©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

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.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Love's Compass

There are two novels in this book, and if the compass is pointing in the right direction, it points Southwest.  Both novels take place in the New Mexico/Arizona area, near Four Corners. Carla Gade and Darlene Franklin have offered two light-hearted stories to make this an entertaining read from the first page to the last.

The last two books I read before this selection were heavy, dark reads, and I needed to have the reading atmosphere lightened up.  I'll always appreciated Barbour Books for publishing books that fit this niche.

In Carla Gade's offering, Eliana is her father's assistant photographer.  She and her father travel around Colorado and New Mexico taking photographs of people, and landscapes to record the history and scenic beauty of the area.  Yiska Wilcox is their guide and he begins falling in love with Eliana and falls even more in love with her as secrets are revealed to her and from her.

In Darlene Franklin's part of this book, Muriel is a stage actress doing a movie for the renowned director Rex Pride.  He's making a movie about a Romeo/Juliet type love between two members of competing Native American tribes in the Mesa Verde area of southern Colorado.  What makes this a great book is the way Darlene has worked the plan of salvation into the story.  She portrays Rex as a man who covers his misery with driving achievements.

These are five star stories, with two thumbs up, and a trip to Four Corners.

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

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Fragile Hope

Every now and again when I review a book on Amazon, the site will ask me my impression of the plot--was it light, dark, suspenseful, thought-provoking, etc. A Fragile Hope is ponderous. Karin Carrington is leaving her husband (at least for a time), but before she gets to the airport, her car crashes into a tree. Josiah gets a call late at night telling him that his wife is in the hospital in the next town over.

Josiah is a marriage health guru who writes books on keeping your marriage in prime condition. He can't see that his marriage is crumbling around his ears. The rest of A Fragile Hope details the angst and deep thinking Josiah does to find out how his marriage got to the condition it is in. Cynthia Ruchti has done a masterful job in looking into the lives of those with deep brain trauma, and all that goes into the recovery of a DBT. I love the fact that Cynthia brought in two different doctors with two different philosophies of treating these traumas.

This is a five-star book, two thumbs up, and an autographed book.

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

Upon a Spring Breeze

I have never read an Amish novel that was out and out mean, but Upon a Spring Breeze is one of those books that leaves the reader mad at nearly every character. I get that in the Amish world, a woman's place is next to a man's, and that men are heads of their households. But the men in this book missed the part in Ephesians that says the men should love the women as Christ loved the church. I do understand that the author was trying to set up her story to show what Bess was going through in her emotions of losing her husband and then having a rather fussy baby. Most of the rest of the people in this community had no sympathy for Bess. They all seemed mean-hearted and otherwise unempathetic. At best this is a two-star book.

I've read other books by Kelly Irvin before and truly enjoyed them. She is a high quality writer who just missed it with this book, unless I am not getting her message. I had a really hard time getting past the personalities of the characters to actually read the whole book.

I really appreciate Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sponge Cakes for All

First things First:

Sponge Cake

1 cup cake flour
6 medium eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp cream of tartar

(frosting optional)

Set oven to 325 degrees ten minutes before baking. Use an UNGREASED 10" tube pan. Sift flour, measure, resift 3 times. Put egg whites into a mixing bowl. Put yolks into a separate bowl. Gradually beat in half of the sugar (1/2 cup) with a rotary beater until so thick beater is difficult to turn, at least 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, beat in flavorings. Now add flour and water alternately in 3 or 4 portions, beating vigorously after each. Now sift cream of tartar over whites and beat with clean rotary beater until stiff enough to form soft, shiny peaks, then add rest of sugar gradually and beat until shiny meringue forms pointed peaks that curve at the tips. Use a rubber scraper to quickly fold yolks mixture into the whites lightly but thoroughly. Now flow batter into pan. Bake cake on bottom rack 1 hour or until it springs back when touched lightly with finger. Remove from oven; invert at once over large funnel or bottle if pan does not stand on tube or side supports. When cool, remove from pan like Angel Food. Frosting is optional

Lisa Jones Baker has written an intriguing tale of an Amish girl and an Amish guy who have loved each other since they were children. The girl, Annie, has become very accomplished at making sponge cakes, but the guy, Levi, has moved away from the Amish settlement in Illinois because his father was shunned for driving a truck for his business. A wedding brought the two back together, and their love is no less than it was years ago. The differences in their beliefs appear insurmountable, yet, they continue to pursue the relationship--seemingly with no effort of their own. Annie knows that she wants to be Amish, but she wants Levi, and she wants to do the right thing. However, the right thing can be obscured in man-made rules and regulations.

Annie's Recipe is a book that is not to be missed by Amish fiction lovers. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a well-prepared sponge cake for your cup of tea.

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