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!

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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Bride in Store Is A Treat In Store!

I finished reading A Bride In Store by Melissa Jagears last week. I fully intended to take it to the lake for a little Labor Day weekend reading but once I started I just kept going. I got involved with Eliza Cantrell, the heroine immediately. Many young women traveled west as a mail-order brides but Eliza was not seeking romance. She was a woman who possessed rare business acumen in a man's world. Her father ran a successful mercantile in Pennsylvania and she was behind the counter by the age of nine. When her father died he left the business to Eliza's brother who rejected her help in the store and settled cash on her instead.  

Looking for a new start and a chance to have her own store, she placed an ad offering herself as a mail-order bride. Axel Langston, part owner of the Men's Emporium in Salt Flatts Kansas answered the ad and following a period of correspondence she headed out west by train.  The train was robbed and as a reluctant victim the bandit injured her face and took all of her money.

Arriving in Salt Flatts, she meets Will Stanton, a would-be doctor who is enlisted to stitch up her injured cheek. She soon discovers he is part owner of the Men's Emporium. Her intended is nowhere to be found but she is determined and begins right away working in the store.  She and Will share a rocky start as she learns his business skills are weak and he is anxious for his partner to return. Axel never mentioned a bride, didn't let on when he would return and word is traveling that there is a new single woman in town.  
Will begins to see Eliza not as the plain woman she believes she is but as a striking woman who has soft skin and beautiful eyes. She begins to see what a gentle, caring man he is and begins to wish the absent Axel would get back to town so she can quit thinking about Will. 

Eliza dresses like a plain woman dressed in black yet she can sell things to men they didn't realize they needed. She wants to implement F.W. Woolworth's style of business on the store to fulfill her dream of owning a successful store. Marriage to the missing Axel Langston will provide the link to this dream. When Axel finally returns, she discovers a secret at the altar that changes her plans altogether. 

The story unfolds in 1881, a time when women were supposed to be home having babies and building a livelihood alongside their husbands.  I liked the determination of Eliza Cantrell to live her dream while making changes to her life that enabled her to become who she was meant to be. Beauty is in the eye of the holder and as she learns of her own true beauty, she blooms into a woman whose rarity goes beyond her natural affinity for business. I recommend this book to all who love reading a good story about pioneers in the west. With this glimpse into the past, I appreciate those who came before me.  A special thanks to Melissa Jagears for this complimentary copy of this book to review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Deb Proof Living.....How to Get Out of Debt and Stay That Way

I received a copy of Debt-Proof Living: How to Get Out of Debt and Stay That Way by Mary Hunt from Revell Publishers to review this month. It is a very informative book that was updated this year from the 1999 version. It is hard to believe but our world has changed so much in these few short years. More people, more debt, more toys and so many things that are designed to be thrown away make increasing demands on our incomes. The average college graduate is so encumbered with debt by the time they hit the work force it is difficult to picture all those student loans paid off.

Making more money is not just the answer. It is finding strategies to manage what we already have.  This book is worth reading to find solid answers to this dilemma. Learning how to rapidly pay off your debts and how much to save are tools that everyone would benefit from when they start spending money. I recommend this book as a gift for the high school graduate. As we make changes in our spending  habits we do have to determine what strategies one can live with. The most important step is taking that first step in assessing how the money is spent and the necessity of those changes!

After reading the book I checked out Mary Hunt's Everyday Cheapskate blog! It has some great ideas: 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Miracle In A Dry Season in Review

I just finished my review copy of Miracle In A Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas this afternoon. In the quiet of a hot summer day what better plan than to finish a book I could barely put down only a day ago.  I am at that point every reader is at when a good book is finished and there is not another to take its place.

PhotoThe story is set in 1954 in Wise, West Virginia. It is a small town with only one grocer, a place the town gathers for coffee and gossip. Robert and Delilah Thornton owners of the store have taken in their niece Perla Long, the young unwed mother of Sadie. The times are vastly different in 1954, a time when morals ran higher than one expects today when seemingly anything goes.  The town is suspicious of Perla who arouses curiosity as she cooks like a dream with a few simple ingredients.

Take Casewell Phillips, a youngish single man who accepts Delilah and Robert's invitation for Sunday dinner after meeting Perla at church. He isn't sure what to make of her situation but enjoys the finest pork roast he's ever eaten and isn't sure just how to thank her. He is taken with Sadie and  decides the thank you will be in the form of furniture for her doll.  He isn't looking for a relationship with Perla; after all, she is considered damaged goods and he couldn't think how any man could raise a daughter born out of wedlock.  Yet there is something about Perla that captivates Casewell and he can't get his mind off her gentle ways, her sweet Sadie and of course, her cooking!

The story weaves its way through these central characters to Casewell's harsh father John and his loving mother Emily. Pastor Longbourne, a stereotypical southern minister with a penchant for loud blustery sermons is a man without compassion or wisdom. The Talbot sisters, Liza and Angie, twins who both loved the same man have secrets that are waiting to come out into the open.

The town thrives with the same routine and stories until that dry summer that brought the drought. Wells dried up, crops failed and cattle were destroyed before they could die from lack of food and water. The drought brought out many things human nature tries to sweep under a rug. Tempers flared, people grew hungry and remembered the Great Depression of the 1930's. Perla, gifted cook that she was, fed the community with resources pooled together. Soon enough though, and with help fueled by an unlikely source, suspicions gave way to fear and mistrust and what unfolds can break the spirit if one is without faith.  

Without spoiling a wonderful story, the lessons learned are lessons from times long ago and yet ageless. The author has cast her characters in a way that could have walked off the streets in my own hometown in 1954 and shown their humanity, failings and grace. This story stirred my heart and I am looking forward to reading more books by Sarah Loudin Thomas.  Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to read and review this book!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cate Kincaid...Assistant Private Investigator!

Product DetailsDeath Takes a Ride is the first book I read by Lorena McCourtney and it won't be the last. I enjoyed meeting Cate and the cast of misfits in this fun mystery filled with quirks, love and the surprise finale. I changed my mind a few time on who the real killer was in the story and that is always a good thing for the mystery reader.

Cate Kincaid, heroine and Assistant P.I. does a good turn for Shirley, an employee at H&B Motors whom she never met before by volunteering to pick her up and drive her to the Fit and Fabulous class at her church.  As she meets Shirley and gets ready to leave H&B, Shirley's bosses call her into the office to witness a signature. What follows is the sound of a gunshot and then another, and the beginnings of a trail of suspects between Eugene and Salem Oregon. 

Mitch Berenski, Cate's boyfriend would be happy if she chose a new career but gives her help and support as needed...such as a night in a biker bar to meet a key witness for the crime. Fists, purses and lots of words later, Mitch has a stiff body and a black eye. Mitch is an all around great guy that Cate would love to keep in her life.   One of the co-owners of H&B, Kane, also a victim in the shooting has an over sized dog named Clancy, who goes to stay with Mitch.  Mitch didn't mind as long as it was for one night only....but you can guess how that ends up.

I enjoyed this book for a vacation treat and in the spirit of travel, ride along with this book and see how many different bikes you can find. A special thank you for the opportunity to read a review copy of the e-book from Revell.

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 excitement.

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

PrintI 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!

Fatal ExchangeI 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.

Rafael 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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ann H Gabhart's Summer of Joy...A Novel

I read Summer of Joy by Ann H Gabhart while recovering recently from foot surgery. It kept me company as the days filled with ice and elevation grew long and lonely. I felt myself becoming one with the staff of the Hollyhill Banner, a weekly paper for the folks in the small town of Hollyhill, Kentucky. David Brooke is pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Church and newspaper editor. His daughter Jocie helps out at the paper while sister Tabitha is single mother to Stephen Lee, a bi-racial baby boy.

Gossip and speculation abound in the story but as David Brooke teaches his daughters you just have to put things out there and eventually any talk that may come will fade away. He knows this to be true from experience when his first wife walked out one night when Jocie was little.  Now, all these years later, David is ready to love again and marry Leigh, who is loved by both Jocie and Tabitha. Before this can happen though, we meet with some unexpected suspense in the story that will keep you turning pages!

 Small town life in the south during 1964 seems like a idyllic setting and that is not the case with Summer of Joy. For that matter, some of the story is not joyful at all but like all life there is a story here to be shared.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Whimsical Wednesday....

Fiebiger J'Adore Pink Ankle Strap Heels
The Open-Toe, Rupert Sanderson Suede Floria Stiletto Sandals, $825;    Read more: Spring Shoes for Women 2013 - Spring Heels Wedges Flats Booties  Follow us: @ElleMagazine on Twitter | ellemagazine on Facebook  Visit us at
I have been off from work for a week now recovering from foot surgery. I am now in touch with my inner being, read 4 books and looked at every category on Facebook and perused a lot of Pinterest Boards.  I have watched the entire season of Drop Dead Diva. I am only now pondering who will marry Jane or who will bring Marshmallow Pops for Easter...after all the choices for both are intriguing.

Flora Suede Point Toe Pump
I must say that I am ready to have my stitches out so I can get moving again. I told my doctor last week  that my goal for the surgery was NOT to wear stilettos. All in all there are some great looking shoes out there on Pinterest!

oh, this brings out the kid in me (which never really left anyway)  CAN YOU SAY Pumped up Kicks?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson

The Dream Dress is the third book in the christian romance series Weddings by Design by Janice Thompson. For every bride there is a dress; not just a dress but the dress.  Being a mom of two married daughters, I concur, the dress has to be the dress for each bride. Our story is about Gabi Delgado, a young woman living with her mother and grandmother in a house of unfulfilled dreams. Gabi is an independent woman who designs and sews her own creations by night and works in an alteration closet by day for one of the most renown designers in Texas. At the beginning of each chapter is a witty quote from Gabi's role model Ginger Rogers the famous dancer....who did everything in heels. Gabi works hard for everything she has and is determined one day to get her big break; in romance, as a famous designer and maybe as the owner of a car with both side mirrors firmly attached to a newer car.  In this romantic story our heroine finds that everywhere she turns she is asked to have a little faith. Gabi finds little of that in her heart, especially when it comes to love.  Will she be put off the handsome writer for Texas Bride? Will she ever get a break in her own designing career? How can she stand one more day working for someone who doesn't appreciate her work?  Janice Thompson shares the hopes and dreams of a young woman with little hope and lots of dreams. The story is humorous and touching but more importantly, it is a testament faith and how a bit goes a long way.  Pick up a copy and settle in for a relaxing good read.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Culture Clash: My Amish Boyfriend

Product DetailsShannon does not have it all but she does have goals for summer vacation that won't see her sitting idly by. Not bad goals for a girl of sixteen!  Life does take a turn in this story though and sometimes reality is harder to believe than fiction.  No matter how you plan  it seems that life often takes those unexpected turns.  Summer vacation has just begun and Shannon learns that her mother's parents are alive. Not only alive but they are Amish!  Shannon and her chronically ill mother are to take the bus to Ohio the very next morning so that her mother can get well again.  Hard to absorb this piece of news, it is harder yet when Shannon gets off the bus and waits for her uncle to pick them up in a horse and buggy.

As Shannon is adapting to living a plain life she is captivated by a young Amish man named Ezra who has all the looks and charms to sweep her off her feet. His smooth talking ways are sincere to Shannon, who has just met her first love. Is he truly in love with her?  Would he love her more if she converted to the Amish faith?  Would her mother's family accept her more too if she became one of them?

Her mother, Anna, is not improving and Shannon is faced with serious decisions to make that are not supported by her Amish family.  She must take responsibility and come into her own identity.  This is a coming of age story unlike many you have read. Melody Carlson tells a story of love and being true to self. I love how she weaves so many ideas through the story. A simple life is not as simple as it looks.  Anyone who lives past their teen years knows from experience they are difficult in and of themselves.

I am impressed with the well written plot and character development of My Amish Boyfriend. My granddaughter saw my copy on my desk and is waiting to borrow it. It will be a fun book to discuss with her and I am sure we will talk at length of the characters.  I wonder how she will react when she sees the plot twist and turn; I wonder what she will say about Ezra and his loyalty to his faith and family.  This is the first time I have read one of Melody Carlson's books and I understand her appeal to young readers. The characters are easy to identify with and the story keeps the reader's interest.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Loves Sweet Beginnings

Love's Sweet Beginning (Sisters at Heart #3)In the years following the Civil War, a young woman named Cassie Haddon and her mother struggle after losing everything. How can two women used to living a life with servants in a fine home make it on their own.  The story unfolds to show how determined Cassie was to step in to provide a home for her mother. With no skills this proves difficult. In the predictable sense of a good story, she finds a job and works hard to build a home for herself and her mother. What is important is how she accomplishes this in a  time when ladies don't work with their hands and need the protection of a strong man.

Ann Shorey's characters in this novel are strong people who represent the strength of character necessary to build the great country we live in today.  Cassie's mother, a helpless widow used to fine things. Jacob West who owns the restaurant and grocery hailed from Boston. Wash and Becca, former slaves who come together for a new life in freedom.  All of the characters in this story become as changed as the times they lived in.  History, romance and a deep faith make Love's Sweet Beginning a good story to be read with a good cup of tea.

Rachel by Jill Eileen Smith

Jill Eileen Smith has touched us again with her Wives of the Patriarchs series. Rachel, book three in this series is a compelling story of Rachel and her sister Leah, who both love and marry Jacob.

Cover ArtSet in biblical times, this is the story of Jacob and his two wives.  The author brings them to life and we experience their joys of love and agonies of deception. Jacob is deceived on his wedding night when his bride is switched for her sister. He wakes up in the morning to discover Leah, and not Rachel by his side.  Thus begins the deception of Laban, father of both women and Jacob's uncle.  The deception Jacob faced from Laban was cruel and inspired by greed. Jacob worked seven years to pay the bride price for Rachel only to be tricked into working another seven years to pay for her hand.

Perseverance and faith in God dominate a story that is timeless in its humanity.  Jacob's faith in one God, Adonai, inspired Leah's faith and over time she learned to persevere in her love and devotion. Rachel also abandoned the many gods of her father's people. She too began to love with an open heart and abandon life long jealousies between herself and Leah.

Important biblical themes like jealousy and lust are timeless and the lessons learned are still important today. I was inspired by the love and patience in this story. Rachel  forgives Leah and both women are stronger together than as rivals. It is hard to put myself into the stories of the bible at times of so long ago and the author captured the sights and sounds so well. In this story I can feel the wind on the desert and the sound of sheep.  I encourage you to get this book and experience the romance and intrigue in Rachel's story.  I have come away looking for more... and look forward to the next book in the series.

Friday, February 14, 2014

You're Going to Be Okay an Encouraging book for All Women

You're Going to Be Okay Cover
I am happy to review Holley Gerth's latest book, You're going to Be Okay. This book is well written with simple affirmations for every woman. Easy to implement strategies to help us all find God in our chaotic daily lives.

So often we are mired in the depths of our weakest moments. We know the mind is powerful yet we do not guard our hearts from the negative thoughts that overtake our common sense. When we turn to God and feel His amazing love for us in all situations we will find healing. We can stop sabotaging ourselves, change our attitudes and make the most of our changes. How often do we tell ourselves so many negative things that we become small minded? We are made to be loved and to love.

I liked having the questions for deeper study at the end of the book. Listed by chapter, this easy to follow guide is a good tool and easy reference to putting Holley's lessons into practice.  We are all made for a purpose and my purpose is not tied to the negative thoughts that can try to intrude my mind. How freeing to push such thoughts aside and find peace with a guarded heart.