Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reviewing The Legacy

The Legacy by Dan Walsh and Gary SmalleyTwo men collaborating on a work of fiction resulting in The Legacy by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley was a different experience for me.  Book number 4 in the Restoration series this collaboration is a wonderful glimpse into a normal American family with two parents and three children. Normal from the outside at least, this family has its own share of challenges. Jim and Marilyn Anderson, parents of three grown children are facing challenges with their youngest son Doug, who is away at college and pulling further away from the family values.  Doug is enjoying the fruits of independence and ready to cut the family purse strings when his father issues a choice to abandon his relationship with a coed or support himself. Will his choices be worth his decision?

Doug is a gifted artist and is planning to enter a contest worth a $75,000 prize. This will be his ticket to paying his own way for the remainder of his college expenses and set him up as  a graphic novelist when he graduates. He is so confident he will win but is he over confident?

Read this compelling novel about a son and his loving parents who must meet in the middle to gain back their trust in each other.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Creole Princess:A Review

I spent the weekend at my favorite place reading an advance copy of The Creole Princess by Beth White for review.  Set in Mobile Alabama in 1776, the author reeled me in like a fish off the bayou.  I love American history and this setting is a new perspective in that war for independence in the deep south. Major players were the Spanish and the British.

Our heroine is Lyse Lanier of French Creole descent and incomparable beauty. The story is first and foremost a romance with some intrigue along the coast to aid the American cause. Lyse's best friend Daisy Redmond is the daughter of the Commander of Fort Charlotte. The fort plays an important part in the story as unrest after sentiments the Declaration of Independence spreads, forcing Major Redmond to seek the Oath of Loyalty to the crown from the townspeople.  

In the midst of the building tension a young Spanish dandy named Rafael Gonzales (Rafa) has immersed himself into the society of Mobile and  most of all the confused heart of Lyse Lanier. Rafa is not taken seriously by Lyse who believes him to be insincere.  He flirts openly and seems to disappear only to resurface in unlikely places. She is torn by the excitement when Rafa is near and the safe attentions of a young British officer of a rather staid nature.  Is it better to marry someone just because he is safe or love a man who is handsome, exciting and living on the edge?

Rafa has his reasons for disappearing and it is not because he is toying with Lyse. It all comes out in a plot that shows us what risks Spain took to support the American cause. In the midst of some dangerous plots, we experience the cruelty of slavery, prejudice, jealousy and deception.  Things are definitely not as they seem. I recommend you take some tea and begin this book for some down time that will keep you guessing what will happen next to our Creole Princess. I think you will agree, she is one courageous, inspirational woman.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sand In My Sandwich: An Impartial Review!

9780800724108_p0_v1_s260x420When I began reading Sand in My Sandwich by Sarah Parshall Perry it reminded me of hearing my mother reading to us at night. Her humor was entertaining and she got a lot of joy from reading about the mishaps that happen in homes with small children.  I enjoyed reading how Sarah began her journey as a law student on the recommendation of a Grad Student in the college career center based on what she would like to wear to work: "Um. A Suit."  "Well, there you go! I think your answer is Law School."  This is how as shy introverted young woman pursued her career in law. It was great learning how she met her husband at a church youth leader retreat that she nearly didn't attend.

Motherhood brought many of the usual mishaps we expect but Sarah and her husband Matt are parents of two boys on the autism spectrum. Her middle child, a daughter truly adds dimension to the family. Sarah speaks like it is and I admire her seemingly unflappable approach to raising her family. Her normal day is about as routine as any young mother's in that there is no routine and it is about being flexible, caring and keeping it your cool as much as possible.

I have worked in the classroom with children on the autism spectrum and it was a very rewarding experience. I love their approach to learning and their intelligence. I applaud Sarah for sharing her life with us in such a way that is inspiring and entertaining. I respect the challenges and hoops that are part of her family's life that we cannot imagine. She brings new awareness to living with autism. Yes it is a challenge but one that she and her husband Matt believe is a good life with many blessings.  Thank you to Revell for the advance copy. It has been an inspiration to read.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reviewing: Buried Secrets

If you like suspense, Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon is for you!  Take a 24-year old cold case, a skull unearthed at a construction site and you have the beginnings of one good mystery.

Buried SecretsCarson Police Chief Lisa Grant and former Navy SEAL turned Detective Mac McGregor are on the scene and ready to dig deeper into the identity of a victim left buried and forgotten in an unmarked grave.  With few clues to go on except old missing person reports, they get one small break that sets in motion several discoveries that rattle a sinister mind that will stop at nothing to block discovery of the truth.

The plot thickens a plenty when accidents begin to pick off key players from the past. Dangerous plots make strange bedfellows when it comes to trust. The story is a good mystery that hooked me from the prologue. I am not going to allow any spoilers but highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Irene's latest book. Buried Secrets is book one of her new series, Men of Valor.

Irene Hannon is a bestselling author of suspenseful romantic Christian fiction that will keep you at the edge of your seat without excessive violence or graphic love scenes. The secret to me is writing a good story to begin with. I was happy to receive another book of Irene's to review from Revell Publishing as I have enjoyed all of her books that I have had the pleasure to read.  I am already looking forward to the release two in this series.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: The Decision

Sometimes learning God's plan for us is through a series of disappointing events. Jonah Miller left Pennsylvania behind for a fresh start in Illinois. He built a successful carriage repair business and works hard to forget the woman who left him alone on his wedding day.

Once in Illinois and getting his business established, Elaine Schrock catches his heart and he dares to open his heart to her.

The story is one of devotion and loyalty with a great deal of patience. Imagine believing in a love so strong that you are willing to put everything on hold in order to give space to the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Top that off with selfless acts of kindness to make things easier for them in their great time of need and have it brushed aside like yesterday's dust.  Jonah loves Elaine and will do anything for her when her grandmother's health is threatened. Can she share her burdens with him to make their life together? The dynamics of the story are complex and I found myself engaged in the story to the point where I was so surprised with the ending. I won't spoil the ending but if you want to read a good story about love, faith and sacrifice, pick up a copy of Wanda E Brunstetter's book The Decision. Please let there be a sequel.....

Please see the preview for this moving story below:

Friday, March 20, 2015

You're Loved No Matter What - Inspiration from Holley Gerth

If you are like me you work hard to be perfect in every way. Life can be a challenge and we women are busy trying to please our families, our friends, our coworkers and most everyone we come in contact with. I found a lot of encouragement in Holley's latest book You're Loved No Matter What; encouragement that makes me feel like I can forgive myself for not being perfect. It is just not how we were created to be. We are made to be loved unconditionally by God who forgives us as only He can as our heavenly Father.  
Don't we all need to know this is true? I can't count how many times I have said if only I worked harder, looked thinner or was better than I was last week my life would be perfect. If only my life were perfect I would achieve perfection all of the above wouldn't be a problem. The problem is forgetting that I am loved already for who I am not an unrealistic earthly goal. I have been reminding myself to ease up and remember that I am loved for myself since starting this book and I have to share that it has been an aha experience for me.                                                                                                    Holley's book can be read straight through or in pieces to study. However you choose to read it, know that she is like having your good friend sitting across your table sharing a cup of coffee. Strategies and tips are available within the book that help you let go of perfection in different areas of your life. If you lead a women's study group there are discussion questions in the Go Deeper Guide at the back of the book for your group.                                                                                                                  p.s. If you’ve ever struggled with feeling like you need to be perfect, my friend Holley Gerth’s new book will encourage you. You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reviewing Meek and Mild

I am a fan of Amish Fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Meek and Mild by Olivia Newport. The story is about the Amish but is rich with complex issues you aren't looking for in the plain lifestyle. Clara Kuhns' is in love with Andrew Raber but is hesitant to wed. Clara's mother passed away in childbirth, leaving her worried and anxious about having children of her own.  Her family is part of an Old Order Amish community. Her mother's family is part of a growing Mennonite group who believe in teaching Sunday School.  The Bishop of Clara's community has made it difficult for her to visit with her aunt and cousins by instituting the age old custom of shunning people with different beliefs.  As the story developed, I felt impatient with the old order because of this practice.

Truth about a change that began by a vote when Clara was very young comes to light and sends the community on the brink of big change.  Reading about what happened was not predictable and the outcome was surprising enough to lead me to appreciate Olivia's writing style. The characters are very well written and I found myself disappointed to put the book down.

I really liked this book because of how it dealt with the heart of the young heroine who has so many questions about life and her faith and feels quite alone.  Her stepmother seems to be pushing her out of the home by making her feel unneeded for even the simplest task around the house.  Andrew has been tempting fate and the Ordnung with his acquisition of a car found by the side of the road bearing a note asking the finder to please take the car. Cars are not part of the simple life and Clara is worried it may get Andrew Shunned. Andrew takes everything in stride which worries Clara more. It is a twist of fate that changes her heart toward love and marriage.

This new glimpse into the Amish people has given me a chance to do a little extra research afterwards. Suffice it to say that not only is this a wonderful love story, it is a nice work of historical fiction on a difficult period for the Amish. They have succeeded in continuing to live good lives of strong faith and adherence to a lifestyle that has survived since it began in 1693.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reviwing Where Trust Lies

Where Trust Lies, by Janette Oke and her daughter Larel Oke Logan is a wonderful book for those who love following Elizabeth Thatcher of When Calls the Heart. Some of my first experiences with Christian fiction were reading Mrs. Oke's novels. She has a way of hooking us in with her characters who seem to come alive with the pages of her books.

Cover ArtWhere Trust Lies gives us a closer look at the Thatcher family. Fresh off the train from Coal Valley, she is informed of a leisurely cruise she will be taking with her mother and sisters Julie and Margaret. With her heart full of Jarrick (Jack) Thornton, the dashing Mountie from Coal Valley, she would be content to stay home and relax instead of rushing off for more travel.

Once aboard the cruise ship and headed for the St. Lawrence River and beyond to the states, she discovers there is a lot more to her family than she could ever realize being tucked at safely at home.

Julie, her vivacious younger sister is intent in spending time with her new American friends. Their exciting ways entice Julie to want to spend time away from her family and be more like them. Beth is concerned but cautious with her sister and tries to keep a watchful eye.

Elizabeth, with her mind recounting her time spent with Jarrick in Coal Valley discovers his true feelings for her only when he leaves her at the train depot with a box of long stemmed roses. Along her journey, she takes a petal each day and wraps it in her handkerchief to keep him close to her.  She longs to receive the letter asking her to return to Coal Valley and be closer to him.

Chance brings her family heartbreaking events that nearly rocks her faith. Each member of her family is tested while the story reveals a resilience that only faith can restore. As I read the story I was reminded once again how much I like Janette Oke's writing.  It is heartwarming to me that she collaborated on this story with her daughter Laurel.  The bond of mother and daughter is strong in this book and only such a strong bond could have made such a successful collaboration.

Thank you Bethany House for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Anna's Crossing! Worth the Wait!

10372283_867099466646927_3112724279182889122_nI waited for what seems like a long time to read Suzanne Woods Fisher'Anna's Crossing. It started as I finished up Christmas at Rose Hill Farm. Two reasons for this anticipation besides being a fan of Suzanne are learning more about the Charming Nancy, the ship on which Anna crosses the Atlantic and to find out about the real story behind Rose Hill Farm's famous rose.

What I didn't anticipate was learning so much more about the history of the Amish people. Anna Konig symbolizes many of the Amish who came to Penn's  Wood with the promise of a brighter future and plenty of land to start a new life.  It took courage to cross the ocean under the conditions on ships such as the Charming Nancy. This was no passenger ship with staterooms for families. It was dank and dingy and full of bunks stacked high in order to cram more passengers on board.

Anna is a reluctant heroine and Bairn, the ships carpenter the reluctant hero are drawn together by circumstance. He has no use for the Amish, or the "peculiars" as they are often referred to. She cannot befriend a man who is without faith. Yet their destiny is entwined as Anna is the only passenger who can speak English and is called upon to translate for all.  It is through Felix, the young son of her neighbor Dorothea that both Anna and Bairn can cooperate and make the crossing more bearable. 

Long delays, wild storms, an encounter with slave traders, surly crew members and growing disappointment would make any group of people difficult to live with. The under belly of a ship with no accommodations is unthinkable in our modern world of indoor plumbing.

I admire Suzanne's thorough research for her works. If you look for more information on the Charming Nancy you will find that in 1737, Captain Charles Steadman was at the helm of the same said ship carrying 21 Amish families to America.  He and his brother Captain John Steadman were both regarded as the best to sail with. 

I read a lot of American history and this book did not introduce me to the Charming Nancy.  In later years, The Charming Nancy was the ship that carried an exiled Margaret Kemble Gage, wife of General Thomas Gage back to England during the Revolutionary War. Her sympathies with the colonies, it seems gave her husband much displeasure.  The Charming Nancy was a ship rich with history.

Anna carried a rose from her home in Germany on board all the way to her new home in the colonies.  The rose gave me hope for Anna, and for all the people in the story who captured my heart. Suzanne has such a way of weaving her story line through her characters to create a community that for all its faults and misunderstandings come together when it is most important.   The ending had me saying "yes" while wanting for more. I hope there will be more books in this series that will include the same families and that Suzanne will tell us what could have happened next.

Many thanks to Suzanne Woods Fisher for writing this book and to Revell, who advanced me a copy for an honest review.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Faithful Friday

30 "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

Proverbs 31 is about a virtuous woman! I would love to be that woman who seems to be perfect but alas, I am but a human. My failings are real and yet I get up each day and try again.  My weight is down this week. It was not hard since I was sick for most of the week. However, I believe I will try hard next week to keep these pounds off.   Let me be virtuous and care for my body. Caring for my body is caring for my family. Beauty is fleeting for sure and at my age I have many of my own thoughts coming from my mouth than to worry about pleasing as much as I used to.  It is worth it. I do have a healthy fear of the Lord but I am not looking for earthly praise.  

Let's be honest. We tie so much of our worth to our beauty, friends and um....our weight or collection of flab. I have avoided shopping to avoid buying larger clothes. Vanity.  My goal is really to get healthy and to have more energy for my family.  I am on the mend today and that means that my quest for all around good health and energy is on the way!