Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Good Historical Fiction in The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher

...from the publisher....
After three years on a whaling voyage, Henry Macy returns to Nantucket to news that his grandmother has passed, bequeathing her vast fortune to him and his sister, Hitty. And it was truly vast. But Lillian Coffin was no fool. The inheritance comes with a steep cost,
including when they should marry and whom--a Quaker in good standing, of course. But if they relinquish the inheritance, it all goes to Tristram Macy, their father's thieving business partner.

As Hitty and Henry seek a way to satisfy the will's conditions, they'll be faced with obstacles on every side--and it may be that Lillian Coffin will have the last word after all.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher surprises and delights with this story of hope and renewal, love and redemption, arriving just when most needed.

...my review...

I was intrigued by this book.  Maybe it was the condition of Lillian Swain Coffin's will or maybe it was the development of the characters.  Benjamin Foulger was a handsome young law clerk who was tasked to make sure all conditions of Henry and Hitty's grandmother's will were met.  He was so accommodating to Henry's ideas, showed up when least expected and seemed to always be at the Grand House when dinner was served.  Grandfather Jeremiah never took to Benjamin.  Nobody knew why for sure and he didn't share.  Both men were complex although many thought Jeremiah to be simpler than he was. You can't be sure what any man is thinking.

Jeremiah Macy was as seasoned cooper and knew plenty about whaling.  He had great advice seasoned with the lore of his sea life.  "If there's no wind, then row." This simple statement showed up many times between the pages of this story and each time it was used it seemed apt.  Had this advice been heeded each time, many troubling events could have been avoided. 

Good historical fiction is mingled with facts and people who made a difference in that era. Our country was about to face a tumultuous era as the Abolitionist Movement was just beginning.  Anna Gardner was a well known Abolitionist Speaker and held conferences on segregationist issues.  Including her within the story was well done and fitting for the time and events. Frederick Douglas made his first appearance at one of her conferences.  While it took some time for slavery to be abolished, this movement had a an impact on the people of Nantucket who seemed to be a bit separate from the mainland.  The Quakers, who are noted for friendship and peace were just as caught up in the issues of the day.  I recommend this book for the story but also for the good writing by Suzanne Woods Fisher and her impeccable research.   There is a little bit of mystery involved with this story and it will keep you guessing until the story comes to fruition.   There is much to read and learn in this book!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Studying the Gospel of John Day by Day

...from the publisher....

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Great Britain was home to some of the greatest preachers, biblical scholars, and Christian writers in all of church history. Legendary names such as Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, Hudson Taylor, Catherine Booth, and George MacDonald stand out as giants of the church. Their predecessors, such as John Wesley and Matthew Henry, left them a rich tradition of biblical and evangelical excellence to follow. Americans R. A. Torrey and Charles Finney and South African Andrew Murray were cut from the same cloth.

From the classic writings of these revered saints, Lance Wubbels has edited and compiled the best of the best of their inspirational insights into this 365-day devotional. Verse by verse through the Gospel of John, readers will gain an unforgettable understanding of the life, words, and ministry of Jesus Christ. Here is a one-year devotional that is packed with profound biblical commentary, brilliant wisdom, and practical application that will enrich readers and be read for a lifetime.

....my thoughts....

I don't know how many times in my life have I heard these words on a Sunday: "A reading from the Gospel of John..."  So many times! What a blessing to have an in-depth study into the Gospel of John through this day by day devotional edited by Lance Wubbels.  This book with words from Charles Spurgeon, Catherine Booth and John Wesley to name but a few is a resource for anyone seeking further study into God's powerful word.  This book is not one to be read quickly but to be savored and studied and read yet again.  We grow up with these words of wisdom read from a pulpit yet often it is a quiet moment of an evening when we take notice and hear it anew as though for the first time. I recommend this book with 5 stars. I received this book from the publisher with no obligation to review.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Romancing the Bride.... Another Good Read by Melissa Jagears

....from the publisher.....
Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another.

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face?
Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?

Romancing the Bride is the first book in the Frontier Vows Series by award-winning Christian romance author Melissa Jagears. If you like heartwarming marriage-of-convenience stories, you’ll love this sweet romance filled with endearing characters.

...my thoughts...

Romancing the Bride is such a compelling story. I can't imagine facing the hardships women like Annie faced.  Life in the old west was hard and on any given day a man or woman could lose their spouse.  Like many who sunk their money into land and cattle, there wasn't much money left over.  Under most circumstances for a woman to lose her husband meant losing her livelihood.

I could almost feel Annie's desperation when she decided to ask Jacob to marry her.  I could almost feel how she felt moving to town and seeming to live as his wife to a town that wasn't sure what to make of her.  Melissa Jagears has made the characters of this book come alive.  Between the pages of this book you can see the tension in the air when church services are over and everyone prepares for the wedding.  It cracks in such a way you aren't sure what is going to hit this couple next. Take a surly teenage girl, unsupportive friends and a flirty young beauty and even the best bride or groom might want to turn around and leave the altar.

So many things backfire and it takes a great deal of faith sprinkled with patience. I found myself thinking about Cassie, Annie's daughter.  She is so full of anger and disappointment over her father's death that she does her best to make everyone in the family unhappy. Yet, through it all, Jacob, as her stepfather deeply cared about her.  He would do whatever he could to make her see he wasn't trying to replace her father.  Jacob's prayer for his marriage and his new family are an inspiration.  He was a strong man who was humbled by his faith, and that faith is what made him strong.

I received an advance reader copy of this book but was under no obligation to review it.  However, I can't help but share when I read such a good book.  I recommend this book with 5 stars: great story, wonderful characters who are superbly developed and lovely description for a glimpse back into historical times in Wyoming.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Holly Quinn's New Series Debuts with A Crafter Knits A Clue

A Crafter Knits a Clue: A Handcrafted MysteryA Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn is set in a small town full of caring folks.   Sammy's craft store seems like the center of town with crafters selling their wares and clubs meeting to work on special projects.  When a murder occurs in the local yarn shop it seems like so many clues are placed in front of Sammy she can't help but get involved.  The cast of characters in this cozy mystery is about as long as there are residents of little Heartsford WI.
The author weaves a lot of clues within this story and just when one suspect appears another one seems more likely to have committed the crime.  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of mystery mixed with crafting and a touch of romance.  Sammy just can't let a clue get by her and when she has a brush of danger there is a certain Lieutenant Liam Nash who is close on her heels.  This book is the first in a new series by Holly Quinn and likely to develop a following.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Holley Gerth Offers Encouragement in Hope Your Heart Needs

...notes from the back of the book....

Understanding more of God's character and how he loves us changed bestselling author Holley Gerth's life in beautiful, powerful ways. She realized that she didn't have to settle for "I'm fine" when there was someone whispering to her in every moment, "You're mine." The hope, joy, peace, and purpose she longed for were already there, in the heart of God.

Now in 52 devotional readings, Holley shares with women the answer to the restlessness they feel in their hearts that keeps them hurrying, striving, pushing. She shows them that "the God who scattered stars like diamonds across the velvet of the universe, the keeper of every sparrow, the maker of us all, is inviting us to draw closer to him. He is the place where our hearts can go on the hard days and the happy ones, in the highs and lows, when we are sad or frustrated or downright giddy. He is what we've been searching for all along."

...notes from my journal...

Wow!  In 52 ways Holley Gerth has written a devotional to cover many topics that face us today.   Honestly, this book has earned a home on my bookshelf for a long time coming.  The messages are timely, and hit the target.  This inspirational book could be read cover to cover. It can be studied as a day by day devotional.  However, when I got this book in my hands, I looked up a topic you that called me and from there, the rest has been a pleasant journey.  

Holley's style of writing and the encouragement she gives.  Her down to earth style makes her feel like you have just sat down with a friend to discuss God's encouraging words.   The format of this book is just right for someone who wants to pack inspiration into their tote to be pulled out for quiet moments in the day.  It is a treasure trove of God's word and how they apply to our modern day lives.  I was given my copy as a gift with an option to write a review or not, from Revell.   I had to share my thoughts as this book is too good to keep to myself.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler

...notes from the back cover....
Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents' insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother's name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother's place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation?

From the talented pen of Jan Drexler comes this brand new Amish series set against the backdrop of the Civil War. She puts her characters to the test as they struggle to reconcile their convictions and desires while the national conflict threatens to undermine and engulf their community.

...my thoughts...

If you have followed Jan Drexler's writing you find this book a bit different.  Set during the Civil War in 1862, this story is compelling because of the role the war will play within the Amish community.  The Amish people do not fight, choosing pacifism instead.  When Jonas chose to take his brother's place in the Army, the war had a profound effect on him.  He was a true believer and his faith was a light in his actions.  HIs love for God, Katie and his family were as much a part of him whether he was home in the cornfields or along the battlefield in Fredericksburg. 

I was inspired by Jonas.  He was definitely a young man who wanted to marry young but he was willing to work hard to show was ready to marry Katie.  Rather than get upset when Katie's father asked them to wait a year, he decided to take that time to clear land and build the home they would settle in.  

I wasn't as sure about Katie.  She was sure she was ready to marry at seventeen and it took Jonas to make her realize that the wait would make no difference, they would just be better prepared with their home.  As the time passes and Jonas leaves for training, she began to change.  She began to see how her actions could help others.  She gained new understanding of her mother's dark moods and did what she could to ease the pain of old memories.  Her love for Jonas never faltered and she grew into a formidable young woman whose strength stood difficult times.  In the course of the story my admiration for her grew.  

I received a copy of this book with no obligation to review it.  I am happy to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Christian Fiction.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Reviewing: The First Love by Beverly Lewis

...from the publisher...

It's the summer of 1951, and Maggie Esh is in need of some hope. Sweet-spirited and uncommonly pretty despite struggling with chronic illness, she is used to being treated kindly by the young men of her Old Order Amish church district. Yet Maggie wishes she were more like other courting-age girls so she could live a normal, healthy life.

To make matters more complicated, Dat has recently remarried, less than a year after her mother died. And while her stepmother is kind, Rachel is much younger than Mamm, and she simply doesn't understand Maggie or her illness the way Mamm did.

When tent revival meetings come to the area, Maggie is curious, and the words of the Mennonite preacher challenge her to reconsider what she knows about faith. Can she learn to trust God even when hope seems a distant dream?

...my thoughts...

I was inspired after reading The First Love by Beverly Lewis.  Maggie is such a wonderful young woman.  She doesn't wish to be defined by her illness although she could be if she weren't so determined to be thought of as whole. Her faith is strong yet when she is offered a chance to attend the tent revival meetings there is a turning point.  Her  Old Order Amish faith is accustomed to silent prayer, not the exuberant prayer she encounters.  It is intriguing and she is led to learn more about prayers for healing.  Once she begins to seek healing scriptures she is surprised at who reveals their own discoveries of faith and healing.  When she begins to feel stronger it is a wonder...did her faith heal her or was it the new herbal supplements that were recommended she try?

Maggie is one of my favorite Beverly Lewis characters.  She is pivot-able in this story not just because of her health issues but because she is a magnet for her family.  They are drawn to her for her wisdom.  In our story she celebrates her 18th birthday but she is mature beyond her years.  She is patient to her elderly aunt, kind to her stepmother, while acting as a buffer between her and the other children.  She listens first and offers advice only when it is sought.  She is a glue that bonds deep.  I appreciate how her family respected her and helped her on her bad days with patience and love.  I think we have all had a Maggie in our life.  I recommend this story for those who enjoy a story rich with faith, hope and love. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Fiction in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are my own.