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?

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:  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; 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

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, 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.