Thursday, December 10, 2015

Reviewing: Every Girl Gets Confused

Product Details

For a lighthearted comedy spiced up with a little romance pick up a copy of Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson.  Katie Fisher is back in book two of the Brides With Style Series. This time she is all settled into her job at Cosmopolitan Bridal and her relationship with handsome Brady James.

Wedding bells would be ringing soon enough for Katie but not before her grandmother Queenie marries Reverend Bradford.  Back and forth trips to Fairfield to plan the bridal shower and a Thanksgiving visit puts Katie back in front of her ex-boyfriend and near fiance Casey.  With Katie in Dallas and Casey back home in Fairfield he seems to have had a change of heart.  Wouldn't Katie just like to go back to the way things were before?

Events don't always just fall into place. Katie grows a lot in this installment of the series and as she grows she learns a lot about love and what true love means.  This book is targeted to the young adult audience and my copy will be passed along to a lovely young lady I know will enjoy it.  I enjoyed reading it myself so I am sure we will have a lot of fun talking about the story!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Review: Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

My Christmas reading list has really grown this year and that bodes well for my season of inspiration. I love the Christmas season. I like the baking, the music, the movies and the books.  Sometimes, though it can be a bit much. Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh is the story of what happens when the kids leave the nest and find they just can't make it home for the holidays. Thanksgiving came and went for Judith and Stan. A quiet, long day full of gaps that were usually filled with tradition.  Stan missed the kids and grand-kids but Judith felt it more, especially the next day when Stan brought down the Christmas decorations.  That was just before he went fishing with his good buddy Barney.

Keeping Christmas: A NovelWhen he came home later with his catch of three bass, Judith was just as he left her. There were no ornaments on the tree and no decorations set around the house.  Judith always went all out with Christmas decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  Then again, she usually enjoyed doing this with the kids.  The box he had once labeled Ugly Ornaments was filled with all the ornaments Judith and the kids made together. Thinking to cheer her up, he went through them with her but she still didn't move to place them on the tree he had set up for her.  Nor did she get to it the next day.

Stan tried several things to help his wife cope with the loneliness she experienced without the kids bustling around the house that weekend. Without any promise of them coming home for Christmas either, he finally discovers the gift that could snap her out of her depression.  In the meantime, Judith finds strategies to help her make changes to her life with the help of Betty, Barney's wife.  For so many years, Judith put her life into the lives of her children.  Since they were all living at least two states away, she was feeling pretty lost.  The love and friendship she is surrounded with in the story is inspiring.

Dan Walsh nails this story! I recommend Keeping Christmas be added to your Christmas reading pile. By far it is better than a sugar coated television movie riddled with commercials. It is a meaningful story that could be told by many a couple whose kids have left to start their own family traditions. I found myself reaching for the tissues at the end because the story really touched my heart.  I could see this book written into a movie but I am afraid that like so many others before, why not skip the movie and just pick up the book. In fact, pick up two copies. One to read and one to give as a gift!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride Is A Ride Into The Spirit Of Christmas!

The Christmas Joy Ride
I was anticipating a good book when I received my copy of The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson  from Revell. I have had the pleasure of reviewing other books by Melody, including The Christmas Cat last Christmas season. I had a hard time putting this book down. It hooked me right at the start. My husband was traveling last week so it was the perfect time to get into a good book.  I had nobody to cook for or entertain except our two cats and myself

Joy is a resilient 85-year old widow who takes her RV out of storage and loads it up for a trip on Rout66. Her spunk is inspiring and contagious enough to inspire her unemployed neighbor Miranda to join her on the trip. After selling her home she is moving from Chicago to Arizona into an assisted living facility near her sons could be devastating to some, but not for Joy.  After the RV is loaded, Joy and Miranda boldly paint and decorate the RV for Christmas.   A satisfied Joy is ready to hit the road. A puzzled Miranda cannot imagine little Joy driving the big bus but soon sits back for the Joy Ride when she realizes this is not the first time Joy has driven that larger than life RV.

This journey has a few stops along the way that will warm your heart for Christmas. Joy is such an inspiration it would be wonderful to be just like her.  Selling a home and moving from Chicago to Arizona and an assisted living facility near her sons could be devastating but Joy is not going quietly. I do not want to spoil any surprises for the readers, just recommend that you go get a copy of The Christmas Joy Ride and read it or give it as a gift.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reviewing Christmas in Vermont!

Christmas in Vermont is a heartwarming tale of love, laughter and discovery. Jack Reynolds is an ex-Marine visiting his home town of Woodstock Vermont at Christmas time.  His visit will be a mere two weeks as his girlfriend Melissa expects him to come to Miami to spend Christmas with her family, announce their engagement and accept a high paying job at her father's firm.  A tall order for someone who loves Christmas in Vermont.

 Hope Caldwell is new to Woodstock, having accepted a temporary job as a substitute third grade teacher at the local school.  She heard first hand about this beautiful hamlet from a Marine who saved her life when they were both injured during a school bombing in the middle east.  He kept her conscious by telling her all about his home in winter, summer, spring and fall.

It was everything he said it was and more, especially once they found each other again by chance at a simple party at his family home.  This is a poignant story of coming home and finding a reason to stay.  In making a difference to lives of friends and neighbors who needed him most, Jack Reynolds created a web of good works by doing small, thoughtful acts of kindness that had a huge impact on his community. Come to Vermont with me by reading Christmas in Vermont. If you are like me, you will want to catch the next plane out to visit with the wonderful people in Woodstock.  I checked out their website and the December calendar sounds like a  bit of Christmas heaven!  I am looking forward to my next book by Bryan Mooney and I expect it too will be a good read!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Vendetta....A Harrowing Story That Will Keep You Turning Pages!

Vendetta Coming in September 2015!

I stayed up again the other night to finish a  page turner called Vendetta by Lisa Harris.  I purposely waited a day or two to begin the book because I knew once I started a new book by Lisa I was bound to get hooked right away and find every excuse to get back to it every chance I could.  The book didn't disappoint and when I had 35 or so pages left past midnight I pressed on to find how the story would end.

Nikki Boyd is  on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force and has a particular reason for her commitment to her new job.  Her own sister disappeared in front of her school while waiting for Nikki to pick her up.  Now a case that is all to similar captures the attention of Nikki and her team of experts, taking them on the hunt through the Smoky Mountains National Park. 

This case, though, begins with social media and the profile of an unsuspecting teen. A young girl who is lonely and seeking friendship and understanding meets a young man who is perfect, just the right age and as an added bonus, his pictures prove he is good looking and a model brother.  What more could a girl ask for and why not agree to meet him for a hike while visiting at a remote cabin?
Vendetta is the first book in the new Nikki Boyd Files series.  The story is a good lesson on privacy, trusting social media and how important your teen knows how to safeguard themselves. The world we live in can be sinister and while I am an optimist, we can learn a thing or two to stay safe.  Lisa Harris tells the story like it is and I admire that about her writing.  She develops her characters well and her plots are thoroughly researched and carried out so that the reader is transported into the midst of the case. My heart sped up at times, tears fell at times and if the author's goal is to get the reader to become thus engaged in her book, Lisa Harris has accomplished just that!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day

The Eleventh Hour on the Eleventh Day in the Eleventh Month we celebrate the Armistice signed by the allies Germany signifying the end of battle on the western front of World War One.  Here in the United States we celebrate it as Veterans Day while in England and Canada they call it Remembrance Day.  It is our day to honor those who served our country. 
In my family, four of my brothers served in the United States Army and three of them were paratroopers! Our oldest brother Donald was not a paratrooper but chose the Army as his career.  After thirty years he stayed connected to his many friends as a very active member of the V.F.W. He had three tours of duty in Vietnam. Our second paratrooper, James served in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries.  I am happy to say that all returned home safely to live full lives.

My sister decided to join as well since she wanted to see the world and the Army allowed her to do just that with time in Germany, where she met her future husband.  She made the most of her free time by traveling as much as she could in Europe and to this day still has the travel bug. 

My late Father-in-law served in the United States Marine Corp for six years in the Pacific during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart. He was part of the Elite Radar Battalion.  My husband followed his father many years later into the corp.  He credits the discipline for making him the man he is today.

I am so proud of my family members who served our country and want to take a moment to just say Thank you.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reviewing....Murder At the Courthouse!

Murder-at-the-CourthouseIf you are looking for that story of a crime most inconvenient look no further than between the covers of  Murder At The Courthouse.  A.H. Gabhart's latest novel set in the heart of the south begins as slowly as the old lady who mistakes a body for a drunkard asleep on the courthouse steps. What follows picks up to be a page turner that kept me up past my bed time on Wednesday night!

You'll get no spoilers from me but this first in the new Hidden Springs Mystery series kept me guessing close to the end. It wraps up to a neat ending of a web of deceit nobody in Hidden Springs could have imagined.

Former Columbus police officer Michael Keane has returned home to Hidden Springs for a quieter lifestyle. That all changed when a deputy finds the identity of the corpse who died on the courthouse steps. that identity leads Michael on search fare greater than he bargained for.

A good plot with good characters in a sleepy little town make for one good book. Add this one to your list, I think it will be a hit.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Reviewing: Streams of Mercy

Streams of Mercy is book three in the Song Of  Blessing Series by Lauraine Snelling.   Blessing North Dakota in 1905 is a small town of families who emigrated to America during the great migration period. It is reminiscent of my own ancestors who settled in nearby Minnesota, but I digress. Blessing is a hub of many nationalities that continued to make our country great.  The Bjorklund family, central to the story came from Norway in 1880.

Streams of Mercy - Book 3- Song of Blessing series by Lauraine SnellingOur story centers on the Anji Bjorklund Moen and Thomas Devlin. Anji, originally from Blessing, moved to Norway to live with her husband until his untimely death. Longing to come home to her very large family in Blessing, she makes a life for  her children living with her sister Rebecca and her family. Thomas is an Anglican priest without a parish who meets Anji while both teach at the school.  They are beginning to realize what they feel for each other as a devastating tragedy hits the town.  The town pulls together  in small town style to overcome a threat to all the families in Blessing. Putting their feelings aside until the crisis is over, they must choose to be with each other or go their separate ways.

As with any good Christian Fiction, Streams of Mercy is filled with wisdom found in scripture and a heart full of prayer.  I wish I had read the first two volumes of this series as I felt as though I missed something.  The book is full of a lot of characters who seemed to me had their story told in previous volumes.  It is helpful that there is a Bjorklund family tree at the beginning of the book to help me keep track.  The story is wonderful and the people are so resilient, a testament to the courage it took to come across the ocean and settle into this wonderful country.

Tame That To Do List!

Cover Art
Fall seems like the best time of year to think of making changes. Resolutions on January just don't cut it for me. Fall is when I start planning the holiday season. I do a little bit of Halloween, a lot of Thanksgiving and then Christmas comes full steam ahead.  That brings on more projects than I can possibly complete. I have big ideas all around and not enough time to finish them all.

I have a real issue with procrastination. Bingo, I admitted it and I am so glad that I am not alone. I love reading Glynnis Whitwer's books because I can truly identify with her style. I found Taming the To-Do List to be so helpful because it breaks things down to manageable steps. Small steps that I can keep in the forefront of my busy head. At the beginning of the book you will find a question asking you what you want to accomplish. At the beginning of each chapter she checks in with you about that goal again, and that kept it on my mind. It gave me resolve to really stay focused on the moment. It also helped me get something done other than catch up with my Facebook friends first thing in the morning.

I have a long ways to go yet but having some strategies I can use in the real world is a plus for me.  Realizing I don't have to do it all in one setting is the bonus I recommend this for anyone who would like to give themselves the gift of doing your best everyday on your own terms.

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Brother's Crown

My Brother’s CrownMy Brother's Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould is a trip back to 1685 France.  Young Catherine Gillet is determined to stand up for her Huguenot faith in a time of persecution. I found this story compelling in that I did not know much about the Huguenots or their fight for religious freedom. This is a theme we read about down through the ages. This era in particular seems to have been a time when there is so much documentation of families fleeing their homes for the right to practice their faith.

Our country was founded on those who made dangerous pilgrimages across the ocean to create new lives. In Catherine's case, the story of her family's flight to freedom was shrouded in secrecy that caused her to doubt her brother Jules. She learns that she cannot be sure who to trust but knows that she will not renounce her faith for safety. She keeps one eye over her shoulder for safety and her feet on the ground to keep herself grounded. The story is an inspiring tale of love and adventure, trust and above all, a faith that can conquer even the most insurmountable odds.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Imposter!

Recently I received a copy of The Imposter by Suzanne Woods Fisher from Revell to review. I was eager to begin as the story is set in Stoney Ridge Pennsylvania as are so many of Suzanne's books. The Imposter is the first in her new series, The Bishop's Family.  As I began to think of the story I wondered who the imposter might be. Would it be just one person and would I guess it right off the bat as an easy mystery?  No, not so quick. The book is a good study in human nature and the reader will be surprised to learn about the characters in the story and perhaps a little bit about themselves.

theimposterKatrina Stoltzfus had not been happy since her family moved to Stoney Ridge.  She was in love with John who came into her life after her recuperation from the terrible accident that killed her mother.  Encouraged by Bishop Elmo Beiler to come preach at Stoney Ridge, her father David pulled up stakes in Ohio and moved the family there for a fresh start.

Our story begins after Katrina's recent breakup with John, the boyfriend she unwillingly left in Ohio.  she is despondent, not feeling well and just not bouncing back like she should be. Bishop Elmo has died suddenly leaving his wife Thelma who is on the brink of  recreating her livelihood by growing commercial moss.  Katrina agrees to help Thelma, thus forging a strong relationship between the two that will last a lifetime.  When Katrina goes to Thelma's she meets Andy Miller, the handsome new handyman. He seems to know a lot about the moss business but appears nearly every time Katrina turns around and is full of admiration for her.  His interest in her is flattering but she can't let herself trust these feelings; not after John so recently broke her heart. Besides, nobody knows anything about Andy and she is not sure whether he is who he wants everyone to believe he says he is.

Katrina is a powerful part of this story of forgiveness and resilience.  However, she is not alone in her struggles.  Her father is facing many challenges as the church, under Bishop Glick is about to make some sweeping changes. Many families are leaving the area for newer Amish communities in Montana where land is more plentiful and the prices are much lower. He is also under fire for some of his teachings to the young members in his baptism classes. Can he survive the stresses of the changes, some of which counter his Amish faith or will he able to find strength necessary to wait out these storms.

I recommend this book not only as a good example of Amish fiction but as the first in a promising new series.  Sometimes we find lessons in the  most unlikely places from people we don't expect to teach us a thing.  With characters like Hank Lapp and Birdy Glick in a story you just never know what you might find. Reading this book was like visiting old friends and for this I thank Suzanne for writing her many books and Revell for publishing this and so many good books.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Review: The Memory Weaver, By Jane Kirkpatrick

Now and then you come across an author who makes you look deeper into the lives of those between the coves of the books. Jane Kirkpatrick has done this now with all of the books I have read by her. It started with A Light In The Wilderness, spread to the novella A Saving Grace and now with The Memory Weaver. I could have simply read biographies on the strong women of who she writes, but I didn't know about them beforehand.  I simply stumbled onto her books when I signed up to review them with Revell.

Product DetailsI live in the Inland Northwest and love the rich history of our region. Through reading I have mined a treasure trove of stories that are worth retelling future generations.  I admire authors like Jane Kirkpatrick  who keep these stories going. The Memory Weaver is an exceptional book about love, forgiveness and learning to move on from the most tragic situations.

Eliza Spalding Warren was the oldest daughter of Eliza Hart Spalding and Henry Harmon Spalding, early missionaries who came west with Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.  Eliza is distinctive as the first white child born in the Northwest who survived. She is also distinctive for being a survivor of the Whitman Massacre of 1847.  She had been sent to school there by her parents, who remained at their mission at Lapwai, on the Clearwater River in Idaho.  Her story touches me still, several days after finishing the book.

The book toggles between Eliza's life after the tragedy at Waiilatpu and entries of her mother's diary. Her mother Eliza journaled their life at Lapwai among the generous, peace loving Nez Perce tribe. She also recounts the horrific aftermath of the massacre and the subsequent trial of the Cayuse where young Eliza is taken by her father to recount what she saw. The stories of the daughter interwoven with her mother's diary are compelling and bring both women alive once more as only a skilled author can tell.

"A novel allows one to speculate about the why and how one felt regarding an incident. Biography or nonfiction allows one to explore what and when but must hesitate about exploring people's feelings. Novels are meant to move people, to bring emotion to the surface and enable us to see our lives in new ways."  - Jane Kirkpatrick as written in the author interview for The Memory Weaver.  I have been moved by this book and enjoyed researching more about the Spaldings and their role in shaping the Oregon Territory.  I hope to visit Brownsville and Aurora Oregon one day soon as well as the Nez Perce Museum at Spalding Idaho.  Books are powerful and keep our minds sharp. The gift of a good book is incomparable. My recommendation is that you purchase two copies of this book, one to give and one to keep so that you will have someone to discuss this amazing story with.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

An Amish Man of Ice Mountain...A Warm, Gentle and Loving Story.

Set far away from the Amish Community of Ice Mountain in a community of men working on an oil rig was an unusual beginning for a work of Amish fiction. Joseph King worked on the rigs to watch and protect his younger brother Edward. Edward was working to build a nest egg to wed Sarah, who waited for him on Ice Mountain.

Priscilla, a young single mother lives in her car with her young daughter. She was abused as a child and endured worse horrors from her ex-husband Heath. Priscilla lands a job at the motel where Edward and Joseph King stay while working the rigs.  By chance Joseph and Priscilla meet and meet again.  She is slow to trust him but circumstances thrust him into her life.   Predictable? Perhaps but the story is a good one and has a different twist than your usual Amish romance.

Love stories beg to be shared. I read this book several months ago and am still intrigued at the idea of a love story written with the man's voice. Joseph is a good man who has been out in the world and ready to come back to his Amish life while Edward is having much too much fun living among the Englisher.

I recommend this book as a good study in human nature that is well written with complex characters. If you are looking for a good book to sip your afternoon tea with on a fall day like today, this is it. I found it online for my ereader.  This is the first book I have read by Kelly Long and I look forward to many more. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Noble Masquerade - Regency Meets Suspense!

 Kristi Ann Hunter is launching her first book, A Noble Masquerade this week,  and I had the privilege of reading an advance copy.  I found all the elements of a good story between 361 pages including romance, intrigue and a bit of old fashioned faith.

Lady Miranda dreads the approaching London Season. This will be her sister Georgina's first season and her fourth. As such, she is feeling the impending doom of spinsterhood. With this in mind, we begin our story with her chance meeting of Marlow, the new valet of her brother, Griffith, the Duke of Riverton.  Undone by this handsome valet, she encounters him quite by accident again and again.  He seems to be everywhere she turns. She is intrigued by him  yet keeps up appearances as mistress of the household for her brother.  

When Miranda was young, she began to write letters to the mysterious Duke of Marshington, a school chum of Griffith. It started innocently as journal entries where she had the freedom to confide her thoughts and dreams. The letters were never mailed. Ever efficient Marlow, finding one of these letters. mailed it quite by accident to the long lost duke. This is where the story gets hot. Nobody knows where the elusive duke is or how to reach him, yet Marlow seems to find the address and a week later a reply arrives. When she decides to respond to the reply she relies on Marlow to post it. Her feelings are swayed by him yet she is secretly delighted with the attention of the duke. Marlow is charismatic and well turned out but he is a valet. As suspicious valet nonetheless but he could hardly compete with a duke.

All is not as it should be when the season opens. Balls, parties and card games lead to day time visits to the ladies at home. Miranda's thoughts are on the letters and hopes of meeting Marshington face to face. When she does meet him it isn't at all as she dreamed of. Sparks fly when he is finally revealed to her. Her world is turned upside down as the game is up an underlying tale emerges that takes this story to another level. It is, after all set in the days of the Napoleonic wars and not all are loyal to the crown.  You will have to read the book to get any more information on this front!

There is a lot of chemistry among Miranda, Marlow and Marshington. To see it on film is one thing but to find it in a book is a good recommendation for the author.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Reading: The Mistress of Tall Acre

aside-mistressoftallacresSophie Menzies is one of those forgotten women left behind after the Revolutionary War. Her father, a Tory, fled to England after a near miss with the bucket of tar, leaving his wife and daughter alone at Three Chimneys.  Her mother has died and her brother is among the missing casualties of the war. Her father's political bent has left her with is poor reputation and she ekes a living with minimal resources.  Anyone but Sophie would be bitter but she is of a good nature and pleasure in the smallest of things.  She is the ideal heroine. She is pretty, she loves with her whole heart and is sensible.

After a chance meeting with Lili Cate Ogilvy, Sophie is captivated with the motherless child. Her father, General Seamus Ogilvy, a decorated war hero has come home to Tall Acre to raise his daughter alone.  After the war he "rescued" her from his late wife's sister's home under the cover of darkness. His quiet resolve in being a father who is there for his daughter is not lost on Sophie, whose own father was distant and cruel.  She becomes a resource for Seamus and becomes a favorite inside the walls of Tall Acre.  

Mystery shrouds the circumstances of the man seen watching both Tall Acre and Three Chimneys. As the story unfolds we see the blossoming of romance between Seamus and Sophie that may or may not be.  There are shadows of the past that keep invading the calm after so many years of war.  Laura Frantz is a wonderful writer of historical fiction and Tall Acre is a reflection of good research and masterful story telling. The characters are interesting and believable and engaging enough to make you want to come back and finish the book. I did and I stayed up way too late to finish it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Last Chance Hero

Last Chance, New Mexico is one big fan of high school football. The new head coach, Andy Ryan, late of the NFL is also the town's most famous football hero. No other team has been able to reach the heights of his high school team and it is no secret that the town has pinned their hopes on him to bring the glory days back to Last Chance. No pressure, just wins.
Last Chance Hero
Dr. Jess MacLeod wanted to be a small town doctor since she was a little girl. She chooses Last Chance New Mexico a town of barely 700 people to open her practice. She soon finds that people are more willing to drive to the San Ramon clinic than start with a new doctor.

Last Chance Hero is Cathleen Armstrong's 4th book in her popular A Place To Call Home Series.  Jess and Andy seemed destined to be together it would seem since they run into each other regularly after Jess arrives in Last Chance. He is a handsome, eligible and very available. She is smart, beautiful and has never been to a football game in her life.

As the first weekend of our own high school season has unfolded, it is fun to see how the town rallies around the team. I enjoyed the characters and many have returned as good neighbors do from her previous books in the series.  The townspeople may have a pretty good idea what everyone else is up to but their caring ways for their own make Last Chance a place to stay settle down.

Andy and Jess may seem like oil and vinegar with his love of the game and her avoidance of the stands, but the story is so much more than small town hero meets big city doctor. The lessons learned of faith,hope and forgiveness in the story will give the reader an insight into human nature that are worth the journey to Last Chance. I recommend not only this story but the whole series, beginning with Welcome to Last Chance.  Along the way you also may develop a craving for some chilies like I did. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

National Sewing Month!

Product DetailsI put my sewing aside for way too long. I am getting inspired by all the fall patterns I've seen online.  One of my favorite sewing websites I first encountered Pati Palmer when I was a young Fabric Consultant for Discount Fabrics, a chain that started in Portland Oregon. Pati Palmer came to one of our local stores as a representative from Armo Interfacing to present a day-long seminar on interfacings.  I learned so many tricks and tips that I became the go to gal in our store.  Her lessons have stayed with me.  When I learned about her first book on tailoring I decided to try my hand on making a wool suit with a coordinating blouse. Talk about fear and intrepidation, but her patterns were so stylish and she was so encouraging that I bit the bullet and found a lovely piece of wool to take the project on. It turned out so well that I got the bug to make a coat using one of her coat patterns. Oh my I love that coat. I still have it although it is rather shabby. I can't part with it as I have too many memories of that accomplishment.  You can almost feel her encouragement inside the instruction pages of her patterns and right now as I sip my first cup of coffee today, I am considering my sewing machine just waiting to be plugged in. This is the exact same machine I used to make my coat and it still hums along every seam. My mind is conjuring up fabric for this versatile knit wardrobe. Mixing and matching the pieces will make getting ready for work every morning a breeze.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fiction Friday: Hope Harbor

It is no secret, I love the Oregon Coast. One look at this inviting cover and I knew a treat was waiting when I started turning pages. Irene Hannon is such a versatile writer that I am always intrigued when I see another book offered. All these things considered, I knew I had some good reading waiting when I hit the beach on vacation last week.

Cover ArtThe story unfolds when widower Michael Hunter arrives in Hope Harbor only to find the one and only motel in town closed until further notice. A chance encounter with a food truck owner and a bitter old woman start a chain of events that keep Michael from driving to another coastal town for his sabbatical.

Tracy Campbell comes from a long line of cranberry growers who along with her uncle struggle to keep their legacy alive while other growers were selling out to big money growers.  She juggles her work on the farm and works late into the night with her CPA business.

Michael and Tracy met his first day in town. They got off on the wrong side of the curb so to speak when he walked into the street causing her to wreck her bike. Groceries ruined, and sporting a few bruises Tracy knew this menace too Hope Harbor was to be avoided at all costs.

The story has a way of weaving together many people who normally would not seek each other out.  The same people, once caught by these chance encounters find themselves breaking out on the edge of their comfort zones. God has a way of doing that to us when we need it most and the results are surprising.

Irene Hannon is a talented author who can make you fall in love with romance or sit on the edge of your seat with suspense filled drama. The surprises in the end are not in happy ever afters or who loves whom but how do all of these people connect and why does it matter?  Pick up a copy of Hope Harbor and find out!   You can purchase it any of your favorite online booksellers or try your local bookstore. This is one book that is a keeper because it has love, forgiveness and a whole lot of possibilities inside.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Reading: The Potter's Lady

I enjoy collecting transferware pottery so reading The Potter's Lady by Judith Miller was fun in many ways.  Young Rose McKay, fresh from design school is home  long enough to help her brother decide on a new family business. Written out of the original family brick making business by a conniving aunt by marriage, the family purchases an ailing pottery business in hopes of turning it into a profitable enterprise.

Rose is wooed Joshua Harkness, son of a family friend who is managing his father's pottery.  He is quick to offer his help to turn the business successful, while seemingly able to spend much time away from his own business affairs.

Rylan Campbell seemed to be heir apparent to the ailing pottery and through the goodness of the McKay family continues to work at the pottery upon their purchase. He is slow to trust Joshua Harkness and wonders how his business continues to thrive when McKay Pottery is losing business reasonable contract bids. He has his suspicions but can he prove them?

Rose and Rylan collaborate on a design project that could secure the business of all Franklin Hotels. The contest has two distinct design projects that require them to work together for the good of the company.  Determined to win the contest and Franklin Hotel's business, they run into a few snags that may take the prize just out of their reach.

 The story is engaging and gives you a glimpse into an industry that seems to be lost in our country today. Artisans worked on lovely pieces for the home that have been passe down through generations. We take this work for granted when we can purchase things online or at the big box store. But just over a hundred years ago, people depended on these factories for their livelihood. I applaud the author for her research and for an engaging story.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reviewing: The Color of Water In July

This is my first book by this author and she didn't disappoint. I could clearly see the old cabin and wondered about the tales it could tell. The careworn items and souvenirs waiting to be packed up to be sold captured the imagination of what might have been. The stories of Jess, and her grandmother are deeply entwined with missing links of days gone by spent at the family cabin on Lake Charlevoix in Michigan.  Richly steeped in  history, Jess's inherits the cabin on the death of her grandmother and returns after seventeen years to dispose of the contents and sell the place. I could feel the leather of beaded moccasins, and see cobwebs left abandoned in a lonely unused 113 year old cabin.

Nora Carroll is an accomplished author who develops rich characters who stand alone or  with each other as they each toggle the pages between past and present. The beauty of the lake bears a great sadness for her family. Her grandmother still dressed for dinner every night as though they still had their meals at the club. Jess is left to her devices during the day as long as she is ready for dinner.  Forbidden love, loss and the constant beauty of the lake and the woods made this a wonderful book for my vacation reading list.

I was caught off guard a few times and this kept me coming back for more. Life at the lake in the 1920's was so different than walking the beach in flip flops and shorts.  Bathing dresses, etiquette and carrying on with the right sort of people was the norm.  As Jess sorts through the cabin, reading journals and looking at photographs, she discovers the truth of who she is. These glimpses into her grandmother's life as a girl and later a young woman put her on a collision with the life she knew.

I recommend this book if you like a mystery that keeps you thinking and begs the questions that often are swept under the rug. I could share so much more but you have to read the whole book to enjoy all of Jess' story.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fiction Friday: Through Waters Deep

Through Waters Deep is my first foray into pages written by Sarah Sundin and it was not a disappointment. I love American History and the time leading up to World War Two was one time our country desperately needed to come together. The world was a scary place and our countrymen were at odds with each other over deep political views. Europe was at war and England needed our support. Wary of getting into another war, isolationist and interventionist points of view created dangerous partnerships as new ships were being built in the Boston Navy Yard.

Mary Stirling, secretary extraordinaire quietly saw to the details of the launch ceremony of the Ettinger and noticed there was something amiss with the foil on the bottle of champagne. Had she read too many Nancy Drew novels in school or was something going to happen. A near miss encounter with gasoline substituted for champagne sets the stage for our quiet, unassuming heroine who would just as soon stay in the background than avoid all the clues of sabotage she stumbles onto.
Through Waters Deep
Ensign Jim Avery, a familiar face from back home in Vermilion, Ohio is also on the platform waiting to see the ceremony for the Ettinger.  Mary spotted him but was pretty sure he wouldn't remember her, the girl always in the shadow of others.  As fate would have it he sees her and remembers her as the sidekick of his former high school crush.  She remembers much more....but as one who was always content to be in the background, it is a step out of the comfort zone to play tour guide to Jim, his buddy Arch and his glamorous girlfirend Gloria.

Events at the Naval Yard puts Mary in an interesting position where she sees a lot, hears a lot and has a nose for clues leading to the resolution of developing sabotage.  I have to bite my tongue or in this case, watch my keystrokes to keep sharing some spoilers. The story is lively, refreshing and full of the hopes and dreams of the young men and women in one of the scariest times in our country. We know the outcome of the war but not the names of the saboteurs and their motives.

The ensuing love story is one that stretches Mary and Jim, making them become stronger in ways that only a developing war surrounding them could bring forth.  I recommend this book for the wonderful characters and a plot that had me going almost until the end!

I am looking forward to the next two books in the Waves of Freedom series Anchor In The Storm and and The Face of The Deep.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday Afternoon Reading: Reviewing Gone Without A Trace

I could hardly put this book down. I love suspense novels and in my opinion award winning author Patricia Bradley can write a plot that is unpredictable. Gone Without a Trace is no exception. The story is book three in the Logan Lake series and includes characters from Promise To Protect and Shadows of the Past. 

Livy Reynolds, a homicide detective from Memphis is taking a little time off after a shooting incident.  Enter handsome  Dallas Private Investigator Alex Jennings and you do have some predictable sparks of romance. That is where the predictability stops.

Alex is searching for the granddaughter of a Texas State Senator and Livy believes there are similarities between the case of Samantha Jo Woodson and the sudden disappearance of her cousin Robyn two years ago.  Both cases involve waitresses working in diners. In both cases, the victims are warned to quit their jobs from cryptic notes. The two are joined together in the hunt to find similarities to these cases and other cold cases that involve waitresses who left without a trace.

So many things run through my mind in a mystery, like trying to figure out who the perpetrator is and remembering clues that lead to solving the case. Patricia is particularly good at developing complex plots that keep me on the edge of my seat. This book is for the reader who likes complex characters and a plot that thickens right up to the end.

I recommend this book to you and I guarantee that one quick look on page one and you will be flipping to page two as though you were reeled into the story.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday Tales: Reviewing The Innocent

the-innocentI have read a few of Ann H. Gabhart's books and I have to say that The Innocent is quite a change for me from Summer of Joy or Love Comes home. Imagine you are a young woman waiting two years for the return of your missing husband from the Civil War. Although the war is long over, she keept alive the hope thathe is still alive.  After all, He was eported only missing, not dead. Barely able to survive on her own and care for their farm, she persisted in working hard only to lose her home.

The story unfolds into a bittersweet tale of one lone woman against the odds. Unable to support herself after losing her farm, Carlyn Kearney makes a decision to join the Shakers at Harmony Hill.  I was surprised to learn everything she had to give up to to move into the quiet, secure Shaker community, including her dog.  Life is peaceful there until strange, unsettling things began to happen within the village that cast newcomer into a Carlyn a natural suspect.

Sheriff Mitchell Brodie knows that there are strange things happening at Harmony Hill and he believes everything goes much deeper than the arrival of a young, beautiful widow. He is determined to solve the mysteries, prove her innocence and, hopefully, safe.

I have been  having a hard time not spilling out the whole story but you will want to read it yourself. I read it in two days with a lot of interruptions. Ann is a master at hooking you into a story and tackling difficult topics. I have no prior knowledge of the Shaker lifestyle and associate them with beautiful wooden boxes and a calm demeaner. I believe a good witer influences us to dig deeper into part of the story. I plan to do a little research on the Shaker lifestyle.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fiction Friday with Melody Carlson!

Melody Carlson's Once Upon a Summertime has so much appeal for the young reader. Have you every had a dream only to have roadblocks detouring the high road to the alley with ruts you clearly want ed to miss?  When Anna Gordon finished graduate school she never dreamed she would be back in Springville managing the Value Lodge!  Her dream was to visit the world and manage a 5-star hotel not sleep on her grandmother's sofa and manage a -1 motel. 

Her career takes a  right turn when she bumps into Marley, an old friend who happens to be helping out at her family's restaurant for a couple of weeks.  Marley leads an exciting life in New York as an international flight attendant.  While Anna may be embarrassed to share her current career, Marley is not shy about offering advice about getting Anna out of Springville and onto the fast track at a boutique hotel opening up in New York.  Anna Get a call for an interview for the Rothsberg, but before she can take her references to New York she is fired from her job a Value Lodge. Trying to make changes at a motel that was content to be just a cheap spot on the road backfired.                                                                                                 Without references for the past two years she can't compete with Sean O'Neil, former manager of a boutique hotel in Dublin. Anna lands a good job at the Rothsberg. Sean, who is also from her hometown of Springville, is falling for Anna and she is doing her best to avoid a strict policy on office romance.                                                                                                            There are a lot of wonderful twists to the plot and I don't want to spoil any one of them for a reader considering this book for purchase. I recommend this as a good addition to your summer reading list. You will share with Anna's joys, fret with her worries and find joy after all. Pick up a copy at your favorite bookseller or get an ebook to read it right away!  As with her other books Melody Carlson develops her characters into people you can identify with as yourself, a friend or someone else who had that dilemma you shared between the pages. Once Upon a Summer time is the first book in her new Follow Your Heart Series.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Sentiments

What a hot summer so far! 

I attended a Strawberry Festival yesterday at a local grange. It was wonderful to see so many  multi-generational families attend together. Young an old alike enjoyed strawberry lemonade, strawberry shortcake and barbecued hot dogs and sausages. There were a lot of entrepreneurial vendors displaying goods from shabby chic to homemade strawberry jam. It brings us back to simpler times, even if only for a few hours. With the Fourth of July coming soon, it is a good time to remember the principles our country was founded on. Imagine our forefathers meeting hours on end to craft the constitution "Of the People, By the People and For the People." They talked, argued and negotiated to get the wording in just a way to be meaningful for many generations to come. 

Many things have changed over the years and technology has wrought even more change. While things are quicker with technology, such as news 24/7, it is not necessarily simpler these days. We learn of more things than we could imagine or need to know. 

My hope for the world is to see more strawberry moments and to take time out for families. These times are precious and quickly become a memory saved in pictures or on Facebook.

Happy Birthday America! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fiction Friday Reviews A Bride At Last!

A Bride at Last Melissa Jagears can tell a story that will leave you asking for more. A Bride to Last is no different. I have to say I enjoyed this book and was so sad to put it down. I met Silas Jonesy, the hero of our story before and was surprised to find him to be the handsome man on the street at the beginning of this story. He was an angry man who took to the bottle when his mail-order bride left him after a short 7- month stay on the homestead.

Kate Dawson, a young school teacher is tending young Anthony's dying mother. When Lucinda passes, Anthony believes Kate will take him in. Lucy had written to his Pa...both of them!  Only one is his flesh and blood but also a stranger.

Arriving too late, Silas hadn't the chance for Lucy to tell him that in their brief time together, he fathered a son. Richard kept Lucy as his mistress for a time and Anthony knew him as Pa. He shuddered to thing he would have to live with either man. He heard nothing but bad things about Silas and Richard was cruel and abusive.

Kate has difficulties as a single woman who made her way teaching school and living as a boarder to a family of one of her students. She is held to unreasonable standards and scrutiny. She loves Anthony as if her were her own child and yet, the school board makes it difficult for her.  She can't bear to lose him to either man yet she can't keep him and her position as a teacher. What follows is a story of love and healing that will warm your heart in the end. There are many struggles in the lives of Kate, Anthony and Silas.

Getting to know Silas and his trials will give you a glimpse into a man used to living a rugged life. The lengths he goes to to build a life for his son could make any man give up and retreat to  his former way of life.  But he has faith.

The characters in this book are complex. The scenery is vivid and I can almost hear the coming of the trains at the depot. If you are like me  you will feel emotional as the story progresses.  I love American History and novels with an historical bent are a standard on my bookshelves. The great migration west in the 1800's was an incredible part of the history of our country.  People survived or they did not. Melissa has a gift for capturing the heart of that era. I recommend this book with 5 stars. Pick up your copy at your favorite local book store or online bookseller.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fiction Friday: Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole is a story of courage, trust and finally love. The second in the Beacon of Hope series by Jody Hedlund will capture your heart from page one until you turn the last page. Our story unfolds at Windmill Point Lighthouse in Michigan. The lightkeeper and the doctor are leaving the shores of Lake St. Claire as a storm brews. Afraid for her father, Caroline Taylor wills him to come back but all her pleading cannot convince him to abandon a trip that will bring much needed medicine for her invalid sister Sarah. As he set course, she watched in horror as his rowboat sinks, sending him to a watery grave. Her two sisters and young twin brothers depend on her skills developed as her father's lighthouse assistant to support them. Her one  hope is that her skills will convince Mr. Finick the district supervisor to give her the job full time.

Set just after the Civil War at a time when men were returning home to rebuild their lives, The lighthouse districts will hire returning veterans as thanks for their service. Ryan Chambers is one such veteran and arrives to begin his new position as new keeper of the Windmill Point Lighthouse. Badly injured in the war physically and spiritually, he believes this job is his last chance. He surprises the Taylor's, who believed they had a full week to pack up and find a new livelihood. As he comes to quickly realize their dire circumstances, he agrees to give them their full week to prepare for the move. He hadn't dreamed that this capable young woman lost her job and he was the one who was taking it!

What follows is a story full of second chances for people who would not have met for the tragic events that unfolded at the start. It is brought them together. The characters are well developed and the story is very engaging.  I recommend Hearts Made Whole and the Beacons of Hope series. the books are good as stand alone books, but if you are like me, when you find an author you like you want to keep reading more.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reviewing No Place To Hide

Product DetailsProduct DetailsI enjoy a good, suspenseful mystery so when the opportunity to review No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason came along I couldn't pass it up. The story begins with Jackie Sellers breaking into a home. Once inside Ian Lockwood's darkened home....the story unfolds and the reader begins to guess what and who is behind a sinister plot to instill terror.  I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. I have read Lynettte's novels before and this one lived up to my expectations. I was surprised by the ending and pleased with how well the puzzle went together. Lynette weaves a tale so well that I can't find any cracks in the plot. As the story grows, so does a love story that seems impossible for all the unresolved emotions and surrounding deception. If you are looking for a good mystery, pick up a copy of No Place to Hide today! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: In Firefly Valley

For fans of Amanda Cabot the wait is over! Book 2 in  the Texas Crossroads series is available now. I enjoyed reading At Bluebonnet Lake so I was really looking forward to reading In Firefly Valley. Kate and Greg welcome new guests to Rainbow's End and each new member will warm your heart as much as the characters in the first book.

Beautiful Marisa St. George is swept off her feet by Blake Kendall, a financial planner from California. She believes he is perfect in every way until she discovers he is covering his real profession as an author of suspenseful, fast paced fiction that she loathes.

He thinks she is the one woman who can make him happy until she shows a lack of forgiveness to those who don't measure up to her standards. First on her list of  unforgivable people is the father who abandoned her and her mother Carmen on the day of Marisa's high school graduation.

The story is very centered on forgiveness and it delivers a powerful message by Amanda. Believing people cannot change makes life difficult for Marisa. Can she love people who have made mistakes she disapproves of?   Can anyone live up to the standards of perfection she exacts?

The characters are developed, the story is engaging and perfect for your summer reading list.  Pick up a copy of In Firefly Valley and if you haven't read At Bluebonnet Lake yet, I recommend you read it first to get the history of Rainbow's End.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Heart of the Amish A Treasure for Study

The Heart of the AmishIf you would like a good book on renewal and forgiveness, I have one you can't miss. I enjoyed reading The Heart of the Amish by Suzanne Woods Fisher, It is not one of her captivating novels but rather a collection of stories on forgiveness. The power of forgiveness is that you do not know how wide its path will be but as sure as the sun comes up the impact is beyond imagination. I was compelled to limit myself to one story a day so that I could  savor the lesson learned. Imagine giving beyond measure to those who have wronged you and see them turn over time from trouble to good neighbors. Or how about wild teenage boys who could easily be sent away for the trouble they cause only tho have the innocent party intercede on their behalf. I shook my head more than one but the legacy of the Amish and wish that we had more of this type of peaceful living in our society today.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has a wealth of knowledge on the Amish and her books are favorites on my shelves. I look forward to her next book.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Every Bride Needs A Groom A Nice Addition To Your Library!

As our spring weather gives way to summer sunshine and June brides, young readers will start turning pages of romantic fiction under the shade of the big oak tree. Every Bride Needs A  Groom is a sweet story of a young small town woman who has dreamed of and planned her wedding for years. Set in the small Texas town, everyone including Katie Sue expect wedding bells between her and Casey. With the certainty of his proposal coming any day, she enters Cosmopolitan Bride's contest for a dream dress designed especially for her by none other than Nadia James, famous upscale wedding boutique owner.

Life, as it would happen, takes a turn. Katie Sue leaves small town life for the big city. Her dreams for the perfect wedding in the perfect dress lead her to a whirlwind of decisions and people she would never have dreamed of back home. Enter Nadia's son Brady, a handsome basketball player who is recovering from a major sports injury who gives Katie Sue new feelings how a man should treat his gal.

Janice Thompson can weave a dream through a young girl's heart inside the pages of her books.This is a lighthearted Christian romance is filled with warm values and strong faith. Perfect for that summer reading list for young women and some, who are simply young at heart.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reviewing The Legacy

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Creole Princess:A Review

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sand In My Sandwich: An Impartial Review!

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

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

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reviewing: Buried Secrets

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: The Decision

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

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

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

Please see the preview for this moving story below:

Friday, March 20, 2015

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

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reviewing Meek and Mild

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reviewing Where Trust Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 2, 2015

Anna's Crossing! Worth the Wait!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Faithful Friday

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

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

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