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


Friday, January 6, 2017

When Mountains Move Book Review


SUMMARY:  In a few hours, Millie will say "I do" to Bump Anderson, a man who loves her through and through.  But would he love her if he knew the secret she keeps?
     Millie's mind is racing and there seems to be no clear line between right and wrong.  Either path leads to pain, and she'll do anything to protect the ones she loves.  So she decides to bury the truth and begin again, helping Bump launch a ranch in the wilds of Colorado.  But just when she thinks she's left her old Mississippi life behind, the facts surface in the most challenging way.
     That's when Millie's grandmother, Oka, arrives to help.  Relying on her age-old Choctaw traditions, Oka teaches Millie the power of second chances.  Millie resists, believing redemption is about as likely as moving mountains.  But Oka stands strong, modeling forgiveness as the only true path to freedom.
     Together, Bump, Millie and Oka fight against all odds to create a sustainable ranch, all while learning that the important lessons of their pasts can be used to build a beautiful future.

REVIEW:  Author Julie Cantrell does not disappoint in her most recent novel.  Even though this is a follow-up to her book Into the Free, it stands well on it's own.  There were a few times I would liked to have had more information or I felt that something was missing to completely understand the feelings going on but the author does a great job of filling in the gaps. 
     This book is set in Mississippi and Colorado during World War II.  Life was very difficult on the ranch Millie and Bump started.  In fact, they literally started from scratch, living in a falling down shack with no running water and an outhouse.   I like how Millie doesn't balk when she sees how much work has to be done on the ranch but pitches in and gives it her all. 
     Millie is carrying a secret she is afraid to tell Bump, fearing he wouldn't understand.  This secret starts to cause problems when friends from home come to visit.  I love how the author has Bump find out and the answer to the overhanging problem it causes, even though it is a little graphic.  Ms. Cantrell also goes into a little more detail regarding Millie and Bump's "personal" life than I wanted but all is well.
     This book was great and kept me turning the pages.  Julie Cantrell is one who is not afraid to touch on difficult subjects.  I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

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

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association's Fiction Award.  Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship.  Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like he debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists.  Visit her online at www.juliecantrell.com, Facebook: juliecantrellauthor; Twitter: @JulieCantrell; and Pinterest: juliecantrell.

Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray Book Review


SUMMARY:  A general's wife and a slave girl forge a friendship that transcends race, culture, and the crucible of Civil War.
     Mary Anna Custis Lee is a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, wife of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and heiress to Virginia's storied Arlington house and General Washington's personal belongings.
     Born in bondage at Arlington, Selina Norris Gray learns to read and write in the schoolroom Mary and her mother keep for the slave children and eventually becomes Mary's housekeeper and confidante.  As Mary's health declines, Selina becomes her personal maid, strengthening a bond that lasts until death parts them.
     Forced to flee Arlington at the start of the Civil War, Mary entrusts the keys to her beloved home to no one but Selina.  When Union troops begin looting the house, it is Selina who confronts their commander and saves many of its historic treasures.
     In a story spanning crude slave quarters, sunny schoolrooms, stately wedding parlors, and cramped birthing rooms, novelist Dorothy Love amplifies the astonishing true-life account of an extraordinary alliance and casts fresh light on the tumultuous years leading up to and through the wrenching battle for a nation's soul.
     A classic American tale, Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray is the first novel to chronicle this beautiful fifty-year friendship forged at the crossroads of America's journey from enslavement to emancipation.

REVIEW:   This story brought some interesting and thought-provoking ideas about the period before, during and after the Civil War.  Growing up, I always heard about General Robert E. Lee but never his wife or his family life.  The author details the life of General Lee's wife and a slave woman who became friends.  It's not quite a biography of Mary Anna Custis Lee and Selina Gray but the details Ms. Love goes into were very informative.  I like how Mary Anna tried to treat the slaves on her family's plantation with respect.  Even though she didn't like the idea of war, she stood behind her husband and did what she could to support him.  The intertwining story of Selina Gray was interesting, too.  Even though access to education was limited, she was determined and took advantage of every opportunity to learn through books and educating herself on how to run a household.  This determination helped Mrs. Gray save Arlington plantation and most of General George Washington's belongings during occupation by Northern troops during the Civil War.
     I would have liked to have more information on Selina as the chapters on her life were shorter than Mary Anna but, with limited resources, Ms. Love did a great job with the information she had.  I didn't realize that Mary Anna dealt the the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, moved quite a bit, spent many long years alone due to her husband's military service and lost almost all of her children due to illness or war.  These circumstances helped make her a very strong woman, one to be admired.
     This is a thought-provoking book that was a very pleasant read. 

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

Dorothy Love is a native of West Tennessee and makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever.  An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Of Stillness and Storm Book Review


SUMMARY:  "I felt torn between two worlds.  Each with its own mystery.  One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing."
     It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream - reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal.  But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring.  For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family's undoing.
     At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren's past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aiden intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past.  It's thirteen-year old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.
     Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

REVIEW:  This book was hard and raw at times.  It wasn't the subject matter but the intensity, the depth, and the wringing of the emotions that were hard.  The author doesn't hold any punches.  She shows the difficulties missionaries face in country and balancing faith, life and the struggles with they don't line up with others.  Sam is determined to live the way the Nepalis do: no cell phones, no personal vehicle or luxuries such as a WiFi, a better water filtration system or air conditioning or central heat.  It works for him when he is off visiting the remote mountain tribes but Lauren and their son Ryan really struggle with the reality of life and living among a people with whom they have trouble communicating.  The emotions Lauren goes through as she tries to reach her son, who is retreating and rebelling as far away as he can, are heart wrenching.  She struggles with her own faith when her son faces impossible odds but I love how the author shows her raw hostility and the strengthening of her faith as she pursues the God she knows is there with her.
     This is a wonderful book that really made me think about my faith and the struggles missionaries face within their own families and the people they are trying to reach.  This is one I plan to keep and reread to mine its depths even deeper.

This Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group, Fiction Guild 
and Thomas Nelson Publishers for review without any compensation.

Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Miche'le Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids.  She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission.  Miche'le travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group.  She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies, and paths to healing.  Learn more at michelephoenix.com or Twitter @frenchphoenix.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Newton & Polly Book Review

A Novel of Amazing Grace

SUMMARY:  "Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
                          That saved a wretch like me!
                          I once was lost, but now am found . . ."

     Now remembered as the author of the world's most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life.  His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father - until the night he hears Polly Catlett's enchanting voice, caroling.  He's immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.
     An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John's reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly.  When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever.  Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?
     Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe. 

REVIEW:  Jody Hedlund does an excellent telling the story of John and Polly's love for each other.  She made me feel like I was right there, watching them as they interacted.  There were times I wanted to reach out and grab John by the collar and shake some sense into him when he would make stupid decisions.  There were so many times he shirked his duty and risked his father's and his own good name to be with Polly that I wondered if he would ever change for the better.  I admired Polly for standing up for her commitment to Christ and not forsaking it to marry John.  She followed in her father's footsteps as he stood up for the principles he held and not giving them up when society made it difficult.  The way the author describes the depths of depravity John fell to and the heights he climbed to made it feel so real.  This is a book I want to keep on my shelf for a very long time.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah and Blogging for Books 
for review without any compensation.

Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books.  Among a variety of genres, she especially loves bringing long-forgotten women of history to life.  She is the author of Luther and Katharina, which was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award in fiction.  Her other novels have won the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christy Award.  She resides in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and their busy children.

Just A Kiss Book Review

Summer Harbor Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Riley Callahan's plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.
     Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to book camp.  But over a year later, he's officially a Marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item.  When Riley's tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend's heart once and for all.
     But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee.  Now he's heading home, injured and troubled.  His plans to win Paige are a distant dream.  She deserves so much more than the man that's left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them.  But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.
     Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy.  By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability.  But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he's hiding.  To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy.  The animal shelter that she's poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.
     As the weeks wear on, Paige's feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory.  Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners?  Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother?  And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

REVIEW:  This is the third book in this series but it can stand on its own with no problems.  This story tugged at my heart.  Paige has struggled with her family all her life.  Riley was there for her whenever she needed him.  But, with no explanation, he up and joined the Marine Corp when she started dating his brother instead of letting Paige know how he felt.  
     I love how Paige gives her all to her relationships and her job.  When she finds out the animal shelter she works out may have to close due to the lack of money, I admire how she puts everything she has into finding sponsors, revamp her budgeting and trying to find homes for her sweet babies.
When it comes to her dating relationships, she tries to make them work, even when things aren't going well.  Even though things are strained between her and Riley upon his return, she gives him her best efforts in caring for him and helping him through the difficult time of adjusting to his disability.
     There were a few times when I wanted to strangle Riley because of his lack of communication.  Lots of times, he assumed what would be the best for himself, Paige, or his family without talking to them first, and makes a mess of it.  As soon as life gets a little tough, he tucks his tail and runs.  But, I like how he redeems himself in the end with Paige.
     This is a great finish to the Summer Harbor series.  I look forward to reading more by Denise Hunter in the future.

This book was provided by Revell for review without any compensation.

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including Falling Like Snowflakes and The Convenient Groom.  She has won the Holt Medallion Award, the Reader's Choice Award, and the Foreword Book of the Year Award and is a RITA finalist.  When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums.  Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty neat.  Learn more about Denise online at DeniseHunterBooks.com; on Facebook: authordenisehunter, and Twitter: @DeniseAHunter.

Wild Montana Skies Book Review

Montana Rescue Series
 Book One

SUMMARY:  The last thing Search and Rescue helicopter pilot Kacey Fairing needs upon returning home to Mercy Falls, Montana, is to run into her mistakes.  After a devastating crash during her recent military tour in Afghanistan, she is emotionally broken but ready to start putting her life back together.  She just wants to reconnect with her teenage daughter and spend the summer working as the new lead pilot of PEAK Rescue in Glacier National Park.
     But her mistakes aren't so easily forgotten.  Because Ben King is also back in town.
     Country music star Ben King abandoned his past when he moved to Nashville thirteen years ago to start his career.  He hoped to heal his broken heart, caused by losing the woman he loved,  But when his father is injured, Ben is called home to help manage PEAK Rescue during his recovery.  He doesn't realize his father has ulterior motives until his old flame, Kacey, walks into his house and back into his heart. 
     Now, with Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods.  Kacey and Ben will have to work together to save lives.  But when secrets are uncovered and old hurts rise to the surface, will they walk away again?  Or can they find a different ending to their country love song?

REVIEW:  Susan May Warren's newest series starts with Kacey's return home to Montana while on medical leave from the Army after the crash of her helicopter in Afghanistan.  While trying to reconnect with her daughter, who has been living with her parents, Kacey is determined to be the mom she needs to be.  It is also interesting in how the author introduces the complexity of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the treatments available and how Kacey handles it.  Her reconnection with Ben is filled with emotions and baggage that neither know what to do with.  I like how Ben, after he realizes the truth about a lie that was told years earlier, steps up and becomes the man he needs to be.  I also like how he handled the dilemma regarding his career and caring for his family.  
     There were a few times when the crash that injured Ben's dad and grounded another PEAK Rescue helicopter pilot were mentioned.  It felt like I was missing something because it is only mentioned in passing.  I was left to wonder if it was covered in a previous book by Susan May Warren that is part of another series or if it will be detailed in a later book.
     This book was enjoyable.  I look forward to reading more of this series in the future.

This book was provided by Revell for review without any compensation.

Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than one million books sold.  Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Reader's Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas.  She can be found online at www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

The Cottage Book Review

Secrets of the Shetlands Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Is the future of Whales Reef in the hands of an outsider?
     When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs.  She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it.  But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that "the Cottage" is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.
     The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman - and an American.  Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times.  Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye.  And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place - and the character of its most prominent citizen - that soon gets under her skin.
     Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whales Reef.  David's cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni's hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island.  But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni's very life in danger. . . .

 REVIEW:  This book was just as enjoyable as the first, if not more so.  This book picks up exactly where the first, The Inheritance, leaves off and carries the reader away to the Shetland Islands.  The author does a fantastic job keeping everything in the story line going, all the characters engaging, and the reader turning the pages until the end. He takes his time explaining details so that the reader feels like they are right there on site.  I like how this book goes into more detail about Loni's upbringing and her connection to Ernest Tulloch, the original owner of the island community.  I like how David keeps his connection to the island a secret while Loni gets her bearings and understanding of how everything works so not to overwhelm her or make her think he's after the inheritance, like Hardy.  Sometimes all the details and characters involved in this book were difficult to keep straight.  My favorite part is the ending.  The author takes his time working out all the intricate details, slowly unraveling all the secrets and underhanded dealings.
     This is an intriguing book that was very fascinating and enjoyable. 

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

Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction.  Michael and his wife, Judy, spend time each year in Scotland, but make their home near Sacramento, California.  Visit Michael's website at www.macdonaldphillips.com