiting for rescue.  When the first boat comes by, Jacey, Lillian, and the boys get in and before they get too far, their boat is hit by another.  The currents of the flood waters are strong enough that Lillian's baby boy is ripped from Jacey's hands and Lillian is also pulled out of the boat.

A year later, Jacey encounters Colin as the minister who is performing the wedding ceremony of her best friend, Willow.  Jacey has scattered memories from the flood and Colin holds the key to some of the memories.  She keeps having dreams that rattle her sense of stability, but when the final key unlocks the last of the memories, Jacey runs to Colin for comfort.  Colin tells her he thinks he's falling in love with her and then backpedals so fast, she gets whiplash.  To soothe her hurting soul, she thinks of the boys and she goes to Biloxi, Mississippi, to see if she can find them.

Several items remotely related to this book:
   A.  I am glad it is not a scratch and sniff book.  There are many scents and perfumes that give me migraines, and magnolias are one of them.
   B.  There is a scene with a vague reference to sex and it is pre-marriage.
   C.  Everybody needs a Miss Ernestine in their life, and NO one needs a Miss Penny.
   D.  I have a friend who is just as outrageous as Grace and I love her dearly.

This is a great book for people who love happy endings, it's got the best happy ending of them all.  Celeste knows how to get the best out of her characters and settings. This is a five star book with two thumbs up, and a branch of magnolia blossoms.

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection

She's poor, he's rich; he's poor, she's rich; either way, the love bug bites them and elevates at least one of the couple into the polite society of the day.  In this collection of romance novellas, the money spoke and it said, "I love you."

The powers that be at Barbour Books pulled together nine extremely talented authors to bring love to society's mis-matched couples. I have come to the conclusion that there are authors who write best when they write full length novels, but there are some incredible authors who can write the short novella and bring just as much enjoyment to the reader as the full-length novelists do.  It's quite a feat, and Barbour Books knows who these authors are and how to tap into their talents to the best outcome.

This is a five-star collection, two thumbs up, and an unexpected bit of money.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rachel's Dreams

Rachel has three dreams and she keeps them written in a journal that stays in her hope chest made by Old Sam.  One of her dreams deals with her horse Cinnamon and becomes especially dear to her when Cinnamon becomes ill.  Cinnamon's illness brings Jarred Zimmerman to the Kauffman farm.  Jarred is not Amish and yet he and Rachel connect in a way that baffles them both.  One of the connections is Cinnamon, Jarred was there when Cinnamon was born and nursed him through an early illness.  Now both Rachel and Jarred are committed to nurse Cinnamon through this illness--one that has taken every horse it has reached.

Lisa Jones Baker has put together another Amish winner.  This one is a bit too syrupy sweet for me, but the writing is impeccable and the people are quite likable and the problems they face, they face them with aplomb.  The solutions the characters achieve are well thought out and well implemented.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a buggy ride with a healthy horse.

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Farmer's Market Mishap

Elma wants to be married, she wants the life her twin sister has, including the coming boppli.  She can't bear to move away from her sister and from her general store that she inherited from her grandparents.   This is the beginning of The Farmer's Market Mishap by Wanda Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter.

The two authors have put together a book with parallel stories that collide at the Farmer's Market.  Elma's sister wants her to marry Delbert--a man she courted before with no results.  Benjamin Wagler's mother wants him to marry a local girl, but the mishap at the Farmer's Market puts Ben and Elma together in a way that thwarts everyone's efforts to bring them together with other people. But it is a dog that cements their relationship forever.

It's been a number of years since I've read a Wanda Brunstetter book, but this was a nice reintroduction to her writing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  She's taken out the smarmy sweetness and added a reality that gives a new realism to her books. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a bushel of vegetables from the Farmer's Market

My thanks to Barbour Books (Shiloh Run Press) for allowing me to read and review this book.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Secret Courage

Tricia Goyer writes incredible Amish Fiction, and she writes World War II Era fiction and some non-fiction.  A Secret Courage is a WWII era book that details the life of a Photo Investigator. There are spies, double agents, counter spies, and a budding romance. I didn't find this book as enticing as her Amish fiction.  With all the characters carrying main roles in the book, there just wasn't enough time or space to develop them all.  The setting was well described and fit its role in the book.

Emma is the Photographic Investigator charged with scouring photos of the German countryside looking for weapons installations and possible rocket launch sites.

Will is an artist whose job it is to paint pictures of England where the war has not touched it.

Berndt is a German spy wanting to bring Emma's work down.

Ruth is a German woman taking care of war orphans, but that's only her cover for her duplicitous actions.

Both Will and Berndt want to get to know Emma more because she has information that can help or hurt the English cause by their own agendas.

I wish I could have liked the book better than I did.  Three stars.

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

I'm Back in the Saddle Again, . . .

Sam Stafford has been injured by a rather cranky cow, and in the meantime, he's having trouble with his liver.  Colt Stafford's investment empire has imploded by a Ponzi scheme, and to avoid the press, he has come back to Grays Glen, Washington, and the Double S Ranch.  At the Double S, Colt meets Angelina--the housekeeper for Sam, and that meeting causes Colt to consider going back to the Rat Race of Wall Street, or stay in the saddle at the ranch.

Ruth Logan Herne has written an exciting book with interesting characters who have very real problems in life.  A minor character is Nick, whose wife left him with two young daughters to raise.  His hackles rise up whenever Colt offers advice.  There is a tension between the two that helps the plot to move forward without becoming frenetic.

The only criticism I have for this book is that Ruth has Angelina talking on her cell phone while she's driving.  Angelina is a former law enforcement officer from Seattle and should know that cell phone use in Washington while driving is not legal.  I looked at her bio information, and found she doesn't live in Washington.  This is something that she should have checked out.  Driving while Distracted carries a fairly serious fine with it.

I enjoyed Back in the Saddle and previously read Home on the Range with the same interest.  There is one more brother to come back and find his home on the Double S.  I can't wait to read Trey's story.  Back in the Saddle is a definite 4+ book and worth the time to read.

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ascension of Larks

I am not sure the title is apt for the book.  It does have some meaning to the plot, but a bigger player than the larks is a  Dall porpoise.
 But more on that later.

Ascension of Larks is one of the best books I have read for a while.  Maggie Henry, Marco Firelli and Lena Firelli have been friends since college.  Maggie is a renowned photographer with many awards to her name.  Marco is equally renowned architect as well, and Lena is the one who earned Marco's heart.  Maggie is finishing a photoshoot at a coffee plantation in Central America when she hears that Marco was drowned in an accident in Puget Sound. She rushes to Lena's side to be there for her and the children.

Rachel Linden has presented her readers with the most captivating novel to come out for a while.  In delving into the lives of Marco, Lena, and Maggie, she unearths some depths to each of the characters that some authors would have left unplumbed.  She even brings in a minor player who adds so much to the landscape of the plot of the book, it just would not have been as good without them.

Rachel has done exquisite research especially in some of the customs of the early years of the San Juan Islands.  When Maggie takes the children to a museum, they find a display of a beckoning ceremony, and the children decide they want to do one for their father.  They build a fortress under the fir trees and put things that were important to their father inside the little fortress.  They gather together and have Maggie say a few things to show Marco's spirit where he needs to go.  Soon after, a Dall's porpoise shows up in the sound, and the children believe it is their father coming to greet them.

I am having a hard time giving some idea of what the book is about without spoiling it for other readers who haven't had a chance to read it yet. One thing about this book, faith is very much an undertone to the book rather than the driving force.  What faith is portrayed makes this book all the more winsome.  I must say it is a five-star book, two thumbs up, and a Dall's porpoise to greet you.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Charm a Beekeeper's Heart

If we take the title of the book and try to answer it with the contents of the book, sometimes the answer is convoluted.  But that is how real life plays out.  It's not a neat package that moves from one episode to another seamlessly, there are messes that interfere with our nicely planned out lives.  Candice Sue Patterson has written a novel that mimics the messiness of life and still tells a compelling story with love, angst, pathos, and joy.

Arianne runs a bridal shop and lives in a small apartment upstairs from the shop with her daughter and her sister. So far, her sister has not done anything with her life but be a mooch on Arianne.

Huck's Uncle Martin has died and Huck inherited the building that Arianne's bridal shop occupies.  She hasn't paid rent in ten months, so Huck shows up to evict her.  Huck and Arianne have a history that isn't a pretty one, but somehow Huck wants to overcome that.

When Huck has an accident on his motorcycle and breaks his body to bits, he needs someone who can take care of him during his long rehab.  Arianne has been part of the way through medical school and has the knowledge to help in his recovery, but he's most unwilling to have Arianne be his caretaker until it comes down to the fact that he has no one else who can help.

A few misunderstandings and a couple of accidents later, it looks as if Huck's chances are slim to none and Slim left town.

I've not read a book by Candice before, but this won't be my last one.  There is a reality to her book that encourages my heart. I started this book yesterday and finished it today.  It was a better read than I expected and it left me wanting more.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a jar of honey to sweeten your life

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An Amish Summer

Every now and then, I need to read a book to "cleanse the palate," and just lose myself in some lighter entertainment. This time it wasn't because I had just read a deeply involved book, but because I was about to read a more deeply involved book.  An Amish Summer was just the book I needed to read for this purpose.

A collection of four novellas, each one has its characters (not just the players in the book, but characters in the sense of personality), and its conundrums.  There were difficulties to overcome for each couple to make it to the marriage bench.  The authors collected here are top knotch Amish writers and are a joy to read.  It is entertaining to follow the dialects of the Amish used by the authors in their narratives.  Some of the words are the same, but the spelling is different.  Some of the words are completely different. The rules or the "Ordnung" are pretty much the same across the four novellas and the reactions to them are pretty uniform, as well.

This is a five-star collection, two thumbs up, and a summer full of fun!

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Raine

If you are looking for a light-hearted, mindless read, then Spring Raine is the book for you.  Raine has come to Cambria, California, to have a vacation before she starts a parental-approved job as a forensic scientist.  Her father is not all that pleased with the fact that she's out of his "range" and is afraid she'll mess up her life, so he hires a "ghost guard" to watch out for her. Declan Keller is the neighbor to the inn where Raine is staying, so he's in a perfect position to be the guard her. . . .

This is my first Delia Latham book, and she does follow the formula fairly well.  She just threw in an undercover angel to spice it up a bit.  Among the  overabundance of butterflies, dreams, and unusual happenings, Delia has created a predictable narrative that in places is over-the-top silly.  Like I said, this is light-hearted and mindless.  I always feel bad when I have to give a bad review, but I wish this had been a better book.  Two stars.

I want to thank White Rose Publications for allowing me to read and review this book.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage

Noah gets a letter from the IRS that stirs his anger like nothing else can.  He pays a visit to his accountant that gets him nothing in the way of information and sends him to his lawyer.  What the lawyer tells him is beyond all he can bear.  His divorce was never finalized and in order to straighten it out, he has to face Josephine once again.

Josephine has secrets that she has never told anyone and has no desires to tell anyone.  She wants things between Noah and her finished as well.  When he asks for their papers, she brings them to him and then gets stuck at his house in a storm that goes from bad to worse.

Denise Hunter has written a real "screen scroller" with Sweetbriar Cottage.  The plot is what makes this book as good as it is.  The characters are a bit two-dimensional, but their interactions in their predicament did make the book more readable.  This is a strong four star book.

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Writing Desk

Tenley Roth needs to meet a book deadline when she is called by her mother to come help her out.  Blanche has cancer and wants Tenley to be with her through the chemo and other treatments.  While Tenley goes to Florida, her fiance goes to Paris to work on a screenplay with an A-list starlet.  When Tenley gets to Blanche's house, she finds an antique desk that she thinks will be her muse.  Day after day Tenley sits at the desk and writes nothing.

Rachel Hauck has written one of those books that goes back and forth through history where she describes Tenley's life and then bounces back to one of Tenley's ancestors and she brings up an ethical dilemma that not only affects Tenley, but also affects her ancestor, Birdie.  Both love to write, but Birdie got her first novel stolen from her and Tenley finds a manuscript that she appropriates as her own.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the Writing Desk.  I read it in one day and stayed up until the wee hours of this morning to finish the book.  My husband often asks me how long it will be till I turn out my reading light.  Last night he asked several times, and I only said, "Soon." I couldn't put it down.  From the Gilded Age in New York City, to London, to Florida, the settings only add to the aura of the book and the characters are exactly that--real characters.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and that novel you've been saying you'll write.

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

and make believe it came from you.  I'm gonna write words oh so sweet, they'll knock me off my feet.

Seven ladies in Turtle Springs, Kansas, have pooled their money together to post an ad in several newspapers nationwide in order to find a husband.  The Civil War has decimated the male portion of the population, leaving many young maidens without prospects for a spouse. The men are to show up to audition for their prospective wives.  Each woman gets to choose whether or not to pursue a relationship with the man whose eye she catches.

This olio of stories has only seven novellas which gives the author a bit more time and space to work with her characters and since all of the stories are set in the same place, the settings were not hard to work with, and the plot development could still be personalized by each individual author.  This is one of the best collections Barbour Books has put out. Because the novellas get more space, the authors are able to refine their books with a bit fewer constraints.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a letter from your mancrush.

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Amish Widower

I've read several of Virginia Smith's Amish fiction works and thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them.  I was pleased when The Amish Widower came up on my list because I knew it would be a good read.

Seth Hostetler has been widowed twice and plans to never marry again, first because he has suffered too much pain, and second, because he can't see that God would give him another chance. He lives on his father's farm with his parents, grandmother, and two brothers and all the assorted family members.  He felt a bit out of place and taking up too much room.  The farming work is fine but it doesn't hold the excitement for him that he wishes he could have from his work.

When his sisters-in-law want him to drive them to town, they take him to a pottery shop on the far side of town and the owner of the shop gives him a lesson in throwing pottery and captures his imagination.

When a girl from his district runs away because her boyfriend started dating someone else, Seth is called in to try to bring this girl back to the district. When she does return, she thinks Seth has feelings for her that he doesn't really have.  As the pressures mount for him to take another wife, he decides to move closer to the pottery works where he's been apprenticed to the potter.

At the prologue of the book and at the very end, my eyes flowed with unrelenting tears.  My nose got stuffed up, the whole works. Virginia truly writes believable Amish fiction and puts the warts on the Amish instead of writing perfect characters who never step out of line.  This is a five-star book, with two thumbs up and a beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece of pottery.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Abiding Mercy

This is the third Ruth Reid book I've read.  When I went back to read the reviews of her books I'd previously read, I was surprised to see this review.  What surprised me in rereading that review was that I felt I would never read another book by her again.

I've gone through cycles where I will read Amish fiction, or cycles where I won't read any Amish at all.  I'm in a cycle where I'm picky about the Amish fiction I'll read, but I do enjoy reading it. This book is  a bit similar to an Amish fiction book I've read before, but it does come with a twist.

Roslyn and Brandon's toddler daughter was kidnapped and for the last fifteen years Roslyn has been obsessed with finding Adriana.  She has created a foundation to reunite kidnapped children with their parents, and she has made it her life's work to find Adriana.

Faith has been working at her maam's restaurant ever since she finished school in the eighth grade.  She loves cooking and she loves baking the bread in the restaurant. She also loves Gideon, but he's her sister's boyfriend.

These lives are on a collision course without any of them knowing it.  And it caused no small amount of tears for me as I read it.

After I read that one Ruth Reid book, I kind of forgot about it, so I picked up another one.  I am certainly glad I did.  This book broke my heart and it gave me such hope at the same time.  I give it five stars, two thumbs up, and a freshly baked loaf of bread.

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

To the Farthest Shores

To the Farthest Shores is an historical novel that covers a portion of history I've not paid too much attention to.  Starting just after the Spanish-American War and moving up to the early years of the 1900s.  Elizabeth Camden has pulled together several people, places, and events to make an incredible novel surrounding the Presidio military base and soldiers returning from war with all kinds of injuries and needing rehabilitation. Jenny is the nurse all the soldiers love because of her sweet attitude and care for all of their needs.  It's in this capacity that Jenny met Ryan and fell in love.  Then suddenly he was gone.  After four years, she gets a letter telling her to forget him.

Elizabeth has depicted the establishment of the now CIA, and the advent of covert spying by the US.  Through her descriptions, she has formulated a character whose very being is protected by his need to keep secrets. Those secrets spill over into his outside life, and become an obstacle to what he really wants.

To the Farthest Shores is a well-crafted novel full of surprises at every turn.  Elizabeth has not left out a single detail or a single thought within the pages of this book.  The characters are so well developed, they feel like friends to the readers.  The settings are so well described that they are almost tangible. Hospitals, pawn shops, and pearl farms make the world of this novel, but that world is so full and so meaningful, it was incredibly hard to finish the book and walk away.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a productive Pearl Farm.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shine Like the Dawn

Maggie and her family are on an outing to celebrate her older sister's birthday when the boat sprang a leak.  When it became apparent that they were not going to be able to get back to shore, Maggie's father told her to swim to shore with her baby sister, Violet, who was only two years old.  Maggie's mother and older sister were not able to swim, but Maggie saved herself and Violet.  Four years later, Maggie and Violet are living with their grandmother making hats in her millinery shop when Violet is involved in an accident when she is hit by a motor car and breaks her leg. Even with Violet's accident, there is nothing Maggie wants more than to find out what happened when her family drowned.  A face from Maggie's past shows up to help.  Nate Harcourt has come home because his father is ill and Nate needs to take over his father's responsibilities.

Carrie Turansky writes incredible novels with intriguing plot lines that make her novels hard to put down.  In Shine Like the Dawn, Carrie has not only given us a novel with an interesting plot, but she's also given us a peek into the daily life of England near the turn of the twentieth century.  She's also shown us the very real human foibles we all have, but entertained us while doing so.  The romance in this novel is not over the top, but more understated--almost taking a back seat to the characters and plot lines.  Her plots move seamlessly through several character points of view and bring a cohesive story to the reader.

This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and the clues to solve a serious mystery.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Heart Belongs

When I began to read this novel, I was almost prepared to dismiss it as a formulaic romance.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that this novel takes a few detours along the formula line. While it does have a bit of a slow start, the pace of the plot picks up quite quickly.  In a comedy of mistaken identities and a rush to the altar before everything is understood, Tad and Rebecca find themselves married, when Rebecca was supposed to marry Tad's cousin, Theodore.  The animosity between Tad and Theodore adds to the comedy of errors.

Suzanne Dietze has contributed to several of Barbour Publishing's novella collections and I always find her writing entertaining and worth the time to read. This novel is no different.  My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho, has all kinds of adventure, angst, and growth. Some of the characters have to overcome a prejudice and find the kindness within themselves.  For that reason alone, the book is worth reading.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a marriage to the right man.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Behind the Scenes

Imagine, opening your mail and find that you have been invited to a masquerade ball at Alva Vanderbilt's home, the creme de la creme of society.  You are a women's page writer for the New York Sun and this invitation allows you access to the inner workings of her home and to see all of the Knickerbockers while also allowing you to gain tasty tidbits of society gossip for your column.

Such was the case for Miss Permilia Griswold, who wrote under the pen name of Miss Quill.  Her writing allowed those not at the party to feel as if they'd been there and seen the people.  Permilia talked about the gowns the ladies wore, the escorts they had, the dances they danced, but left out salacious details of the evening.

Leaving out the salacious details is what got Miss Quill fired from her job at the New York Sun, but that was secondary to the murder plot Permilia accidently overheard.  Jen Turano writes novels that exude humor and delight and that entertain the reader from page one to the last page.  Behind the Scenes is one such novel.  Permilia has been handicapped by her step-mother and her step-sister who live for drama, making the right impressions and being seen in the right company always.

I didn't realize that Jen had chosen "Permilia" as her heroine's name, I'd only heard of this name one other time--in researching my family tree, one of the great-great-grandmother's had this name, and her mother was Parmilia.  I adore Jen Turano's writings because of her humor and settings.  Her characters are more than just the fluffy, air-headed society debutantes.  This is a five-star book, two thumbs up, and a dress that doesn't look like a chicken molted all over it.

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Chapel Car Bride

Judith McCoy Miller writes amazing novels with charming characters and incredible settings.  Her research is impeccable and informative. I learn something nearly every time I read one of her books.

The Chapel Car Bride taught me that there was at one time in history train cars where preachers traveled on the railroad teaching about Christ.  I'd never heard of this before, but it's not outside the realms of credulity.

This takes place soon after the turn of the century of 1900s.  Prohibition was about to come into play, but in West Virginia, it was already being enacted, county by county.  Where prohibition exists, moonshining and bootlegging exists alongside.  Moonshining is part of my family's history--a cousin and a great uncle on my mom's side of the family were the still owners, and my grandfather on my dad's side was their customer.  Cousin Wesley was the grand joke of the family.  If something was mentioned about illegal booze, Cousin Wesley's name was not far behind.  He spent time in and out of the federal penintentiary, and often listed his occupation as "sugar delivery for Weyerhaueser." I know this world, not well, but I know it.

Another significant part of the plot is the location--the back hills of West Virginia.  Hill people are hill people, no matter where they are, and Judith has written a true portrayal of the hill people in this book.  They are closed off, wary of strangers, slow to trust outsiders, and definitely mistrustful of people from the government.  I've lived in a community like that.  Some of them believe they are a law unto themselves, and can tell stories about that, but that's for another day.

The relationships Judith has put into the plot are charming and insightful.  I LOVED this book.  I couldn't wait to finish it, but I wanted it to go longer.  It's five stars, two thumbs up, and NO moonshine!

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Journey Toward Home

Carol Cox writes historical novels with a humorous twist and creates an entertaining read for her fans.  In this offering from Barbour Books, she has two stories make a complete narrative, and both are highly entertaining.

Journey Toward Home details the life of Judith Alder as she's moving from Missouri to New Mexico to live with her uncle instead of with her aunt.  In order for her aunt to allow her to make the move, her aunt set her up to travel with a family going west in a wagon train. The woman of the family was extremely severe and actually resented Judith being with the family, and at the first opportunity, the family abandoned Judith in the middle of the desert.  Judith learns how resilient she really is.

Measure of a Man, which is a bonus story in the book picks up a few years after Journey Toward Home ends.  Lizzie is looking for "that" one man who will love her and keep her life adventurous.  There are two men vying for her attention, and they are vastly different in lifestyle, beliefs, and basic character.  Lizzie has a tough choice ahead of her.

This is the first book with a bonus story that had a connection to the first novel in the book, and I thought that added to the charm of the collection.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a move west.

I would like to thank Barbour Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Goosey, Goosey, Gander

Melanie Dickerson takes ordinary fairy tales and reworks them to make complete novels.  She does a masterful job at taking the child-like story and making it an enjoyable narrative for adults to read.  Magdalen has been called to Wolfberg to wed the Duke there.  She only goes because she wants to better the lives of the people living in her demesne since the copper in her father's mines has played out.  Steffen is the Duke, but he's been in Prague going to school and his uncle has been overseeing his land and castle. His uncle calls him home to get married, but. . .

The story is set in Germany and puts the The Goose Girl into a setting where she is allowed to bloom and grow even though her identity has been stolen from her.  Steffen becomes her ally in this problematic situation because his life was being threatened by his uncle.

The Noble Servant is quite a story that is a quick read and hard to put down.  I appreciate Melanie's talent in telling the tale and her ability to make it so enjoyable.

Five stars, two thumbs up, and a goose-feather quill.

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

Treasured Grace

One of the first things I learned about after I moved to Washington State was the Whitman Massacre.  When my children were about six and eight, we went to Walla Walla to visit the Mission.  To see where history happens is one of those experiences everyone should have.

Tracie Peterson has written a novel that brings history to life in the Whitman Mission Massacre.  She has done her research well, she has developed characters to flesh out the plot lines, her plot and setting are incredible, she has added intensity to the telling of the story to make it more than just  retelling of the history of the events.

Grace Martindale and her two younger sisters have come west with a man Grace married so that he could set up a mission for the "savages."  Along the way, he died, and Grace was left alone with her sisters to finish out the trip.  Grace has been gifted with the gift of healing and knows how to use herbs and other botanicals for her remedies.  She butts heads with Dr Whitman about helping people with their ailments.  I truly believe that Tracie researched these characters well to show how they acted in real life.  I never realized the ego Dr Whitman had. Egos clashing played a large part of the massacre.

But Grace had an ego of her own that she had to overcome, especially when it came to her love life, but she did and she did it graciously.

This is a five star book, two thumbs up, and healing for your soul.

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

With Love, Wherever You Are

Dandi Daley Mackall has written the book I've wanted to write, but never thought I had the chutzpah to do it.  She has told her parents' love story in such a winsome way that the book is impossible to put down.  Because she had an inside view of her parents' lives, her characters have a depth that the characters in most novels don't get to.  Dandi was able to pick her parents minds and get the real low-down on the places and settings for the novel, as well as get the real low-down on the relationship between her parents.

Helen Eberhardt is one of thirteen children, and against her father's wishes, she went to nursing school.  After finishing nursing school, she was working in a hospital that catered to the wealthy who were demanding and spoiled. After a run-in with a particularly trying patient, she quit and enlisted in the Army.  Her first day in an Army hospital, she was assigned to the amputee ward.  After her first look, she ran into the men's restroom to gather her wits.  That's where she met Frank Daley, and for him, that was all it took for him to fall in love.

Eventually both were sent to Europe to different hospitals and the only way they had to communicate was to write letters, copious numbers of letters.

There are more than a few similarities between my parents' story and Dandi's, but there are quite a few differences.  Neither of my parents were in the medical professions, nor were either of them in the Army.  Daddy was in the Coast Guard, but he was willing to take the same kinds of risks Frank took, but for different reasons.  Still this narrative reminded me much of my parents' lives, I thoroughly loved the book.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a letter from your true love.

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Secret Admirers

When you collect nine authors who tell nine stories, you get some of the same kinds of stories, but all from a different perspective, and all have the right length to allow you to get away for an hour in the afternoon and escape the real world.

The problem with this format of reading is that the authors. who are ultimately qualified to write these stories, are hamstrung by the length of the narrative.  Few authors are able to develop a plot as well as the personalities that populate the plot.

Barbour Publishing has the knack of finding the best of the best who can achieve this nearly impossible task of great stories that only take an hour to read. Each of the tales in this olio involve someone loving another from afar and finally finding his/her own true love.  Part of the time, I read this before falling asleep, part of the time I read while I was exercising on my stationary bike.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and an anonymous love letter.

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Than A Marriage

Amy Lillard writes Amish Fiction and this latest offering is such a quick read, I finished it in little over an hour.  This is different from most Amish romances that are available and that alone makes it worth reading.  The story tells of a marriage on the brink of breaking and how it finally is healed. Amy explores the emotions of breaking hearts and how those hearts come back together. It's also the story of a goat who creates trouble within this marriage.

This book also shows how important it is to have a group of trusted people around a marriage who help bolster it up.  In almost every book I read, there is a take-home point.  This is the point in Amy's book.

This is a five star quick read, two thumbs up, and a goat to add chaos to your life

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

A Stranger at Fellsworth

For some authors, the writing seems to flow naturally from their pens.  The era, the characters, the settings, and the plot movement seem like an organic function of their craft.  Such is the case for Sarah E Ladd.  I've read several of her books and her plot devices never seem to grow old.  I must say, though, that with A Stranger at Fellsworth, she was a bit predictable.  We have a heroine who is being bartered to a slimy man in repayment for a debt.  We have a hero who helps her escape such a terrible fate and falls in love with her.  We also have skulduggery, terrible accidents, and feats of derring-do.  

There were some surprises in the book, though.  Annabelle has a few significant trinkets from her mother that are quite valuable, and she has to share a room with three other women and her things don't get stolen.  There are suspicious characters whose interactions with Annabelle don't really have a bearing on the movement on the plot.  Those are extremely minor criticisms on the book, it's still a very enjoyable book and quite an easy read.  Definitely worth four stars!  

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hideaway's Hidden Hopes

I love reading on my Kindle because it tells me how long it will take me to finish a book.  Last night when I went to bed, I had over two hours to finish The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton.  I got so into what was happening, I failed to notice the time.  That's a key to a good book.

Sara has inherited her grandmother's house to do with as she will.  There is a man in the community who wants the piece of ground the house sits on and will stop at nothing to get it. Sara is unwilling to budge an inch until she finds every secret the Hideaway has to give up.

Right now, the Hideaway is home to a collection of geriatrics who live life flamboyantly.  Major grumbles, Pat and Bert like to play, and Glory is a being unto herself.  But above all, they loved Mags, and mourned her passing.  They also loved Mags by taking in her granddaughter and helping her with remodeling and updating the Hideaway.

There are tough times in everyone's life, and Lauren has shown through her book that a will to overcome is vital to living through the tough times.  She hasn't made the Bible a significant part of her book, but the tenacity of her characters to live life on their own terms engages the reader with delight.

I could easily see this as a Hallmark movie--it has just the right amount of charm and mystery to fit in with the Hallmark brand.

I give this five stars, two thumbs up, and the key to a Hideaway.

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Beloved Hope Chest

The Beloved Hope Chest is the culmination of a series of books by Amy Clipston and I have to say that she's saved the best for last.  While Mattie is explaining the contents of her hope chest to her daughters, Amy has brought about a deeper thought for anyone reading. This book wasn't just a book about two Amish people falling in love, it was about worthiness to receive love. Mattie married Leroy shortly after her husband, Isaiah, died, because she was pregnant and wanted her child to have a father.  After the baby was stillborn, she went into a serious depression--widowed, married, lost child all add up to a serious high on the stress scale.  She couldn't see her worthiness to be Leroy's fraa.

While I don't think this was Amy's goal in writing this book, she has presented a picture of us as Christians, especially those of us who do not see ourselves as being worthy.  God sees us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and in Amy's book, Mattie has to learn to see herself through Leroy's eyes to find her worth.  This is one of the most endearing books I've read by Amy.  Her characters and plot lines resonate through me and bring about a new appreciation for the God we serve, and the sacrifice of His Son.

Absolutely a Five Star book, with two thumbs up, and a coffee cake to munch on while you read.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Building Benjamin

The tribe of Benjamin has been all but obliterated because of the actions of a few members of the tribe.  At the instigation of the elders of the tribe of Judah, the remaining members of the tribe of Benjamin go to Ephraim and take wives from among the dancers of the harvest festival.  Throughout the rest of the book, the trials of rebuilding the tribe, the trials of preventing more war, and protecting the women in the tribe come together to make a cohesive story of one of the favorite women of the Bible.

Barbara M Britton has done a masterful job of fleshing out this narrative with characters of her imagination.  Her unbelievable talent in pulling a few words from the Bible into the whole cloth of a beloved story is incredible.  She studied the history, culture, and customs to make this read so authentic and so enjoyable for the reader.  This is such a quick read, and such a hard book to put down.  This is no less than a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a perfect lamb.

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

Desert Moon

Susan Page Davis usually writes compelling novels that draw the reader in.  I had a hard time getting into this book and really enjoying it.

Julia is coming home to Arizona after her mother's death.  Before she even gets to town, the stage is robbed of the mine's payroll and the shotgun rider is killed.  The first person she sees when she disembarks from the stage is her old beau, Adam, who believes her brother is the one responsible for the chaos.

Here are my problems with the plot of the novel
         Julia has a distinct animosity that suddenly turns to love for Adam.  The speed at which her emotions change gives the reader whiplash.
         Adam makes his mind up without truly investigating the situation
         Julia's brother runs and hides without trying to clear his name, even though he had an unbreakable alibi.
         I think that with a longer novel, Susan could have developed her characters a bit more and given them a bit more personality.

I'd have to give this one a two star rating.

In the bonus story, Colleen Reece, has matched Honor Brooks with Philip Travis and he has invited her to his family's ranch.  When she gets to the ranch, she thinks she's seeing Philip, but actually she's meeting his twin, James.  James takes advantage of the situation by tricking Honor into marriage.

Honor is a sweetly naive girl and Colleen has given her strength and backbone to meet her challenges. I love the way she's met her every challenge and still keeps true to herself.

I'd have to give this one four stars.

Between the two of the books in the single cover, they average a three star rating.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

The vicar of the Chilbury church has disbanded the choir because the war has taken all the men away from the community.  The women of the church have come together to try to overthrow the vicar's decision by forming a Ladies' Choir. There are a number of interesting characters who comprise this choir.  Kitty Winthrop, the thirteen-year-old daughter of Brigadier Winthrop, has a clear, perfect-pitch voice and decides to take voice lessons from the director of the choir.  Venetia Winthrop is Kitty's sister.  Sylvie is the Czech refugee living with the Winthrops. Mrs Tilling is a nurse/midwife and also the billeting officer for the refugees who come to Chilbury, but doesn't want to billet anyone in her own home. Mrs. B wants to be in charge of everything. Edwina Paltry is the other midwife in town and the Brigadier wants her to make sure his wife's baby is a boy.

In amongst all this drama are deals, side deals, and underhanded deals. The story of this choir is told through journals and letters in the voices of the characters themselves. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is one tough book to put down.  I read it in one day.  I understand this is Jennifer Ryan's first book, and in baseball parlance, she hit it out of the park.  Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a winning choir competition number.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love's Prayer

If I were to guess, Love's Prayer is Melissa Storm's first book. The basic story is okay, but I found it rather contrived.  Melissa follows the romance writer's formula fairly loosely, but still the formula is visible in the reading.  The one thing that's good about this book is that it doesn't take long to read.

I am being rather nasty about this and that's not fair.  The opening of the book details Ben's brother's suicide and Ben's depression and suicidal thoughts.  After an accidental meeting with Summer, who is taking care of her aunt's florist shop, Ben recovers from both the depression and the suicidal thoughts. I can't imagine that this would be the case in real life.

Some of the happenings in the book gave real entertainment.  Summer's Aunt Iris has a bird named Sunny that she left in Summer's care while she's on the cruise.  One night Sunny escapes its cage and the house, leading to an all city rescue.  Melissa's description of the antics of the people trying to catch the bird is funny and amusing.

I won't say this book has no redeeming value, but I can't score it very highly.  Two Stars.

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Scarlet Coat

I have fallen in love with a new author.  She writes with an excitement that keeps readers involved in the book from beginning to end.  Angela K Couch has written The Scarlet Coat and set it during the Revolutionary War.

Rachel goes to find her brother and father after the battle  near Oriskinay.  Her brother was easy enough to find, but her father lay dead on the battlefield.  As she and Joseph, her brother, leave the battlefield, she sees a man who is still alive, and insists that even though he wears a scarlet coat, they bring him back home to nurse him back to health.  As the man gets better, he has no memory of who he is or what his background is.  The longer he stays with Rachel and Joseph, the more he learns of his identity, and the more he falls in love with Rachel and Rachel falls in love with him.

There is always a hint of danger throughout the book.  If Rachel's and Joseph's neighbor find out they are treating the British officer, an uprising will soon follow.

The climax and denouement are such that will bring the reader to the edge of the seat.  Angela's talents as a writer are soon to be noticed and held up for critical acclaim.  She has a talent that will take her far in the Christian fiction world.  I have left out a lot of details from my review because to reveal more of the plot of the book would be to spoil the plot.  I am not one who is discouraged by spoilers, but there are those who are and I respect that.

Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and the capture of a double agent

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