©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

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.