Monday, March 21, 2016

Dressed for Death A Regency Party Experience Few Shall Forget!

I recently read Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering for review.  I hadn't read any of her books before so this was  a treat. Reading a new author for me is like taking a trip on a newly traveled road. I didn't know what to expect but I did enjoy the journey.

Dressed for Death is set in the 1930's on an English estate. Our hero, recently wed Drew Farthering, is traveling with his wife Madeline to Winteroak House for a Regency-era house party.  The party is hosted by Drew's old family friends the Cummins' family and he is very excited to see his old friend Tal once more.   He will also have the opportunity to introduce Madeline to everyone and meet Tal's fiancee Alice Henley.

All guests, upon arrival are taken to the house in an opulent barouche carriage typical from the era and at the insistence of the host leave their cars behind. The party is authentic with period clothing, food, dancing and the chance to hear Jane Austen quoted throughout.  The estate, which is one of the stars of the book is the perfect setting for the party and sets the tone for the expensive taste of Mr. Cummins.  As the week draws to a close, Alice dies mysteriously and Tal's father is taken to Scotland Yard.  As a known amateur sleuth, Tal asks Drew to look into the matter and discover the truth to these unsettling mysteries.

With the elements of a good old fashioned whodunit, the author captures the spirit of many books written during that period.   That era, with its big estates and the parties held inside are often the subject of many books and movies. Often we find society parties a bit trying at these affairs and look for their flaws. When you meet Drew and Madeline, you will be pleasantly surprised by their kind and generous spirits.  The party ended unhappily with Alice's death but it is what follows that keeps the reader engaged. More mystery and mayhem with cleverly designed red herrings to keep you guessing until the end. I laud the author for her character development. I didn't like all of the characters, nor should I but there are a couple who will surprise you by who they are and what they do.   I will not reveal any spoilers in hopes you will pick up your own copy to read on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  I am looking forward to discovering more books by Julianna Deering.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Reviewing: The Prophetess Deborah's Story

"New gods were chosen, then war was in the gates." -  Judges 5:8.   Jill Eileen Smith retells Deborah's story in The Prophetess, book, number two in her Daughters of the Promised Land Series. Deborah is a beautiful, outspoken  woman of Israel chosen by God to hear His voice through prophesy. She lives in a time when the people of Israel are living in fear of a mighty warrior, Sisera, commander of Canaan's King Jabin.   Women and children are stolen and enslaved. Men are murdered. The spoils of war are made worse by the sheer unspeakable acts of a tyrant.  Deborah knows from her visions that false gods have been worshiped and beseeches her people to turn away from these gods who are destroying Israel from the inside.

This story brings Deborah to life as the woman of courage she was in 1126 BC. She is wife to Lappidoth, and mother of his children. She is a judge who daily sits under Deborah's Palm Tree on the knoll to hear case after case brought forth by her people for her to decide fairly.  She has the cares of a woman yet the responsibility beyond the scope of any woman in her village.

BPG_The ProphetessMoving forward fifteen years, she encounters Barak, a young warrior from Kedesh in Naphtali, who seeks to destroy Sisera, whose band of destroyers killed his young wife.  He and his group of soldiers travel to the villages warning of the dangers Sisera has wrought on the villages. Deborah also meets Jael, wife of Heber who has traveled far with his family from his home searching for a place to settle. These people are integral to the story as it unfolds and are fascinating in their own right.

Can peace come to the lands at last?  Is the word of the prophetess enough to build an army for Barak to destroy Sisera, and in turn King Jabin?  Can the people turn from false idols and believe in the One true God?  Deborah's story compelled me to do some research into the times and of course to read Judges 4 & 5 from which this story hails. If you love a good book that brings biblical accounts alive you will enjoy the Prophetess. It is a story of love, war and redemption written as we have come to expect of all Jill Eileen Smith's books.