Friday, July 18, 2014

Reviewing Love Comes Home

Love Comes Home is the second book by Ann Gabhart that I have read this year. I love how she takes you back to ways of life that are forgotten or unimaginable by our young people today. Love Comes Home is the third book in the Rosey Corner series. It is set after World War II when the world anxiously waits to welcome home their soldiers. The Merritt sisters are going to breathe again when two or their three men return to adjust to life after the war.

For Kate, who married just before her husband Jay went overseas it would be a test on whether she married in haste. For Evie, whose husband, Preacher Mike was a prisoner of war, life should go on as though the war didn't exist. Or did it? For Tori the return of her sisters' husbands is a reminder that her Sammy will not be returning. Can she give her daughter Samantha a good life and honor her husband's memory? Can she learn to let go and love again?

Lorena Birdsong, beloved youngest sister, left on the church steps until found by Kate has given much joy in the Merritt family. She is a favorite and wise beyond her fourteen years. Still, she longs to know what happened to her other family. I feel she is central to the family with all the bridges she built between the community, her family and intriguing characters that make small towns buzz with lazy Love Comes Homeexcitement.

I like the story for the rich character development and moments of surprise as the story grows. In the midst of it all we find God's love and faithfulness in the heart of Rosey Corner. We hear about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome today but it wasn't considered out loud in the 40's or 50's. Men didn't share their burdens of war and adjusting to the sights and sounds of home must have taken a lot of patience and love on the part of those welcoming loved ones home.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys studying people and the insight it brings. The story is not a mystery but I don't want to spoil a thing about Ann's tale of love, patience and faith. I am inspired to look at people more closely and see who they really are. Thank you Ann Gabhart for a delightful book.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Highlight of a Direct Sales Business~Conference!

I was beyond excited for my upcoming Thirty-One Conference in Denver Colorado last week! Five women from our team attended together and Denver was painted pink and coral and turquoise! There were more women than you can count and we all carried cute bags and beamed with excitement.

As our trip drew closer we planned our hair, our nails and our accessories so we'd look our coordinated best for three and one half days and one evening awards banquet!

 Color is hot this year. Forget about neutrals and go for broke with the bright hues that best suit your coloring. I love how bright things are in the summer and these looks work so well with our products. Thoughts like this flowed through my mind as I shopped to fill in the gaps to my wardrobe for the trip.  My bags were a big part of the plan so planning ahead made it easier.

For cool nights this look goes great with the Citrus Medallion Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote. It holds all your essentials and keeps you organized with seven pockets that can make going from the mall to the grocers in style!

I love my Thirty-One business and all the opportunity and satisfaction I have in a job well done selling products I can really use!

As I reflect on my conference experience, I smile just thinking of the variety of styles and color! Many of us carried bags that were identical except  for the prints or personalization. It was fun to see how our bags looked on  other women!

In the end I learned a lot, met some wonderful people, ate well and explored Denver with gusto. I am so thankful for the experience and the camaraderie.  I also dressed comfortably and discarded lofty plans of perfect outfits and went for thirty-one t-shirts and comfortable Capris. I dressed up for the Awards dinner and felt great glamming it up for this big night. That extra room in my suitcase after leaving unnecessary clothes at home? Naturally I filled it with goodies I received and products I bought at the conference store! Now that was worth it!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Finally Available! The Revealing by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I have been reading Suzanne Woods Fisher for some time now and this conclusion to the Inn at Eagle Hill series is bittersweet for me. I'm hooked on the people of Stoney Ridge nestled between the covers of these books. The series has been full of mysteries, some more subtle than others but Suzanne has tied all loose ends up. I hope there will be more stories from Stoney Ridge because I want to hear more about these lovable characters.  Each of them have rich stories waiting to be told.

The is full of life with the wonderful Schrock family. Widowed Rose Schrock  has her hands full with three lively children of her own along with her late husband's two older children Bethany and Tobe. Adding to the mix of course, is Vera, Rose's mother-in-law. 

Life is interesting enough at Eagle Hill with this large extended family, but it gets even better with a surprise visitor with a surprise that will shake their peaceful Amish family!

Eagle Hill is also a Bed and Breakfast and the latest guest is running from her past and seeking to find herself in this sleepy hamlet. Romance may be just what she needs. Is she too eager to fall for the handsome man at the coffee shop who hangs on every word she shares about the inn?

New neighbors move into the neighborhood adding just enough spice with a mischievous young boy who gives Mim a run for her money with pranks that never seem to stop. His father, recently widowed, notices Rose's many fine qualities. Will he be competition for Galen, her fiance?

Love, intrigue and Amish values are wrapped up in this series and I hope you will pick up the series and start reading. Maybe it will slow things down for you as it has for me when I visit my friends across the pages!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lorn Seilstad Stirs Up a Hit!

While Love Stirs, the latest from Lorna Seilstad cooks up some little known history about Fannie Farmer. Our story unfolds in Saint Paul, Minnesota with our heroine, Charlotte Gregory is about to apply for a position in the kitchen of the Million-Dollar Hotel. She is a recent graduate of Miss Farmer's School of Cookery and can't wait to meet the chef, who no doubt will hire her on the spot.  It is 1910, an era where  special decorum was observed by young ladies entering hotels unescorted! When she finally has the chance to enter the kitchen, she is shocked by the unsanitary conditions and even more appalled at the arrogance of the chef who will, under no circumstance, have a woman working in his kitchen!  After a ruckus, she is tossed out and runs into a handsome young man with bottle green eyes....

She is soon causing a stir when she visits her sister at the hospital....and as fate often has it, Charlotte encounters this young man again, as the doctor who delivered her niece.  Hannah is eating a thin broth that barely has any nutrition for a young woman convalescing childbirth. On a mission to ensure patients are fed nutritious meals, she butts heads with Dr. Joel Brooks, who won't budge on menu plans. He is a controlling personality who seems to be set in his ways for someone so young.

Determined to find a job using her education, she enters a contest using the latest kitchen innovation, the gas range. She lands a job traveling around Minnesota by train, demonstrating how this marvelous stove can revolution the lives of the average housewife. She has colorful experiences with her traveling companions; a young singer named Lewis and her chaperone Molly, including being schedule in the midst of a strike against the gas company!

Through it all, she continually runs into Dr. Brooks, a man who she begins to understand is much more than a controlling personality. Just as she begins to understand him, he begins to see that she is more than a woman who surrounds herself with trouble and chaos. 

I liked this book because it is a lesson in why we need to take people with more than just what we initially perceive. How often do we just see one side of a story? While Dr. Brooks seems aloof to better nutrition for patients, there is another side to his story that reveals his personality. We may see Charlotte as impatient for change, we learn what motivates her. Can these two stop long enough to see what the other person is truly about? Read While Love Stirs and find out. This second volume in the Gregory Sister's series leaves me ready to search for book one...When Love Calls....coming soon to my library.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Take a Chance on One More Last Chance! lot of people go to college with the express idea of getting out of town and looking for a new life that is more exciting than their home town. For Sarah Cooley coming home to Last Chance, New Mexico has always been her plan. Last Chance never changes and that is exactly why she wanted to come home and teach school like her grandmother before her.  Sarah left behind a broken relationship with her college sweetheart who wanted to live the high life with his upward climb to success.

Chris Reed bought the Dip 'n Dine, Last Chance's favorite, only restaurant. He has big plans to serve foods that will put the restaurant on the map as a dining destination. His cook and waitress balk at any changes to the Dip 'n Dine and so it appears do the townspeople who want things to stay the same.

Sarah, who missed everything about home, resents Chris for wanting to make any changes to the menu.  Her plan is to come to the Dip 'n Dine every day for a week so she can order each daily special.  Chris is stunned when he sees Sarah, struck by the old fashioned lightening bolt of attraction.

Everyone has baggage and for Sarah, Brandon and his big plans for their life together in Chicago. She doesn't want to leave Last Chance. Nor does she want to feel the control he wants to have on their life with every minute planned his way.

Chris has Kaitlyn, his younger sister that he cared for and protected most of his life. A single mother who looks for the fun and love she missed out on in life, she often leaves her daughter Olivia alone. She comes to Last Chance and leaves Olivia with Chris. Misguided, she heads out on a trip that promises everything she missed out on by being stuck as a single mom.

Learning about the true nature of those we encounter is often a surprise. Whether we are looking for the promise of a better life or the comfort of a familiar life with no upheaval there is a higher plan. Whether we see that and embrace it is important. Life is full of lessons and One More Last Chance is a good story that one can relate to as most of us have similar people in our own lives. Cathleen Armstrong has a gift for creating characters who are believable, endearing and frustrating! I am eager to read more of her books.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Second Hand Killer.....Fatal Exchange!

I am lucky that I received a copy of Fatal Exchange to review this month. I love suspense and mystery and this book kept me guessing. One minute I thought  I had it solved only to have yet another layer to the plot that surprised me.,204,203,200_.jpgRafael Cerda is a young man attending a private school on a scholarship after pulling himself out of the pit of poverty that comes often in single parent families. His father passed away from a drug overdose and his mother works in a laundry and Rafael delivers papers and does odd jobs to help out the family. He participates in a Big Brother Program that has had an impact on a life that could have gone south in a drug ridden neighborhood. His younger brother Eduardo has had the benefit of all this hard work but missed the hard working gene, preferring to be a dealer instead. Enter the cartel leaders he owes money to and you have a drug deal about to go as sour as it can get.

Mason Taylor, handsome undercover cop who volunteers at the Big Brother Program is part of the positive influence on Rafael Cerda's life. Mason is beset with his own issues to deal with, coming off the death of his partner Michael Hunt and the imminent death of his own long absent father. Blamed by Michael's family for his death, Mason has a lot to prove in clearing his name and setting things right with the Hunt family.

Emily Hunt is Rafael's teacher and youngest daughter of the Hunt family. She didn't join the family business as a cop, choosing instead to make an impact on students' lives. All seems to be right in her world when she is met by Mason with the news that he was looking for Rafael. Unable to connect the dots with him on this urgent need to connect with Rafael, he shows her pictures he received in a text from Rafael: Eduardo is shown beaten with threats to kill him if ransom isn't met!

A race begins to find Rafael so they can save Eduardo and prevent the loss of another member of the Cerda family to drugs. However, something happens to switch things up with Eduardo and Rafael. Rafael enters the classroom with a gun and hold the entire class hostage. Emily is left to try to keep her students calm, but how long can she keep it cool when one of the girls, an asthmatic, begins to have severe problems breathing. Will Rafael back down?  Emily is a courageous woman who fights for the safety of her students; the hostages and the hostage taker.

What follows could be spoilers to a well crafted plot so I am not going to share spoilers. I will say though, that this is a good read for anyone who likes a mystery! This is my first experience with Lisa Harris' writing and I plan to look for more. I like a book that challenges my crime solving abilities, albeit wishful thinking, to keep my mind going. This is the second book in her Southern Crimes Series, so I will be looking for Dangerous Passage to get the full series in before book three comes out in 2015.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Add This to Your Vacation Reading List

Cover Art
One Perfect Spring is a story that will win you over and tug at your emotions. This is my first experience reading anything written by  Irene Hannon and I am glad to say it won't be my last
Life lessons make for good stories and it is much safer to read about it in an arm chair than pass the test of our older and wiser peers. Keith Watson is a young man who is going places fast. His boss, David McMillan sees Keith as he himself once was; too busy for the things that matter the most: a wife and children to enjoy living life with. He brought the philanthropy side of his firm, McMillan Charitable Foundation in-house and assigned Keith to manage its day to day operations. Perhaps seeing something bigger than himself would put life into perspective for Keith.  David's wife had died a few years before leaving David to realize how much he missed by putting his work before his family. His daughter Debbie is still bitter about having a father who was always to busy for her recitals or to spend time as a family.

As the story opens we read a letter from 11-year old Haley, asking the foundation's help finding her neighbors child who was given up for adoption more than twenty years ago. As the letter goes, Dr. Chandler has been undergoing treatment for cancer and Haley want to reunite mother and son as a birthday gift. Keith tackles the challenge of finding Maureen Chandler's son with little to go on except where a private detective left the trail cold.

As the story continues life unfolds for Haley, her mother Claire, Keith, Maureen and David. All have a story to share. Anger, regret and forgiveness play a large role in this story; themes that are commonplace in human nature. It is what happens next that makes the best story and helps us understand how lives get so complicated in the first place. I did have my hankie nearby but it was worth it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reviewing....What Follows After...Suspensefully Good Story!

What Follows After, by Dan Walsh is a novel with enough suspense to keep you turning those pages. Set in 1962, it is about the perfect dysfunctional family, but '60s style.  The story coincides with the Cuban Missile Crisis, a scary memory from my childhood.

Back in the days of black and white television broadcasts and neighbors building fallout shelters our seemingly simple lifestyles were just as stressful as they are today.  Husbands went to work to get ahead and the wives stayed at home and raised the children in most households. In the case of Scott and Ginny Harrison, they had been secretly separated for a year but kept it a secret from all but their two children, Colt and Timmy. For holidays and birthdays they kept up the charade, meeting up and driving to family gatherings in the same car.  This all came of Ginny walking in on Scott kissing, or so she "saw" one of the young secretaries at a Christmas party. No amount of explanations that followed could salvage the marriage.

 Ginny had had enough of deceiving the families; she was ready to move one. The boys had enough. The boys though, came up with the best plan to resolve the issue....leave their Florida home and go to their favorite aunt and uncle's home in Savannah, Georgia, alone on a bus. Things worked out great until Colt left Timmy for a few moments only to find him leaving with a stranger on another bus.

What follows is a heart wrenching nightmare no parent wants to face. This journey to find Timmy takes everyone into places they would have gladly avoided and forces them all to confront what went wrong in their lives. This story is full of the long shots in life that only faith and love can get us through. Will things turn out well? I cannot tell you without spoiling the story. I will say though, that Dan Walsh is very good at character development. I enjoyed reading this book and looked forward to each chapter...I hope you will too. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sincerely Yours....Four Times the Fun

I read a new volume of novellas titled Sincerely Yours written by Jane Kirkpatrick, Amanda Cabot, Laurie Alice Eakes and Ann Shorey.  I like the format of the novella; shorter than a novel but longer than a short story. The stories in this book have one thing in common: a letter received that can forever change the life of the one who receives it.

Moonlight Promise by Laurie Alice Eakes is about a young woman from England who lost her rank and fortune and came to America to begin a new life. America offers much at a time when the Erie Canal is about to open, offering a pathway to the unsettled west. Camilla, the heroine, misses her connection and is short on funds when she literally jumps aboard the Marianne, raising the ire of one Captain Nathaniel Black who'd just as soon toss her overboard than provide safe passage to find her friends. Raised as a lady with no skills to make her way, she is surprised at the gifts she receives on this ride to her new life. The captain is beset with troubles of his own as he fights to keep the Marianne and secure his future. He has no use for women and it is a wonder how he allowed Camilla to remain on board. The surprises do unfold though and there are twists that kept me turning pages until the end. 
Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey tells of M.M. Bentley, a marriage advice columnist applying for the weekly newspaper. The arrangement is a happy one until the columnist receives a letter from the editor who wants to meet Mr. Bentley and offer him a permanent assignment for the paper.  The letter was a dream come true for Marigold Montgomery Bentley, who is a young, single woman. Marigold (Merrie) quickly enlists her piano teacher, Colin Thackery to act as her husband, so that she can keep writing for the paper. What follows is a warm hearted story of a time of calling cards, debutantes and balls. Ann Shorey is very good at writing about independent spirited young women, and Merrie is no exception.

One Little Word  by Amanda Cabot is a good story about mistaken identity and how sometimes first impressions can be misleading. Lorraine Caldwell, our heroine stands to lose her fortune if she misses a deadline for marriage and the only prospect is a man that makes her skin crawl. She receives her letter from her  brother, whom she feared dead asking her to come to him by train for some important news. She jumps at the chance to see him  and makes a hasty trip to Lilac Hall.  Lorraine is met at the station by one Jonah Mann, an English carousel artist.  I love historical fiction and this one gave me good insight  into carousels. Fictional Jonah trained under Charles Looff, the renowned carousel carver and creator of the carousel I have ridden on since childhood in Spokane Washington. I loved the history that is interspersed in this story. The next time I go downtown for a ride I plan to take a closer look at the horses he carved so lovingly.

A Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick is a story of friendship. Friendship stemming from the Dalles Oregon to a desolate health clinic on the Puget Sound of Washington State.  Grace Hathaway receives her letter from 8 year old Caroline asking Grace to find her mother, Grace's friend Rebecca. Rebecca was despondent after the drowning death of her husband and after a time, she entered a secluded sanatorium  run by Dr. Linda Hazzard. Dr. Hazzard and her husband offer special treatments that promise to restore health.  Grace intends to visit Rebecca and have her come back to Oregon with her.  Grace meets Mr. Milliken at her hotel and discovers he is surrounded by mystery and a connection to the Sanatorium. This is a story of bittersweet courage on Grace's part in persisting in the challenge of helping her friend Rebecca find her way back to Caroline. After reading this story I looked up Dr. Linda Hazzard and her clinic in Olalla Washington. I am always amazed to learn of things that happened in our state long ago that seem like they couldn't happen but did happen.

I look forward to reading more books by each of these authors.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In the Shadow of Jezebel...A Plot of Biblical Proportions!

What lies In the Shadow of Jezebel by Mesu Andrews for me is a memory of Lady Macbeth and all her treacherous plots to move her husband to the to the top of the game of leadership. A woman so cunning she would risk everyone she purports to love.  Queen Athalia is the daughter of Jezebel and a high priestess of Baal. Her husband becomes king by her hand in plots of murder and formidable use of dark arts.

In the Shadow of JezebelAthalia favors her Stepdaughter Jehosheba and wishes for her to become a great high priestess. Her rigorous training to live the celibate life as priestess to Baal is an honor to Sheba and perhaps the way to win the queen's love. The skills she has learned are the one thing she is certain of in her life. The queen's mother love is mixed with abuse enough to scare the young princess and cause her to doubt any true love or to trust that she can be loved.

Bargained off in marriage to the High Priest of Judah, Sheba feels abandonment from her father. She is separated also from her beloved brother Ahazia. She is stripped of her right to succeed the queen into the role of a pagan high priest. She learns to see her world from a very different perspective, however, as she keeps her husband's marital conditions to serve the one true God of Judah and no other.

She is unprepared for marriage and for living in the temple of Judah where she must give up servants and luxuries that she is used to. Her husband, Jehoida is far different than anyone she has met in her life. He is kind, protective and he is true to his word. His faith in Yahweh is unshakeable no matter the events in an evil world that surrounded his temple and the life he and Sheba lived.

The story has all the elements of a thrilling tale of modern fantasy yet it occurs in the Old Testament of the Bible about people who descend from David's line. Mesu Andrews has brought this story to life for me. There are so many things I could speak to yet the story is not one I wish to spoil. I haven't read this author's work before but plan to look for more in the future.