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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen - A Book Review

Product DetailsJulie Klassen

     This is my first visit to Ivy Hill, and I am looking forward to my next visit. Although I entered this series in book two of the Tales From Ivy Hill series, it worked quite well as a stand-alone read. I don’t believe too much was revealed to spoil my going back and reading book one. I am actually quite intrigued to discover what previously occurred between Jane Bell and Gabrielle Locke, as well as to learn what motivated the change in Jane’s mother-in-law, Thora. Klassen does a good job of balancing closure in this book with leaving enough of the plot line open to motivate her reader to read book three.
     Themes in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage deal with the struggle to ask for help from others, and maybe even from God. While the story is set in 1820’s England, this struggle may be even more prevalent in today’s society that values independence, self-reliance, and pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. The book also deals with the importance of truth: the sometimes-high cost of truth, the fact that truth always has a way of coming out, and the strength of character that is displayed when one deals with a hard truth in a way that pleases and glorifies God. This too is a theme that is pertinent to modern living as we are daily faced in mainstream media and social media with discerning truth, holding our leaders to the truth, and behaving truthfully in our own lives even when the cost may be quite high.
     The main characters in this book are endearing. The three central characters inn keeper Jane Bell, school teacher Mercy Grove, and librarian Rachel Ashford now all working for a living were once ladies of nobility. They are evidence of changing times in England, as are their friendships with secondary characters that cross social boundaries. Changes, even positive ones, take time to accept by people of both genders and across all walks of life. This is evidenced by the reaction and interaction of characters throughout this story, as it is probably evidenced in each of our own lives.

     I recommend The Ladies of Ivy Cottage to historical fiction fans, they will likely be intrigued by the information on subscription or circulating libraries, forerunners of today’s public libraries, that is woven into the story. I also recommend it to fans of romantic fiction, and of course to those who love Christian fiction. I thank NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright - A Book Review

The House on Foster Hill by [Wright, Jaime Jo]    Jaime Jo Wright

     The theme of this book is hope, hope in knowing God’s promises are fulfilled in spite of our circumstances, not instead of them. An unidentified murder victim, who becomes known as Gabriella, leaves behind a diary of sorts that encourages that type of hope in Kaine, a victim of emotional abuse, many years later.  
     The House on Foster Hill is Jaime Jo Wright’s debut novel (She has had work printed in collections of stories.), but it reads like the work of a seasoned author. Fans of Christian mysteries will be interested to know that she was encouraged to write this story by well-known author Colleen Coble. Wright tackled the challenge of a time-split novel, and did so with great success. The connection among character and the smooth transition between the two time frames was well done. The mystery of Gabriella’s murder set in the early 1900s and the mystery of Kaine’s stalker and her husband’s murder set in present day are both intriguing, well-paced, and suspenseful. I will be on the look-out for Wright’s next novel scheduled to be released in July of 2018.

     I recommend this book to mystery fans, especially to those who like a little romance intertwined with the mystery. I thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of The House on Foster Hill in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries

Product Details

By Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M. Berkovits

     This book is thorough in its scope and treatment of this timely topic. The authors outline behaviors and attitudes that indicate a child might be being abused. They also discuss characteristics of abusers to be on the alert for. I was especially interested in the reasoning behind the strength with which even seemingly small infractions to a church’s or ministry’s policy should be dealt. Enforcement of the policy is the responsibility of the entire congregation, so everyone must know and understand the policy. The Policy Guide gives thoughtful information on supporting survivors of abuse, both in the short and long-term. This book would benefit ministries planning a policy and those reviewing their policy.  

     I thank Litfuse Publicity Group for providing me with a copy of this guide in exchange for my review. I received no monetary compensation. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris - A Book Review

Product DetailsLisa Harris
     I have greatly enjoyed Lisa Harris’s Nikki Boyd Files series. Throughout the series Nikki and her colleagues in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation solved missing persons cases, but they were never able to solve the abduction of Nikki’s sister, Sarah. In Vanishing Point we finally find out who was behind the abduction and whether or not Sarah, whose body had never been found, is alive or not. The story actually begins prior to Sarah’s going missing, with the third victim of the Angel Abductor. It ends over a decade later with the families, investigators, and Harris’s readers finally getting closure.
     New characters are introduced in Vanishing Point, among them is Special Agent Garrett Addison of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Jordan Lambert with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Garrett and Jordan had once been close while enrolled in the Police Academy, but their careers had led them in different directions. Now, working closely together on the Angel Abductor case, might the sparks that were once there be rekindled, or have they grown cold?
     The major theme in this book revolves around the classic question of why God allows bad things to happen. How does one’s faith survive when God doesn’t seem to be present? Parents reeling with the fact that their daughters will not be coming home, and investigators who see the dark side of humanity almost daily feel cause to cry out, “God, where are You?” This is a question many we have read of in the Bible have asked, and it is a question many of us have asked as well.  Harris handles this question with care, not offering flip answers, but allowing her character, Jordan, to really articulate a thoughtful response.

     I thank NetGalley and the Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Vanishing Point in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review. 

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering - A Book Review

Product Details   Julianna Deering
     I am coming into this series at book six, but it made for a great stand-alone read. I am looking forward to going back and catching up on the previous escapades of Drew and Madeline Farthering and Nick Dennison. My husband and I are fans of several BBC mystery series, and I could absolutely see a series built around these characters. I would recommend The Drew Farthering Mysteries to both men and women.
     Set in England in the 1930s, the Drew Farthering series has the feel of Christie, Sayers and James; names well known to fans of British writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. In Death at Thorburn Hall Drew and his entourage are tasked to unearth the secrets of their host’s formerly trusted business partner who has begun to act in a very suspicious manner. The investigation quickly turns into the search for a murderer, a search that turns even more deadly and pits our detectives against possible Nazi spies. Nick, Drew’s right-hand man, struggles throughout the investigation as he is torn between dedication to Drew and love of country and his attempts to win the hand of Carrie, the love of his life who has a major aversion to his detective work.
     Julianna Deering, who also writes under her real name, DeAnna Julie Dodson, may live in Texas, but she provides her readers with a real flavor of 1930s England’s upper class. In the fashion of other writers of the same era, Deering provides a cast of suspects and plenty of red herrings. She allows her readers to wade through these and to weed out the important clues, avoiding giving them surprises that come out of nowhere as the solution to the mystery comes to light. Mystery fans will find this book a real treat.

     I thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for providing me a copy of Death at Thorburn Hall in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for this review. 

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas - A Book Review.

The Sound of Rain by [Thomas, Sarah Loudin]   Sarah Loudin Thomas

     It was the settings that drew me to The Sound of Rain: the lowlands of South Carolina, a place I’ve wanted to visit; West Virginia, a place whose beauty touches my heart each time we are there; and Kentucky, a place that I am proud to call home. Judd Markley loved his home in West Virginia until he found himself buried in a cave-in in the mine in which he and his younger brother, Joe, worked. While he found the hot, humid air of South Caroline, the place to which he fled, quite oppressive, he cherished the opportunity to work above ground and to use his mechanical skills, and he decided that he might also cherish his boss’s daughter. Larkin Heyward, whose father owned Waccamaw Timber Company, had everything most girls her age could want: beauty, wealth, and popularity. Yet, something was missing. Larkin longed to follow her God given calling to be of help to others, to make a difference in the world, to go beyond the superficial life of a young socialite. She especially longed to help the people of Appalachia, but might she also long for a certain young timberman recently transplanted from the mountains of West Virginia?
     The Sound of Rain is a story of discovering, embracing and setting priorities, while looking to God for guidance in the process. It is also a story of relationships, and understanding others, accepting them for who they are and where they are in their life journey, taking their hand, and walking alongside them, moving together to a closer relationship with one another and with God.

     I recommend The Sound of Rain to readers who love a sweet romance along with a bit of drama, but with a full share of deeper meaning, a lesson worth pondering. I thank NetGalley and the Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of The Sound of Rain in exchange for this honest review. I received no monetary compensation. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Tethered: The Life of Henrietta Hall Shuck the First American Woman Missionary to China by Brenda H. Cox - A Book Review

     Brenda Cox

     Brenda Cox wrote this well-researched piece of historical fiction based on the true story of the first American woman missionary to China, Henrietta Hall Shuck, her husband’s great, great, great grandmother. Henrietta embarked on this journey with her husband, Jehu Lewis Shuck, as a young bride not yet out of her teens beginning with a nine-month sea voyage to reach their first destination Macau, China, a small island off the coast of mainland China, as western women were not yet allowed on the mainland. Henrietta suffered greatly with seasickness during the voyage, only finding relief by leaning way over the ship’s railing bathing in the salty spray from the sea through which they sailed, much to the dismay of the first mate who feared she would be swept overboard and drowned. He solved this problem by fastening a leather tether to the railing through which Henrietta could pull her arm and hold tight to. Later, being gifted the leather tether once the missionary couple settled on dry land, it became a symbol of the important things she tethered her life to: her husband, their mission, and, most important of all, God.
     Lewis, in his twenties, and Henrietta, in her teens, followed the call God had placed upon their hearts knowing that they would likely never see home or family again. Written communications with those they left behind could take months or years to arrive at their destination if they were fortunate enough not to end up at the bottom of the sea. Other missionary families with whom they traveled, and those serving in nearby locations became as family, as did the local people whom they served and with whom they served. The hardships the Shucks endured came from many directions: climate, politics, social mores, financial concerns, and even from their own missionary board. In spite of these things, Henrietta Lewis persevered in developing relationships into which they could introduce Christ, educating local children, especially girls whose education was not a priority in the culture, and caring for the orphaned.

     The devotion with which Henrietta lived her life is inspirational. The skill with which Branda Cox penned this, her first novel, is delightful. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction, to those who enjoy reading of strong female characters, to those who are interested in church history, and to those who are looking for inspiration or refreshment for their own spiritual walk.         I thank Mrs. Cox for providing me with a  of Tethered in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for this review.