Monday, December 26, 2011

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand & Anita Higman (Christmas Book 6)

I have not had as much time to read this Holiday Season as I hoped.. in fact, it seems my reading time has lessened dramatically over the past year. Hopefully 2012 will be a bit less hectic. Still, I am working through my Christmas books and any that don't get read this season will be waiting for me next November... or maybe I will decide to have a Christmas in July reading fest!

As I have stated before on this blog, I love the Love Finds You books. I have yet to read one I did not enjoy, so I was thrilled to see a Christmas version in my local bookstore (I have since seen 2 or 3 other Christmas ones!).  One thing I enjoyed is this book, which contains 2 stories, has one that is Historic Fiction and one that is Contemporary.

An Appalachian Christmas happens shortly after the end of WW2.  I have to say this was a very different story... different in a good way.  Very original. So often stories are the same plot with different settings, but not so this one. Very original and good.  Julia Mayfield is reluctantly fulfilling her sisters death bed wish that her in-laws should meet their grandson.  Julia finds Mistletoe, KY to be buried in the Appalachian mountains and set back in time.  While she cannot imagine ever living in such a setting, Julia is drawn to the people and their simple way of life... especially to David Armstrong, a WW2 vet with a past as shadowed as Julia's.

Once Upon A Christmas centers around Holly Goodnight who was left of the doorstep of The Little Towne of Bethlehem Shoppe 20+ years ago on Christmas Eve.  Holly and her adoptive father never speak of that night or who her parents might have been. Then Van Keaton shows up and all that changes. A novelist, Van has gotten wind of Holly's story and wants to use it as the basis for his next novel.  Sparks fly as the two work together to flesh out the details of Holly's life.  Sparks ignite a flame of jealously in Owen Quigly, Holly's life long best-friend.

Both are delightful stories set against the backdrop of the Christmas season.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas & One Golden Christmas by Lenora Worth (Christmas Book 5)

I should probably call this Christmas Book 5A & 5B... or maybe even 5 & 6 since these are 2 full novels once published separately, but now in 1 book. But I will stick with calling it Book #5.

Both are sweet Christmas stories.  In I'll Be Home for Christmas, recently widowed Myla Howell finds herself homeless and stranded... but not alone. She has her 2 children and she has her Lord... and He sends Nick Rudolph in answer to her prayer for help. Now Nick does not consider himself an answer to prayer. Not on speaking terms with the Father right now, Nick is just doing what anyone would do in his shoes.. helping someone in need. But one act leads to another and before he knows it Myla is working for him and her children are fully entrenched in his home and heart.  It just be that Myla and her children are the answer to Nick's unspoken prayer.

One Golden Christmas carries the reader to Marshall, Texas where Leandra Flanagan finds her self... back home, where she swore she would never be... jobless... and in charge of the town Christmas Pageant.  In the process, she enlists the help of local carpenter, Nate Welby and finds that it is a package deal. Not only does she get Nate, but his 3 children too... and one of them has been wishing and praying for a new mother.  Leandra does not fit the bill.. no way.. she is only in Marshall for the holidays, then back to Houston to jump back into the rat race and get her career on track once again.  Or so she thinks.

Again, 2 really sweet Christmas stories that provide a delightful bit of entertainment and escape during the holiday rush!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson (Christmas Book 4)

Another fun Christmas read!  Betty's world us changing. Many in her neighborhood have died or moved away.  New folks move in, but everyone seems to be too busy to speak much less to get to know each other.  Her rear neighbor, Jack, is especially troublesome. Ever since he moved in things have gone from bad to worse. He rarely speaks and when he does it is to respond to a complaint, usually from Betty. His house is a mess ... an eyesore.. and Betty is tired of it.

Then Avery shows up.. her slightly grown, troubled granddaughter who is on the lamb from home.  What is Betty to do with a mixed up kid?

Add to the mix a scruffy dog who seems to belong to no one and everyone and you have the makings of a funny and sweet story with lots of lessons to be learned.

As believers, we are to love each other .. love our neighbors.. love our enemies.. and to consider others over ourselves.. but that loving is often easier said than done.  Betty is learning that first hand.  And God, who works in mysterious way, uses a worn out fence and a scraggly stray to teach her.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson (Christmas Book 3)

A Melody Carlson Christmas book is in my stack pretty much every year.  I have never been disappointed by them and look forward to meeting new characters each year.  Christmas at Harrington's was no less than what I expected.... a wonderful journey into a different world to see Christmas from a new perspective.

I know many readers love their Kindles and Nooks etc. and others refuse to even look at such a device. I leaned a bit toward the refusers side until I was given a Kindle for my birthday this past fall. I still prefer a book in my hand, but I have grown accustomed to the Kindle and love, love, love the fact that I can adjust the font size when my eyes are tired!  I also love that so much is available free!  Christmas at Harrington's was a freebie a few weeks ago and I snatched it up!

Lena Markham's life has been on hold... in purgatory if you will... and now she is off for a fresh start... alone... with no job and less than $100 to her name, which has been tainted by lies and betrayals.  So when she is offered the job of playing Mrs. Santa Claus at a locally owned department store, she is shocked... but she takes the job.  Over time she grows to love it and the children and the new friends she is making... maybe, just maybe this new season of life will be better... truly a fresh start from all the hurt and hardship she has known in life... a time for Lena to discover who she is and where she wants to go.

Then the past comes rushing in like a storm and knocks Lena down... hard... beating her with everything it can... and yet in the midst of that storm, Lena meets the one who is able to calm the raging sea or if he chooses to let it rage, He calms His child by holding her in His arms.

Lena's life does change... in a much different and better way that she ever imagined.  And as she changes, so do others who see her.

Christmas at Harrington's is a reminder of all the second chances God gives us... of His love... of all the blessings He bestows on us and the privilege He gives as He calls us to be His hands and feet.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy (Christmas Book 2)

I fell in love with Mary Connealy's writing earlier this year.  She is one of the reigning queens of Cowboy fiction. When I saw Cowboy Christmas I knew I had to read it!  Sidenote: While we all know you shouldn't judge a book buy its cover, it is difficult not to with Connealy's books. She has some of the best covers out there!

Elijah Walker's heart has been crushed... beyond repair or so he believes.  So when Annette Talbot shows up in Ranger Bluff, weak and needy, he is determined not to be taken in by her charms.  But there is something different about her... something that causes a need to protect to rise up inside him... and he knows if he leaves her alone his Ma would tan his hide.  So to the rescue he comes... time and time again it seems.

Annie is just as stubborn as Walker.. determined to stand on her own two feet no matter how shaky they are and to bear whatever cross the Lord gives her... the more difficult to bear the better!

Both Annie and Walker need forgiveness and healing and maybe, just maybe, they will find it as they help each other through hardship, fear and hurt.

Excellent book... as all I have read by Connealy have been. Definitely one of my absolute favorite writers these days.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Their First Noel by Annie Jones (Christmas book #1)

I have read several books bu Annie Jones and enjoyed them all. Her works are fun and delightful to read.  In Their First Noel, Southern baker Corrie Bennington heads north to Vermont to enter and win a gingerbread house contest... and maybe, just maybe, to find a bit of who she is. Her plan is to recreate an old inn.. not just any old inn, but the inn where her estranged parents met and fell in love many years ago.

Once she arrives in Mt. Piney, she learns that the inn is closed and in the process of being restored. Determined to press forward, Corrie enlists the help of the owner, Andy McFarland.  What neither anticipates is a wish sent "prayer-ward" by Andy's little sister and her determination that Corrie is the answer.

There's a lot more in the air than sugar, spice and sawdust in the Inn... and Corrie and Andy are caught up in the magical mess of it all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Each year I pull out my copy of Preparing by Jesus to read from Dec. 1 - Jan. 7. It is a wonderful devotional book to help shift my focus to the true reason for the season... our Lord Jesus Christ... and to not only focus on His birth many years ago, but to ponder His return.

If you are wanting a devotional to read during this Advent season, I highly recommend this one!

I did a bit of a review on it here:

I have started grabbing these up whenever I find them used or at bargain price. I have given the to my family and friends.  Great book... great gift!

Tis the Season....

For a number of years now I have had a tradition when it comes to reading during the Holiday Season.. I only read Christmas stories from Thanksgiving to New Years.  I collect books throughout the year... rarely paying much for them if anything. I swap books on Paperback Swap (a wonderful site!), I snatch them up at used book sales and I get them from my mom. She subscribes to Love Inspired and passes her books onto me when she is done with them. :-)

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I pull my Christmas books from here and there and see what all I have. There are usually 8.. 10 .. maybe even 12.  Well this year I found a tad bit more than expected...

22! Plus there are 10 on my Kindle (so far!).  I will either be reading past New Year's or have a nice head start on next year. Now there was a time when I could knock out 32 books in 6 weeks... but life has gotten so much fuller and busier and my time for reading has dwindled.  So I don't expect to have these done in 2011.  But I plan to make a valiant try!

In fact, I have knocked out 3 since Turkey Day and am in the midst of #4.  So be watching for Christmas Reviews to pop up on the blog soon!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Love Finds You in Carmel by-the-Sea, California by Sandra D. Bricker

As I have stated before, I really love the Love Finds You Books...I recently discovered Sandra D. Bricker, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  So when I saw a Love Finds You book by her, I knew it would be great!  And it was.

Annie Gray's life has changed and she is embracing it. Determined to bring some excitement into the mundane, Annie moves in with her grandmother, a retired film star, in her bungalow in Carmel and then goes to work as a Private Investigator's Assistant. With the change comes a revelation concerning an long-time guy friend and 2 new men in her life. Will Annie find her own leading man in Carmel or is she destined to be a lone starlet?

Bricker's characters are fun and full of life... her writing style flows and packs a punch of clever wit.  A delight to read.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Book 1 - Winds of Change series

One thing I love about having a Kindle (other than the ability to increase font size!) is the availability of free books. I have gotten some great reads for free through Amazon.  A Hope Undaunted is one of those.  And as a result I will be looking for the others in this series to read.

Katie O'Connor is a progressive woman of the 1920s and her life plan is right on track. She is dating a great looking guy who comes from a fine, wealthy family and is headed to law school just as she is.  They both share a desire to defend and further women's rights in the United States.  With his family's political and social connections, Katie is sure to go far.  

Things turn upside down when Katie finds herself on restriction for the summer... unable to see Jack... working as a volunteer... and worst of all stuck with Cluny Magee.  Cluny was the bane of her childhood existence... a chapter she thought had closed for good... so why on earth is he back now!?  

Katie has plans and she is determined that no one is going to get in her way... but she learns the truth of Proverbs 16:9 In her heart a woman plans her course, but the LORD determines her steps.

God has plans for Katie... can she accept them even if they don't line up with her life plan? Can she accept that God's plan is better no matter how it looks?

Loved this one... looking forward to the remainder of the series.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hope Rekindled by Tracie Peterson

Book 3 of the Striking a Match Trilogy

Hope Rekindled brings this wonderful trilogy to an end.  Book 3 continues the storylines started in the previous books and introduces a few of its own.  The plot thickens and builds... takes twists and turns.

Deborah's life seems to finally be falling into place.  The beginnings of healing are occurring in Perkinsville and Deborah and Christopher are about to embark on the grand adventure of life.. marriage, but before the blessed day arrives Christopher receives a telegram requesting his immediate return home.  With the wedding postponed, he travels to Kansas City only to find his life turned inside out once there. In the meantime,  an old adversary slips back into play and threatens to destroy the Vandermark family and Perkinsville.  Revenge is an evil thing!

It takes more than human resolve to survive... it take God and unwavering faith in His ability.

A wonderful conclusion to this terrific series!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hearts Aglow by Tracie Peterson

Book 2 of the Striking a Match Trilogy

Deborah Vandermark continues to be courted by Dr. Christopher Clayton and to be trained by him in the practice of medicine. Her life in Perkinsville, TX seems to be progressing nicely.  But then tragedy of the greatest kind strikes and her lifestyle... her family... her town.. are all in danger.  Just when it appears things cannot get worse, Christopher receives a letter from home that requires his attention and a interested suitor from her past comes back on the scene.  What is Deborah to make of all this?   Will the community survive... the family... her heart?

This is a series that MUST be read in order. Each book builds on the previous one continuing storylines through to the end.  And the plot thickens with each book and each twist and turn. Prepare to be captivated!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan

Crystal Clark in alone in the world except for her Aunt Kate, so in June 1892 Crystal leaves all she knows in Georgia and travels to Colorado to visit her Aunt and decide where life will take her from there.  She never expects to fall in love with the land or the people, so different from her beloved South, but she does.  Crystal finds a solace there... and a purpose for her life.  She also finds love... not just romantic love, but friends and family and a deepened awareness of the love God has for her.

I love Crystal.. maybe because like her I am a feisty Southern Belle. We both enjoy being pampered, but not being ignored or treated like we don't have a brain.  Crystal may look like a soft withering gardenia, but she is a steel magnolia through and through.

This is the first book I have read by Brendan. It was a free book offer at Amazon for the Kindle.  I am glad I grabbed it when I could. Looking forward to reading the other books in this series.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Daughter's Inheritance by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller

Broadmoor Legacy, Book 1

Fanny Broadmoor is a young woman of means who enjoys the simpler things in life... and she may soon be forced to live that simple life forever.  Orphaned at a young age and reared by her doting grandparents, Fanny's grandfather's death brings changes no one foresaw... changes that bring hostility to the Broadmoor family and threaten to destroy lives and dreams.

Amanda, Sophie and Fanny, although cousins, grew up like sisters and share a bond forged in love that cannot be broken. But will they be forced apart over money, propriety and forbidden love?

Warning.... Book 1 leaves many questions unanswered and a plot thickened with greed and desperation.  No doubt books 2 and 3 carry the story along to the perfect conclusion.  They are headed for my to read stack soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Embers of Love by Tracie Peterson

Book 1 -- Striking a Match series

I knew I would like this book.. Tracie Peterson wrote it and I love Peterson's books!  I am sooo looking forward to reading the other 2 books in this series:  Hearts Aglow and Hope Rekindled.

Lizzie Decker is in a fix.. she is about to exchange wedding vows with a man she does not love just to spite her overbearing mother. How did she get here? and how will she get out?  Her friend, Deborah, has the solution. Run!  Deborah is headed back home to Texas after attending university back East and she suggests that Lizzie go with her.. right now.. before it is too late. And with her father's blessing, Lizzie does just that.

Both girls settle into life in Texas.. a whole new world for Lizzie and a familiar one seen through new eyes for Deborah.  New loves... a jilted groom... an overbearing and uncaring mother... typhoid... and more emerge on the lives of the girls and those they love.. and as they press on through the various storms of life, they emerge with renewed confidence in God and new visions for their lives.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Always a Baker, Never a Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Emma Rae Travis is a confectionery wizard. Longtime pastry chef and baker at The Backstreet Bakery, her creations are loved and admired.. and then she wins the coveted Passionate Palette Award for her Creme Brulee Wedding Cake and life takes a dramatic change. Emma is offered the position of head baker at a new establishment... a one top wedding extravaganza... an old world hotel renovated into a world class setting for showers, weddings, rehearsal dinners, teas and even honeymoons. The concept is intriguing and draws Emma in... as does the owner, Mr. All-Busy Jackson Drake.  Emma is determined to add a bit of fun to Jackson's life and Jackson is determined to avoid Emma.  The result is explosive!

Come to the Tanglewood Inn and join the festivities!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A new way to read...

E-Readers are everywhere.. Kindle, Nook, iPad... and I have never wanted them. Well, I want an iPad, but not to read books.  I love the feel of a book in my hands... the act of turning the page... love it!  Could not imagine I would really enjoy reading any other way.

Last month I had a birthday.  Pretty much every one who knows me knows I am addicted to reading, so no surprise my gifts are often books or something related to reading.  This year I received a Kindle from my daughter and her fella. I can't say I was jumping for joy. I just wasn't sure I would really use this thing. Now understand, I love technology.... love gadgets and gizmos... but I still could not see me reading on a machine instead of holding a book.

A friend had given me a site to find free Kindle books some time ago and I actually had a bunch saved on an old laptop. I had tried to read there via Kindle for PC and hated it.  But for some reason I kept collecting free books. I mean really, who can resist!?

So once my new toy was set up, I was able to move my collection of freebies to it. 60+ books.  I played with it a bit and finally decided to give it a try. Oh my... I will not give up real books, but oh my. Here is the thing.. you can change the font size!  I am 49 and have always had poor eyesight. I was legally blind at birth... had surgery at 2... one eye was saved and is just slightly less than 20/20 these days. The other eye is just on the edge of still being legally blind. Both eyes are over 40 and strain to read tiny print especially late in the day when they are tired.  So this feature... being able to change font size... is like a dream!

It still feels odd to hold a gadget instead of a book and to click a button instead of turn a page, but I have gotten rather use to it and even have a rhythm to it once I get going.

Again, it won't replace books for me.... I love them too much and am an avid supporter of my local library! Plus once I have grandchildren, we will be reading the real thing not an imagine on a screen.  And I have to have real books for the bathtub. I have dipped many a page into the water.  Not a tragedy to me... adds character.. shows love.. I don't think the Kindle would fair as well.

I am adding a list here on the sidebar of a few books on my Kindle. So far all free... I haven't found anything I want there badly enough that I need to purchase it. Books I want to own are going to be in paper for now. But I won't toss the Kindle out either. It definitely has its place in my life... not replacing my beloved books, but adding a new dimension to the reading experience.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dyer Consequences by Maggie Sefton

By now, if you read my blog, you know I love cozy mysteries and Sefton's Knitting series is one of my faves.  This is book 5. Sidenote: the next book in this series, as well as another fave (Seaside Sitters) are both set at Christmastime. I only read Christmas themed books from Thanksgiving to Christmas, so perfect timing! :-)

In Dyer Consquences, the knitters from Lambspun are ready to the winter thaw and the return of Spring, especially Kelly Flynn who is about to embark of the grand adventure of building a home.  Kelly is ready to move from the cottage in town and up into the mountains with her grand scenic views.  She will miss being able to walk over to the shop and enjoy coffee, knitting and conversation with her friends, but she won't miss the vandalism that has been plaguing her lately. What is it with these kids? Why are they targetting her? Slashed tires.. red paint on her stucco.. cracked windshields.. it's enough to drive a girl crazy!

The "pranks" escalate as Kelly's precious Carl is endangered and Mimi's shop falls prey to the vandals and when Kelly thinks the worst has come, a young woman is found dead in Mimi's basement floating in a tub of dye.  Are all the incidents related? Do they have anything to do with the canyon land Kelly has bought? Who would be so angry with her?

Kelly's sleuthing gene kicks into gear and she goes looking for answers.. and, as usual, finds trouble along the way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

the big 5-Oh! by Sandra D. Bricker

This is the first book I've read by Bricker.... or so I thought... then I realized she wrote the first Love Finds You... book I read... set in Holiday, FL. (Great book.. I reviewed it a while back.)

I read this the week of my birthday... my 49th birthday. I guess I could have saved it for next year, but I didn't want to wait.  When you look on the back cover, you see a picture of Bricker. A big smile, laughing eyes and red hair.. no doubt she has a big bubbly personality.. and it shows in her books.

Olivia hates birthdays... they often bring mishaps and even disaster.  So as the big 5-0 rapidly approaches she decides to run away.  She leaves the cold and snow of Ohio to bask in sunny Florida house and dog sitting for a friend.  Seeking peace, quiet and rest, Liv finds instead a barky little dog with a lampshade collar, a flirty old man who insists on waking her with his dawn swim, a too cute and way too young neighbor and a second chance or two she never saw coming.

Full of faith and looks within, the big 5-Oh! is a funny, entertaining tale of life at its best.... warts and all!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deanne Gist

I discovered Gist earlier this year and have been charmed by her writing ever since.  A Bride Most Begrudging did not disappoint.

Lady Constance Morrow sneaks on board a ship bound to America with criminals of the crown... one being her beloved Uncle.  Before she is able to slip back on shore, she is discovered and kidnapped by the unscrupulous captain who is hauling a load of "tobacco brides" along with the criminals.  After a rigorous voyage, Constance finds herself in America and on the block sold to a swarthy farmer ready to bed his wife and produce children.  Fortunately, Drew O'Connor has seen her plight and wins her contract in a game of cards. But Drew is not looking for a wife. He's gone that route before. He needs a woman to cook and clean and care for his younger sister.  He does not find that in Constance, who has no idea how to do any housework.

Forced to marry to preserve moral statutes in the settlement, Constance and Drew find themselves in an awkward situation.  Over time, Constance learns to cook and clean and other wifely duties.. and over time she and Drew learn to open their hearts and let love in.

A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton

Book 4 in the Knitting Mysteries series. Guess what? I loved this book. LOL!  I have loved every book in this series. Fun characters... good storylines... charming setting... my kind of cozy mystery.

In A Killer Stitch,  a local fella is found dead... one who apparently wooed many a lady in Ft. Connor including The House of Lambspun's newest instructor, Lucy Adair.  Lucy quickly becomes the prime suspect, but Kelly can't see it... not mild mannered Lucy.  So she decides to do a bit of digging to clear her friend's name and find the truth.

Read these books in order... there are storylines that carry from book to book like Kelly's relationship with Steve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn

I fell in love with Gunn's writing when I read my first Sisterchick novel. They are chick lit at it's best! Canary Island Song reads a great deal like a Sisterchick novel and I loved it.  Gunn loves to travel and she takes the reader along with her through her vivid detailed descriptions of place and people... foods.... sounds and even smells.  I have never been to the Canary Islands, but I feel as if I have.  I guess this is a bit of vicarious living!

Canary Island Song appears to center around Carolyn and her life.  As is with most of us, things did not go the way she planned. She has regrets, hurts, doubts and fears.  So she runs away... to the Canary Islands to see her mother. And while there is a great deal of focus on Carolyn and her journeys (she has more than one and all are not physical), this book also focuses on her mother and her daughter... three generations... some of the same struggles... some different... all looking for something and holding to each other.  A beautiful generational picture of womanhood.

Friday, August 26, 2011

erasing hell by francis chan & preston sprinkle

To say this is a good book doesn't sound right. The subject matter is heavy and difficult at times.. not the writing about it.. the reality of it.  And yet, it was good to read this book.  Chan and Sprinkle take on this most avoided subject head on diving into the Bible to show what God says about hell.  It is an academic walk... a fact finding tour... and yet it is far from dry and boring textbook reading.  I would love to tell you all the questions are answered.. they are not. Instead we are show the basic truths and given the task to trust God with the rest.. and isn't that essentially the basis of the Christian life?

While the book does take quotes from Rob Bell's Love Wins, which presents a universalist view of hell, this is not a book slamming Bell or his work.  Not at all!  I would imagine Bell's book played a roll in this project coming about, but it is not the central catalyst.  I stated earlier this is a look at the Truth... the Word.. what God has to say about hell.

I have read it through once... reread parts... and have no doubt I will read it again.  I suggest keeping a Bible close at hand as you read.

Ultimately... before all is said and done, this is a book on the Sovereignty of God. And that, for me, is the best news of all!

A Deadly Yarn by Maggie Sefton

Another book in the Knitting Mysteries by Sefton. Love this series. Love the characters and setting.  Once again Kelly is drawn into a mystery... local up and coming fiber artist AllisonDubois has committed suicide.. or has she. Kelly has her doubts and is determined to find the truth.

Along the way she has to deal with a friendship that is becoming more and make decisions concerning her career and whether she will stay in Colorado or return to the East Coast.  Fortuntely she has friends to help her deal with all the questions in her life.

Wonderful read as always!  Already have the next book in the series checked out from the library and in my to read basket!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I have been looking forward to reading this book and am looking forward to seeing the movie. This book opens in August 1962 in Jackson, MS.  I was born in September 1962 in Natchez, MS (2 hours SW of Jackson).  I do not remember these days... for obvious reasons... but I do remember the times from the late 1960s forward. While in no way trying to defend my state (which I love warts and all), I will say that the white families here were not in the majority.  These are affluent exclusive whites... the Country Club scene. That said.. prejudice was everywhere and while there were different levels of action connected to it (we never had a separate bathroom for our maid nor did she use different plates etc. And she did sit at the table and eat with us like family), the inequalities were evident and consistant and wrong.

The Help does not sugar coat the reality.  For that, I am thankful. Stockett shows not only the way these families treated their "help" but also their children... leaving them to be seen but not heard until Mother was ready to show them off.. and then they had better be perfect.  I knew children who grew up like this... still do.. it is beyond sad.

I love that Stockett shows the relationship between the "help" and the children. While we only had a maid a few years of my young life and my mother, who worked outside the home, didn't neglect or ignore me, I loved Josephine. She was, to me, family.  I pray she felt that way about us. I would hate to think she felt we saw her as the women in this book see the maids who work for them.

I have heard a few folks criticize this book and the movie. But, for the most part, I hear praise for it. It is a delightfully sweet and accurate portrait of a far from sweet time in our history.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

I found this book quite by accident. We have a shop near my home called Burke's outlet. They purchase over stocks and such from other retailers and then sell them at a discounted price.  I like to  pop in on Fridays (I get a 15% discount that day) and see what's new. I have bought clothing, candles, journals, linens and all sorts of other goodies there. A couple of Fridays ago I noticed a shelf of books.  Many were by Beverly Lewis (wonderful Amish based fiction).  This book was there also.  The cover caught my eye but I was not familiar with the author. Still, I read the back notes and was intrigued.

Imagine my surprise when I saw someone mention Witemeyer's books on a Facebook page -- Lovers of Old West Fiction.  They received rave reviews from many in that group, so I knew I have made a great choice in bringing it home with me.

I loved the characters and stories and look forward to reading more books by Witemeyer in the future.  Hannah Richards dreams of owning her own dressmaker's shop one day, so when a wealthy patron opens the door for that dream Hannah runs through it with great expectation.  She arrives in Coventry, TX ready to take the world by storm... and a storm she finds.. in J. T. "Jericho" Tucker.  JT finds fancy dresses and such a tool to encourage women to vanity and discontentment and he wants nothing to do with... nor does he care to have it show up in his town.  No matter how much he tries to avoid Hannah and her shop, he finds himself coming to her rescue time and time again.

As he watches the effect Hannah has on the town... on the people... her compassion and love... he begins to second guess his opinions concerning beauty and dressmaking.... and his opinion of a certain lovely dressmaker.

Very sweet story... a feisty female and a gruff fella... wonderful combination!

Shoots to Kill by Kate Collins

Another book in the Flower Shop Mystery series.... another great cozy mystery series... love it! Elizabeth Blume shows up in New Chapel sporting the name Libby and looking a great deal like Abby, who was her babysitter at one time.  Over the course of a few days, Libby builds a life that looks remarkably like Abby's... from her gift shop to her yellow corvette... she even sets her sites on Marco, Abby's man-friend (they are still working out the details of their relationship.)  Libby's mother, former supermodel Delphia is found dead and a young woman in a yellow corvette is seen leaving the scene. Is it Libby? Abby? or someone else trying to frame one of them? Marco, a PI, investigates, but Abby is not sure he is being objective with Libby hanging on his arm. She decides to go out on her own and find the killer... hopefully before he or she finds her.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton

Book 2 of Sefton's Knitting Mysteries series.

You do not have to be a knitter to enjoy these books... I know, I love reading this series and have never knitted a stitch in my life (haven't purled either! LOL!)  I do think you will relate a bit more to the characters if you are a crafter. There is something about a community of people who share a love of fibers or fabrics or embellishments or beads etc.  But as with knitting, I don't think it is necessary to be a crafter to enjoy these books.

Kelly Flynn is settling into her "temporary" life in Fort Connor, Colorado... telecommuting from her office in DC, taking breaks for caffeine and knitting with friend at the House of Lambspun, attempting a casual relationship with a handsome fella and trying to keep her dog in the yard and away from stray golf balls.  If only she could figure out a way to make this permanent.

But it seems homicide is a part of this new life also.  Volunteering to drive a group of touring knitters to a local alpaca farm seems harmless enough, until Kelly finds the owner dead on her latest creation. The police jump right in, but Kelly feels the need to aid them, whether they really want her help or not.

Needled to Death is a fun cozy mystery.. just like book 1 (Knit One, Kill Two) was and just like I expect all the others to be! Book 3 is winging its way here via USPS even as I type!

If you like mysteries... especially the cozy kind, check out Sefton's Knitting Series. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Authentic Relationships by Wayne Jacobsen & Clay Jacobsen

A friend mentioned this book on FaceBook and the subtitle caught my eye.. "discover the lost are of 'one anothering'"  After reading a quote or two my friend posted and asking him about the book, I decided to order it.  Wow!  Good decision on my part!  This is truly a wonderful book... one I think every Christ-follower should read.

The Jacobsen brothers point out that their are verses (commands) throughout the Bible that tell us how to treat our fellow Christians.  And if we would only heed God's word, we would find true authentic lasting vital relationships within the body that in turn make us more effected as we reach out to those outside the body.

While the book does not focus on ever single "one another" verse, it does cover many and, honestly, most of the ones they cover encompass virtues that are found in the ones not discussed.  We look at loving one another, honoring one another, encouraging one another, praying for and with one another, submitting to one another, forgiving one another, being kind to one another and more.

This book can be used for a small group study and has discussion questions for each chapter. If you choose to read it alone, as I did, these questions can be used for deeper meditation and digging into the Word.

I tend to underline and highlight in my non-fiction books. This one is full of pen marks and asterisks.  I have already gone back and looked at things again and again and have no doubt I will continue to do so. I also know that I will be ordering more of this book and giving it to friends and family. NOT because I think they are doing a poor job in their relationships, but because this is just a great focused tool that points us to Scripture and how God wants us to live.  It teaches us, again through Scripture, how to be the church not just go to church.

"One Anothering"... definitely a lost art and one I, personally, hope to revive in my life.

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

I have read one other book by Gist... Maid to Match... and loved it! You will find my review here: Maid to Match Review  So I was excited to start another book by this author and anticipated it being just as fun to read. I was not disappointed!

A Bride in the Bargain is a hoot!  It is a sweet story with fun characters, but over all (to me) it was a book that made be laugh and smile the whole time I read it.  Joe Denton has his land... he has worked to prove it and has a thriving lumber business. What he doesn't have is a wife and if he doesn't get one soon, or prove he had one at the time he started this endeavor, then he will loose it all. Asa Mercer is promising brides... orphans and widows of the Civil War who have no one.  Desperate, Joe purchases one of Mercer's brides and then waits for her to arrive.

Anna Ivey needs to escape... the pain of all she lost to the war and the clutches of an unscrupulous boss who wants more than a cook.  She signs on with Mercer to move west and cook for a lumber business in Seattle.  What he fails to tell her and many of the other women is there is more to the bargain!

When Joe Denton escorts Anna to the preacher she is appalled!  She came to be a hired cook not a wife and she wants nothing to do with marriage! With only a few months left before he loses all he has, can Joe convince Anna that marriage would serve them both well?

There are so many twists and turns and hilarious happenings in this book.. not only with Joe and Anna, but with some of the other characters like Mrs. Wrenne and her lack of teeth or the Judge and his nameless children called One, Two, Three and Four!

Delightful book!  Put it on your "to read" list. You will not be disappointed!

From a Distance by Tamara Alexander

This is book 1 is the Timber Ridge Reflections series.  It took a bit for me to get into this book, but I think that was more to do with me than the book. I had just finished a series that I adored and was still caught up in the characters there.  However, once I got connected with the characters of this book I was enthralled.  This would be classified as a historic romance but what I love is the romance is light... not overbearing... it is very real feeling... not fairy tale.  There are other issues and circumstances happening and the romance is just a part of it all, not the main thrust.  I am hopeful the other books in this series will be the same.

The setting is the late 1800s, after the Civil War.  Elizabeth Westbrook has travelled from her refined upbringing in Washington, DC to the rugged wild west of the Colorado Territory. Her goal? to capture the grandeur of the landscape with her camera lens and send them back to the Washington Chronicle in hopes of becoming their next photojournalist.. and the first female on staff.

Former Confederate Sharpshooter, Daniel Ranslett is running from a past riddled with hurt and death and guilt.  He will do whatever it takes to protect his secrets, his land and his solitude.

When Elizabeth and Daniel's paths cross it is not an easy passing.  The two start off on the wrong foot and appears they will never find common ground.  Then Elizabeth stumbles across a murder and finds herself in the danger.  Her protection falls to Daniel as he is called on to repay a debt to an old friend.  Forced to journey together through the Colorado mountains, these two come face to face with their pasts, their futures and each other.

Excellent book!  Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Praying in the Messiness of Life by Linda Douty

When I saw this book advertised in a catalog, I thought  "Must Read!"  I ordered it and read it... and have mixed feelings about it. I will say that I would not recommend it to someone unless I knew they were mature in their walk with the Lord and were in the Word seeking Him and His truth.  Do I think this book is heresy or blasphemy? Not at all! But it is a bit freer in its thinking and, I believe, could be used to send someone off on the wrong track.

For example, in the chapter on Praying with the Surroundings there is a section called "The Teaching of Trees."  Here the author suggest that you find a large tree that you can stand under.  "Be aware of your feet solidly planted on the ground and then slowly look up through the leaves and branches.  Be silent for several minutes, open to what the tree has to teach you."  Being open to what the tree has to teach you is what bothers me a bit. I know that I learn from being in nature.. from observing... and pondering the things I see in light of my knowledge of God. However, I fear this practice of being open to what the tree has to teach you could easily be misconstrued as being one with nature and seeing the tree as a living being that teaches.  Sound far-fetched? Maybe, but there are people who worship nature and this kind of exercise fits right in with their practices.

On the other hand, there are points in here about praying scripture, being still and listening to God, and other prayer practices that line up with the Word of God.  

So the book is not a total wash... it is just one that needs to be read in light of Scripture (as all books should be) and.. well, prayerfully. If you choose to read this book, ask the Spirit to show you what is valuable and what needs to be avoided.  And honestly, if you are looking for a book on prayer and ways to pray, there are many others out there that are "safer" choices such as A Fresh Vision of Jesus by Cheri Fuller, The Hour that Changes Everything by Dick Eastman, and Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion by Debbie Williams (to name a few).  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lassoed in Texas Series by Mary Connealy

These very well may be my favorite fiction books of 2011. They are certainly my faves so far this year! I devoured them. Housework... cooking... sewing... talking... even the computer took a back seat to these. I just loved them!

First they are set in the old west... a setting I love... the heroines are strong (even when they don't think they are) and quirky ... love that!... and there are cowboys involved... I love that too! LOL!  The titles are great too... as is the cover art. I try my best not to judge a book by its cover, but these covers grabbed my eye! I couldn't resist them!

Book 1: Petticoat Ranch

Sophie Edwards and her girls are doing just fine. Never mind they see no one and live in a hovel in a thicket far from civilization.  Still Sophie knows her time is short and she needs help. She cries out to the Lord and he answers in grander ways than she could have imagined.

Clay McClellan is searching for his long lost brother. Imagine his surprise when he finds Cliff is dead and has left a widow and four angelic girls.  Christian duty rises up in Clay and he insists that Sophie marry him, after all she and the girls need protection. Or do they?

In the midst of adventure and intrigue as Cliff's killer returns for "what is his", the reader finds much laughter and love. Sophie is not ordinary female and she is not planning on changing her ways.

Can these mismatched newlyweds find common ground and build a family in the face of danger and hardship on the Texas Frontier?

Book 2: Calico Canyon

We meet Grace in Book 1. She is a prim and proper school teacher new to the wild west of Texas.  Imagine her surprise when she wakes up in the home of Daniel Reeves with Daniel and his four wild boys who have terrorized her schoolroom every day she has been there.  To protect her reputation, Grace is forced to marry Daniel and the real adventure begins.

Daniel and Grace detest each other and their situation. Grace knows nothing of housework and cooking... and Daniel knows nothing of a soft feminine woman.  Add to the mix a figure from Grace's past determined to hunt her down and extract his revenge and you have a wild ride!

Will these 2 as different as night and day make a life together in Calico Canyon or will their differences lead to destruction?

Book 3: Gingham Mountain

Hannah has scrimped and saved and finally has a way to head west in search of her sister, Grace.  But plans change when 2 young orphans travelling on the same train are placed into the care of a single man, Grant.  Hannah knows the life of an orphan in the home of man who works his children to the bone and she is determined to protect these children.

In need of a job, Hannah is hired as the schoolmarm in Sour Springs and determines to keep a close eye on Grant and his brood.

As she comes to know Grant and all his children, Hannah finds her first impression may have been wrong.  But what of Prudence? Does Grant return her affections? Would she be a suitable mother to a house full of orphans?

Hannah's heart is leery and yet she is drawn to Grant and his family.  Hopefully it isn't too late for them.

Read the books in order.. the connect and flow better that way. So good! If you are a romance lover and especially historic romance, you need to read this series!

Anna Meets Her Match by Arlene James

Cute book!  This is a Love Inspired Romance. Reeves Leland has trouble... bees to be exact. They have invaded his home and so he and his young daughter have to leave. They move into Chatam House temporarily. Chatam House is the grand home of his 3 aunts who have decided to use this opportunity to try their hands at matchmaking.  But why on earth would they choose Anna Miranda as a match for Reeves!  All through their childhood she tormented him... such a brat! No way could he ever fall for her!

What Reeves didn't expect was the connection Anna would make with his daughter. Having been a girl without a mom gives Anna insight into Gilli and her antics... an insight Reeves lacks and needs.

Maybe the aunts are as far off base as Reeves thought?

Quick fun read!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love Finds Your in Lonesome Prairie Montana by Tracy Goyer & Ocieanna Fleiss

I so enjoy the Love Finds You books... and this one is set in the west and during the pioneer days... my favorite setting for a Historic Romance!

Julia Cavanaugh loves her life taking care of the orphan girls in New York. So when her dear headmistress announces that the orphanage is closing, Julia is stunned and worried.  She learns that the girls are going to homes out west via the Orphan Train and Julia is going to accompany them. What an adventure!  Julia looks forward to seeing the west and then returning home to New York to work. What she doesn't expect is a surprise... in the form of a gentleman who has purchased her as a mail order bride.

Stuck with no money in Lonesome Prairie, Julia is rescued by a local family and given a place to stay until the next train comes through.... whenever that may be.  Julia spends her time getting to know the west, the families there and avoiding her "husband."  As her heart tenders toward this harsh land and the people there, Julia begins to wonder if God has a plan for her in Lonesome Prairie and a husband too.

Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber

Like most who have read a Debbie Macomber book, she is a favorite author of mine. While I do prefer Christian Fiction, her works are clean and decent and so much fun to read! Hannah's List is such a unique idea and not as far fetched as one might think. I actually have a friend who did something similar when she was dying.

Hannah has been gone for 1 year.... loosing her battle with cancer.  Her husband, Michael, has created a life for himself with out Hannah. One he feels is fine as it is. Others, of course, know better... and so did Hannah. On the one year anniversary of her death, Michael receives a letter.. written by Hannah. She knew how he would spend that first year... how he would feel... and she shares all that with him and then tells him what every one else has been trying to say... he has to get on with his life.  And she wants him to marry again.... to love again... to have children... so much so that she has picked 3 candidates. She does not require him to marry one of the women, but to at least meet each one and go out on a date.

Michael is shocked... angry... overwhelmed...  but over time he honors Hannah's wish and then wonders what she was thinking!  These 3 women are as different as night and day.  But Michael learns that Hannah really did know him best.

This is a story about love... different kinds of love... that young fresh first love... friendship love.... the memory of love... and a new tender surprising love found after a loss.

As always, the characters are rich and real and people I would love to meet in person.

Hannah's List is a must read for any Macomber fan and a great intro to her writing if you've never experienced it before.

NOTE: I have included Blossom Street in my tags. Blossom Street is a series by Macomber and while this is not part of the series, it is a companion book.  Several of the Blossom Street characters are here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nosy in Nebraska by Mary Connealy

Nosy in Nebraska is part of a series called America loves a Mystery. In each of these, the reader finds 3 novels set in the same state... often the same town and with overlapping characters and plot lines.  These are cozy mysteries with a bit of romance stirred in for good behavior.

The three novels in Nosy are Of Mice and Murder, Pride and Pestilence, and The Mice Man Cometh.  Now I have to tell you I was skeptical. These stories all center around a town in Nebraska whose mascot is a field mouse! Yuck!  I do not like mice at all!  I am one of those women who squeal and jump on the nearest piece of furniture at the slightest sight of a mouse.

Truthfully, it was a issue as I read the first book. Of Mice and Murder is good and definitely necessary to set up the other 2 books, but the mice focus was just a bit much for me. However, I am thrilled I pressed on and faced my fear. LOL!  All three stories were fun and quirky (to say the least!)

This is a great summer read... or really whenever you want to be entertained without having to strain your brain!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Christmas Mail-Order Brides by Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Therese Stenzel, Carrie Turansky

This is part of a series called Romancing America. I discovered these books a few months ago at a local Christian Book store and picked up several. This was not one of those.. I actually saw it among the "New" books at my local library recently.

Each Romancing America book is comprised of several novellas often centering around a specific area or theme. In this case, the stories all happen around the Christmas Season and involve a mail-order bride.  I confess that I am intrigued by the thought of mail-order brides. I have read a number of books that center around that practice during the days when the American West was being settled.  I often wonder if the true stories are as fascinating as the fictional ones.

This collection has 4 stories each by a different author, but all connected by Mrs. Mayberry's Matrimonial Society for Christians of Moral Character.

We meet Annika, a Swedish immigrant who travels to Wyoming to discover her intended missing; Jolie is robbed while en route to her groom-to-be while on a stage coach; Elizabeth is ready to put her past behind her and make a new start; and Mrs. Mayberry is in search of closure, not love.  Each woman faces trials and ridicule courageously as she steps forward to take a chance on love and life.

Sweet stories... quick and entertaining to read.

Love Finds You in Last Chance California by Miralee Ferrell

As I have stated before, I have enjoyed every one of the "Love Finds You In..." books and look forward to reading many more.

Last Chance is a historical romance set in 1877.  Alexia Travers has lost her father, but she is determined not to loose her ranch or herself.  Wearing men's trousers and working along side her ranch hands, Alex ignores the looks and comments from the town folk and does what needs to be done to support herself and keep her ranch viable. Despite her best efforts, stock keeps disappearing and she looses an important government contract.  Wrangler Justin Phillips arrives looking for work around the time the trouble escalates. Is he the culprit or really as good as he seems?

A wonderful plot with vibrant characters and just enough twists and turns and secrets to keep you guessing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Drunkard's Path by Clare O'Donohue

Book 2 of the Someday Quilts Mysteries.  Another cozy mystery!  I read a couple of series that center around knitters and love them, even though I don't knit. This one revolves around a quilters.  I am a quilter, so I truly relate to these ladies!  If I ever wandered to their fictional town, I would head straight to Someday Quilts and join in with the latest group project!

Nell Fitzgerald is settling into life in the quiet little town of Archer's Rest and looking forward to her first date with Police Chef, Jesse Dewalt and then he stands her up. Nell, rebounding from a broken engagement, thinks romance is not for her.  Once she learns that Jesse has a valid reason (he was working a homicide), Nell decides to forgive him and offers to help with the investigation.  Jesse is not keen on the idea and encourages her to let the authorities handle the murder while she handles the quilt shop.

Nell does her best to comply, but then a second body shows up... in her yard... and she can no longer sit back and wonder. She begins her own sleuthing enlisting the help of her quilting circle and before long they have wound their way through all the evidence and suspects to find who the killer is.

Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota by Tracey Cross

I have only read 4 other books in the Love Finds You series (all are stand alone books and can be read in any order) and I have loved them all.. including this one. The books are not all written by the same authors.... some are contemporary, some historic... all deal with Romance and are Christian Fiction.  And again, all have been great reads.

I was excited to read Deadwood. I like historic romances set in the West. There is just something about Cowboys and the dust and dirt of the trail.  I was also excited to read a new-to-me author, Tracy Cross, until I read that she has also published books under the name, Tracy Bateman. I have read Tracy Bateman and enjoy her writing.

Jane Albright is a recently widowed young woman with one child and another on the way.  She is thankful for her land and home and sets in to make a life for her children when she learns that her husband mortgage the house and land and has fallen behind in payments.  At risk to loose everything, Jane sets out to do what needs to be done to protect her home and family.

Deadwood is definitely a Christian Romance, but it is also a book about perseverance and strength of character.

Moon Spinners by Sally Goldenbaum

I told you I love this series!  This is book 3 and the momentum holds. I adore the characters and this sweet sea side village. Much like other fictional towns, I want to go here... to sit on Nell and Ben's deck enjoying delicious fare and the warmth of friendship amongst cool salty breezes.

The Seaside Knitters and friends are reluctantly setting aside their Friday night ritual on Nell and Ben's deck to attend a local yacht club dinner.  Decked out in their finest, dancing and mingling and dining on gourmet treats, the night is magical.  Only just minutes away a group of night time divers watch in shock as a red Ferrari plunges into the depths of the sea.  The car is local and one known by all.  Sea Harbor awakens after a night of enchantment to learn that one of their own has perished and then as the grief settles in they learn it was murder.

Once again the Seaside Knitters cannot sit back and watch as the authorities dive into the details of the case and the lives of those connected.  Gossip and rumors run amuck and it becomes evident that this is not a random event as many hoped.  Will the Sea Side Knitters unravel the mystery once again and stop a killer in his or her tracks?

Patterns in the Sand by Sally Goldenbaum

Book 2 of the Seaside Knitters Mystery. This has quickly become one of my favorite "cozy murder" series. I confess I am not a big fan of real-to-life tense mysteries.  I use to read mysteries that were very realistic and chilling.  Then one day I read one about a young college couple who were murdered. It hit so close to home as a friend's son and girlfriend had been murdered while in college. The murder in the book was very similar and it just totally bothered me. That was the last of realistic mysteries for me. I later found out that the writer took her plot lines from actual cases and this book was based on the friend's son's murder. No wonder it seemed so real to me!

So I now stick with safe mysteries that grab the readers attention and provide mental exercise in whodunit, but don't bring on nightmares or deep fright.  Goldenbaum's Seaside Knitters series fits the bill!  Book 2 brings the introduction of a new character.... Willow Adams... and she is a character!  A wispy little elf of a girl, Willow is found in the front window of Izzy Chambers Seaside Knitting Studio asleep! Curled up among skeins of soft wool, silk and mohair yarns along with Izzy's cat, Purl.  Despite her strange introduction to Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, Willow is immediately accepted and loved.

As Art at Night, a summer event held in Sea Harbor's Canary Cove art colony, burst into full festive array, a local gallery owner and artist is found dead.  The Seaside Knitters are sure someone close at hand is to blame and discuss at great length who had motive and opportunity.  When the will is produced and the name of Peabody's sole heir revealed, the plot thickens (as they say!) and the Seaside Knitters are thrown for a complete loop as one of their own becomes the prime suspect.

Quick as a flash they start detecting and deducing and snooping to learn the truth and set all right again in their bit of paradise.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

when sparrows fall by Meg Moseley

Before you fuss at my subject and the use of all lowercase letters, this is the way the author has the title printed on her book. I am just trying to be "authentic" to her work.

I got this book from Multnomah Books Blogging for Books program. I had never heard of this author, but was intrigued by the bit of synopsis provided.  I am so glad I chose this book! I devoured it!  First book that has grabbed me like this in a long time.

Miranda is a young widow with 6 children who lives a quiet life on land that has been in her husband's family for years. When her pastor announces that the entire church is selling their homes and moving to another state, Miranda sees it as a way out... a way for a fresh start.  But then an accident occurs and her estranged brother-in-law comes to care for her and the children. Jack brings the outside world to Miranda's sheltered exsistence and threatens to unearth secrets she wants left buried. 

The tension rises as Jack tries to revive what he sees as a dead existance for Miranda and her children... as Pastor Mason looms in the background like a dark cloud threatening to storm down his wrath and the law... as Miranda struggles with feelings she never thought she would have again and doesn't want to admit.

when sparrows fall is a wonderful tale of freedom... safety... and love.

Under the Big Sky by Kelly Eileen Hake

I was recently at a local Christian bookstore and happen to see a large table with sales items on it.  There were a number of books from a series called Romancing America. From what I could tell, the books each contained 3 novellas set in a specific state.  Some of the writers were new to me, so I decided to snatch up a few and check them out.

One of these was Under the Big Sky by Kelly Eileen Hake. I do not recall reading anything by this author before.  The 3 stories in this book are set in Montana in the same community following the same families over several generations from 1865 to 1916... from the founding families to the arrival of the railroad and beyond.  Each story is a delight... light and dreamy... romantic and set in an idealistic time gone by (which is probably more idealistic in our minds than reality.) 

In A Time to Plant, Delana shows up as a surprise to join her fiance' as he works to prove up their land and make ready their future home. Will her early arrival cause a delay and added burden and ultimately crush their dream of marriage?

Rosalind longs to travel... to see more than her hometown of Saddleback, Montana.. she longs for adventure. In A Time to Keep she gets her opportunity and along with it a chance at love.

And in A Time to Laugh, Nessa turns down the proposal of her long time friend after waiting for it for years.  Everyone is surprised at her no and more surprised when another young man shows up and draws her attention.

If you like historic Christian romance, you will have time of enjoyment with this book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

My husband is an architect and has always been fascinated with Biltmore, the "castle" built by the Vanderbilt family in North Carolina in the late 1800s.  We hope to travel there one day and tour the massive home and grounds which are open to the public and contain the original furnishings from the period.

So when I saw this book at the library and read the back cover and learned that it was set at Biltmore, I knew I had to read it!  And I am so glad I did. The story is delightful, the characters are rich and full and the details create a crystal clear photograph in the reader's mind. 

Tillie Reese has been reared as a servant along side her parents and siblings. It is her mother's dream and hers that she one day become a Lady's maid to the mistress of the house and now it appears her time has come. Mrs. Vanderbilt's maid is leaving and she is auditioning for a replacement. Tillie is in the running with one other young woman.  Her confidence soars as she gains the attention and admiration of the Housekeeper and Mrs. Vanderbilt. 

But the he appears.. Mack Danvers.  Desperate for money to rescue his younger sister from the local orphanage, Mack leaves his beloved mountains and the freedom he has there to work as a Useful man at Biltmore.  He determines that it will be a temporary position, just until he has enough money to save Ora Lee from the orphanage and its abusive director. 

What Mack and Tillie neither expect is to find love at this time in their lives or at this place.  To be a Lady's maid, one must be single and remain single. No relationship with a man at all is allowed.  If Tillie follows her heart, she will forfeit her dream. And Mack is faced with enjoying the freedom of his mountain home or providing shelter for orphans. 

Both must learn to seek the Lord in all things as they look for the true desires of their hearts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Radical by David Platt

The title pretty much sums up the book... Radical.  Platt calls Believers in Christ... those who profess Him, who call themselves Christian, to lead a Radical life. NOT  a life Platt has designed, but the life God has laid out for us in His Word.  

Platt contends that we have created a Jesus in our own image.. nice, safe, comfortable... and in doing so, we have turned away from the Call placed on us in the Scriptures to be different.  We have sold out our Faith for the American Dream and have rationalized it as God's Blessings on us and our nation.  

Platt's challenge is to dig into the Scriptures and see if that really lines up with God's Word.  You will quickly learn that it doesn't.  

Platt does not provide a step-by-step plan of what you do to be the Christian God calls you to do. He does not advocate every believer sell their home and move to another country. What he does advocate is spending time in the Word and prayer and seeking God and His plan for you and your family (if you have one).

This book is chocked full of Scripture... very Biblically based... and very sound.  It will make you rethink basically every aspect of your life and hopefully lead you to truly search out the path God has for you.

Play It Again, SAHM by Meredith Efken

I read the first book in this trilogy last year and was a bit skeptical when I started it. Would I really like a book that was comprised of all emails? Yep!  I would and did!  So I was ready to jump right into book 2 (and yes, I have book 3 waiting in the wings).

I have been on various email loops over the years and am part of a close knit one now.. have been for a number of years. So it truly is easy for me to relate to the closeness and the relationships formed in the virtual world.  Efken has obviously been a part of that world too, because she nails it in her books!

Things continue to move along in the SAHM world.  Ros is back after a short sabbatical and much therapy.  New ladies have joined the group with their unique personalities changing the dynamics of the group a bit.  And ladies who have been there are challenged by new circumstances and a bit of introspection.

But the big news is the retreat! Yep, the SAHM group is getting together to meet! What starts out as a simple get together quickly turns into a big production and looms out of control. But God reins it all in and provides just what is needed for these moms.

Truly a delight to read!  Be sure to read Book 1 first. This is definitely one of those series where order matters!