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, July 19, 2017

Jane of Austin Book Review

A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility

SUMMARY:  Just a few years after their father's business scandal shatters their lives, Jane Woodward and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop.  The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister, Margot, and Jane's tea plants, determined to start over yet again.
     But life in Austin isn't all sweet tea and breakfast tacos.  Their unusual living situation is challenging, and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia.  When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the charm grows deeper.
     While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune - retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett.  Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected - Texas.
     In this modern spin on the Austen classic Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

REVIEW:  When I read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen the first time, I found it difficult due to the 18th century writing and language.  Throw in some dry British humor and it took me MUCH LONGER to finish than usual.  After watching the movie staring Kate Winslett, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman about a thousand times :-D I understood it a lot better the second time.  So, when I got the opportunity to read this modern retelling of one of my favorite movies, I couldn't resist.  It also helped that it was written by one of my new favorite authors.
     Jane of Austin was a delight to read!!!  I didn't want to put it down but my boss and family insisted I do the jobs I'm supposed to do.  It was MUCH easier to read and comprehend than the original.  I fell in love with the characters, cried when they cried, laughed when they laughed, and smiled at all the happy parts.  Jane, or Marianne, is the main character.  I liked seeing everything from her point of view.  It helped me understand the original character's actions, reactions and responses a little better.  There were so many things that I enjoyed about this book.  I like how the author used local southern (and Texas) cuisine, tea shops and scones (as well as wonderful recipes) as a part of the story.  The flow of the action and dialog flowed easily.  I found myself excitingly turning pages and disappointed when it ended.
     Whether or not you are a fan of Jane Austen or the movies based on her books, this is one book that you need to read.  I promise, you will NOT be disappointed. It's amazing!!

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

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of the critically acclaimed Two Blue Doors series and the Plain and Simple duet.  Jane of Austin is her sixth novel.  In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, graphic design, and finding new walking trails.  She resides outside of Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and two pups.  She can be found online at www.hillarymantonlodge.com.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wings of the Wind Book Review

Out From Egypt series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman's destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?
     Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting.  When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family.  The one thing she never contended on was surviving.
     Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties.  Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Heb
rew camp, he's unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.
     In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy.  But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

REVIEW:  This book was interesting and opened my eyes to how God set the Israelites apart from the Canaanites and other kingdoms.  While it is strictly fiction, I like how the author uses her characters to show us God's bigger plan.  Alanah was a Canaanite who was rescued and taken in by Tobiah, an Israelite.  As she learns about the God of Israel and His laws, she sees how those laws protect everyone in the camp: families, widows, orphans, foreigners and the nation as a whole.  I like how when she faces some major troubles, Alanah remembers God's provision and trusts Him to take care of her and those around her.  Seeing how God took care of His people by doing the unusual and with out of the box thinking to accomplish the impossible made the Old Testament become more real. 
     This book is the third in the series.  Each book stands alone, separated by about twenty years, but does refer to characters and incidences in the others without making the reader seem like they missed something if they didn't read one of the other books.  
     I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading others by this author.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without any compensation.
 
When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books.  There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus.  Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas.  Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Essential Amish Cookbook Book Review

Everyday Recipes from Farm & Pantry


SUMMARY:  Taste the goodness of Amish life.
     Bestselling cookbook author and food columnist Lovina Eicher brings together the best of Amish cooking as she shares traditional Amish recipes along with her own kitchen tips and secrets.
     These easy-to-follow, authentic recipes are prepared every day in countless homes in Old Order Amish communities.  In this richly illustrated cookbook with step-by-step photographs, learn Amish cooking just as if you were in Lovina's kitchen.  Make the hearty, similar dishes that the Amish cook together and serve at home, church services, and weddings.

                         Peach Muffins                                   Shoofly Cake
                         Caramel Pecan Rolls                         Grandma's Butterscotch Pie
                         Amish Macaroni Salad                      Fresh Corn Salsa
                         Asparagus Egg Casserole                  Sweet Dills
                         Homestyle Pot Roast                         Hot Pepper Butter
                         Lovina's Homemade Bread               Green Tomato Jam
                         Oven Crusty Chicken                        Amish Wedding Nothings

REVIEW:  I love cookbooks.  This one is no exception.  As stated, the recipes are easy to read and follow.  The pictures, not only of food but life in general within the Amish community, are beautiful.  I like the little tidbits Lovina added to each recipe about favorite recipes, tips, and cute stories.  Some of the recipes are for large quantities so you to make sure you read the recipe closely beforehand because you may need to make some adjustments BEFORE you start cooking.  I like how in the back there are recipes that are for VERY LARGE groups of people.  So, if you are ever in need, you already have some recipes to choose from.
     The recipe my daughter Hannah and I chose was Banana Cookies.  They were similar to banana bread but much lighter and covered in icing.  They were delicious.  Unfortunately, they were really soft but I think that was from the substitutions my daughter and I had to make.  We didn't have any shortening so we used butter instead, in addition to the butter that was called for.  We ran a little short of flour but we made due.  We used fresh and frozen bananas.  My oven and stove are giving me fits so I ended up baking them longer to make sure they were complete cooked.  I ran out of milk so I used buttermilk in the icing and thought it works perfectly. 
     There are a few other recipes I want to try: homemade bread, breakfast casserole, egg dutch, overnight French toast, squash casserole, outrageous chocolate chip cookies, and many more.  Can't wait to start cooking more.

This book was provided by Herald Press for review without any compensation.
 
Lovina Eicher is author of the syndicated column, Lovina’s Amish Kitchen, which appears in 40 newspapers around the United States and on a weekly blog maintain by her editors. She is the author of several cookbooks. Lovina and her husband have eight children and live in rural Michigan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Angel's Share Book Review


This book was read and reviewed by guest commentator, Jennifer Campbell, one of my wonderful and fabulous sisters-in-law.


This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Tyndale House for review without compensation.
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sandpiper Cove Book Review

Hope Harbor Series
 Book Three

SUMMARY:  Wishing for things that can never be is foolish - or is it?
     Hope Harbor police chief and single mom Lexie Graham has zero time for extracurricular activities - including romance.  Ex-con Adam Stone isn't looking for love either - but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief?  When Lexie enlists Adam's help to keep a troubled young man from heading down the wrong path, sparks begin to fly.  Could it be that God may have a different - and better -  future planned for them than either could image?  Lauded by Literary Journal as "as master at character development," Irene Hannon welcomes you back to this charming Oregon seaside village.

REVIEW:  Irene Hannon did another great job with Lexie and Adam's story.  I like how both overcome many obstacles and stereotypes to just enjoy each other's company.  Adam's willingness to step out of his comfort zone, face his past and help a young man turn his life around while he still has a chance was inspiring. I like how, with Adam's advice and guidance, Lexie is able to face a painful part of her past and forgive herself.  I also like how, when faced with heresay and conjecture about Adam and the work he is doing with Brian, Lexie stands up for what is right and publicly supports Adam. 
     This is an excellent story and have really enjoyed this series.  This book, as with the others in this series, is an excellent stand alone.  I would encourage you to read the others, even though they only briefly refer to the main character of the other novels.  They will give you a better feel for Hope Harbor and its residents.  From what I understand, Ms. Hannon will write more set in this small town.  If she does, I so look forward to reading them.

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

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, Sea Rose Lane, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series.  Her books have garnered dozen of honors, including three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame.  In addition, she has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pursued Book Review

The Nikki Boyd Files
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine - until the CRASH LANDING at the airport.
     When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing - and no one will admit she was ever there.  When she learns that Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial, Nikki wonders if her disappearance from the crash site means she's running from trouble - or straight into it.  Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.
     Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can't-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave you stunned.

REVIEW:  As the summary says, this story will have your head spinning with everything that happens.  Nikki goes from one jaw-dropping event to another so quickly it's hard to catch your breath.  Considering this whole story happens in just 48 hours, it's a lot to take in and process.  It's a good story.  I enjoyed everything I read, but so much happens to Nikki, it's really hard to take in.  After a while, I started to wonder just what else could she go through and just how much more she could take, especially since she was running on very little sleep and very little to eat.  Good thing this is just fiction and not real life so someone would be needing a lot of therapy.
     This is the third book in this series.  It can stand alone but it so much better if you read the other ones.  The ending was good.  I'm pretty sure this is the end of the series.  If it is, too bad.  I would really like to see how Nikki and Tyler's relationship plays out.  It would also be neat to see if she gets more information about her lost sister, and maybe even find her.
     If you are interested in reading a book that will hold your attention and take you on a wild ride, you need to pick this one up.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

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

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 and 2015 from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta.  The author of nearly thirty books, including Vendetta, Missing, and the SOUTHERN CRIMES series, Harris and her family have spent more then thirteen years living as missionaries in southern Africa.  Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Still Life Book Review

Chesapeake Valor Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Someone is out there.  Watching her.  Waiting.
     Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer.  She expected to be laughed at, but crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright - and changed her life.  But six months ago, when he feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.
     Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejeced her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit for which her friend modeled.  But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead - and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot.  Worse, her friend can't be found, and so Avery immediately calls Parker for help.
     As Avery, Parker, and their friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

REVIEW:  This book had a lot going on, which was sometimes distracting and hard to follow.  Not having read the first book, I wondered if parts of Parker and Avery's relationship was covered in it because it felt like I was coming in from behind.  Then, their friends all had something going on - finding very slim evidence of a friend that disappeared many years ago, an upcoming marriage, a potential relationship between a couple of characters - which just added to my befuddlement at times.  Also, there were two different matters going on in regards to Avery's friend that disappeared that made it difficult at times to figure out who did what within the timeline and keep everything straight.  
     That said, the story was very engaging but darker than anything else I've read by this author.  The villain was very creepy and disturbing.  His actions were even creepier.  I like how Avery was determined to do everything possible to find Skyler, even if it meant going places and seeing people from her dysfunctional past that she had left behind years earlier.  I like how Parker saw Avery for who she was now, not her actions in the past.  Though he struggled with memories of his deceased girlfriend, he is determined not to let it affect the present and his attraction to Avery.  
     This was a good book.  As I mentioned, the story was darker and more menacing than other novels by this author but I am looking forward to reading the others as they come out, and, one day, the first one.

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

Dani Pettrey is the acclaimed author of the ALASKAN COURAGE romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged.  Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others.  She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two super adorable grandsons.  You can find her online at www.danipettrey.com

When Tides Turn Book Review

Waves of Freedom Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  In a time of war, sometimes battles take place in the heart.
     Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face.  Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy's newly established WAVES program for women.  Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.
     Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to admiral.  The last things he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess.  Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals.  Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.
    But love, like war, is unpredictable.  When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore.  Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?

REVIEW:  The author had her main characters face many different trials, where various facets of their character and personality were cut, smoothed, and polished.  Tess, trying to show others, as well as herself, that she was something more than just a pretty face.  She was intelligent, quick thinking and could make even working late fun. I like how she reached out to others and helped others realize their hidden potential.  When faced with difficult tasks, she faced them head-on, even risking her life to safe a friend.  
     Dan was determined to follow the same path his mentor had taken.  When difficult circumstances arose, I like how he realized he needed to make changes and head in a different direction or he was going to fail.  When faced with impossible circumstances, I like how, at first, Dan reacted like we all do, with anger and frustration.  But, then he realized that he needed to respond in a godly manner, events worked themselves out and justice was served.
     This was a great conclusion to a wonderful series.  Since this is the third book, it is very helpful to read the others to understand different references made and the relationships all the characters to each other.  I always look forward to this author's books and this book, and series, just added to it.

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

Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep and Anchor in the Storm, as well as the WINGS OF THE NIGHTINGALE and the WINGS OF GLORY series.  A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist.  During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy, and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force.  Sarah lives in California.  Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

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.

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.

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.