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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. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon - A Book Review

Product DetailsIrene Hannon

     Trish Bailey had gone through so much turmoil over the preceding two years, losing her father and husband in a horrible accident which left her mother confined to a wheelchair unable to do so many of the things she loved. Seeing to her mom’s care and working as an art teacher in an underprivileged school kept Trish  from focusing on her great loss, and also from forming new relationships. Was the mounting stress impacting her judgement, possibly with deadly consequences? Matt Parker was living a life of solitude, hiding from things in his own past, but was considering the possibility of nurturing a relationship with Trish. His job as accountant for her parents’ charitable foundation often put them in one another’s company. Trish’s mom was certainly in his court. Might Trish be ready to succumb to her mother’s match making attempts? Detective Colin Flynn of the St. Louis County PD only had two people of any significance in his life, his two best friends from school, but their ties were stronger than many families. Yet, in spite of many of his protestations to the contrary, Colin was beginning to sense his increasing readiness to find the right person and settle down. Unfortunately, the only woman he had been drawn to was right in the middle of one of his investigations. Would she still be free by the time things were wrapped up? If not, would it be because of he had placed her under arrest, or because another man was already endeavoring to win her heart?
     When reading Dangerous Illusions, expect the unexpected. Major plot twists are headed your way. If this first book is any indication, Hannon’s newest series, Code of Honor, will be every bit as wonderful as her last, Men of Valor. As a matter of fact, readers of that series will renew acquaintance with a couple of familiar characters, Mac McGregor and, through his stories, his wife, Lisa. While the story has some romance, it is the mystery that keeps the pages turning. It is what keeps me coming back to Irene Hannon’s books again and again, always happy to see when her newest series hits the market.

     I wish to thank NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Dangerous Illusions in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for this review. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Hidden Places by Lynn Austin - A Book Review

Product DetailsImage result for lynn austin

     Once again Lynn Austin didn’t disappoint. This tale of the impact parents can have on their children is bittersweet. The message that God can use it all to form us into the man or woman He wants us to be is heartening. Coming to an accurate view of God, rather than a skewed view created by earthly fathers, makes a world of difference in how we see and handle relationships, and how we parent.
     Matthew Wyatt fled from his father, while his brother Sam lived a life of compliance in his father’s shadow. Lydia led a life of sacrifice so that her sister, Betty, could escape their father’s manipulation. Walter, spared from disappointing his father by way of illness, but still in need of a quiet place of solitude away from family tension. Eliza fled from her parents’ deceit, only to become the deceiver. Gabe also ran from his father, so fearful of becoming like him, of not ever becoming the man he was intended to be. An inability to love, an inability to demonstrate love, not knowing how to articulate love, each stemming from not fully living in the light of God’s love, each impacting the next generation. How many of these would come to know the love of the true Father, the only father who knows how to love unconditionally? How might their pasts be used to lead them on their journey, to assist others on theirs?
     While this book is a tale of romance, it’s the wooing of God that holds the greatest significance. While it is a work of historical fiction, there are many in this present age who will closely identify with the characters and their struggles. While the book includes a bit of mystery, it is the mystery spoken of in First Corinthians 2:7, the characters who seek God’s wisdom,  that is most intriguing.

      I highly recommend Hidden Places. It is a story that will find a special place in your heart, not unlike other books by Lynn Austin, a gifted author. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Complete Book of Sewing Techniques: More Than 30 Essential Sewing Techniques for You to Master By Wendy Gardiner – A Book Review

Product Details 

     I am very much a newbie to sewing. When I retired four years ago, I didn’t even know how to thread a sewing machine. I took a basic sewing class offered to seniors at our church, learned the basics of running the machine, and made an apron. Then the ladies from our church’s sewing circle took me under their wing and instructed me in basic quilting techniques. Until recently I had done very little garment sewing, but was asked to help with some costumes for our granddaughters, and needed to develop some new skills.
     This book was exactly what I needed, and had been unsuccessful in finding in previous excursions to the book section at our local fabric store. It covered the basic skills with clear, easy to follow instructions for both hand sewing and machine sewing. As the subtitle says, 30 essential techniques are covered. Information is provided for each technique describing its function in garment and/or home décor production. The reader is told what types of fabric the technique is designed for, and modifications for different weights of fabric are provided. I especially appreciated the many helpful hints that were given, things that sewers pick up over time, but that will make the process easier and more successful. The book is geared mostly to garment sewing, with attention given to home décor. It is not designed for those wanting to learn more about quilting. This is not a deficit, because the book does very well what it is intended to do.

     I thank NetGalley and Companion House Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander - A Book Review

Product DetailsTamera Alexander

     After a recent visit to Franklin, Tennessee, I was quite interested in reading this new novella by Tamera Alexander. While we had visited the Lotz House rather than Carnton on that visit, thanks to our tour guide, I had vivid mental images of what had occurred around this area during the latter days of the Civil War. As our nation appears to become more divided about the worthiness of remembering this period of American History, Alexander’s writing shows us that there are still things to learn from those who lived through the experience on both sides of the conflict, without condoning the attitudes and events at its origins.
     Aletta Prescott, a young widow raising a young son, and with child, is an inspiration to all who face events that threaten not only one’s way of life, but life itself. While facing job loss, foreclosure, and an almost empty pantry, Aletta is alert to opportunities to provide for her family, now that her soldier husband will not be returning home to do so. If the story occurred in real life, many would say Aletta’s circumstances changed due to a happy coincidence. Others, like Aletta, would give credit where it belongs, with the God in whom she placed her trust. Captain Jake Winston’s injuries might not be as apparent as those of the Civil War’s many amputees, but they left him unable to perform his military duties. To say he was less than ecstatic about his assignment to represent the army and assist with an auction sponsored by the Women’s Relief Society in support of Confederate soldiers would be an understatement. Might his presence be a part of God’s plan? Might this be the best place for his recuperation from his injuries? Only time will tell.

     Perseverance, faith, and forgiveness are major themes in this book. Alexander handles her subject matter with grace and style. I highly recommend this novella and look forward to the series of which it serves as a prequel. I thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for a free copy of Christmas in Carnton in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for this review. 

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden - A Book Review

A Dangerous Legacy (An Empire State Novel Book #1) by [Camden, Elizabeth]   Elizabeth Camden

     Lucy Drake and her brother, Nick, had spent their entire adult lives fighting a legal battle begun forty years ago, a legal battle that pitted family against family. Yet the injustice reached far beyond family, into the heart of New York City along with other cities whose skylines were growing taller. Lucy and Nick’s winning this battle would improve the quality of life for so many poor people living in tenements across the globe. Sir Colin Beckwith had problems of his own, being heir to a dilapidated castle on a failing estate with a sister and 90 tenants depending on him weighed heavily on Colin’s shoulders. His position in the Reuters Manhattan office couldn’t cover the estate’s upkeep, so the only solution appeared to be to marry one of the many heiresses longing to add a title to their name. Once Colin met Lucy, that solution seemed less and less palatable. Both Lucy and Colin were prisoners to their own sense of responsibility, and both longed for a freedom that seemed elusive.
     While this story did not initially capture my intertest, I was rewarded for sticking with it, because several chapters into the book I was completely hooked. I would recommend to other readers to allow the author time to lay some framework, and then get ready to be engrossed in the story. While reading one may be motivated to look at one’s own responsibilities that may be self-imposed, and may be interfering with the reception or awareness of the best God has to offer.

     I thank NetGalley and Baker Publishing for providing me with a copy of A Dangerous Legacy in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation. I do recommend this book to those who like to root for the underdog, and for lovers of historical fiction. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

After the Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart - A Few Remarks

Product DetailsNicole Baart

Just a few remarks about After the Leaves Fall...

  • Absolutely beautiful language, Baart truly has a way with words. This is what kept me reading After the Leaves Fall, enjoying the beauty of the language.
  • The story is touching, the pace is slow. I read this book over a year's time, putting it down, picking it up, but never abandoning it. I just needed to intersperse reading it with books that moved at a faster pace. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick - A Book Review

All She Left Behind by [Kirkpatrick, Jane]      Jane Kirkpatrick

     Jane Kirkpatrick is known for selecting female historical characters as her protagonist, women of faith, passionate about their calling, and possessing great inner strength. Jennie Pickett, wife of Charles Picket would not have described herself using any of those descriptors. She would have more likely used words like slow, unloved, and failure. Josiah Parrish tenderly and lovingly helped her reach her full potential, nurturing her dream to become a doctor. In the latter half of the 1800s, in the state of Oregon, female doctors were a rarity. Something Jennie had only dreamed about, but had never considered as a real possibility given her reading difficulties, not to mention her status as a divorced woman. Josiah was able to open up possibilities and doors for Jennie. Doors which she slowly gained the confidence to walk through.   
     I found it very interesting that the issues that interested Jennie as a doctor in the late 1800s are still significant concerns in today’s society: addiction, abuse, health care for the poor (especially women and children), and adequate nutrition and housing. Jesus said the poor would always be with us, and we are instructed to love our neighbor as ourselves. So as these issues persist, so must we persist in our efforts to care for those thus impacted.
     If you are a historical fiction fan, you will love All She Left Behind as well as other books by Jane Kirkpatrick. Her writing is well researched, and historically accurate. Her author notes inform you as to which fictional characters have been inserted into the story, and the reasoning behind the events she chose to flesh out the non-fictional character’s story. I thank NetGalley and Revell Publishers for providing me with a copy of All She Left Behind in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Steal Away Home by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey - A Book Review

Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom? by [Carter ,  Matt,  Ivey, Aaron]    

     This book lovingly tells the story of well-known Pastor Charles Spurgeon of England and his friendship with less well-known Pastor Thomas Johnson, a former slave in the United States. It is a story based on real events, one that includes many word-for-word quotations. However it is a somewhat fictionalized account of these two men’s lives that holds very close to the truth. The book is well-researched and beautifully told.
     Susannah Spurgeon and Henrietta Johnson, wives of the two pastors, play a key role in the story and in their husbands’ spiritual growth and ministry. Another whose role is key in the spiritual life of Charles Spurgeon, one who was so present he seemed like a real character, essential to the telling, was the depression that hung over Charles from childhood and long into adulthood. His and Susannah’s stories more fully explain the purpose of suffering and why God allows it than anything I’ve read or heard prior to reading this novel.

     The reader of Steal Away Home cannot help but be changed, at least a little bit, by the experience. This book is time-worthy for even the busiest person. I most highly recommend it. I wish to thank NetGalley and B & H Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Steal Away Home in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow - A Book Review

Product Details    Robert Whitlow

     This is truly a book for this time in America. Robert Whitlow takes on the topic of racial unrest, and sets it in the deep south where it has the deepest roots. He works his plot around the shooting of an unarmed, black teenaged male by a white policeman. Whitlow surrounds the story with strong, Christian characters on either side of this legal drama. Right in the middle he places a young, black female attorney who is part of the police officer’s defense council.
     Whitlow deals with the difficulty humans of any color have distinguishing between their idea of how they view the world, and how they are truly seeing it through their personal lens, a lens formed by personal experience, collective experience, the media, and the depth of their relationship with the Author of love. He places this hand in hand with the assumptions each person makes about how others see them. Ultimately through the acts of love of mature saints, the reader comes to realize the impact of seeing ourselves and others through God’s eyes. Well-known pastor Chip Ingram would say we need an accurate view of God and an accurate view of ourselves.
     A Time to Stand would be a great book club book, and provides thoughtful questions for discussion. It is also a great book for individual reading and personal reflection. It is one of those stories that can be enjoyed on a surface level for the entertaining, legal thriller that it is, but begs not to be read on such a shallow level. It is a story that won’t be forgotten once the covers are closed for the final time. While readers will be reminded of Deshaun Hamlin and Luke Nelson as they watch the evening news, I hope that A Time to Stand will be a catalyst to taking a stand of their own, a stand for love, forgiveness, reconciliation and unity.

     I thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of A Time to Stand in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson - A Book Review

Cherished Mercy (Heart of the Frontier Book #3) by [Peterson, Tracie]    Tracie Peterson

     Mercy Flanigan was aptly named. Her ability to show mercy to others amazes those around her, but she realizes that when you embrace bitterness and grudges there isn’t room for the things you’d rather embrace. A lesson we can all benefit from. Mercy is the youngest of the three Flanigan sisters, and the main character in this third and final installment of the Heart of the Frontier series. To truly appreciate her story, the reader would greatly benefit from having read the series in sequence. The sisters’ travels along the Oregon Trail and the presence of two of them at the Whitman Mission Massacre lead up to Mercy’s finding herself in the middle of the Rogue River War as the year 1855 draws to a close. Tracie Peterson’s storytelling skills are backed up by her diligent research when placing her characters in true historical events.
     As part of Mercy’s story, readers will meet seven-year-old Faith Browning whose parents and uncle are missionaries among the Tututni. Faith is a precocious child who learned to read at the age of two.  Unfortunately, the life she knew among a loving family and supportive community spins into chaos with the increased volatility between an army and volunteer militia supported by a government that favored extermination of Oregon’s native population and the Rogue River Indian tribes. Faith proves herself to be a strong young lady, remaining faithful to her Lord and to her family’s instruction. Readers will hope that Faith may make an appearance in a future Peterson series.

     Fans of historical fiction and romantic fiction alike will enjoy Cherished Mercy and the Heart of the Frontier series. I am appreciative of NetGalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart - A Book Review

These Healing Hills by [Gabhart, Ann H.]   Ann H. Gabhart
     Do you remember reading Christy, Catherine Marshall’s 1967 novel about a young woman who moved to the Smokey Mountains in 1912 to teach school, and who came to know and love the people who lived in that region, people whose culture was much different than the one in which she was raised? It is a story that once read will live in your heart forever. Ann Gabhart’s 2017 novel about a young woman who moved to the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky as World War II was ending to join the Frontier Nursing Service resonates in one’s heart in much the same way, as she too comes to know and love the mountain people. Gabhart’s writing reflects her own love of the people of her home state, both in These Healing Hills and many of her previous novels set in small town, Kentucky.
     Francine Howard, stifled by an overbearing mother, and jilted by the man she expected to marry, sees the opportunity to join the Frontier Nursing Service and to train at its midwifery school as a way to not only escape an uncomfortable situation, but also as a way to discover herself. She did not foresee the love she would experience for the people who lived in the Eastern Kentucky mountains, nor for the very mountains themselves. A love that would far outweigh the pleasures of the modern conveniences which she would leave behind. Francine is one of those rare people who sees past stereotypes into the hearts of people, a trait we sorely need in today’s society.

     These Healing Hills is a heartwarming story, one that I would most highly recommend. I thank NetGalley and Revell Books for providing me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing the review. 

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley - A Book Review

Justice Buried by [Bradley, Patricia]      Patricia Bradley

     Justice Buried, is the second novel in Patricia Bradley’s Memphis Cold Case series. While mention is made of events from the first book, this book works well as a stand-alone read, and not enough mention is made to spoil the reader’s possible decision to read the first book after the second.  
     Diminishing funding for the arts and humanities has caused Kelsey Allen to move from working as a museum conservator out of her love for antiquities to opening her own security company working out of her love of climbing and cyber security. These loves allowed her to test her clients’ physical and technological security, then to help them fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, Kelsey may have seen more than she was meant to when assisting Rutherford Security, and now she seemed to be a walking target, placing her own family at risk.
     Detective Brad Hollister kept women at arm’s length after being dumped by his fiancé who could not handle his work in the Memphis Police Department’s Homicide Unit. He was skeptical to say the least when Elle showed renewed interest in their relationship after hearing about his transfer to the Cold Case Unit. Still, he was determined to keep a professional distance as he became more deeply and deeply involved in Kelsey’s case which somehow seemed link to her father’s disappearance twenty-eight years ago.

     Reader’s will find an abundance of suspects as they follow the clues in both past and current cases. Solving the mysteries before Brad and Kelsey do may not be so easy. Trying will keep them turning the pages and putting off other things. I thank NetGalley and Revell Books for providing me with a copy of Justice Buried in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Up in Smoke by Hannah Conway - A Book Review

Up in Smoke by [Conway, Hannah R.]     An image posted by the author.

     Hannah Conway is a gifted storyteller. There are so many things to love about Up in Smoke. Hannah’s characters, main and secondary, are endearing. Her themes of forgiveness and the joy found in a life lived in Christ are clearly communicated without being preachy. The plot of Up in Smoke is suspenseful, yet realistic; the story would play well on 48 Hours and would not seem farfetched in today’s newspaper headlines. Hannah portrays twenty first century small town life in Kentucky without making it seem hokey or relying on stereotypes. The romance in the story is touching without lustful embellishments. The pace of the story and the twist and turns are well designed to keep the reader’s interest.
     Following the untimely death of her parents, Leanna Wilson leaves her New York law practice to return to her hometown in Kentucky to become guardian to her much younger sister. Unfortunately, a will written before she reached full adulthood and a surprising amount of debt left by her parents for her to contend with might strip her hurting sister from her loving care. At about the same time, Leanna’s childhood friend and former sweetheart, Garrison Burke, is struggling to put together an appropriate family care plan for his son and aging aunt in preparation for his deployment to the Middle East. A widower, Garrison had stayed behind the last two times his unit deployed. He knew what staying behind again would mean to his military career, and it wasn’t good. Was there a way that Leanna and Garrison could be the answer to one another’s problems, and if so, would it be a God-honoring solution? Each time Leanna and Garrison seem to be gaining some element of control over their situations, the past in the form of Leanna’s former fiancé, her aunt and uncle, and Garrison’s regrets and fears threw them into a tailspin. Might ceding control to God be a better choice?

     I received an advanced reader copy of Up in Smoke in exchange for my honest opinion. A favorable review was not required, and I received no monetary compensation for my review. I recommend this book to fans of both Christian romance and suspense novels. You won’t be disappointed. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gone for a Soldier by Marsha Ward - A Book Review

Marsha Ward

     Marsha Ward is a new to me author, having only read one of her short stories prior to this book, and I was happy to be asked to read and review this Civil War novel as my reading has focused on this era a lot lately. Based on a wonderful monolog by a docent on a recent visit to the Lotz House in Franklin, Tennessee, I believe Marsha Ward did a marvelous job of capturing the horrors of the sights, sounds, smells and privations of the Civil War. I must admit, while not at all inappropriate in her word choice, the intensity and frequency with which Ward dealt with the desires of young, unmarried men was a bit over the top. Nevertheless, I did enjoy and would recommend the book with that caveat.
     The Owen family is blessed with both strong maternal and paternal characters, and a wealth of love within the family. Julia and Roderick Owen of Shenandoah County, Virginia have nine offspring, ages eight to twenty as the story begins. Father and five sons will serve on the side of the Confederacy during the war; not all are destined to return. Rather than focusing on the issues for which they fought, Ward concentrates on the toll military service in the Civil War took on relationships, on those on the front lines, on those left behind, and on the communities devastated by the invading troops.

     I thank Marsha Ward for providing me a copy of Gone for a Soldier in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. I do look forward to reading her novella, That Tender Light, which tells the story of how Rod and Julia met. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason - A Book Review

Chasing Secrets (Elite Guardians Book #4) by [Eason, Lynette]   Lynette Eason

     Chasing Secrets, book four in the Elite Guardians series, is equally as good as its predecessors. The Elite Guardians are a group of women bodyguards, previously trained in law enforcement, each coming to this line of work through unique circumstances. Each book in the series focuses on a different guardian. Haley Callaghan, the main character of Chasing Secrets, comes to the bodyguard agency from the G2, the Irish Intelligence Service, after graduating both high school and the school of hard knocks. Most of her childhood was spent on the streets with other homeless people becoming her family, especially after her mother’s passing. Her growing up years increased her empathy for others in similar circumstances, and her faith bore fruit in her volunteer work with underprivileged children and teens. Nothing in her past prepared her for learning that childhood nightmares were in reality memories from her earliest years, memories of a life she had been led to forget, of a life fraught with danger, danger that had already begun to seek her out once again.
     Detective Steven Rothwell recently returned to his hometown, joining the police force there, in order to be close to his parents during his father’s cancer treatment. He had absented himself in the years following his younger brother’s death at the hands of a drunk driver. A Christian, Steven was aware of, but seemingly unable to do anything about, his lack of forgiveness and continued bitterness toward the man who killed his brother. He had never met anyone like Haley before, someone so capable of forgiving great trespasses, someone displaying such great strength of character. Drawn to Haley, Steven makes it his job to protect her, in spite of his respect for her ability to do her job, and to do it well.

     New guardians join the agency in this fourth installation in the series, causing readers to hope for more books in the series’ future. Fans of action packed mysteries will love this book, and this series. I thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for providing me a copy of Chasing Secrets in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson - A Book Review

Fatal Trust by [Johnson, Todd M.]     Todd M. Johnson

     I would tend to classify this book as a clean mystery rather than Christian fiction. After finishing reading Fatal Trust, no particular Christian message came to mind. As a clean mystery, it was superb. I could not help but feel Ian Well’s anxiety as his life quickly became a train wreck. His mother is slipping further away due to Alzheimer’s. The law practice he joined following his father’s death is falling further and further into debt. The case that seemed like would pay the bills may involve an armed robbery and murder cold case, and might also incriminate his parents. To say Ian was in over his head would be an understatement, and his only life preserver might be his long-time friend Brook Daniels, an attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Would Brooke be willing to put her job, her career, on the line for him?

     Fatal Trust is a fast-moving, action-packed story. Johnson holds his readers’ emotions in the palm of his hand from start to finish. He masterfully times the revelation of new information, often startling his readers and misdirecting them. Fans of legal stories and mystery fiction will likely love Fatal Trust. I was happy to find that I already have another book by Todd M. Johnson on my bookshelf. I extend my thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy of Fatal Trust in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble - A Book Review

Beneath Copper Falls (Rock Harbor Series) by [Coble, Colleen]     Colleen Coble

     Relationships, they can be amazing and they can be really tough, even dangerous. Within the mystery of Beneath Copper Falls, Coble addresses many facets that may enrich or may complicate relationships. It becomes apparent that having a right view of self, and a right view of God are essential to having healthy, nourishing relationships. Without those views, one may seek fulfillment beyond human capability of providing, one may sacrifice principles and morals in order to earn approval, and one may find oneself in an abusive relationship with no easy avenue of escape.
     Finding common elements in the deaths of young brides-to-be, including her cousin, Renee, has led Allyson in search of a serial killer she has come to refer to as the Groom Reaper. A killer who may have ties to the small town of Rock Harbor in the upper peninsula of Michigan, and who may now have Allyson in his crosshairs. Boone, Renee’s brother, is skeptical of Allyson’s theory, but is ready to pay more attention after Dana’s abusive former fiancé follows her to Rock Harbor. More and more he’s ready to pay attention to anything that might involve Dana as he realizes that she is different from the other women he has known, women who saw his scarred face and caused much deeper emotional scarring. As always Coble masterfully provides clues to the killer’s identity and motivation, as well as an ample number of red herrings to keep her readers guessing and reading.

     I highly recommend Beneath Copper Falls to mystery and suspense fans. I want to thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation. 

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck - A Book Review

The Writing Desk by [Hauck, Rachel]       Rachel Hauck

          I really like books and movies that float back and forth between different eras. The Writing Desk did not disappoint. I was especially drawn to Birdie’s story. Birdie Shehorn lived a life of privilege during the Gilded Age, a position that usually included arranged marriages that were advantageous to the families of the American elite. Young women were raised to meet society’s standards; Birdie on the other hand had been allowed to attend and graduate from college. She had plans to pursue a writing career, to marry for love, and did not see that either of those excluded the other. Her strong-minded mother had different plans for Birdie. Birdie’s strength of character vs her mother’s strength of will, which woule prevail?
     Tensley’s story takes place during modern times. Her story is initially less compelling, but becomes more so as tension mounts. I wondered if the author selected Tensley’s name because of it’s similarities of the word tension. That word described her relationships to the mother who abandoned her, to her past, to her own writing, to her fiancé, and to the man she met in Cocoa Beach while caring for her mother who was undergoing chemo therapy. Tensley retreated from the world wrapped in an old robe until she exchanged the robe for the security of the God who sent her a special song, the same song He had sent to Birdie. Do not be dismayed. Do not worry or be afraid.
     The element that tied Birdie’s story to Tensley’s was a writing desk. The desk originally belonged to Birdie who loved it, and found inspiration to write many successful novels while seated at the desk. Tensley fell in love with the antique desk the moment she saw it in her mother’s home, and was certain it contained the secret to abolishing her writer’s block. The desk indeed held secrets, but not the type Tensley expected or longed for, rather secrets that led to a healing of a different sort.

     Fans of Christian romantic fiction and fans of the old Hallmark movie The Love Letter will likely love The Writing Desk. I would like to thank Zondervan and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Beloved Hope by Tracie Peterson - A Book Review

Beloved Hope (Heart of the Frontier Book #2) by [Peterson, Tracie]     Tracie Peterson
     This is the second book in Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier series. Book one, Treasured Grace focused on the eldest of the Flanigan sisters, while Beloved Hope focuses on the middle sister. Set in the area of Oregon City in the mid-1800s, this second installment largely revolves around the trial of five Cayuse men being tried for the atrocities of the Whitman Mission Massacre. Many townspeople and survivors of the massacre feared the men, including the one who repeatedly abused Hope Flanigan, would not be put to death in an effort to appease the local tribes and thus ward off future attacks. Hope was counting on their death to ease her fears, fears that had taken over her life, but would it?
     Hope, convinced her ordeal had ruined her for any decent man, had put aside any idea of falling and love and marrying. Lieutenant Lance Kenner, tasked with guarding the Cayuse waiting to stand trial, was fighting his own demons, filled with resentment toward the man he held responsible for both of his older brothers’ deaths. Now, ready to return from Oregon City to his plantation in New Orleans, he was not interested in forming any romantic alliances. Yet, Hope and Lance feel drawn to one another. Is there any chance for them, or will bitterness darken any hopes of happiness for either of them?
     I am anxiously awaiting the third book in this series, to learn of the important life decisions made by the youngest Flanigan sister as she considers a path just opening up to women, a college education, I highly recommend Beloved Hope, and Treasured Grace for fans of historical and romance fiction. Both readers of secular and Christian fiction will find this series appealing. While there is enough information provided to make this book comprehensible as a stand-alone read, much of the emotion will be lost by not reading the series in order.

     I thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Beloved Hope in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing the review.   

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard - A Book Review

Product DetailsSandra Orchard

     What cozy mystery would be without its eccentric, little old lady, amateur sleuth? The Serena Jones mystery series has its in the form of Aunt Martha, Serena’s aunt. While Serena is an FBI special agent in the art crimes division, her aunt becomes actively involved in all of her cases. Not only is she involved in solving crime, she is actively involved as Serena’s matchmaker as well. In this third installment of the Serena Jones series, Serena is once again torn between putting aside romantic ideas and her interest in both her partner, Tanner, and her apartment superintendent, Nate, who has many and varied talents. I must admit to mentally yelling at her about halfway through this book, “Just choose already!”
     Serena had thought that a short vacation at Martha’s Vineyard with her aunt and parents would be a relaxing time away. When no one showed up to pick them up from the Ferry’s dock, the family took a taxi to the home of Serena’s father’s best friend whose engagement party they had come to attend only to find that he had died in a suspicious fall. Was it an accident? Was it related to a call he had placed to the FBI over antiquities smuggling, or was it related to the changes he was making to his will? Serena dove into solving the mystery as a way of dealing with her grief. Through unexpected circumstances, both Tanner and Nate ended up joining Serena and her investigation, both vying for her attention when she most needed to focus on the case at hand, and then there is always the “helpful” Aunt Martha.

     If you are looking for a lighthearted summer read, you have found your book! Over Maya Dead Body is a great travel read. I finished it at home in two days. I thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels - A Book Review

Product Details An image posted by the author.

     This is the first book I’ve read by Carrie Fancett Pagels, but it definitely will not be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Maude Welling and Friedrich König set on Mackinac Island in the late 1800s. I look forward to one day visiting the Grand Hotel, and I feel sure these characters will be with me as I explore the resort and the island. I respect both Maude’s and Friedrich’s integrity, and the drive to be both true to themselves and true to their Lord, not allowing the desires for success in their careers to sidetrack them, well at least not for long. This is a lesson that is timeless.
     Chivalry certainly lived in the character of Friedrich König, always putting the safety and best interest of others before his own, even risking exposure of his working under a pseudonym, exposure that could cost him his job.  Maude’s character exemplified grace born out of a relationship with her Savior and from her great ability to empathize, an ability that grew as she worked to prove herself while serving incognito at the Grand Hotel. Will these two strong people be able to get past their misunderstandings and find common ground that will make them a couple? Well, we all know how these kinds of stories work out, don’t we, but you will have to read for yourself to discover the path these two follow.

     As I read My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island, the thought occurred to me several times that fans of Lorna Seilstad’s The Gregory Sisters series, would love this book as well. Each is a book with a strong female character that is at peace with her strengths and abilities, and who also understands that God’s role for women is not to be confused with keeping women in their place. I thank NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for providing this book for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.