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!


A Rose from the Dead by Kate Collins

I discovered Collins' Flower Shop mysteries a year or so ago in my local library when I was perusing the shelves to see what was there. I devoured every one they had in stock and loved them all!  So I was thrilled when I stumbled across some more books in the series at a local used bookstore.

Again, this is a secular series.. one of the few I read. Cozy mysteries with fun characters.  This series has some of the most delightful clever writing I have enjoyed in a while.  I enjoy books that entertain and even are a bit light hearted, but not dumbed down. I appreciate clever and witting and even subtle humor in books. This series has all of that.

Abby Knight is the owner and operator of a flower shop, Bloomers,  and she will do just about anything to make it succeed.. including attending a convention for funeral directors to drum up some business.  She laughs at the various characters there.. the pranks.. the jokes.. the events (casket decorating!).. but she isn't laughing when the director of the conference is found dead in a casket and her friend, Delilah is the prime suspect.

Abby sets out to  prove Delilah is innocent and find the real killer no matter what.... and that what could be serious business for Abby!

There are 10 books in this series (don't know if more are coming). I have now read the first 6 and have #7 & #8 in my "to read" pile.. and no doubt I will be snatching up #9 & #10 soon!


Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton

This is book one in Sefton's Knitting Mysteries series.... a new to me series, but one that has been out a while.  It is also a secular book. I am careful these days about what secular books I read as so many are vulgar and distasteful. This one was not.... very good read and very clean read.

I am not a knitter, but that in no way hinders the reading experience.  Being a person who loves to create (I am a quilter), I understand the way knitters feel about yarns and fibers (I feel the same about fabrics)... and the sense of accomplishment when a project is completed or the frustration when it isn't going the way you planned.  I also understand how the creative process fuels thought and peace.  All that said.. knitting is woven with in the book since a good bit revolves around a Knitting Store, but even if you are a non-creative person, you can enjoy this book. Knitting is not the focal point, just a useful catalyst.

Kelly Flynn is an up and coming CPA in Washington, DC. She has come home to handle her Aunt Helen's estate.  It is still difficult for her to believe Helen is gone and more difficult to understand how the accident happened. In fact, the more Kelly thinks about it, the more certain she becomes that it wasn't an accident. And so what starts out as a desire to make sense of it all, turns into an investigation to uncover the truth.

Along the way, Kelly finds family secrets, new friends, doubts about her own path and maybe even a twinge of love.

Wonderful cozy mystery!  Looking forward to the others in the series. (There are 9 so far!)


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cozy in Kansas by Nancy Mehl

This book is part of Heartsongs America Loves a Mystery series. Each book centers around one state and contains 3 romance mysteries. I have enjoy each one I have read so far. Light-hearted cozy mysteries... love it!

This one may be may be my favorite so far. I love the setting, the characters (and there are some characters here!)... all of it.

Winter Break, Kansas is a small town with some of the most fun eccentric characters seen... and they are all so real to me!  Not so strange they couldn't really exist.  Ivy Towers grew up in and out of Winter Break as she came to visit her Aunt Bitty. Now Ivy is back not to visit Bitty, but to bury her after an accident in her bookstore. But was it an accident and if not, who would want to kill Bitty?  Ivy is determine to get to the bottom of things and along the way she finds that small towns where folks know everything about everyone also have secrets.

Each mystery builds a bit on the previous ones as the reader not only comes along to find out "Who Done It", but also enjoys life in Winter Break as its citizens go about day to day.

I am a sucker for small town America... Romance.. and Mystery... and then add that the main character owns a book store... perfect!

There is a 4th Ivy Towers Book. I plan to purchase it soon and dive right in to see what she, Amos, Ruby, Bert and the gang are up to these days!