Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Cedar ove Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Yes, another Christmas story by Macomber!   I really do love her books.  The Cedar Cove series was the first books of hers I read... and she is still adding to that series.  Her Christmas story set in Cedar Cove is no disappointment.  I have to admit the story is a bit... not really hokey, but sort of contrived.  Mary Jo Wyse is a young woman who finds herself pregnant and alone. Great with child, she goes to Cedar Grove to find the baby's father only to learn he is not there.  Grace and Cliff Harding take her in and she finds herself staying in their barn apartment.  The born, usually reserved for horses, is being temporarily used to house the animals from the community live nativity... including a cantankerous camel.  Mary Jo's brothers, the three Wyse guys, come in search for her and find themselves lost... they even get bad directions from an scrooge like character named King... and they bring their sister 3 gifts (you guessed it!).  Despite all that, the story really is sweet and I am hopeful Mary Jo will pop up in future Cedar Grove books.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young

I have been trying to determine how to review this book. It is virtually impossible to do so without giving away parts of it. My friend, Cecelia Dowdy, wrote a wonderful review on her blog recently:

I also found this wonderful review:

I know that this book has been talked about a great deal and seems to be rather controversial among Christians. Both of my children have read it… one loved it, the other hit a point and refused to finish it. I can see parts of it that might bother some folks. I certainly don’t agree with the way everyone in the book is portrayed, however I was able to look past it and focus more on the story.

Overall I enjoy the message of the book. It focuses a great deal of God’s love for us… His plan for each of us… trusting Him… forgiveness… issues that are of great importance to everyone. However, I will say that I felt the Trinity was treated too casually. I love that through Christ we are able to have an intimate relationship with God, however, I don’t think should lessens our reverence towards Him nor does it diminish His Awesomeness. I felt The Shack did that.

For those who have never heard of this book, the main character is a father who has been through a horrible tragedy and has pulled away from God. One day he finds a note in his mailbox asking him to come to the Shack and it is signed Papa... his wife’s special name for God. Mac doesn’t want to go.. he feels certain it is a cruel joke.. and yet he is drawn to follow through and make the trip. Once at the Shack he finds more than he ever expected… a personal encounter with the triune God all separate and all human.

There is no doubt parts of this book could be offend some readers…. No doubt you will disagree with parts of it… I, however, do not see it as blasphemous or heresy…. Just a very different perspective.

There's Something About Christmas by Debbie Macomber

This was such a fun book to read! Emma is a writer for her local newspaper, but all she writes are ads and obits. Then her boss drops a series of feature articles in her lap. There is a national fruit cake contest and 3 of the 12 finalist are from her state. Emma’s job is to interview each one… sounds easy… but what she doesn’t count on is how she will get to each lady… flying in a small place with Oliver Hamilton, a local pilot who refused to purchase advertising space from Emma. Mix Emma’s animosity towards Oliver and her fear of heights and you’ll find a great deal of laughter between these two fruit cakes!

A Gift to Last by Debbie Macomber

A Gift to Last includes two heartwarming Christmas tales.

The first in Can This Be Christmas. I loved this story and could see it made into a Christmas special with ease. It’s December 24 and holiday travelers are searching any mode of transportation to arrive home in time for the holidays. A train lode of weary travelers find themselves stranded in a small New Hampshire depot in a snowstorm. Tempers flare… stress is high… but somehow good will wins out and the strangers spend a Christmas together that they will never forget.

Shirley, Goodness and Mercy are three angels who love to come to earth, but when they do then often bring mischief with them. After much begging, Gabriel has agreed to give them a new assignment only it isn’t what they bargained for. Greg Bennett is at the bottom of the pit. The family business he inherited on the verge of folding… he is in the midst of his third divorce… he has no children… no friends… no family… he has alienated them all. So when he finds himself slipping into a church and offering up a fragile prayer, he never dreams God will really answer… or how!

On a Snowy NIght by Debbie Macomber

On a Snowy Night contains 2 wintertime tales… The Christmas Basket and The Snow Bride. Both were a delight to read.

In The Christmas Basket, we meet Noelle McDowell on her way home for the first time in 10 years. She left the day her fiancĂ©’ stood her up. One of Noelle’s younger sisters is getting married and she has been called home for the engagement party. Dreading what… or whom… she might find there, Noelle takes a deep breath and heads home. She soon discovers that the feud between her mother and her ex-fiancĂ©’s mom still exists, as strong as ever! And Noelle also discovers that she and Thom Sutton are still in love and were both victims of their mother’s long standing rivalry. Now they must find away to bring their moms together so that they can have a second chance at happiness.

The Snow Bride takes us on a jaunt to wintry Alaska. Jenna Campbell is a level headed woman with a solid career and no sense of adventure. So when she quits her job and flies off to Alaska to meet and possibly marry someone she met on the Internet, her friends and family are speechless. Jenna’s plans are side tracked when she accepts Reid Jamison’s offer to fly her from Fairbanks to the small town where her intended lives. Reid knows all about Dalton and his womanizing ways and determines to protect Jenna by taking him to his home to meet his sister, a woman who knows Dalton well also. What he didn’t count on was his hometown living up to its name… Snowbound. Now he and Jenna and stuck there in his home without his sister, who has gone to Fairbanks and can’t get back home. The blizzard rages on and so does the tension between Reid and Jenna. Will she Dalton find her? And when he does, how will she explain why she is with Reid?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Loving Your Spouse Through Prayer by Cheri Fuller

This is the second book I have read by Fuller. As with her other book, I enjoyed her writing style... I felt like I was chatting with a friend... and I learned a number of things. Fuller encourages the reader to pray with and for your spouse. She talks about different things for which we should pray and shares a number of stories of real life marriages and how prayer has effected them. She also has a section with specific prayers, based on scripture, for specific needs like Joy, Grace, a Fruitful Life, Trust instead of Worry... and many more. Each chapter also has questions that can be discussed, if you do this book with your spouse or in a small group, or if you work through the book alone you can use these for journaling. Each chapter also includes a specific marriage prayer for the topic being discussed. This would be a great book for newlywed's... but it is also a wonderful book for any married couple... no matter the season of life.

Heart of Texas Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Debbie Macomber

The Heart of Texas books are re-releases of older Macomber works... 2 books per volume. These are light fun stories that are great at allowing the reader to escape a bit from the craziness of the world!

Volume 1 contains Lonesome Cowboy & Texas Two-Step. In Lonesome Cowboy, Laredo Smith is picked up along the side of the road by Savannah Weston and gets more than a ride to call in his broken down truck... he gets a job offer. Savannah lives at her family ranch with brother, Grady. Grady is runs the ranch, Savannah takes care of the house and her antique rose business. So when Savannah hires Laredo without even consulting Grady tension mounts. What she sees in this shiftless drifter, Grady can't fathom. But Savannah does see something in Laredo... a chance to have more in life... a chance to do something more than just "settle"... and Laredo finds a chance to be a part of something he never dreamed possible... a family.

Texas Two Step finds Ellie Frasier struggling to deal with her father's death and hold onto his feed store. Everyone in Promise, TX loves Ellie... after all, she's one of the guys. Glen Patterson knows that for sure... Ellie is one of his best pals. So when he starts to see Ellie in a different light, he runs... he wants nothing to do with these feelings! Not for Ellie... not for any woman.

Volume 2 is made up by Caroline's Child & Dr. Texas. Caroline is Savannah's best friend.. has been for years... but Caroline has a secret. She has never told anyone the name of the father of her 5 year old daughter, Maggie. Caroline has another secret.... Grady Weston. Her heart is completely lost to a man who doesn't even notice her. What's a girl to do? Just when Caroline feels there is hope for the future and a life of love, the past comes crashing in and collides with her future... and Maggie ends up in the middle and in danger.

Dr. Texas is a cute story about Dr. Jane Dickinson, who moves to Promise, TX to fulfill her obligation to work in rural Texas for 2 years in response to their paying her college tuition. All she wants to do is make some friends, fit in and get her 2 years over with so she can move back to CA to her uncle's practice. But Jane does anything but fit in... this California girl sticks out among the locals. She eats much healthier fare than BBQ and beans... doesn't wear normal jeans or boots... and doesn't ride a horse. Cal Patterson steps in to help remedy the horse riding dilemma and along the way his heart is taken for the ride of a lifetime.

Both books were delightful to read and I have no doubt Volume 3 will be great too!

Windigo Twilight by Colleen Rhoads

This is book 1 of Rhoads Great Lakes Legends series for Love Inspired Suspense books. I thought Rhoads was a new author for me, but then I learned that she has also published under the name Colleen Coble. So not a new author for me, but a new name.

Windigo Twilight is a nice story, not overly suspenseful and with plenty of predictable romance tossed in. It played out a bit like a television suspense show.... which isn't necessarily a bad thing... but it was a bit too predictable for my taste. That said, I still enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading the other two books in this series.