©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

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.

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.