Monday, January 19, 2015

Like A Flower In Bloom

I recently read Like a Flower In Bloom by Siri Mitchell for review. It was my first
experience reading a book by this author. It was a little different in that the heroine was a reluctant debutante for the season. She was unaware of her beauty in a refreshing way that made her appealing. If one can dare to compare her to anyone perhaps it would be to Eliza Doolittle for a brief moment only because of her innocence in the social mores of the day. She was a bit more educated than Eliza but she was like her in that Charlotte was outspoken and sometimes spoke her opinion without realizing it isn't often done by young ladies presented in society who are looking for a husband.

She was born to a family of botanists and when her mother died, Charlotte got her father through his loss by helping him with his work by writing, illustrating and managing the household.  Brought to task by her uncle the Admiral, her father came to see that he had relied far too long on her and that she should be out in the world, seeking a husband.

About this time, Mr. Trimble, one of her father's correspondents turned up on their steps from New Zealand with some plant specimens.  He would suit just fine as Charlotte's replacement on the job, leaving her to her uncle's project including dinners, new gowns and finding that suitor to carry her along to a marriage....but away from her beloved work.

Along the journey, she encounters suitors of course, but also a young friend, and a maddening relationship with the man who took her job, Mr. Trimble. Most important of all though is the self discovery of who she really is. I think this discovery is what sets this book apart from a run of the mill romance. If you want to follow Charlotte on her journey and learn a little about botany, read Like A Flower In  Bloom!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Terrific Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 is a day for the books! It is the first time in 2015 that we will have a day with the number 13.  Let's celebrate because 13 is a great number and without it I may have been born on the 12th or 14th. It is 6 months until my birthday but really, who is counting?

My sister Linda loved to tease me and she couldn't resist when she realized I was actually born on Friday the 13th. She always said, "No wonder!" I can smile about it now but being overly sensitive, I was greatly affronted at the time.  Fast forward to my twenties and I was a regular visitor to my allergy specialist whose office was in the tallest building in town at the time. I was puzzled as I zipped up the elevator why the floors jumped from 12 to 14. After checking it out I discovered that many buildings in the country skipped the 13th floor because of superstitions.  

Many good things are found with the number 13 including this famous passage from 1 Corinthians:
"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."
 1 Corinthians 13:13. About 25 years ago I cross-stitched the last 6 words of this verse and for many years it sat on my dresser until the glass in the frame broke about 5 years ago. One goal I have is to replace this frame by January 31st. Once I do I will post a picture. In the meantime, take this rambling post to heart and embrace the number 13 for all the good things about it.  When we seek the good things that is what we will find.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Love Unexpected!

I am captivated by lighthouses. I love to visit them and simply look up at them in awe because they are so amazing and each has its own stories to tell. Recently I enjoyed reading Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund. It is the first in her new Beacons of Hope Series. Before this one, I read her e-book prequel, Out of the Storm, which takes place on the same location, Presque Isle on Lake Huron.  

Love Unexpected is a poignant story of two people who marry for purely practical reasons.  Emma Chambers emigrated to America from Ireland with her family for a better life. Instead, she loses her mother and moves with her father and brother wherever the next job comes along. After losing her father, she and her brother Ryan are moving once again for the next job that may change their luck. It all seems promising until the steamboat they are traveling on is boarded by pirates and subsequently sunk.

Patrick, the lighthouse keeper is one of the men who rescue the survivors. Emma awakes after her rescue to find him and his young son burying his wife. The traveling preacher, Holy Bill watches Emma as she bonds with the child who strays from his father. His surprising proposal to Patrick and Emma starts their real story of a quick marriage of convenience. Emma wishes to stop being a burden to Ryan and has long dreamt of a home of her own. Patrick can't perform his duties as keeper of the lighthouse while caring for his young son. Can two people who marry within an hour of meeting build a strong marriage of love and respect? Do either have anything to hide under the privacy of a deserted lighthouse?  The answer lies between the pages of this book.

The story is well written and the characters will hook you right away. I confess I stayed up far too long in the evening to finish the book but it was worth it.  Love Unexpected is to be read, shared and discussed! 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reviewing Trading Secrets A Fun New Book for Teens

Trading SecretsTrading Secrets by Melody Carlson is a fun book for teens who enjoy Amish Fiction. Micah Knight is a teenager who has had a pen pal named Zach Miller. After corresponding for six years it is time for them to meet face to face so Micah invited him to spend Spring break with her and her father in Cleveland. There is only one hitch and it is a big one; he thinks Micah is a boy. She is going to break the news to him during his visit to her but Zach's father asked Zach to invite Micah to their farm to help with the spring planting. Now Micah wishes she had told him the truth when they began writing but she didn't want to lose his friendship.

Traveling to the Miler farm disguised as a boy was not easy and when she is found out, she is embarrassed to no end. She plans to leave more than once, only to turn back like a bad penny to spend yet another day under the Miller's roof and feeling less than welcome. Micah develops strong character as she matures during this long hard week. Although written for the teen category, I heartily recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good story set in Amish country.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm

Reading Christmas at Rose Hill Farm was like visiting family friends. The Lapps, Riehls and Zooks are famous in the circle of Amish families between the pages of Suzanne Woods Fisher's books. This book is set just before Christmas near Stoney Ridge Pennsylvania. Young Amos Lapp is soon to wed Bess Riehl. Amid preparations for the Wedding, Bess discovers an ancient rose left in a corner of the greenhouse of her late grandmother Bertha Riehl. Bess spent countless hours in the greenhouse as a girl beside her grandmother and good friend Billy Lapp.  Unable to identify this rose, a rose rustler from Penn State comes to the farm to look at the rose. A bigger surprise than the rose is the rustler who turns out to be Billy Lapp, who left the community abruptly four years ago, breaking Bess' heart as he left.

The study of the rose, this re-connection with Billy and upcoming wedding plans with a patient Amos in the middle leave Bess in a turmoil. Billy, in the meantime doesn't make it easy for her, making it clear he wants that rose identified so he can go back to his life among the English. He makes it clear that he has no plans to visit the Lapp farm or see his father and brothers. 

I learned a lot about roses in this story. I didn't know that there was as much research into the history of roses nor that there were so many details to account for. I have carried on the tradition of other perennials in my family so I can appreciate how important these studies must be.

I could add so many things to this review but I do not want to spoil anything in this poignant story. I will say that I have found another Christmas book that I will add to my Christmas traditions.  I truly enjoyed it.  I hope that Suzanne will continue to write about these lovable characters.

The Christmas Cat for Your Christmas Reading List

I recently read The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson for review. The story is about young Garrison Brown and his unlikely task of finding homes for his grandmother's six cats after she passes away.  The will is unconventional and there is strict criteria for each adoptive cat owner.
The Christmas Cat
While he is looking for new homes for the cats, Garrison stays at his Gram's home. He is severely allergic to cats and must wear a mask and keep his bedroom barricaded in order to be comfortable. The home has many memories for Garrison since he came to live with his grandmother after his parents died. It was only after Garrison left for college that she got her first cat to fill the void he left in the house.

The story is heartwarming as we meet the people who are connected by these cats.  From Ruby, the widow next door to the young and pretty Cara each has their own story as they touch Garrison and help him find his true calling.

This is a nice story for an afternoon by the fire with a cup of cocoa and a cat at your feet!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Surprised By Love by Julie Lessman in Review

I recently read an advanced copy of Surprised by Love, the third installment of The Heart of San Francisco Series by Julie Lessman.  I enjoyed getting more involved with the McClare family of San Francisco, California, circa 1904.

Surprised by Love, Heart of San Francisco Series #3   -     By: Julie Lessman
This book centers on 18-year-old Megan who is just returning after a year in Paris.  When she left home she was a chubby, four-eyed girl whose heart had been tromped on more than once by cruel classmates who saw only the outward shy Meg.  One in particular, Devin Caldwell her nemesis and chief taunter, is one who is bound to eat crow when he meets her again as a beautiful debutante.

Bram Hughes is ten years Meg's senior, a close family friend and attorney in Meg's uncle Logan's firm and Megan's closest friend and confidante.  She is hardly recognizable to him after growing into such a beauty poised with charm, confidence and sporting contact lenses, something else altogether new.

One of Meg's dreams is to become an attorney and she has accepted an internship offer at the District Attorney's office. It is during her second week on the job that Meg discovers that Devin Caldwell is the nephew of Andrew Turner, District Attorney.  He does not recognize Megs and has a bit of crow to eat once he finds the truth. Can she trust him to be who he says he is after years of tormenting her?

The book is a good study of character and forgiveness. Oh there is another romance in the story as well as the continuation of cleaning up the  Barbary Coast. It would spoil the fun if I shared it all but I hope I have teased you well enough to pick up a copy of the book  and get to know more about Megan and the McClare family. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reviewing At Bluebonnet Lake

I hear Bluebonnets are brilliant in Texas and after reading At Bluebonnet Lake I would love to see them firsthand in the spring.  Amanda  Cabot has a talent for getting us to read more into her characters. This book is no exception. Kate Sherwood is on track to make partner with Maddox and Associates, the Advertising and Consulting Agency where she worked. She lived and breathed her job and was never far from her phone or laptop.

Sally Fuller, Kate's grandmother has a desire to return to Texas to visit Rainbow's End, a Christian Resort she and her late husband Larry stayed at more than forty years ago.  When Sally recovers from a health scare with her heart, Kate is persuaded to spend a month at Bluebonnet Lake. A whole month away from the office with promises to check her messages frequently, Kate feels reluctant when she and Sally drive through the gates at Rainbow's End.

To Sally, it seems just like it did when she came with Grandpa Larry. To Kate, it seems like a deceptive ad campaign where the best kept secret was how it really looked. After checking in, they find a young man repairing one of the window screens.  Inside, the cabin has not television, no phone and definitely no internet connection for her laptop. Dread settles into Kate as she realizes that her promise to stay in touch with the office just may require a lot more creativity on her part.

When the handyman who fixed their screens joins their table at dinner, Kate suspects that the employees must sit with the guests for meals. There is much more to Greg than Kate realizes yet she can't put her finger on it. Joining Greg at the table is Roy Gordon who appeared to be the same age as Sally.  As fate would have it, Roy is attracted to Sally immediately.  Greg remains a mystery. He is between jobs, which worries Kate. He cares little about technology and the need to be connected 24/7 to their job like Kate.

The story is an old lesson on finding what is important in life with a little less predictability. I enjoyed the story and how the characters were developed. The small town with a broken down resort nearby will win you over. If you enjoy reading Amanda Cabot's books you won't be disappointed with At Bluebonnet Lake.   And....if you have read other books by Amanda, you will be rewarded when a carousel spotted between the pages.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Authenticity in Fiction

I love reading a good book and appreciate how wonderfully researched so many of our favorite authors are. When the setting of the book is in the 1800's and is not true to the era, it feels a bit out of sync. In a recent book I read the heroine comments on how unfair it is that men seemed to be allowed much more freedom in society than women. She reflected on the "gender" differences and what she would do if the could change things. Jane Austen, who more than once reflected on this topic, would have talked about the difficulties of her sex, meaning, of course, being a woman.
Another instance came from a book that was highly recommended to me. The heroine is frustrated when a young man she disagrees with tells her how he handles things...."How's that working out for you?"  From then on I decided there are too many well written books that I can spend my time reading.

I am not a writer, have never published any works but when I read them, I want a well written book to read. I am at risk right now of slighting the punctuation experts but I want to visualize the setting, meet the characters and enjoy the author's story.  I don't want to read slang that is not relative to the setting of the book.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Along the Journey

As we go along through the seasons, it is good to look back at pictures in order to find out where we want to go next time around. Every spring we have the loftiest plans for our back yard and every fall I think of what I haven't accomplished. Is it because I lose my way or run or find my ambitions were just to big?

Spring brings me energy that restores me to creative ideas. Fall brings me the promise of a new season of gratitude for what I have.  When I see the colors that dress my trees right now I know that I am part of something glorious.  The news can intrude into our homes by television, radio and the internet but one step outside and that all seems so far away.

My family and my home is my haven. It is imperfect but it is ours, incomparable to other's and I wouldn't trade it for anything. With a grateful heart and love for God's seasons, let this fall be the beginning of a wonderful time for Thanksgiving!