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