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?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Take This Cup Book Review

Jerusalem Chronicles
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Woven into the fabric of prophecy, a young boy named Nehemiah must choose to embrace his destiny as cupbearer to the King of Kings.
     When Nehemiah, the child of Jewish exiles, begins hearing whispers and experiencing portentous visions, it quickly becomes clear to his father and his rabbi that the young cupbearer is meant for a higher purpose . . . but what?  Certain that the Messiah is alive at that very moment, the family waits for the boy's destiny to be revealed.
     From the ancient site of the Garden of Eden, Nehemiah undertakes a perilous journey.  The caravan route is full of danger, hardship, and mystery - all linked to what Nehemiah has in his keeping.  
     In due time, his path becomes clear.  It leads to Jerusalem, to a wealthy pharisee named Joseph of Arimathea . . . and to Jesus of Nazareth.
     In Take This Cup, the second installment of the Jerusalem Chronicles, Bodie and Brock Thoene envision more of Scripture's most enigmatic moments and expand their award-winning canon of historical fiction with unprecedented power and depth.

REVIEW:  This book is different than most I've read.  It mixes bible history and stories with fantasy, stretching my ideas of what could be true and what is purely fiction.  The story starts out in the land where the Garden of Eden was said to exist, with the food and animals raised there direct descendents of the animals and plants that were there before the Fall of Adam and Eve.  The families that live there are descendents of Jewish families who were exiled there and chose to stay when Jews returned to Jerusalem.  Like the first book, liberties are taken with the characters of the bible and the stories of the New Testament: Nehemiah's rabbi being one of the Magi, Joseph of Arimathea having close ties to Jesus, and Lazarus being included with Jesus in the pharisee's "death threats," just to name a few.  While I don't necessarily agree with some of the connections, I do like how everything ties together.  I even saw the potential for characters in future stories in this series.  It would be interesting to see if some of my thinkings actually play out.
     This is an interesting book.

This book was provided by Zondervan and Booklook Bloggers for review without compensation.

Bodie and Brock Thoene are the bestselling authors of over sixty-five works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards.  The Thoenes have four grown children and eight grandchildren.  They divide their time between Hawaii, London, and Nevada.

A Table by the Window Book Review

A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes

SUMMARY:  Every cook knows finding the right balance between savory and sweet is a tricky business.
     The youngest heir to the French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D'Alisa has spend her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations.  When her brother Nico offers a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn - does she really have what it takes?  Should she risk leaving her journalism career?
     Sorting through her late grandmother's belongings, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother.  As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and startling secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery hidden from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.
     Beginning a long-distance relationship with a Memphis-based immunologist just complicates Juliette's life-shifting decisions.  How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary career and a doctor whose life is worlds away from her own?  Is it possible her grandmother's past can help her move forward?

REVIEW:  To be honest, at first I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book.  But, once I opened it and started reading, I didn't want to put it down.  Juliette's character sounds like someone I would love to be friends with.  She was conscientious and thoughtful. Instead of taking advantage of the spotlight she was put in due to her food columns, she passes it on to her friend, who was much better suited for the job. There were times I wished I could eat at her family's restaurant and taste the food she and her family and friends' make because it all sounded so delicious.  I loved how she decided to keep the antique photo found in her late grandmother's things a secret until she got more information about it and how it would affect her family.  She didn't want to to stir up trouble but was thinking of the  questions and maybe even heartache that could/would come out of it.
     There are a bunch of recipes included in this book, from main courses, sides dishes, desserts, breads and everything in between.  There are a few I would like to try if I ever get up the courage.
     Now, the book seemed to end abruptly with a LOT of unanswered questions.  But, when I realized there was another book to follow, I got excited.  This is one series I hope to continue to follow and see how Juliette fairs in her relationship with Neil, how the restaurant with Nico turns out, and the mystery behind the man in the photograph.  This is a book to put on your MUST READ list.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah (Blogging for Books) for review without compensation.
Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA best-selling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon's School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine.  In her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails.  She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon.

A Sensible Arrangement Book Review

Lone Star Brides
Book One

SUMMARY:  Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.  Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.
     Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.  Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed.  Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
      When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay.  But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.
     What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways . . . and dreams and secrets collide?

REVIEW:  The idea of leaving your home and family to marry someone you don't know in a different part of the country is interesting.  I like how Marty and Jake hit it off and there wasn't any tension between them or between her and his house staff.  I also like how Marty didn't come in and start making changes to everything, but wanted to give it some time, see what worked and didn't work then possibly make changes at a later date.  She also has a big heart and steps up to help those who have had a rough life, even standing her ground when the society ladies told her it was beneath them to help.
     Now, even though I liked how the book ended, to me it left too many questions unanswered.  What happened with the economic situation?  Did the bank patrons remove all their money once the bank reopened their doors?  What happened with Jake's job situation?  Did Marty and Jake let go some of their house staff like they were thinking or were they able to work it out and keep everyone?  Did they have to move into a smaller house? These are just a few of them.  
     That said, this was a good book. I liked how the storyline flowed and how the characters interacted.  I would like to read the others in this series when they come out.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

A prolific and bestselling novelist, Tracie Peterson rewards her readers with adventure and romance, highlighted with authentic historical detail.  A Sensible Arrangement is her one hundredth novel.  Tracie and her family live in Montana.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Queen's Handmaid Book Review

SUMMARY:  A jealous Egyptian queen.  A lascivious Galilean governor.  A beautiful servant girl.  Theirs is a story of prophecy, self-discovery, and revelation.
     The year is 39 BC.  All of Alexandria awaits the arrival of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on the Judean kingship.  The handmaid of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, receives a troubling visit from her aging mentor.
     An orphan since birth, Lydia lives in the palace at the demand of Cleopatra and her royal child, the son of Julius Caesar.  But Lydia has a growing problem on her hands: her beauty is becoming a liability to the aging queen, and the visiting Herod's undisguised interest only makes matter worse.
     When Lydia's mentor is murdered, the handmaid inherits a daunting task.  An ancient set of sealed scrolls, the secret writings of the prophet Daniel, must be returned to Jerusalem - before those who killed her mentor destroy the scrolls as well.  The future of the Israelites depend on it.  So Lydia leaves the palace to serve as lady's maid to Herod's wife in the Holy City.
     As Lydia is absorbed into the machinations of Herod's household, her mission - and her people's hope of a Messianic King - are endangered at every turn.  Can Lydia avoid the adulterous intentions of Herod?  Can she deliver the scrolls to the mysterious man on the steps of the Temple?  Will the true King of Israel ever rise?

REVIEW:  The description of this book caught my attention.  The author did a wonderful job with the twists and turns of the story.  I think my favorite part was toward the end when she finally meets the mystery man to whom she is supposed to give the scrolls.  Lydia's determination to deliver the scrolls is to be commended, especially since it takes many years and sometimes insurmountable obstacles.  The details of the monarchies and all the intricacies of Judea, Rome and Egypt sometimes got a little overwhelming for me, trying to keep everything straight, but is a testament to the research and detail the author did.  This is a wonderful book.  I would love to find others of hers to read.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since.  She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night.  Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.  See her travel journals and more at

Friday, April 11, 2014

Maybelle in Stitches Book Review

Quilts of Love Series

SUMMARY:  A patchwork quilt holds together two hearts separated by miles of ocean and the Second World War.
     Maybelle can't sew.  But when she finds an unfinished quilt in her mother's closet, she gets the crazy idea to complete it.  At first, it's just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden Kazinski, is away fighting in World War II.
     Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important.  Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive.  As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will return to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.

REVIEW:  Maybelle is a beacon of hope of all of us women who are not the domestic type.  She can't cook, sew or keep a house but she loves working at the shipyard as a welder, helping to build ships in hopes one will bring her husband home soon.  Her attempt at making a dress in high school was a complete disaster (sounds so much like mine!).  I like how she still gets in there and tries (with MASSIVE amounts of encouragement and help from her friends) to make something for her husband to have when he returns from the war.  When she gets bad news after bad news, she doesn't go hide and cry but stands firm in her faith that God will get her through.  
     This book shows that the women at home did not sit around waiting for their men to get home from war.  They got to work, inside and outside the home, making ships and planes, living very frugally, to make sure their boys had whatever they needed.  The women banded together to provide support and encouragement, along with whatever else was needed, in tough times.
     One of the endearing parts was, after Maybelle and her friends started working on the quilt, the other girls also provided cloth squares from items that meant something special to them.  It represented all the hopes, dreams and memories of friends and family.
     This was an enjoyable book.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.
Joyce Magnin is the author of several books, including The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, named one of the "Top 5 Best Christian Fiction Books of 2009" by Library Journal.  She has three children and one grandson and is mom to a neurotic parakeet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What Follows After Book Review

SUMMARY:  In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy.  And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.
     For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie.  While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year.  To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie - to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.
     Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan.  He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together.  But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.
     In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life - love, truth, and family.  With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

REVIEW:  OH! MY! GOODNESS!!!  I'm going to be really honest here.  After reading the first eight chapters, I had to put the book down because I didn't think I could read any farther.  My two boys are about the ages of the boys in the book and my heart started breaking when I read the part where things start to go "terribly, terribly wrong."  After praying over it and giving it a day or so, I resolved to finish the book.  I am SO GLAD I did!!  Dan Walsh is an amazing author and made me feel like I was there in the background watching everything play out.  While I was still saddened about what had happened, I was encouraged to see how Gina and Scott were working together to find their boys and not blame each other.  The ending is also one to stick around for because, even though I had some idea of how the events would play out, I was not expecting the rest of the story.  This is an awesome book, one everyone needs to check out.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery, and The Reunion, as well as The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley.  He has won three Carol awards, and three of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year (2011-2013).  Dan lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.  Visit for more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sincerely Yours Book Review

A Novella Collection

SUMMARY:  Four unexpected letters.  Four intrepid women.  Four lives changed forever.
     Spanning a century and a continent, these romantic novellas will lead you on a journey through the landscape of love.  Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path.  From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote hospital, you'll be swept into the lives of women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.
MOONLIGHT PROMISE by Laurie Alice Eakes
Camilla Renfrew is a highborn English lady fleeing false accusations when she runs smack into love on a steamboat bound for the new Erie Canal.  But can this unexpected attraction survive the treacherous journey?
 LESSONS IN LOVE by Ann Shorey
Marigold Montgomery Bentley writes marriage advice for Kipler's Home Weekly even though she is single.  Everyone assumes from the initials that "M.M." is a man.  When the editor asks to meet Mr. Bentley, can Merrie come up with a ruse to keep her writing job?
ONE LITTLE WORD by Amanda Cabot
Lorraine Caldwell will lose her family fortune to a reckless cousin if she doesn't marry quickly.  When she learns her long-lost brother is alive, she hopes she's found the answer to her problem.  What she finds instead is a mysterious carousel carver who turns her life upside down.
A SAVING GRACE by Jane Kirkpatrick
Grace Hathaway must rescue a dear friend from a remote and notorious clinic that promises healing by delivers only heartache.  In a place laced with deceit, where lives hang in the balance, whom can she trust to help her?

REVIEW:  These four novellas were fun and easy to read.   Although each story is different, they show how life can change, even with the receipt of a simple letter.  What I liked most about Laurie Alice Eakes' story is that her characters didn't decide to get married after only knowing each other for a few days even though there was a strong attraction between them.  Instead, at the end, Nathaniel asks to court Camilla to get to know her better.  That is something you don't see very often in novels these days.  It was a lovely story.

Ann Shorey's brief novel is the typical mistaken identity with a bit of a twist.  I thought it interesting that a single young lady is writing a column on godly marriages. Some of the advice she gave was good; some, I had to remember that the story was set in 1858 and not 2014 and was probably typical of that day.  The last article she wrote was very interesting.  It also had double meaning to Colin, her piano teacher and sweetheart.  This is a sweet story with a happy ending.

Amanda Cabot's main character Lorraine was a go-getter.  Even though she grew up having everything she wanted, she wasn't afraid to pitch in and help her brother's inn while he was gone on his honeymoon.  Even though she was a complete failure, she did not let it get her down and kept trying until she found something she was good at: organizing events for the guests at Lilac Hall.  Her tenacity was refreshing.  I liked how Amanda worked out all the details between Lorraine and Jonah at the end of this book.

Jane Kirkpatrick's story is based on true events that happened in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle.  Grace is a friend that we all need to have.  When her longtime friend, Rebecca, enters a questionable treatment center to get help over losing her husband, Grace goes to help her.  I like how she risks her own life to save her friend and other residents of this facility. 

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Here is a link to a giveaway Jane Kirkpatrick is having on her blog: