Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dream a Little Dream

Another fun book by Debra Clopton. Set again in Mule Hollow, Dream a Little Dream focuses on reporter Molly Popp and Bob Jacobs. Molly has been writing about Bob for months... how perfect a husband and dad he is going to be one day and how he is ready for a wife. So why isn't she trying to fill the position? Molly has big plans... a career as a serious journalist travelling all over the world... and nothing is going to get in her way. Bob grew up in a single parent home living in a boarding school while his father travelled the globe working, so he wants none of the lifestyle Molly is seeking. Bob is ready to put down roots and raise a family in the heart of Texas. Enter several large mail bags full of love letters, a few crazy lovesick women looking for a man and a wild bull and you have the fixings for one crazy ride! Molly and Bob learn that God has a plan for each one of us and it might not fit in with our plans, but it is the best one there is!


Monday, November 26, 2007

No Place Like Home - Debra Clopton

I love Debra Clopton! She is a Love Inspired author and her novels are too fun! And yet they have a message... some meat to them too. They are not all fluff and puff. As with the previous 2 books I have read by her (The Trouble With Lacy Brown / And Baby Makes Five), No Place Like Home is set in Mule Hollow, Texas... a town full of cowboys and very few women! But that is changing.

Dottie is on a mission. She is headed cross country from Florida to California to work with women in need... and then she runs into Cassie and finds herself taking a 100 mile detour to Mule Hollow, Texas. How did that happen???
Once there, it appears God has other plans for her life. Plans she wasn't expecting! Plans that include Sheriff Brady Cannon. But Brady wants none of it. He knows what he is feeling... He even sees God at work, but he has his own agenda and this isn't part of it!
So what is a candy-maker on a mission to do? Pray! and leave it all in God's more than capable hands.
Quick read... a bit silly and full of fun... great for a day when you just need to chill out and escape a bit!

Finished The Lights of Lowell Series

I finished up the Lights of Lowell series by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller. Book 2 is A Love Woven True. Book 3 is The Pattern of Her Heart. I enjoyed this series for the most part. I cannot say I enjoyed the last book. It focused greatly on the South prior to the Civil War. While I have no doubt slavery was wrong and evil, I do not think everyone in the South was mean or hateful as I feel was portrayed in this book.

I also think the last book really pushes the limit of reality a bit. There are a number of tragedies in this book and the way things work out in the end is a bit unrealistic and too much like a fairytale to me. I like happy endings.. I even like fairytales, but this series is to be historic. When I read historic fiction, I expect a bit more realism.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nowhere To Hide by Debby Giusti

This is the first book I have read by Debby Giusti and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had just enough suspense with some romance mixed in. Lydia Sloan's husband is dead and now someone is after her son. Lydia runs to Sanctuary Island in search for safety, but she finds something else... danger, fear and uncertainty. Security Chief Matt Lawson has a plan... he is going to leave his position on Sanctuary Island and return to Miami to find his partner's killer. What he doesn't plan is to loose his heart to a young widow and her son. Both Matt and Lydia learn that even when we don't see Him, God is there working in our lives. Barb

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Tapestry of Hope by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller

This is book 1 in the Lights of Lowell Trilogy. The Belles of Lowell is an earlier series set in the same community..... Lowell, Mass. These books focus a great deal on the Mill Industry in the mid to late 1800s and the workers there, especially the treatment of the Irish workers.

In Tapestry, we are given another perspective, that of the cotton grower and the Mill owners courtship of him as they seek to purchase their cotton. I really like how these authors portrayed slavery in the South.... and how they showed that while the north didn't haven't slavery, it had its own injustices. There can be no doubt that slavery was and is wrong, however, many in the north chose to turn a blind eye to it as long as it made them a profit and it stayed out of their own states.

In Tapestry, we once again see the unfair treatment of millworkers and we encounter indentured servants. While it is true, as one character points out, that indentured servants could eventually earn their freedom, for a time they were for all practical purposes slaves and often mistreated and abused.

Tapestry opens on a plantation in Lorman, Mississippi. I have to admit I got a kick out of this. I grew up in South Mississippi in an area know for tourism and its romanticism of the antebellum period. I have seen more than my share of plantation homes, slave quarters and belles in hoop skirts. My hometown is less than an hour from Lorman... I know it well. It is nothing like the Lorman found in this book. There is one plantation home there now... a Christmas tree farm (pines)... Alcorn State University.... and a building that until recently housed the Lorman General Store which was a combination store and museum (it was a wonderful treat!).

Tapestry centers around a business agreement between Mill liaison Bradley Houston and the Wainright plantations... as part of the bargain, Houston gets a wife... the young and very naive Jasmine Wainwright. Jasmine is an only girl who has rarely ventured from her family's home. She has an idealized view of not only the world unknown to here, but also her own world. Forced into a loveless marriage, Jasmine faces the task of growing up over night.

Jasmine's eyes are opened to much of the ugliness of the world and she has a choice to make... she can grow bitter or she grow closer to God. She chooses God.. eventually.

Tapestry is an interesting tale. A bit surreal at times to me. It is difficult to imagine women having no voice and being given in marriage against their will. I am looking forward to reading the other 2 books in this series very soon.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Where Willows Grow - Kim Vogel Sawyer

I discovered this author a few months ago when my neighbor brought the book Bygones over for me to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Bygones and look forward to the rest of the books in that series.
So I was thrilled when I saw Where Willows Grow in the New Fiction section at the library. There is no doubt that Sawyer has been added to my favorite authors list.
Willows is set in 1936 rural Kansas. Anna Mae and Harley Phipps, along with their two young daughters, are striving to make ends meet after the depression and in the midst of a long drought. They are barely eeking out a living when Harley learns of a WPA project in another part of the state. Without discussing it with Annie, he sells their mules, buys up groceries for the family and announces he is leaving. Annie is hurt and angered at his announcement and after a night of harsh words, Harley leaves.
Jack, a neighbor, steps in to help Annie while Harley is gone. He totes their milk and eggs to town, takes Annie and her girls to church, and checks on them regularly. Annie is certain Jack is just doing the neighborly thing, afterall Harley asked him to keep an eye on his girls, but Jack has a different agenda. He has love Annie for as long as he can remember and he sees this as an opportunity to steal back what he believes is rightly his.
Through a course of events, Anna Mae receives only 1 letter and 1 paycheck from Harley and he received none of her correspondance. And over time news comes that there has been a tragedy on the job site.
This is a tail of two stubborn souls who shut each other out and who shut out the Lord. Harley is determined not to believe in God. Annie does, but she finds that she is living life on her terms not His. Over time their hearts are softened towards their Father and each other, just as the hard Kansas soil is softened by the soft rains.

Where My Heart Belongs - Tracie Peterson

I was at my local library picking up a book recently and as is my habit, I scanned through the new books section. I picked up several books including this new one by Peterson. And I am so glad I did!

Where My Heart Belongs is loosely based on the parable of the Prodigal Son, but in this case the prodigal is a daughter. When Amy is 18, she demands her family give her the trust fund her grandmother has left her, she changes her name and she leaves. 12 years later she returns home to find her mother has died, her father is gravely ill and her sister is full of bitterness and hate. Amy's life hasn't been a bed of roses. She has many regrets, but she also has Jesus and she is determined to set things right.

Peterson does a great job of balancing the story. Yes, we see into the life of the prodigal, but we also see into the lives of those left behind. And while it is easy to think the prodigal is the only one with regrets, the only one who made bad choices, Peterson shows that is not the case. Just because you do what you think is right, doesn't mean you go about it the right way. Amy's sister, Kathy, has hardened her heart and pushed aside everyone who loved her. She has lived the last 12 years in a self righteous state, knowing she is the good daughter because she stayed and cared for her parents. But she is just as miserable as Amy.

This is a wonderful story about the consequences of our actions... how they effect more people than we realize. It is also a story of forgiveness and moving on... of second chances and fresh starts.

It was, for me, one of those books I wanted to read in one sitting... and I almost did! Look for it in your library or bookstore. You won't regret reading it!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fool's Puzzle by Earlene Fowler

A quilting friend told me about this series of books by Earlene Fowler. Each book title is the name of a quilt pattern.

Fool's Pattern is book 1. It took me a bit to get into this book, but once I worked out the who's who and what's what, I enjoyed it. It is what I would call a light mystery. A bit like reading an episode of Murder She Wrote. There is a murder... 2 in fact.... but there are a lot of other things that play out in the storyline too. Secrets.... closure... romance... life..... I think my favorite character is Dove. She is Benni's grandmother and while she isn't in every chapter of the book, when she does pop up it is fun. She is just a hoot!

This is a secular book so there is some crude / bad language. Not a lot and nothing severe. Most of what I read is Christian fiction, so I have become a bit sensitive to language. That said, I didn't find anything offensive or overbearing.

There are more Benni Harper books... a dozen or so I believe. My library has them all, so I feel certain I will be reading them.

If you are a serious mystery lover... someone who really gets caught up in the who, what, where and how, then this series is probably too light for you (unless she kicks it up a notch in later books). But if, like me, you are looking for an entertaining read that doesn't tax your brain too much, then this book will work fine for you!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

the Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling

Neta Jackson's Yada Yada books are some of my absolute favorites... I would even say they are in my top 5! I just adore them! So I was thrilled to finally get book 6! And I devoured it! I feel as if I am a part of the Yada Yada Prayer Group. I love those ladies and their families! I want to go visit them! More importantly, they challenge me in my faith.. in my walk... in my prayer life. As much as they books have entertained me, they have taught me more! (Can you tell I love them? LOL!)

Gets Rolling is book 6 and picks up right where book 5 left off. If you have not read these books, you must start with book 1 which is aptly named, The Yada Yada Prayer Group. Each one builds on the previous one. But I warn you, they are addictive!


Monday, October 8, 2007

A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson

This is book one of Peterson's Ladies of Liberty series. I confess it took me a bit to get into it, but I think that was more to do with me and things happening in my life than with the book. Once I was able to actually stop and read, I was quickly hooked. Peterson likes strong women and she likes her heroines to challenge their world and the views of women. I wouldn't call her a staunch feminist. She isn't calling for women to toss aside their natural roles and act as men, but she does seem to feature women who stand up for themselves, expect to be treated as something more than the weaker sex. That was definitely the case in A Lady of High Regard, which is set in 1852 Philadelphia. Mia may be a member of the wealthy upper crust, but she isn't interested in living the life of a refined lady. She has found a cause and she is determined to make a difference. As a writer for Godey's, she has gone from light hearted pieces about fashion and place settings, to stories about the wives and children of men off at sea. These ladies (of no regard to their world) are forced to pay their husbands debts and rent at whatever rate the person owed says... and if there is no money, they find other ways to collect. It is no surprise that Mia finds herself in the midst of the turmoil and danger as a result of her efforts to help. There is a bit of adventure with romance mixed in... and certainly a look at our role in carrying for and about others. A Lady of High Regard was a very enjoyable read and I am looking forward to the rest of the books in this series. Barb

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Summer by Karen Kingsbury

I discovered Karen Kingsbury about a year ago. I think everyone should be required to read her series on the Baxter family. These are some of the most wonderful books I have ever read. The original series was the Redemption series written with Gary Chapman. Chapman is Christian counselor and has written a number of non-fiction works on family and marriage. He collaborated with Kingsbury to create a series that incorporated what he teaches into fiction. And wow does it work!

The central family in the Redemption series are the Baxters. After this series, Kingsbury felt led to write 2 other series connected to the Baxters. The Firstborn series (which was great!) and the Sunrise series.

Summer is book 2 of the Sunrise series. I keep waiting for Kingsbury to fall short... for the plots to grow old... the characterizations to go flat.. for these stories to get tired. It hasn't happened! I believe God wrote (and is writing) these stories on her heart. No, I don't think this is Scripture, but I do believe her writing is God-lead.. anointed.

I commend Kingsbury for not sugar coating life. She shared at the end of Summer that she wanted to go back and change a situation and let it all come out rosy and happy, but she didn't. Why? Because like it or not, life isn't always happily ever after and there is a greater lesson to be learned in holding on to Him during the bad times.

Her characters aren't super Christians. They are pious.. able to withstand crisis with no doubts, no wavering, no anger, etc. They are human. They get mad at God and each other.. turn their back on God and each other... lash out... cry... hurt... and on the flip side they laugh... smile... cry... love... You will find so many issues covered in these books. Teen pregnancy... sex outside of marriage (not just in the teens)... forgiveness.. unforgiveness.. addiction... death... life... birth.. adoption...AIDs... and so very much more.

I would love to tell you all about Summer, but there is no way to even begin without giving things away. I will tell you that I cry a lot when I read these books. Happy tears and sad tears.. and this one really got to me.

I am blessed to be able to check these books out at my local library. Please check there or a local bookstore for Karen Kingsbury books. Start with the Redemption Series -- book 1 is Redemption -- and go from there.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Summer Breeze by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman

This is book 2 in the Four Seasons series by these 2 authors. It is a great series based on Chapman's non-fiction work, The Four Seasons of Marriage. Basically he and Palmer have taken the principles set out in his book and are working them out through their fiction. I would love to see more books done this way. It is great! Karen Kingsbury's Redemption series, also written with Chapman, is like this. I also saw parts of Chapman's The Five Love Languages in Summer Breeze.

In Summer Breeze the reader returns to Deepwater Cove, Missouri in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Cody is still there learning social skills and speaking his mind. Patsy Pringle and Pete Roberts are still wavering between dislike and like. Esther and Charles are keeping an eye on everyone. And all the rest of the gang!

This book focuses mostly on Kim and Derek Finley. The relaxing summer takes a turn when Kim's son Luke is diagnosed with diabetes, his twin Lydia decides it's time to push the envelope on parental control, and Kim's controlling and overbearing mother-in-law moves in indefinitely. Kim is beyond frazzled and Derek just puts up a wall and ignores all the chaos around him.

There a issues to be discussed and dealt with before it is too late. Issues of trust, faith, unity to name a few.

This is a wonderful book! You definitely need to read book 1 first -- It Happens Every Spring.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cassidy by Lori Wick

Lori Wick is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. In fact, the first Christian Fiction book I ever read was Wick's Sophie's Choice. I was thrilled when my library received a copy of her new book Cassidy. It is book one of her Big Sky Dreams series.

Set in the Montana Territory, Wick transports the writer back to 1880 to the small community of Token Creek. There we meet Cassidy Norton, Trace Holden and his wife, Meg, Brad Holden (Trace's brother) and a slew of other characters. Cassidy,a seamstress with a thriving business, is loved and respected by the citizens of Token Creek, but that may change when a visitor from her past arrives and secrets are revealed.

While the details of Cassidy's struggles aren't something I can relate to, I can understand the doubts and hurts she faces. I suspect most of you can too. No doubt this is a romantic look back in time, but it also provides food for thought as we ponder where we find our worth and our provision.


Dreaming of Books to Come....

The mail today included the normal junk mail..... bills....catalogs galore.... but there was a treasure too... the Fall 2007 Fiction catalog from CBD! I love seeing the new books that have just come out or are coming soon. Here are just a few I am looking forward to reading:

Beverly Lewis' The Parting (Book 1 of her new series The Courtship of Nellie Fisher)

Book 2 of Kim Vogel Sawyer's Sommerfeld Trilogy - Beginnings

Tracie Peterson - Where My Heart Belongs

Book 7 of the Yada Yada Prayer Group Series by Neta Jackson - The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling

Falling for You Again from Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman's Four Seasons series

Those are just a few... there are a slew of Christmas books I want to find before the holidays (I love reading Christmas book from Thanksgiving til New Year's)... some cute Love Inspired books headed my way, as well as some great looking titles from Steeple Hill's Mass Market division.

And I am totally thrilled that Jan Karon is back with Father Tim... and her new book is set in my home state! I know that one will be a blast to read!

The old saying "Too many books too little time" has never been more true!