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!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Promise To Protect is One Book to Read!

What happens when a man encounters the one woman he can't get out of his mind suddenly becomes an unwilling victim he is sworn to protect? When Acting Sheriff Ben Logan gets  a call from Dr. Leigh Somerall his life is turned upside down and into a nightmare that he fights to wake up from.  Promise To Protect by Patricia Bradley is a book I have no hesitation to recommend.

Ben agrees to meet Leigh's brother Tony Jackson at a Memphis hotel only to find him on the floor dying from a gunshot wound. In his last breath, Tony asks Ben to protect Leigh. Protect her from what? Tony had information for Ben about a crime he stumbled onto. He also had information on who shot Ben's dad, Sheriff Tom Logan. Tom was still recuperating at home after suffering from a stroke after his accident. The case is still  unsolved. Now this murder and the need to find Leigh and tell her that her only living relative has been killed.

The last person Leigh Somerall wanted to see is Ben Logan. She loved him ten years ago but abruptly left town without telling him why. Only Ben's father Tom knows the reason. She returned to Logan Point with her son T.J. only to fulfill a contract at Bradford General Hospital that would pay off her student loan.  She and her son lived with her brother at the home of her late grandmother. The home she lived in as a girl after her parents both died.

Ben let her know about Tony's wish for her to be protected but she balked at the idea until the house catches fire and someone takes a shot at them in the morning. Unwittingly, she is the target of someone who believes she has something Tony was hiding. As the story goes on, more threats and attempts are made on her life and the life of her son.

Why is Leigh a target and why do they think she has what they are looking for?  She has a secret of her own and wants the case solved so she can remove her son from Logan Point. Along the way other hidden crimes are discovered that link together the truth. The characters are engaging and Patricia Bradley is a master story teller of suspense and action. I stayed up way too late to finish this book but it was worth it. To solve the mystery, pick up a copy and read this book!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Becoming Bea A Hit for Leslie Gould

Becoming Bea, fourth in The Courtship of Lancaster County series is the wonderful story of Beatrice Zook. She a young girl who grows up quickly when she begins to live with purpose. After her father's death and her mother's surgery for a benign brain tumor, Bea's older sister Molly the assumed role of parent.  Their farm thrives with a flower growing business that Molly and her husband manage and Bea manages the homemaking duties. Bea likes to stay home and could be content to live her life just as it is with no changes.  All this is well and good until a bombshell is dropped and she learns her family is traveling to Montana where her brother-in-law is from. Bea, being Bea, doesn't want to go along. She needs to find a reason to stay home and that reason becomes a job taking care of Bob and Nan Miller's premature triplets. With no experience in caring for newborns save the strong desire to avoid traveling to Montana, Bea embarks on a job that becomes for her, a life changing event.

Bea thrives at the Millers and soon learns to work with confidence and care. She grows into a patient young woman who learns to put the needs of others before herself. The book is an endearing story of how this young woman comes into herself and learns important lessons on life and love. I truly enjoyed this book and have been tempted to tell the story but it isn't mine tell, only to share.

I have read Courting Cate, book one in the Courtship of Lancaster County series and it is also very good. I like having characters continue in a series.  Leslie Gould has a knack for developing strong, lovable heroines to her books. I eagerly await a trip to the book store for the other two books in the series.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thunder in Review!

I recently finished reading Thunder, Book 1 of the Stone Braide Chronicles by Bonnie S Calhoun and published by Revell. Reading this book was a step out of the box for me, a gal who doesn't read books of a futuristic, science fiction genre. I am glad, however, that I chose to read this book on my quiet weekend retreat at our cabin. What a story! First off, download the prequel, Tremors:

Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles)
I was hooked right away. I love history and to see what follows is intriguing. The story takes place after a time of great sorrows when the world is left in rubble and people are struggling for their livelihoods.  As time passes, many lessons have been learned. Sometimes even with great changes things will remain the same.

The main characters, Selah and Bodhi are thrust together in an unlikely turn of events and learn to trust each other in order to complete a quest that is unthinkable. Can they beat the sinister evil that lurks beneath the mountain?

Bodhi, is a Lander, and was caught by Selah, only to be stolen by their brothers who plan to take him to the mountain and sell him as a slave. Selah follows them on the journey out of spite to reclaim her captive. She is tired of her brothers showing her up and taking her Lander pushed her to take a journey that opened ways that stretched her farther than she ever imagined.

She had awakened the following day, her 18th birthday with a mysterious mark on her chest. Her mother told her she must flee her home for her protection in order to avoid being the hunted instead of the huntress!  The mark on her chest is the same as the mark on the side of  Bodhi's head, the mark of a Lander!

Who she meets and how she fares on her journey are worth taking up a copy of this book to discover on your own. I don't want to share any spoilers!  In the end, you will be waiting for the next book, Lightening, due out in the fall of 2015!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sewing Memories

I remember seeing this book at home when I was a little girl. I wanted to be the little girl in the picture, sewing industriously. The book was published in 1958 under the supervision of Singer Sewing Machine Company.

The illustrations were done by Catherine Scholz, who has several children's books to her credit. Her style is unique to an era where we wore dresses every day. Aprons were commonplace and the more the merrier. My mother favored the old cobbler style apron, preferring all over protection from flying flour or spatters.

When it came time for my first Home Economics class, I hoped we wouldn't make an apron. I didn't want to have one made from organdy; it seemed to impractical. My teacher, a venerable Franciscan nun decided to let us make a purse instead. I made mine from corduroy and lined it with half inch gingham check. That purse was a workhorse that took abuse all through high school.

Over the years I have made so many things and still have many more things I want to create. I started sitting by my mother's sewing machine at a young age and watched her mend our clothes or create new dresses. She turned my brother's collars when they began to show wear. Thrift was practiced and it is amazing how resourceful you can be when you sew. I am in the process once again of cleaning and purging in my sewing room/office. Much is to be done so I can relax and start sewing for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sinister and Suspenseful! A Review of Deceived by Irene Hannon

I was blessed to get an advance copy of Deceived by Irene Hannon to review from Revell Publishing. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the story and had a hard time putting it down. The story was compelling the characters very real.

DeceivedThe death of a child is one of a mother's worst nightmares. To lose a child and a husband in a freak boating accident is more than I can fathom.  After suffering this loss and learning to cope,  Kate Marshall picks up her life and moves from New York to St. Louis.  Fast forward three years, we meet her at the mall, an odd setting for someone who does not enjoy shopping! It is when she is riding down the escalator that she hears a small voice asking about getting a poppysicle that she whips around to see a young boy who looks like Kevin the son she lost in that horrible accident.  She scrambles down through the crowd and pushes herself up the escalator trying to catch up with the boy being ushered into the upper level by a man wearing a baseball cap, slung low on his forehead.  She loses them but not before she is totally shaken.

She talks to Mall Security and to the St. Louis Police who are not convinced the boy is her son and that she is merely distraught. She buried her husband but no body was ever found of her son Kevin. Nearly convinced she is mistaken she goes forward and hires Phoenix Inc.,( a Private Eye group with men who hold credentials as a former undercover A.T.F. agent, former Secret Service man and a former Police Detective) with the hope of putting it to rest once and for all.  She meets handsome Connor Sullivan, the former Secret Service man and the PI who plans on looking into the matter. After the doubts of the mall security and the police she is hesitant to discuss the matter with Connor. Quickly putting her at ease with respect and dignity she begins the story that takes them both on a journey worthy of the reader investing hours in a good novel.  I cannot share anything else or it would ruin the carefully crafted suspense in the book except recommend that you read Deceived and discover for yourself  how the story ends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer A Heartwarming Story!

I am a champion of younger sisters, being number 9 in a family of 11 children, I was that younger sister. In Playing by Heart, Anne Mateer has captured many feelings I had growing up under the discerning eyes of older siblings who were inclined to give me advice on what I should do. I love them dearly, but as with our heroine, Lulu Bowman, sometimes you just wish they would let you get on with what you really want to do with your life. Or at least, think you want to do.

 Lulu earned the prestigious Donnally Mathematics Award, the first time the award was won by a woman. This award granted her a teaching job and tuition while she did graduate studies. Pulled back to Dunn after the untimely death of her brother-in-law, her oldest siblings decide she will give up Donnally Award and teaching at the college to support her widowed sister Jewel with her five children.

Set during World War I, our story settles on Lulu and Chet Vaughn, a handsome young teacher at the high school in Dunn Oklahoma. Both Lulu and Chet are living their lives to please others. Neither Chet nor Lulu have intentions to marry. Strict conduct rules were enforced, mostly against the women teachers of the day and Lulu was determined to abide by them.  An unlikely friendship begins when Lulu gets a job as the Music Teacher under condition of coaching the girls basketball team!

Chet has remained in Dunn to live with his mother while his brother is off fighting the war in Europe. Chet has a difficult time living with his mother but finds refuge in his faith and in coaching the boys basketball team.  He is a champion for his students and works hard both in the classroom and on the basketball court to encourage his students to graduate from high school.

The story is filled with rich characters who lived in a very different time than young teachers today.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, the people and the glimpse the early days of  basketball. I didn't realize the game was played by girls back then. I can only imagine the girls on our local high school teams going back in time and wearing such cumbersome uniforms!   If I were in a book club, this would be a selection; there are questions on Anne Mateer's website to start a good discussion!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love's Fortune in Review

aside-lovesfortune2When I finished reading Love's Fortune, I wanted to learn more about the heroine, Rowena Ballantyne's life beyond the life between the covers. I fell in love with Wren, as she is called by her father and those closest to her. Laura Frantz really hit the mark in finding the balance between love and the innocence of a young woman raised simply in Kentucky who rises to the heights of a debutante making her debut in the high society of Pennsylvania.

Raised by her father following her mother's death, Wren follows her parents with her gift of music. She is content with her life at home with her father who handcrafted beautiful violins and was taken completely surprised when a letter arrives from grandfather Ballantyne summoning him home to Pennsylvania where he is needed.  Soon thereafter, she is on a river boat piloted by handsome and mysterious James Sackett, a handsome man who is much more than pilot of a riverboat.

With vague memories of her father's family from her early childhood Wren finds it disconcerting to be so suddenly thrust into this new life. Her grandparents are lovely, but her spinster aunt Andra finds fault with everything about Wren. When her father must travel to manage business affairs for her grandfather, he leaves her in the care of Andra, who he believes has Wren's best interests at heart.

An engagement, an untimely death, a disconcerting escort for the "season" and uncertainty about when she will see her father again make life difficult for Rowena. She must prepare for the season with  the fittings for gowns and lessons on becoming a lady. Wren is a spunky individualist though and successfully carries out part of the season in her own way.

Here is a peek at getting the cover art done and a few words from Laura Frantz:

I enjoyed the book and spent many hours reading it over our Labor-Day weekend travels. The story had many heartwarming sub-stories interwoven seamlessly within the book. Also, given the year of 1850 when Wren makes her way to Pennsylvania there are the Abolitionist sympathizers who smuggle travelers to the Underground Railway.  Adventure, romance and a strong faith make this book a good read!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Amazing Story of Resilience: A Light In The Wilderness

Cover Art
I just finished reading A Light In the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick. I am interested in the great westward migration of our country through the Oregon Trail and inspired by the grit and courage of all who left so much behind to face the unknown. The journey exacted a toll on men, women and children of all ages. This alone usually gives me pause but consider the danger a free black woman making the trek with a white man.  Our heroine, 26-year-old Letitia is a former slave who carries her freedom papers with her at all times in order to prove to the slave patrols that she is not a runaway. Meet Letitia in this video:

 Letitia first met Davey Carson, a red-headed Irishman when she wanted to buy a cow and needed a white man to make the purchase for her. In her situation she could never buy a cow let alone own property.  Trusting him to be an honest man she goes back to see him when she needed a place to stay after being left behind by her former employer for the Oregon Trail. Davey and Letitia become close enough to forge a forbidden relationship and decide to marry albeit illegally, saying vows over the bible. She would not let Davey live as her husband without those vows.

She is a skilled midwife and meets her lifelong friend Nancy Hawkins when Nancy's son knocks on the door to ask Letitia for her services. Nancy's family doesn't see the color of Letitia's skin and when both families are planning the trip to Oregon Territory, they will travel together. Nancy is our second strong woman character in this story.  Nancy doesn't look forward to this move but the love of her husband, who wants to start a new life in Oregon compels her to agree to leave her home and most of her belongings behind.  

Married in the eyes of God but not of man, Tish wants a guarantee that Davey will take care of her and that he will acknowledge her and their children in the event that something happens to him on the trail. A black woman who had so much to lose if he died needed this protection. After many reminders and arguments, Davey brought her a document that he signed, giving her the satisfaction she needed to make the long journey in 1845 as his wife. Wife in name only of course since neither could acknowledge this. She was posing as his employee, his pregnant slave by all appearances. She took her freedom papers and put them with his contract in the bottom of the wooden flour barrel for safe keeping. These papers meant the world to Letitia and she could not afford to have them lost or stolen.

Our third strong woman was Betsy, a Kalapuya Indian woman who is raising her grandson Little Shoot and teaching him the ways of her people so that the ways of their people will carry on in a time when there are few left. Betsy, who speaks English is a guiding force in Oregon for Letitia, teaching her about plants, wildlife and even facts about weather important to new settlers.  Her friendship is also an important part of Letitia's life.  Betsy could move to the reservation with her people but her friendship for Letitia keeps her at Soap Springs near the homestead.

When the trip is over and life begins anew in Oregon, the pioneers adjust to many things, not the least of them is a life without some of their loved ones. I don't want to spoil the details of this good book and invite you to take this journey along with the Carsons. I have read several books about the Oregon Trail and I still don't know how the men and women endured this journey but the faith played a major role in carrying them along. 

In the back of the book the author included great references for further reading. I particularly enjoyed seeing a listing for a Facebook page called: Friends of Letitia Carson. You can see wonderful drawings of some of the locations 
on the trip such as Oregon City, the Dalles before the dam was built and many copies of deeds. 
I have read one other story by Jane, the novella A Saving Grace from  Sincerely Yours: A Novella Collection that debuted April 1, 2014. I recommend this collection too.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nowhere To Turn Is A Page Turner!

For Danielle Harding, life is a roller coaster of emotions as she carefully plans how to escape from her abusive husband with their eleven-year-old son. Her husband, an FBI agent swept her off her feet but her dreams became a nightmare no woman should have to endure. Every turn she makes there is a roadblock. She connects with Operation Refuge where she meets Adam Buchanan, her guiding force in a journey that takes her from a terrible life to the dregs of an impossible world full of danger.

Packing up to leave, she clears out her husband's safe only to have her brother-in-law show up at her door to retrieve something Kurt, her husband left behind. What follows is a trail of wonder as we learn that Kurt has been killed, and his killer is looking for what was left in that safe. Nowhere To Turn by Lynette Eason is a suspenseful page turner that had me guessing on the edge of my seat until the end. The surprising twists to the plot weaves us into so many surprising scenarios that I wasn't sure who to trust or where Dani and her son Simon could find shelter.

If you like a good mystery that is well written and full of surprises read Nowhere To Turn because the book lives up to its title. It is the second book in Lynette's Hidden Identity Series. The first book, No One To Trust is another good suspense novel.  There are too many spoilers so I recommend you simply get the book, turn off the phone and settle into a reading weekend.