Friday, June 27, 2014

Four Weddings and a Kiss - a book review



Four authors come together to tell stories of love in the old West,  Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy, and Robin Lee Hatcher.

This is a delightful telling of four independent stories that are connected only by the prologue and epilogue.  The prologue introduces us to a group of ministers traveling together.  While on their journey together they give counsel to one of the younger of them, who seems to be troubled about his relationship with a young woman.  He feels she is totally inappropriate to be a preacher’s wife, but still loves her.  They give  him advice by relating stories of couples they have known who seemed to be opposites but who end up happily in love.

The publisher’s website says:

"Spitfire Sweetheart" by Mary Connealy

Maizy Place
is an unruly tomboy. When she causes an accident, injuring neighbor Rylan Carstens, she becomes his unlikely caregiver. Rylan has never noticed how pretty his infuriating neighbor is, and he never expected to fall in love.

"Love Letter to the Editor" by Robin Lee Hatcher


Molly Everton is the outspoken daughter of the town newspaper's owner. When her father brings in an outsider to be editor, she tries to drive him out of town. But Jack Ludgrove is not intimidated. He's resolved to change Molly's mind about him--as an editor and as a man.

"A Cowboy for Katie" by Debra Clopton

Katie Pearl is uninterested in men and love. But she needs help on her ranch and hires Treb Rayburn, a wandering cowboy looking to make a buck. Will Treb change Katie's mind?

"Courting Trouble" by Margaret Brownley

Grace Davenport is either the unluckiest woman alive--or a killer. When her third husband is found dead, Grace is arrested. Attorney Brock Daniels isn't interested in the case--until he meets Grace. Only a miracle will prove her innocence, but the joining of two lonely hearts may be their saving grace.”

These four novella’s will amuse you, touch your heart and refresh your soul.  There are scary moments, humorous dialogs, touching scenes, and interesting characters.  Each story reminds us that God’s ways are often mysterious and unexpected.


I really enjoyed this book because each novella is a story all it’s own.  When you finish one you can put the book down without feeling as if you haven’t finished it. If I have any criticism it’s that the epilogue was too short.  I would have liked the story of the preacher and his shocking and reckless lady to have been a little more developed.  It just seemed to wrap up too quickly. 

There are discussion questions at the back of the book for each story to aid reading groups.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mark of Distinction : Price of Privilege Trilogy by Jessica Dotta - a book review

This is the second offering of Jessica Dotta’s Price of Privilege Trilogy.  I read and reviewed the first one, Born of Persuasion, and liked it.  However, I was a bit disappointed in this one.  Her writing style didn’t change, it is still very descriptive and interesting.  You really do get a feeling of what life was like in that time period.  There is still a thread of mystery and intrigue carried over from the first book.  Dotta does a good job of keeping you guessing and throws a surprise in every once in a while.  There is still a key group of characters but there are also many peripheral ones that at times gets a bit confusing. 

Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.

Now under the watchful eye of Lord Roy Pierson, one of most influential men in England, Julia begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy’s power is far-reaching as well, and he is eager to assert his claim over her.

Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan.”

This book begins from the viewpoint of the main character, Julia, as an old woman remembering her life.  She recounts some of the events from the first book, however, I didn’t feel there was enough explanation that would make this a good ‘stand alone’ novel.  If I hadn’t read the first one, I would have been very confused.   I was still very confused at the end.  While Julia does find some happiness, there are alot of unanswered questions which I assume will be resolved in the last book of the trilogy.  As it is, I still have no idea who the good guys are or who the bad guys are.  Of course, that’s making me want to read the third one when it comes out, which is probably the reason for all the unresolved issues.


As far as being a Christian novel, as was the case in the first book, you won’t find this preachey.  The mentioning of faith and Christianity are more a statement of historical background and personal character development rather than any attempt to convert the reader.

 All in all, if you like Jane Austin type novels, you’ll probably like this trilogy.  I was a bit disappointed but I tend to like a neat a tidy finish to the books I read.  I will definitely be looking for the third in the trilogy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton - a book review


This book has it all!  It has romance, adventure, intrigue, suspense, and mystery.  As the title states, Tamsen Littlejohn is being pursued.  As you read the story your first thought might be that she is being pursued by a scourned suitor.  As you read the story you realize that she is also being pursued by a man who loves her and by God.  Jesse offers her protection and through his strong faith in God, he shows her how her faith can be strengthened.
 
This is one book that I had trouble putting down.  I couldn’t wait until I could pick it up again to read. 

 

This is from the publisher’s  website:

 

“In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?”

 

The story takes place in the late 1700’s, a time of political upheaval and uncertainty and conflict among Indian tribes.  The characters are very believable and the author does a great job of keeping them interesting.  She also does a wonderful job of describing the landscape and surroundings.  You really feel that you are standing right there watching it all unfold.

 

If I have one criticism  it would be the choice of the heroine’s name.  Maybe it’s just me but I would frequently confuse it with ‘Tasmen’ . It is a very unusual name.

 


 

If you like historical Christian romances, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Shining Light by Judith Miller - a book review


 

 
I had never heard of this particular group of people before, so reading about the Amana community was very interesting. You can tell the author did alot of research. 

It is written in the first person narrative, which for me, was a little hard to follow at first. Once I got used to it, it made the story much more interesting. 

 There are many twists and turns in the plot and sometimes I wondered how much more this little family could take.  God provides for them in ways they would never have expected.  This is definately a faith based novel but not at all preachy. 
 
The characters are very engaging and ‘real’.  Throughout the story of this family’s journey there a many characters that at times can be hard to keep track of.

Overall, I liked this book. I can’t say it is one of my favorites but it is well written and interesting. 

Here is a synopsis from the publisher’s website:
 The kind people of Amana have been her guiding light, but her greatest trial is yet to come...
 West Amana, Iowa, 1890
After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.
Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans--especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas's future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?”

 

I encourage you to read this book and learn about a very interesting group of people.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, April 25, 2014

For Every Season by Cindy Woodsmall - a book review


For Every Season  by Cindy Woodsmall

 

I have to preface this book review by saying that Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors.  I love that she writes about what she personally know about the Amish people.  I love the historical background she includes in her books and how she explains their doctrinal and cultural beliefs in a fictional setting.

 

However, I had a really hard time getting into this book.  There is a section in the front called ”the story so far”  that gives a brief synopsis of the plot line.  Even with that, I didn’t feel it gave the reader enough background to pick the story up at the start of this book.  I actually read the previous one and I still had trouble following it.  Of course, all of this is my personal opinion and is likely based on my short attention span.  I like a book to grab me right away.

 

This is from the publisher’s website:

“Working hard to develop a new Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is fully committed to rehabilitating an orchard with business partner Samuel King. But an impulsive decision has created an unexpected strain in her relationship with her beau, Samuel’s brother, Jacob, threatening plans for the orchard. Amidst mounting tension in matters of the heart and business, Rhoda finds that this fledging settlement feels like the home she has always longed for, and she begins to embrace the God-given, heightened intuition that has always felt like a burden to her. She longs for Jacob to fully be free of his past, so they can work towards the future together.

But as Rhoda uses her gift to unpack an old secret with her Englisch neighbors, it is not her beau but an unlikely ally that cheers her on. With the orchard on shaky ground and Jacob’s plans in question, Rhoda is determined to see things through to harvest. But can she trust her insight to direct her path in matters of the heart?”

There are some really yummy sounding recipes at the end of the book and a glossary of Amish terms which is very helpful.  There is also a list of characters which I found essential in trying to keep everyone straight.

Like I said, this is only my opinion based on my likes. You may find you really like this book.  I hope you give it a try and form your own opinion.  Go HERE to read an excerpt.

You can use the Amazon search box on the right side of this page to order it and when you do you help me out a little. 

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Wonderful, worthwhile inconveniences

This week while my daughter was visiting me for the evening, she found something on the internet that made her chuckle.  As she was reading me excerpts of what she found, I was taken back to when my 5 children were babies.  What she was reading was a list of things that mothers of babies and toddlers have to look forward to when their children are a little older. I am finding, to a certain extent, they apply to me once again.  I thought as she was reading them, I can add to that list, both from memory AND from my current circumstances.  I have the wonderful pleasure of babysitting for my 2 year old and 2 month old grandbabies....and I love it!  But it has reminded me of those long ago days...all those wonderful, worthwhile inconveniences  So, here's the list I came up with. 

Things a new mother (or babysitting gramma) have to look forward to:

  1. Sleeping all night (OK, my grandchildren go home at night so this doesn't really apply to me)
  2. Taking a shower when you need want to instead of when you can fit it in.
  3. Using the bathroom in private.....with the door closed.
  4. Drinking a full cup of coffee-----hot!
  5. Eating your dinner off your own plate instead of finishing what your child doesn't finish off theirs
  6. Watching something on TV other than Veggie Tales (I have to say though, my husband and I get a kick out of them)
  7. Speaking in full sentences
  8. Wearing a hairstyle that doesn't involve a headband or 'messy bun" (Goes along with #2)
  9. When your wardrobe consists fo something other than t-shirts and yoga pants.
  10. Completing a telephone call
  11. Smelling like eau de perfume instead of eau de spit-up
  12. Standing in the grocery line without swaying, rocking or bouncing
  13. Not having to hurdle child gates
  14. Doing things with both hands......at the same time
  15. Having copies of home decorating magazines on your coffee table instead of Winnie the Pooh
  16. Having a song stuck in your head other than "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere...."
  17. Walking out to your car like a human being instead of a pack mule (Diaper bag, purse, car seat, baby,etc)
  18. When the attributes of the contents of a diaper are not the major topic of conversation
  19. When grocery shopping becomes a chore once again instead of 'mommy's day out'
  20. When you can once again use your snow shovel for the white stuff instead of shoveling toys.

Does any of this sound familiar to you new moms (or 'old' grand-moms) ?
Of course you also have lots of hugs and kisses and "I love you's" to look forward to.  Believe me....those will make up for all the little inconveniences !




I'll risk repeating myself and say how much I LOVE being able to spend time with my grandchildren....ALL of them.  What a blessing it is to get to watch them learn and grow.  One thing that struck me as I was writing this, was how fortunate we are to have modern technology, so we can email, instant message, skype, etc.  It is so much easier to keep in touch with them even though they aren't close by.
I'd love to hear what things you come up with to add to the list.
I'm linked up here:
 

 
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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher - a book review


What a surprise!  Imagine yourself at your engagement party and who should walk in but your husband you thought was dead!  That’s what happened to our heroine, Diana. 

This novel follows Diana, her not-so-dead husband, Tyson and their loved ones on their journey toward forgiveness, honor and love.

It has its share of emotion, suspense and mystery, but I pretty much had it figured out by the middle of the book.

 I haven’t read any of Hatcher’s other books but I enjoyed this one. The only thing I found confusing was her use of flashbacks.  Fortunately, every flashback is preceded by a date so you know when it happens, and they do prove to be useful in understanding what the characters are feeling and why they behave and react as they do.  I also liked how the spiritual development of the characters is portrayed. 


This is from the publisher’s website:

“Best-selling author Robin Lee Hatcher returns to the adventurous American West in the final book of her Where the Heart Lives series. This story is filled with Robin’s trademark heartwarming and emotionally charged message of faith, courage, and love.
When Diana Brennan’s husband returns eight years after abandoning her, can she find it in her heart to forgive him?
Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for eight years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.
But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition––she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.”
Go to the author's website to read a sample chapter.

You can also follow the link on the right side of this page tp purchase a copy from Amazon.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook and Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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