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Monday, September 24, 2018

The Abolitionist's Daughter by Kathleen L. Maher - A Book Review

The Abolitionist's Daughter (Sons of the Shenandoah) by [Maher, Kathleen L.]   

Maher's skill with the English language sets her apart in the best of ways. Her word choice creates eloquence, paints beautiful word pictures, and places the reader squarely in both time and place with her well-developed characters. Her research and depth of knowledge is readily apparent. Maher's dialogue flows smoothly and is believable. The reader sees both the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and the Maryland countryside as well as the horrors of battle scenes and prison camps. They see the hearts of abolitionists, slaves forcibly separated from their families, brothers torn apart by a country divided, those with misguided loyalties, and both those hardened and those broken by war's realities. Most importantly they see the hearts given to God and the healing of the forgiveness that follows.

Marietta Hamilton comes of an age where she is allowed to join her family's abolitionist missions. It is on such a mission that she becomes compelled to reunite a mother and son, and as a result falls in love with Ethan Sharpe, an honorable son of the south who chooses to take up her cause and to seek her hand in marriage. The obstacles that keep Marietta and Ethan apart seem to multiply over time, but their reliance on God and their dependence on His Word sees them through, even though, like many of us, they are tempted to and sometimes seek to help God along by pursuing plans of their own.

I always feel like I am taking a chance when I agree to review a book for a new-to-me author of whom I have received no specific recommendation from a friend. I am so glad that I took that chance on this author and this book, and I will gladly agree to review any other books she writes in the future. I am one of those readers who has several fiction and non-fiction books going at once. This time, all other reading was halted as I became immersed in The Abolitionist's Daughter. I thank Kathleen L. Maher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson - A Book Review

In Times Gone By (Golden Gate Secrets Book #3) by [Peterson, Tracie]    

In Times Gone By is the third book in Peterson's Golden Gate Secrets series. Each of the books in the series focuses on one of the three leading female characters. I loved the first two books, but was not expecting this last one to be quite as intriguing as the others because Kenzie Gifford was my least favorite of these characters. I could not have been more wrong. This is my absolute favorite book in the series. Kenzie, who was once left at the altar and subsequently displayed behaviors that I found less than endearing, found her worth and her voice. If that weren't enough, her story and the story of Dr. Micah Fisher became filled with suspense with the reappearance of Arthur Morgan, the fiance that had jilted her. Their lives were further complicated by the spoiled cousin of Judith Whitley, who conspired with Arthur in her effort to free herself from Judith's guardianship. Altogether, it made for several hours of reading pleasure.

As in the previous books, In Times Gone By continues to stress the importance of caring for those less fortunate than ourselves. While the three couples were already working to assist the poor of San Francisco, the great earthquake and resulting fire made the need even greater. Today we have no less opportunities to reach out to those in need whether due to lack of education, economic setbacks, or natural disasters. Our world is ripe with opportunities for ministry. Peterson does a good job of utilizing her platform to bring the needs of the poor and disenfranchised to the forefront, and to assure her readers that finding solutions is within the realm of possibility. She does this while thoroughly entertaining her readers, and without sounding preachy.

I thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishing for providing me with a copy of In Times Gone By in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris - A Book Review

A Secret to Die For by [Harris, Lisa]  

I always wonder how Lisa Harris pegs the American culture so well when she and her family have been missionaries in Africa for over thirteen years. However, she does it and she does it quite well. In A Secret to Die For Lisa deals with universal issues such as dealing with loss and having the courage to love. She also deals with first world concerns of cyber security, the enormity of our dependence on the electrical grid, and the fear that the loss of which will bring out the worst in humanity.

Psychologist, Grace Callahan has experienced the loss of her daughter to cancer and the loss of her husband to grief. Police detective, Nathaniel Quinn has experienced the loss of his partner and team to terrorists. Now these former college friends are thrown together in an effort to stop the loss of our nation's security, economy, and way of life, not to mention the loss of so many human lives to the work of those fueled by greed. Assault, home invasion, and kidnapping keep the readers on the edge of their seat, suspicion keeps them turning pages long into the night.

I am grateful to NetGalley and Revell for providing me with a copy of A Secret to Die For in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review, and received to monetary compensation.

The Rock That Is Higher by Madeleine L'Engle

The Rock That Is Higher: Story as TruthImage result for madeleine l'engle

L'Engle wrote The Rock That is Higher in the aftermath of a terrible automobile accident. It would appear that the lengthy period of recuperation gave her time to muse over Christianity's place and roll in her life and life in general. L'Engle does not separate the spiritual and secular, but sees the ways in which the two are closely knit together. She sees God and Jesus as an intricate part of home, family, love and truth in the lives of believers.

L'Engle comes from a line of storytellers. She recognizes how humanity uses stories to enrich, explore, reveal, and teach. When reading and listening to stories Christians can see God in the truths that are uncovered. She makes the point that truth is not to be confused with facts. Fiction can be a wonderful vessel for truth. After all, didn't Jesus use parables to reveal truth?

While theologically I am not one hundred percent aligned with L'Engle. She graciously allows and encourages personal exploration and interpretation. Her writing gives the reader much to think about.

This book is written in a very personal style. The reader feels as if he or she is sitting across the table from the author with a cup of tea and an open family scrapbook. L'Engle reveals intimate moments from her life's experience in very poised prose. I thank NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Rock That Is Higher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Monday, September 17, 2018

An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White - A Book Review

An Hour Unspent (Shadows Over England Book #3)Image result for roseanna m white

This is Roseanna White's third book in her Shadows Over England series. While I have not read the first two, although I am very anxious to now, I had no difficulty following the story line of An Hour Unspent. Barclay Pearce is the head of an unusual family, a family made up of street youth and children who became brothers and sisters. While once they survived by doing whatever they deemed necessary, including conning, pick pocketing, and other forms of thievery, led by Barclay the family has turned itself around, now relying on Christ and honest work to meet their needs. Barclay is especially inspired by Ephesians 4:28. Evelina Manning is the only child of Cecil Manning, a clockmaker who dabbles in applying his skills to other endeavors, most recently to creating a synchronized gear that could be of great importance to the Royal Naval Air Force. Barclay is assigned to work with and encourage the clockmaker, but it is Evelina who endears him.

The themes of this book are becoming a new creature in Christ, loving and caring for the “least of these,” and equality among all people. Heady stuff, but well presented within a captivating story. This book will challenge the reader to engage in some soul searching and self-evaluation. Things that are good when, as White's characters suggest, they are done while looking through the eyes of Christ.

I thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of An Hour Unspent in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

In Dreams Forgotten by Tracie Peterson - A Book Review

In Dreams Forgotten (Golden Gate Secrets Book #2) by [Peterson, Tracie]      

     In Dreams Forgotten is the second book in Peterson's Golden Gate Secrets series. It is set in the early 1900s San Francisco. In the first book the mystery of Camri Coulter's missing brother is solved. This book focuses on the search for Judith Gladstone's aunt and any other living relatives that she and her friends could locate. Their search has unexpected results and consequences, ones that will take readers by surprise and keep them engaged with the story. Judith's search is not limited to her family, she is also searching for God, His will, and a closer relationship with Him. Camri's brother, Caleb, becomes her mentor on this quest, and they discover a relationship growing between them as well.

     Tracie Peterson's books always provide an entertaining read. She develops characters that charm their way into her readers' hearts. Peterson includes Christian insights in a way that compliments the story without ever appearing forced. I thank NetGalley and Bethany House for providing me with a copy of In Dreams Forgotten in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Freedom's Light by Colleen Coble - A Book Review

Freedom's Light by [Coble, Colleen]   

     I have been a big fan of Colleen Coble's mysteries for a long time, but this is the first of her historical novels that I have read. While her voice is different in this genre, it is just as delightful.

     Freedom's Light takes place during the American Revolution. Hannah Thomas has fled an distressing situation in her hometown in South Carolina, married an older man, for whom she has great respect but little passion, and moved to the coast of Massachusetts. When her husband answers the call to serve in the military, Hannah finds herself as a young widow and keeper of a lighthouse. She has no friends in the legalistic Congregational Church and no support from her late husband's family. Only her deep love for God sustains her during long, lonely days and from the repercussions of her nontraditional attitudes. God provides for Hannah in some very unexpected ways. The reader will easily become immersed in Hannah's story, feeling the “waves” that batter her like the ocean waves batter the ships off the coast from her lighthouse.

      I recommend Freedom's Light to historical fiction and romantic fiction fans. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.