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?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Grounded Hearts Book Review

SUMMARY:  A brave midwife.  A wounded pilot.  A risky secret.
     In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral.  Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for.  When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she'll face imprisonment.
     Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare.  While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection - and an unbreakable bond.
     But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband's death and made her question ever loving again.  As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?

REVIEW:  While parts of this book was interesting, there are quite a bit that I found a little disheartening and concerning in a book that was supposed to be Christian fiction.  While reading, I learned about Ireland's neutrality during World War II and how difficult life could be for those who were found helping anyone involved in any way with the action.  In Grounded Hearts, the militia groups, and their affiliates, would arrest anyone thought to be harboring, in their eyes, a fugitive.  When Nan took in Dutch after he crashed his airplane in a nearby bog, she decided to hide him while he healed from his injuries.  Doing so, she took a great risk to her reputation as the local (and only) midwife for the area.  Also, reading about the treatment of the arrested fugitives in Ireland was eye-opening and shocking, in a good way.  The adventure Nan and Dutch had trying to get him across the border to Northern Ireland was funny at times.  I also liked how Nan steps out of her comfort zone and finds there is more to life when you just take a little risk.
     One disheartening and concerning part was how the local Irish men were portrayed.  They were shown to be ignorant, overbearing, and totally clueless about the actions of their wives.  All they were concerned about was having the house taken care of and their needs met.  They were portrayed as being drunk as soon as it was "socially acceptable."  As their wives took control of the situation Nan found herself in, the men of the village didn't have a clue about what was happening.  While I like having strong women characters, I don't like it at the expense of the men.
     Another concerning part was how the attraction between Dutch and Nan was illustrated.  There were times when I became a little uncomfortable reading about how they felt and what each other found attractive.  It was more descriptive than I usually find in Christian novels and was mentioned at every turn.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Waterfall Press 
for review without any compensation.

Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers.  Her grandmother lived with them and was a constant source of stories about life in Ireland and about saint and ancestors long gone from this earth.  Jeanne credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother for her love of storytelling.

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