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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson - A Book Review

A Sparkle of Silver (Georgia Coast Romance Book #1) by [Johnson, Liz]   

It has been a very long time since I have read a book about a treasure hunt. A Sparkle of Silver was about finding one of the greatest treasures there is to be found, true love, and this on the heels of finding mercy. This isn't really a spoiler because we all know how romance novels are going to end, but you will have to read the book, with all of its twists and turns, to find out if Ben and Millie find the hidden treasure they initially set out to find, and if so, if it lives up to their expectations.

At the same time that I was nearing the end of this book, I read an article in a magazine written by a Christian with stage IV cancer. Her premise is that Christians, even those who do not adhere to a prosperity theology, often have an underlying idea that if their faith is strong and their actions good enough that life will work out for the best. I was seeing that play out in A Sparkle of Silver until the moment when Millie's Grandma Joy, in a particularly lucid moment, discusses her loss of memory and God's role in it. The wisdom poured out in that moment is worth the time given to reading this book. It is a gift when out of time given over to pleasure reading, a diamond of wisdom, the treasure we seek, is found amongst the trappings of a romance novel.

I thank Revell Publishing and for providing me with a copy of A Sparkle of Silver in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Christy by Catherine Marshall - A Book Review

Christy by [Marshall, Catherine]

Originally published in 1967, Christy is a historical fiction novel based on the experience of the author's mother teaching at a Christian mission in the Smoky Mountains in the early 1900s. Both the real Leonora and the fictionalized Christy at 19 leave their homes in North Carolina to teach children of poverty in the mountains of Tennessee. Having grown up with Leonora's stories, Catherine Marshall was able to make the people of Appalachia come alive. She told the story of their hardships, but also of their hearts and spirits. Marshall allows us to experience vicariously the difficulty of living without basic necessities in situations we would find primitive and grossly unclean. She then leads us to see the mountain people as valued individuals rather than being identified by group stereotypes. We celebrate their achievements, sorrow over their losses, and cheer on their best efforts. The mentoring character of Miss Alice Henderson, a Quaker mission worker from Pennsylvania, helps Christy, the young pastor David Grantland, and the reader come to deeper spiritual understandings.

Christy is not a book that you will soon forget, and is likely one that you will want to reread from time to time. I owe, in a large part, my going into the field of education to having read this book while in high school. Having read it again over the years, it was like coming together with old friends as I read it again five years into my retirement. While the book is based on the community of Chapel Hollow in the Morgan Branch Valley of Tennessee, I am always transported back into the book each time I visit Cades Cove just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and near the town of Townsend where the television story based on this book was filmed. The cabins there are much as I picture those belonging to the book's characters.

I highly recommend this book to all readers, no matter what genre one usually prefers to read in. This timeless classic is too good to miss, and will live in your heart for years to come.

I am grateful to NetGalley and Evergreen Farm an imprint of Gilead Publishing for providing me with a copy of Christy in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Christmas Heirloom (Four Novellas) - A Book Review

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love through the Generations by [Witemeyer, Karen, Hunter, Kristi Ann, Thomas, Sarah Loudin, Wade, Becky]

These four novellas are tied together by a luckenbooth brooch that was passed down through the generations of the family of Lady Densbury. In the 1700s Lady Densbury received the brooch from her husband as a token of his unending love for her. It became an omen of the promise of true love for the ladies who came to possess the brooch. We read of Sarah, a lady's companion, who received the brooch in the 1820s; of Ruth, a widow with a young daughter, in the 1890s; of Fleeta, an orphan, in the 1950s; and finally of Maddie who finds the forgotten brooch in her parents' attic during contemporary times.

While these stories each take place at Christmastime, they could as easily have taken place in another season. Christmas is not an integral part of most of the stories. This is a collection of sweet romances, the type I like to read following the intensity of reading a suspense novel. Using the luckenbooth brooch to tie the stories together, and to link the characters over time, was a delightful touch. I enjoyed stumbling across characters I had encountered in an earlier book by Sarah Loudin Thomas. Other readers may have a similar experience.

I recommend this book to readers who are in the mood for an uplifting, sweet romance. I thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of The Christmas Heirloom in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Shipbuilder's Wife by Jennifer Moore - A Book Review

The Shipbuilder’s Wife by [Moore, Jennifer]   

I have read lots of Revolutionary War and civil War stories, but to my best recollection this is the first story I've read that takes place during the War of 1812. At the end of chapter three I had to take a little detour on-line to reacquaint myself with the basics of that war. I was glad that I did because it aided my understanding of the rest of the story.

While I typically read and review Christian fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed this clean historical romance. Jennifer Moore's research, character development, well-paced story line, and sometimes humorous story drew me in and kept me entranced, allowing me to complete it in one day. I will be on the lookout for other books by this new-to-me author and from this new-to-me publisher in the days to come.

In The Shipbuilder's Wife, Lydia Prescott, a southern debutante, is released from her engagement following an explosion that left her face scarred. Believing no one will ever want her, Lydia is surprised and bewildered when her father arranges her marriage to Jacob Steele, a shipbuilder from Annapolis. As far as she can remember Lydia has only met the gentleman once before, and they didn't exactly take to one another. As Lydia and Jacob learn to live in the same house they consistently misread both circumstances and one another, causing the reader great angst, and a desire to read on.

I thank NetGalley and Covenant Communications for providing me with a copy of The Shipbuilder's Wife in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under not obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon - A Book Review

Hidden Peril (Code of Honor Book #2)

Hidden Peril is the second book in Irene Hannon's Code of Honor series. Her meticulous research ferreted out from law enforcement officers gives her stories a ring of truth. This book confronts the realities of terror cells among us in this day and time. Kristin Dane is helping the world in her small corner of it. Following a stint in the Peace Corp, and some time to learn how to successfully run a business, she opened WorldCraft, a store that sells fair trade items and fosters community economic development in third world communities. Little did she know that her business was unintentionally helping to fund terror cells much closer to home. Detective Luke Carter was still grieving three years after the death of his wife. He struggled with the idea of “replacing” her, but his sister and his growing feelings for Kristin helped him to realize that our hearts have a limitless supply of love and that we can love additional people without replacing the ones we have loved before. Now that he was willing to risk his heart again, he must see to the safety of his new love.

Irene Hannon is a skilled writer of romantic suspense. The romance features of her stories play well against the suspense without detracting from it. Her suspense stories always keep their promise of being an edge of your seat, page turning, wild ride read. My advise is to give up on getting anything else accomplished once you pick one up. I thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of Hidden Peril in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin - A Book Review

Legacy of Mercy ( Book #2) by [Austin, Lynn]    Image result for lynn austin

Reading a Lynn Austin book is always a treat. In Legacy of Mercy Austin seamlessly stitches together two strong story lines, honoring each without detracting from the other. In the late 1800s women of society were not expected to marry for love, but for joining families to the mutual benefit of both. So, Anneke (Anna) Nicholson had resigned herself to the necessity of her marriage to William Wilkinson. The marriage would help her adopted parents both financially and socially. Still her mind, and her heart, could not help but wonder what life as a minster's wife would be like if her and Derk Vander Veen's circumstances were different. While Anna loved her parents and appreciated all that they had provided for her, the simpler, God-focused life of her recently discovered grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, spoke to her.

Cornelia Den Herder had known great loss in her seventeen years. She had lost her immediate family to a fire, everyone who loved her. Forced to live with a cold and distant grandfather and his extensive list of rules,Cornelia was bereft. Now she and her grandfather had fled their native Netherlands for an uncertain future in America. While searching for jobs and a place to settle, Cornelia had come to live with Anneke's grandmother, while her grandfather resided next door with Derk Vander Veen and his father. Geesje longed to help the deeply saddened young woman to repair her relationship with her grandfather, but Cornelia held deep secrets and her grandfather resented Geesje's meddling.

The need to accept and extend forgiveness and mercy is the theme that runs throughout this story. As always Austin has developed characters whose lives will matter to her readers as they, while set in another time and place, reflect elements of the readers own needs and desires. The need to be truly accepted for oneself is another strong theme in this story, one that resonates in today's society. I thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of Legacy of Mercy in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear - A Book Review

The Cumberland Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - book 5 by [McNear, Shannon]   

The Cumberland Bride is the latest installment in The Daughters of the Mayflower series. Each book in the series works well as a stand-alone read. While several authors have been part of this project, they do well speaking with one voice. The styles of writing employed do not vary hugely. This book, like the others is very well researched, and surely places the reader in the characters' shoes. This book in particular especially evokes empathy for both sides involved in the conflict.

Thomas Bledsoe was hired by Karl Gruener to scout for his family as they made their way through the Cumberland Gap on their way to Severns Valley where Elizabethtown, Kentucky now stands. This having been my home for many years now, added to my interest in this story. Thomas had encountered many hardships in life, and held a bitterness in his heart toward God. While he loved his sisters and their families, Thomas had developed a preference for making his way alone. That is until he met Gruener's daughter, Kate. Strive as he may to keep his distance, circumstances or God worked against his purposes in this matter. Historical fiction fans are sure to love Thomas and Kate's story.

I thank NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Cumberland Bride in exchange for my honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.