Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

I absolutely love every series Snelling has written concerning the Red River of the North. I love the families who settled or went through Blessing, MN. I miss the ones who have gone home to the Lord like Agnes. I have watched wee ones grow into adulthood and have families of their own. And even though these books are set in the late 1800s until shortly after the turn of the century, I feel as if I have been there very moment!

It was no surprise then that I was delighted to see a new Blessing series on the shelf at my local library! A Measure of Mercy is book one of the Home to Blessing series. I have savored ever word... catching up on the Bjorklund's and all their family and friends... meeting new folks... marvelling at the changes in Blessing (and those to come!)... it has been a wonderful trip and I cannot wait for future books to take me back!

Measure focuses, for the most part, on Astrid as she pursues medicine and struggles with knowing God's call on her life. Is it to return to Blessing and start a hospital with Dr. Elizabeth or to go to Africa as a medical missionary? And then there is Emmy, a precious little native American girl left in the Bjorklund's barn on a cold winter night. Who does she belong to? And Benny, a street urchin hit by a wagon who is now a double amputee at the age of 6. How will he survive with no family? Joshua Landsverk has returned to Blessing, not to farm but to find honest work, make his own way, and hopefully win the heart of that special someone he can't get out of his mind.

Life ebbs and flows in Blessing much as it does today wherever you live. There are decisions to be made... choices... that effect more than just yourself. There are lives that need someone to care for them.. those who need to be loved. There are struggles and hardships and sorrows and there are joys and happy moments to celebrate.

No doubt you can jump in with this series, but I highly recommend backing up and reading all the books connecting to Blessing. The 4 series are Red River of the North, Return to Red River, Daughters of Blessing and Home to Blessing. A complete list of books can be found at Snelling's website:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall

Book 2 of the Sisters of the Quilt series.

When the Morning Comes picks up where When the Heart Cries leaves off. Hannah Lapp is now making her way in the English world, trying to reconcile what she knows as an Old Order Amish girl and the new and exciting world around her. Making her way from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Hannah is united with her aunt, Zabeth, who was shunned many year before. Zabeth understands Hannah better than most and provides not only a place to live, but also a shoulder to cry on and words of wisdom. Hannah faces many decisions... will she return to PA and stand up to her accusers or will she move forward with the life she has created in Ohio?

Back in PA, Paul mourns the loss of Hannah and does his best to locate her but to no avail. His family persuades him to return to school and finish out his degree in hopes he will forget his lost love. Matthew and Ellie struggle with their relationship as she has one foot in the plain world and the other among the English. Luke and Mary marry, but the secret she holds could destroy everything she has worked to obtain. And Sarah, Hannah's spiteful sister, appears to be going mad. She searches for Hannah day and night, wandering the countryside muttering to herself about fire and truth.

This book leaves so many questions hanging at the end! But Praise the Lord there is a book 3! When the Soul Mends.

An excellent series!

The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber

I usually read Christmas stories during the Christmas season, but when I saw this book by one of my favorite authors sitting on the New Fiction shelf at the library I had to snatch it up! The Perfect Christmas is a fun, light-hearted tale of a girl whose biological clocking is roaring! Cassie is certain she is never going to meet THE guy. And to make matters worse most of her friends seem to have found their perfect mate. A Christmas card, complete with photo of her friend, Julie with her husband and 2 children ready for their perfect Christmas proves Cassie's point. Yes, she knows it is just a photo and while it looks perfect, it probably isn't. That doesn't matter. Cassie wants the look... the family to create that picture perfect Christmas card and she wants it now!

In steps Simon Dodson, professional matchmaker. Cassie's friend, Angie, tells her about Simon. He is very highly sought.... has a high success rate... and costs a fortune. At first the thought of a matchmaker seems ridiculous to Cassie, but then.. what does she have to loose. He does have a money back guarantee. What she doesn't expect it a gruff, rude man who asks all the questions and then gives her tasks to complete before she is able to meet Mr. Right!

So what happens if she invests all this time and energy only to find that Mr. Right is Mr. Wrong and her heart has chosen another... someone determined not to marry, ever.

This novel is full of laughter and tender moments... very much the sweet romance most women love.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

A small book that packs a big punch! Giglio gets to the heart of the matter... our need to see God as who He really is and to see ourselves in light of that.... to realize that it is all about Him... that we can accomplish nothing of value apart from Him. This is not a book that degrades humans and makes you feel worthless, on the contrary... it is a book that frees you from having to carry the load! We have been invited to share in His-story... the greatest adventure of all time! And when life hits us hard and we question it, the answer is found in 2 simple words... I AM! Excellent book! A must read!

The Quilter's Homecoming by Jennifer Chiaverini

I adore the Elms Creek books! Each one is a gem! I was a bit skeptical when I started The Quilter's Homecoming. It veers away from the main characters and steps back in time to look at Sylvia's cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Henry. Elizabeth and Henry get married and set off to settle on a farm in California. Loaded with excitement, spirit and idealism, they make plans the whole way for their life and their farm.... only to arrive and find that there is no farm... at least not one the one they have purchased. Like many others they have been swindled and find themselves across the continent with no money and too much pride to go home. And so begins the life of secrets... they are determined never to tell their family of their shame. As they work as hired help, their relationship becomes strained and tattered... much like the quilts Elizabeth finds in the abandoned cabin they call home. Having sold her precious wedding quilts, Elizabeth sets out to repair those she has found and to make a home for her and Henry and hopefully one day their children.

Courting the Doctor's Daughter by Janet Dean

This is from the Love Inspired Historical series. I don't recall reading anything by Dean before, so she is a new author to me.

Courting the Doctor's Daughter was a nice read. Nothing hugely deep or life changing, but a wonderful bit of entertainment and escape from the craziness of life. Mary Grave is a widow with three sons and a very skeptical and untrusting spirit. When a peddler comes to town hawking his miracle elixir, Mary goes on the attack... determined to run this charlatan out of town. But Dr. Luke Jacobs isn't so easily bullied. He is on a mission to find his son and nothing or no one is going to interfere with that.

What Luke didn't expect to find was his son and a new life. This is not what he planned and he wants no part of it.... or does he. Mary has plans of her own and she is certain Luke will complicate things and get her off course.

What are two stubborn, lonely, obviously in love people to do?

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

This is book 1 of Woodsmall's Sisters of the Quilt series. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start another Amish series. I have read everything by Beverly Lewis and most of Wanda Brunstetter's books, but a couple of friends loved this series and recommended it so I decided to give it a try. While some parts of it seem to be typical of books based on the Amish (i.e. the struggle to decide between the Plain world and the English world), When the Heart Cries definitely has twists that are not expected. One thing I liked is the depth of the characters and the insight into their emotions and thoughts. It is difficult to give examples without giving away too much of the story, but one character is involved in a tragic accident and irrationally blames another. His reasoning is so flawed and yet so human and much as any one of us might create. This made the Amish seem more real and more like the rest of us.. not as different as they often seem. It is definitely a story of secrets and poor decisions and misunderstandings that lead to heart break. But it is also a story of hope and while the end leaves you hanging, there is a sense that thigns will come together one day.

The main characters are Hannah Lapp, a 17 year old Amish girl, and Paul Waddell, a college age Mennonite boy. No surprise the 2 are in love and struggle with how to be together and keep peace in their families. Secrets lead to untruths... people jump to conclusions... and tragedy leads to greater loss. While early on their are some fun parts, it is not a light-hearted story. It is a bit heavy and, again, leaves so much hanging. I have already picked up book 2 from the library and will start it soon (Once I finish the Macomber book I am reading!).

92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

I am a big Macomber fan, as I am sure I have stated here before. Her Cedar Cove novels were the first of her works I read and are still favorites. 92 Pacific Boulevard is book 9 in the series (which really needs to be read in order). It was so much fun to go back to Cedar Cove and visit with old friends, get to know some of them a bit better and meet a few new ones. Sheriff Troy Davis is still struggling with his love for Faith Beckwith, but is it too late to make up for his foolish actions? In the meantime, Faith has become the target for some malicious vandalism and is considering leaving Cedar Cove. Maybe it was a mistake to move here in the first place. Olivia Griffin is fighting cancer with grace and the support of her many friends in Cedar Cove. And there are babies on the way.... triplets! Life is never dull in Cedar Cove!