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


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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Loyal Heart Book Review

A Lone Star Hero's
Love Story Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow.  He didn't expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.
     Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham.  If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda.  She was his life, his world, his everything.
     After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact.  When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse that he imagined.  Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast.  Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being.  Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.
     Robert had thought his duty would be simple.  He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise.  But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed.  He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
     He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task - Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.

REVIEW: A secret pact was made between a group of officers while in captivity during the Civil War - anyone who survived the concentration camp would look after the others' families.  I love how these men did not renig on their promise after they were released but honored their word.  In this particular story, Robert has gotten word that Phillip Markam's wife was having some difficulties.  I like how when he realizes just how bad off Miranda is and sees the affect the townspeople's  hatred towards her and Phillip, Robert steps in and makes things right.  I'm not sure I totally agree with him keeping the real reason for his being there a secret but I understand why he did it. 
     Miranda deals with severe depression after the loss of her husband.  With the financial straits and the attitudes of the townspeople adding to her burdens, Miranda thinks there is only one way out.  I like how Robert pulls her out of the doldrums and encourages her to keep on living.  I like how he fights for her.
     This is the first book in this series.  It will be intriguing to read the others as they are released.

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

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers' prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner.  She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.  She also spends a lot of time online.  Please visit her website:  www.shelleyshepardgray.com.  Find her on Facebook at ShelleyShepardGray.

The Witnessess Book Review




SUMMARY:  Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise - until his grandfather's mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.
     Parker House's secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse.  The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather's uncanny ability to see future events in his mind's eye - a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.
     While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets.  Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape.  Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker's legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.
      Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

REVIEW:  This book is different from any other I've read before in regards to the biblical gift of seeing visions.  This gift was passed on to Frank House by his grandfather and, in turn, inherited by Frank's grandson Parker.  I like how the book went back and forth between present day and the days during World War II.  Frank's "gift" was used by the Germans to help advance their cause.  I love how Frank faces his past abuses of these visions and helps Parker understand how to use them.  There were a few times I was confused about who the "bad guy(s)" were because the characters changed towards the end of the book, but I like how everything played out.  Some of my favorite parts are of Frank in church and savoring God's grace, mercy, peace and forgiveness.  I had a more difficult time recognizing Parker's gift occurring than Frank's.  All in all, this was a very enjoyable book that had enough excitement to keep me turning the pages and guessing what would happen until the very end.

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

Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Chirsty Award for Contemporary Ficiton.  He received his J.D. iwth honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review.  Visit him online at www.robertwhitlow.com; Twitter: @whitlowwriter; or Facebook: robertwhitlowbooks.

A Moonbow Night Book Review


SUMMARY:  In an uncertain time, she faces a choice that will change her life forever.
     After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River.  It's a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke . . . men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew, looking for an experienced guide.
     Though he balks when Tempe is appointed to lead his team through the wilderness, it isn't long before Sion must admit that her abilities may outmatch his own.  But can the tenuous tie they are forming survive the dangers waiting just around the bend?
     With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons you to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

REVIEW:  Set during the Revolutionary War, this story takes place on the western side of the Cumberland Mountains, away from the fighting British and Patriot troops .  The danger that faces the settlers of this area are Indians determined to keep these newcomers off their land and out of their territories.  Ms. Frantz brings to life a part of American history most people have forgotten about: the gradual move west, across the mountains into areas only occupied by Native Americans and the major hardships they faced.
     Having read all but one of this author's novels, I kind of knew what to expect.  As I went through this book, though, I found myself having a more difficult time following the conversations between the characters.  Quite often I had to reread passages because I didn't understand what was being said, or pick up on the subtle nuances that were being communicated.  Also, she uses a lot of terms and names of items that are no longer in use.  To get a better understanding of the scene or circumstances, I would pulled out my dictionary, but some of the terms weren't there.
     All that said, this story was an attention grabber.  I kept wondering what would happen next, how Sion and Tempe would get out of difficult situations, and how things were going to end.  Temperance, or Tempe as she is often referred to, is one strong girl who doesn't know when to give up.  She kept up with the men without complaint and kept her wits about her during difficult times.
     Laura Frantz does not disappoint with this novel.

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

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books, including The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel's Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, and the Ballantyne Legacy series.  She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.  Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.