Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

www.biblegateway.com


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Home at Last Book Review

A Chicory Inn Novel
Book Five

SUMMARY:  When the world just sees mistakes, God sees beautiful opportunities for love and grace.

     Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to.  Now he's stuck in a dead-end job, and as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing.  The pressure from his sister's efforts to play matchmaker is heavy as he helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
      All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds.  Her mother's white family rejected her African American father without even knowing him.  Her father's family also disapproved, but they eventually embraced Shayla as their own.  After her mother's death and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter; her niece, Portia, an orphan; and Shayla responsible for them all.
     Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup.  Soon he is falling hard for the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne.  Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love?  Is there hope of changing the ugly perspective of the world around them into something better for them all?

REVIEW:  This is the fifth and final book of the Chicory Inn series.  Since I had not read any of the others, I was worried I would get lost.  The author does a fantastic job keeping the focus on the two principal players, Shayla and Link, with the characters of the other books taking minor roles.
     With that said, this book was very enjoyable.  It makes you think about how you view others who may be different from you outwardly, whether socioeconomic, job status, housing, or marital status, but who are just like you on the inside, where it counts.  Once you get past their outer facade, you begin to see people made in God's image.  Shayla struggles with how people see her.  She has a difficult time understanding why Link would be interested in dating her.  Link only sees her beautiful soul, not the color of her skin.  He has a hard time understanding the extent of the problems Shayla experiences as a woman of mixed race.  I like how the author shows the reader both character's viewpoints and experiences and helps him or her understand it a little better.
     The story line moves at a good pace and keeps the reader engaged.  My favorite part isn't the ending but happens at almost the end.  Can't tell you what it is; you'll just have to read it for yourself. 

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Abingdon Press
for review without any compensation.

Deborah Raney's books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists.  She and her husband, Ken recently traded small-town life in Kansas - the setting of many of Deb's novels - for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita.  Visit Deb on the web at DeborahRaney.com.

The Elusive Miss Ellison Book Review

Regency Brides
A Legacy of Grace
Book One

SUMMARY:  The arrival of the new Earl of Hawkesbury has the entire village aflutter - everyone except Lavinia Ellison, that is.  In fact, in Livvie's eyes, he is just as arrogant and thoughtless as his brother - who stole the most important person in her world.
    Nicholas is weighed down by guilt, by ancestral obligations, and by the legacy of war.  He hadn't anticipated that a perfunctory visit home would engage either his mind or heart.  Then the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride.  But between society's opposition, his brother's reckless past, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles for the two of them to ever truly get along.
     Fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen will enjoy the spirited exchanges between the bluestocking minister's daughter and the bruised war hero as they move past their painful histories and presumptions to a humbled appreciation of God's grace and the true strength of love.

REVIEW:  This book was rather enjoyable.  The dialogue between Nicolas and Lavinia was fun and engaging.  Grace is woven throughout this story.  Lavinia experiences it as she learns the truth about her mother's family and shows it time and time again to Nicholas and her mother's relatives, along with the villagers, especially those in need.  Nicholas learns how to accept grace shown to him and, in turn, learns how to show it to others in the community and in his circle of friends.  The latter half of the book is probably my favorite, and something every girl dreams of.  I only wished I could see a drawing of some of the "items" Lavinia inherited.
     If you like fairy tale endings and your wildest dreams coming true, this book is for you.  It was an easy read.  I can't wait to read the other books due in this series.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Kregel Publications
for review without any compensation.

Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.  A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Home to Paradise Book Review

The Coming Home Series
Book Three


SUMMARY:  When dream collide, will true love be enough?
     Rose Anna Zook has watched her two older sisters marry two Stoltzfus men and has always thought she and John, the third Stoltzfus brother, would marry, make a home together, and have children.  But John has other ideas.  He's enjoying his Rumschpringe in the Englisch world a little too much and isn't interested in returning to the Amish community - especially to marry.
     In this highly anticipated final book of the Coming Home series, Rose Anna is determined to bring her man back into the Amish fold.  John is equally determined to live his life free and unencumbered.  Who will win this battle of wills?  Will love prevail?
 
REVIEW:  How can two people so intent on staying in their own separate world break down the walls to, hopefully, find common ground?   John is determined to never go back to the Amish life style, even though it is harder than he thought and not as much fun.  Rose Anna is determined to never leave the Amish community and to do what she can to bring John back.  
    I like how Rose Anna realizes she is being manipulative and decided to let John come back on his own, if he ever does, even if it is without her help.  She does what she can to show him Christ's love but is there for him if and when he needs it.  Rose Anna's work with the abused women's shelter is very admirable.  She uses something she is good at (making quilts) to help those at the shelter gain confidence in themselves and their own abilities.  
     John is having a difficult time making ends meet so he works three jobs or more just to stay afloat.  I like how he finally finds a job he loves when he let's God work in his life.  Neil helps John repair a very difficult relationship, and in the end, helps John find where he truly belongs.
     My favorite part is how everything works out in the end.  God can bring happiness through sorry.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Abingdon Press 
for review without any compensation.
 
Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish.  She is the best-selling author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.  Her books have been nominated for Carol Awards and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award from RWA's Faith, Hope and Love chapter.   Barbara resides in Jacksonville, Florida.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Amish Weddings Book Review

Neighbors of Lancaster County Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Will Love Be Enough to Fix What Tragedy Threatens?
     Gregarious Rose Lehman, who's always the life of the Amish youth singings, is determined to marry the bishop's son, Reuben Byler - until the handsome Army buddy of her future brother-in-law shows up in Lancaster County.  In comparison to Trevor, Reuben seems downright boring.  Trevor shares Rose's sense of fun and adventure, and her easygoing disposition.
     When her sister Lila is injured in a devastating accident, Rose finds herself with more freedom than she's ever experienced in her life.  Only Reuben seems to notice, but he never voices his concerns.  Part of her relishes the freedom she's found with Trevor, but the other part wishes Reuben would finally express his love and "fight" for her.  Have her choices ruined her best chance at love, or is there another path to happiness she just hasn't seen yet?

REVIEW:  The stories of Rose and Reuben and Lila and Zane were easy to follow but took turns I didn't expect.  The story of Rose was different than any other I've read before.  She makes some bad decisions and goes through a lot but she learns who she is.  I like how the author handled the events Rose goes through and how they are resolved.  Lila and Zane are engaged but events keep happening to postpone their wedding.  Zane, an Amish convert, struggles to follow the rules and regulations, especially after Lila's accident.  Lila is determined to do things on her own without help but, struggles with letting Zane help her with events after the accidents.  I like how Zane is determined to keep helping Lila in any way possible, even if it means pursuing paths that are usually "Englisch." 
     Not having read the other two books in the series, the only difficult part was keeping everyone and their backstories straight.  A "cast of characters" would have been fantastic to keep everyone straight.  Some family members make quick appearances while others are intertwined with Rose and Lila.  
     This was a good book but, at times it seemed like something was missing.  It may have been my not reading the other books to get the full back story.  

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without any compensation.

Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller The Amish Midwife, a 2012 Christy Award winner; CBA bestseller Courting Cate, first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; and Beyond the Blue, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006.  She holds an MFA in creative writing and lives in Portland, Oregon.  She and her husband are the parents of four children.  Learn more about Leslie at www.lesliegould.com.

Child of the River Book Review



SUMMARY:  A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.
     Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld.  Persomi's world is extraordinarily small.  She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.
     Persomi's close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie - heir to the Fourie farm and fortune - are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world.  When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi's isolated world is blown wide open.  But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her - dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love.  As Persomi navigates that changing world around her - the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland - she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life - and every life - matters.
     The English language publication of Child of the River solidifies Irma Joubert as a unique and powerful voice in historical fiction.

REVIEW:  Irma Joubert does another wonderful job!!!  The story of Persomi is heartbreaking, touching, frustrating and wonderful.  The book follows her life as a young girl, about eleven years old, through her school years, as a young woman in a changing time to a woman who has lost and loved.  Persomi doesn't fit in anywhere.  She makes friends with the east Indians, a group of people who were discriminated against, along with the native Africans, as the South African government starts their Apartheid agenda.  I like how Persomi didn't let society dictate who she befriended and who she defended as a young lawyer.  She finds the truth and stands on it, even though it meant sometimes she stood alone.  She continues to make her way in life when things get tough but along the way she finds friends and family who stand along side of her and love her. 
     This book has stayed with me long after I finished reading it.  It is one that needs to be read, savored and shared with others. 

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without any compensation.

Irma Joubert, an international bestselling author, was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing fiction.  Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail.  She is the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa.  She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.  

Long Way Gone Book Review



SUMMARY:  "No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone.  You can always come home."

     At the age of eighteen, musician and songwriter Cooper O'Connor took everything his father held dear and drove 1,200 miles from home to Nashville, his life riding on a six-string guitar and the bold wager that he had talent.  But his wager soon proved foolish.
      Five years after losing everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, an angelic voice in need of a song.  But just as he realizes his love for Daley, Cooper faces a tragedy that threatens his life as well as his career.  With nowhere to go, he returns home to the remote Colorado mountains, searching for answers about his father and his faith.
     When Daley shows up on his street corner twenty years later, he wonders if it's too late to tell her the truth about his past - and if he is ready to face it himself.
     A radical retelling of the prodigal son story, Long Way Gone takes us from tent revivals to the Ryman Auditorium to the tender relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped calling him home.

REVIEW:  Oh.  My.  Goodness!!  If you read any book this year, you need to pick this one.  It is a modern take on the Prodigal Son parable done very well by Charles Martin.  I love how he weaves the present and past together, back and forth in a seamless pattern that does not get the reader confused or lost.  My heart broke, spirit soared, eyes watered and heart was lifted numerous times as I read about Cooper, Daley, Mary, Big-Big, and Dad.  Normally, as I read I find myself reading really fast, even if I like a book.  But, as I read Long Way Gone, I found myself reading slower, savoring each line, interaction, heartbreak, and salvation story.  The depths of despair, the heights of love and everything in between is covered here.  Read it for yourself, savor in its delights and enjoy the love of our Heavenly Father.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers
for review without any compensation.

Charles Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels.  He and his wife, Christy, live in Jacksonville, Florida.  Learn more about him at charlesmartinbooks.com, Facebook: Author.Charles.Martin; or Twitter: @storiedcareer

The Mark of the King Book Review


SUMMARY:
LIFE IN THIS NEW WORLD 
REQUIRES MORE STRENGTH 
THAN SHE EVER IMAGINED.

     After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier is imprisoned and branded, marking her as a criminal beyond redemption.  Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana.  The price of her transport, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.
     New Orleans is nothing like Julianne expects.  The settlement is steeped in mud and mosquitoes, and there is no news of her brother, Benjamin.  When tragedy strikes, she turns to military officer Marc-Paul Girand for help, but does he know more about her brother than he will admit?
     With her dreams shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous land, where only grace - and love - can overcome the stigma of the king's mark upon her shoulder.

REVIEW:  In Jocelyn Green's book, The Mark of the King, the author portrays the difficulty of life in the new Louisiana Territory, especially for a woman who was wrongly convicted of murder.  Forced into a marriage she didn't want, then having to prove herself over and over again, Julianne doesn't let her difficulties bring her down but does her best to help those around her and make the best of seemingly endless bad situations.  I like how the author portrays Julianne's strength without making her too independent, choosing to see the best in everyone and doing what she can to make her forced marriage one of tenderness and respect.  She learns to embrace the brand she wears on her shoulder (marking her as a criminal beyond redemption) as a sign marking her a cherished child of God's grace as it brings her closer to the ones she loves. 
     The story is well written and kept my attention.  There is just enough action to keep the story moving without bogging it down in details.  There are also twists and turns I saw coming and quite a few I didn't and enjoyed.  The author does use a lot of French words and phrases without explaining what they are in the dialog or in the setting.  Having a French dictionary or translating app is really helpful as it helps the reader fully comprehend what is being referred to and gives the reader the full effect of what the author intended.  I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Jocelyn Green.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without any compensation.

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including Wedded to War, a Christy Award finalist in 2013, and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman.  Jocelyn lives with her husband and two children in Iowa.  Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.