Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Psalm Hymns

     BOOK REVIEW:   Ever wonder what a modern Psalter would look like? Dramatic. Contemplative. Singable. Recitable! Use for performance, character building, historical education and for the thrill! Psalmody, here, is set to the rhythm, tune and meter of the great hymns of the Faith but it leaves the interpretive delivery up to the reader or singer. This modern Psalter contains the sacred lyrics of the first 98 Davidic Psalms which are the first three books of the Biblical Old Testament Psalms. 

     MY REVIEW:   This book is published in a coffee-table size book. It is softcover, and opens easily to each page. The words are clearly printed on white pages, with gray and white pictures scrambled through intermittently. 
     Each psalm is written in lyrical form, divided into lines and verses, with the tune of an old church hymn printed at the top of the page. Also included for each psalm is a brief description of the type of psalm and, when applicable, to whom, by whom, or why it is written. The hymns are accompanied by the name of it's artist and date of composure. At the end of each psalm is a note, either clarifying a thought, defining a word or two, a short devotional type, or suggestion of performance. 
     This book is really quite neat, though I was disappointed that the psalms could not be kept in their precise wording. The hymns chosen are beautiful and fit perfectly to the words. A few used are: Still, Still, Still; All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name; and Be Thou My Vision. They also match the feeling of the psalm, being either contemplative, active, joyful, or slow. 

   I received a copy of this book from BOOK CRASH per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 

Break Open the Sky

     BOOK REVEIW:   In a world that thrives on fear, have faith.    Compared to all previous generations, we are safer, live longer, hurt less, and earn more. Yet we are more afraid that ever. Fear has slipped into our souls, leaving us on edge and constantly anxious. No longer a safe harbor, a source of strength, or a bastion for love, faith has fallen prey to a culture of fear.
    We face a defining moment. Will we cave to fear or rise in faith? Stephan Bauman, the former president of World Relief, has seen firsthand in some of the most difficult places in the world how it is possible to embrace love in the face of fear. Break Open the Sky is an invitation to live in authentic faith, free from fear and its debilitating symptoms.
     By embracing Jesus's core yet counterintuitive teachings on truth, love, and risk, you can find freedom from the fear of the unknown, release from the uncertainty of the other, and liberation from the anxieties that hold you back.
     Are you ready to pursue a countercultural kingdom of grace and love rather than safety and comfort? If so, here is your guide for changing the atmosphere of your culture, church, and world. It will only happen as you take risks big enough to brak open the sky.

     MY REVIEW:   One of the first things I liked about this book was the amount of Biblical references included, as well as quotes from other authors, philosophers, etc. I like seeing the unity between authors like that.
     Stephan splits his book into three core segments: Truth, Love, and Risk outlining how each is a necessary component of true faith. Different points are made such as the need to love those who are different from us, the necessity of suffering, and how not to fear trials.
     In the section on Risk, Stephan outlines several ways to treat people, ranging from showing hospitality, to avoiding the pecking order, and to seeing everyone--including the poor and desperate--as real people with real lives and real feelings. And most importantly---as equals.
     I feel like I didn't retain anything from this book, which makes reviewing it quite a challenge. It didn't hold my interest very well, but I had just finished a top-notch book, so it didn't stand much of a chance to begin with. Perhaps it will be better the second time around.

  I recieved a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Name Unknown

     BOOK REVIEW:   Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond that of the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets---instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she is offered the challenge of a lifetime---determining whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family's history, their very name?
     As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown---so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
     When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth---about Peter's past and about the undeniably attraction kindling between them.

     MY REVIEW:   This book had a different storyline than most historical fictions I've read. A professional thief infiltrating the home of a solitary secret novelist in an attempt to gauge his loyalty. It peaked my curiosity, and I enjoyed reading it.
    A Name Unknown  is Roseanna White's first book in her new SHADOWS OVER ENGLAND series. Book two, A Song Unsong will be out in January 2018, and the third, An Hour Spent", will of course be sometime after that, but I couldn't find a date. Her latest completed series, LADIES OF THE MANOR, consists of The Lost Heiress, The Reluctant Duchess, and A Lady Unrivaled. This is the first and only book of Roseanna's that I have read, but I may be checking out a few others, who knows.
     One thing that I became aware of while reading this book is the utter hatred people can have of others, based only on their name in turmultous times. Peter's name was German, but his heart was British. But his enemies refused to see that---they were run by fear.
    Rosemary was surprised to find a rich and decent man, having assumed for years they were either or. As the story plays out, she sees it is because of Jesus in his life that Peter had the compassion and wisdom he did.
     It is also interesting to read a novel about a man writing a novel. I enjoyed seeing how his story came together. It was also interesting how very different his main character was from himself.
  I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bacon and Cheese Smothered Garlic Chicken

I made this for supper last night, and we LOVED it!! It is really easy to make, and can be eaten plain or over pasta (we ate it over egg-noodles). I didn't have mozarella cheese on hand, so I used shredded, neither did I add the spinach or tomatoes. And since I didn't have heavy cream, I used a skimpy cup of milk and used cornstarch to thicken the gravy.

Braving It

     BOOK REVIEW:   Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to only a handful of people, is a harsh and lonely place. So when James Campbell's cousin Heimo Korth asked him to spend a summer building a cabin in the rugged Interior, Campbell hesitated about inviting his fifteen-year-old daughter, Aiden, to join him: would she be able to withstand clouds of mosquitoes, the treat of grizzlies, bathing in an ice-cold river, and hours of grueling labor? Their Alaskan adventure---and two more over the next year---would test them and their relationship as never before. At turns poignant and humorous, Braving It is an ode to America's disappearing wilderness and a profound meditation on what it means for a child to grow up---and a parent to finally, fully let go.

     MY REVIEW:   If I were only judging this book purely by its level of interest and factual details, I would give it five stars, as it was very interesting and held my attention. However, the amount of language included was very disappointing. There are only a few words used, but they are used on every page.
     It was interesting to read about life in extreme Alaska---unbelievable cold in winter and swarming mosquitoes in summer. But the sound of the view is amazing.
     I can't even begin to imagine the hiking and canoeing they did in thier last journey---I only know I would never have been able to do it. :)

   I recieved this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS, per their blogger program. I was not required to write aught but an honest review. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fruit Pizza

For dessert last night, I decided (or rather, was asked) to make fruit pizza. I had made one a week or so ago, but it was gone much too quickly for our liking. :) So this time I made two. 
And since we had an anniversary, I tweeked the rows of fruit just a wee bit. :)

Friday, June 23, 2017

High as the Heavens

     BOOK REVIEW:   A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a cafe.....or so it seems. Eve's most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.
      When a plane crashes as she's en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to recognize the badly injured pilot as British RFC Captain Simon Forrester. She risks her life to conceal him from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgian alive?

      MY REVIEW:   This book tells the story of Eve Marche, a Red Cross nurse fighting for freedom while working among the Germans. She uses her job to collect intel for the Allies, but is hounded by a co-worker to report for the Germans. Add to all this the mysterious British pilot who crashes over her town. But wait, she knows this pilot! This launches a risky venture to save him from the Germans who want to imprison him as a spy. Little do they know, he is more than just a spy. He is....... ah, a surprise!
     I won't tell you who the pilot is, though it comes out early on in the book. When I read the cover, I missed the part about Eve knowing who the pilot was, so I was quite surprised to find out his identity while reading. This only made the story more interesting, I thought.
     Eve is battling memories from early in the war, when she and her family were forced to flee their home. As the story progresses, she finds the courage and faith she needs to share these memories and be free from their hold.
     As with all groups risking everything to pass intel on to one another, there are traitors around. And people who seem to know more than they should. How to tell if one is true or not? Involved or well-informed? Trustworthy or traitor? It all makes me quite content to have missed that era! :)
     This is not the first book Kate Bresslin has written. Her first is For Such a Time, set in 1944. Her second is Not by Sight, set in WWI. High as the Heavens is her third book.
   I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Almost There

     BOOK REVIEW:   On the move....again? Wondering when you will "arrive"?    The impermanence of home tends to be one of life's most recurring surprises. Is it possible to build a permanent  sense of home in a rootless life? If home is where the heart is, what can we love that will quiet the restlessness within?
     Take heart. You aren't adrift after all. When our hope of home is rooted in an unchangeable God, we are not uprooted, lost, or made homeless by change. We become found ones on the move.

     MY REVIEW:   Bekah Defilice is the wife of a former marine, and this book tells of their lives during those years. The theme is most especially focused on making a home amidst all the moving.
     I love how Bekah tells of finding God and His mercy in the trials and joys of those years. It's almost as though she is discovering and pondering them as she tells them. For example:

  • I wonder, too, if God doesn't use this sort of transience to draw us to Himself, if He doesn't occasionally wring out the things we don't want to give him, in order to expose all the ways we don't trust Him. 
  • It seems to me that the good news of the gospel gets even better for those on the move, because God gave us family that traverses geography, a community of people that all call the same person Father. 
  • And in between the cracks of our insufficient tries were prayers that banked on the hope that God, in His own mysterious sufficiency, could hold us together far better than we knew how to do ourselves. 
     She also finds many lessons in the challenges she faced. I would write some here, but they seem to be evading me. :(   Bother. 
     I really enjoyed reading about the life of a marine wife. Having to move every three or so years, husband leaving on deployments of six to twelve months, finally learning how to live independently only to learn how to share with a husband again, and many more. 
     I really enjoyed reading this book---it is only 168 pages, which makes it feel short and sweet with no time for it to get dry. And of course, the cover only adds to the effect. :) 

      I received a copy of this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Freedom's Price

     BOOK REVIEW:   Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first step forward.   When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her father and her home in 1856, she decided to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother's family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships.
     When Catherine arrives at the plantation, she finds that her family has left it in the care of a manager---who's let it fall into disrepair. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom and beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice: grip their dreams ever tighter or step forward in faith---even if it costs them everything.

     MY REVIEW:  This book is the third in Christine Johnson's Keys of Promise series. I didn't have a problem following the story, so apparently one needn't read the books in order.
      While I didn't dislike this book, it didn't make my favorites list or even my second favorites list. I think the main thing I didn't like was the character's stubbornness---each was too busy trying to reach their own personal goal that they didn't think ahead or of the other person or even of their own safety
     This book definitely has a strain of mystery, but I found it rather easy to figure out, which only made it annoying when the characters couldn't figure it out on their own.
     One point in it's favor, is Catherine's determination to help the children she finds as she embarks on her mission. She almost heedlessly helps them, putting their lives above hers.

   I received a copy of this book from REVELL per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Lifestyle of a Watchman

     BOOK REVIEW:   What does it mean to be a "watchman on the wall"?   Join respected prophetic leader James W. Goll for a powerful, 21-day journey into the heart of being a watchman---a mature intercessor called to war, to be at the ready, alert to the presence and plan of God and confident of His will. With reflection questions, devotional prayers and practical applications, this book will help you move to the front lines of prayer. You will learn how to
  • discern the spiritual atmosphere around you
  • discover the strategies of God for specific times
  • find your assignment
  • pray more effectively for others and the nation
  • understand how to intercede for current events
  • partner with heaven and step boldly into your calling
Embark on this journey of faith, and become the strong sentinel that God created you to be!

     MY REVIEW:   This book is divided into 21 chapters for 21 days. Each chapter is centered on a different aspect of prayer. 
     One thing I especially like about this book is the amount of Bible verses found in the pages. I always like when authors draw their points from the Bible and then show us they did. 
     One illustration given early in the book is taking Christians united in prayer and comparing them to an orchestra---all parts working together to make a beautiful sound. Each on his own is lovely to hear, but all together they are infinitely better. 
     James W. Goll has written several books in addition to this one, a few of which are "The Prophetic Intercessor", "The Lifestyle of a Prophet", and "A Radical Faith". 

   I received a copy of this book from CHOSEN per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Under A Summer Sky

    BOOK REVIEW:   She's anticipating a quiet summer surrounded by beauty. She never expected a fresh chance of love. High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house in luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn't long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who's determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of her childhood friends---who also happen to be brothers---vying for her attention.
     With the backdrop of a gorgeous historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance. . .anything can happen.

     MY REVIEW:   Under A Summer Sky is the third book in Melody Carlson's "Follow Your Heart" series. I found it to be a little predictable and shallow. Nicole offers to run an art gallery and house sit for her mother's old friend, and just happens to run into the friend's son whom Nicole liked when she was younger. And of course, the younger brother whom she ignored is there as well and suddenly she likes him too.
     One thing I did like about the book was Nicole's love for teenagers. She taught art in school, and was obviously very close to her students. When a needy teen appears, Nicole is willing to devote time and energy to help her.
     Another thing I liked about the book was Nicole's response to her new co-worker. Rather than fighting with, she tries to befriend her.
I received a copy of this book from REVELL per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Whisper on the Wind

    BOOK REVIEW:   Belgium, 1916.   The German Imperial Army may have conquered Belgium on its march through Europe, but it can't crush their spirit. An underground newspaper surfaces to keep patriotism alive and bring hope and real news of the war to the occupied country. It may be a whisper among the shouts of the German army, but it's a thorn in their side nonetheless, and Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print---even risk his life.
    Isa Lassone's family fled Europe at the first rumblings of war. Now, two years later, she sneaks back across enemy lines, determined to rescue Edward---the man she has loved from afar since she was a child. But will he ever see her as more than the wealthy, silly girl his mother once cared for as a daughter?
    When Edward refuses to leave, so does Isa, and soon she is drawn into his dangerous double life. As the Germans close in, Edward realizes he's put more at risk than he'd planned. . . . .especially the beautiful, smart, yet obstinate young woman who has inconveniently managed to work her way into his life---and into his heart.

    MY REVIEW:   Have you ever wondered at the power we give words? Nothing but mere words on paper can keep us up at night, perched on the edge of our chairs, frantically biting nails to see what happens next. Humorously exaggerated picture, yes, but some books are like that---we can't wait to see what's on the next page.
    I wouldn't say this book was quite in that category, but it came close. The story was written well and kept one interested, but something was just a bit off, like it needed an extra stitch of something.
    If I were able to change one thing in this book, I would have Isa gone for closer to five years. Leaving at 16 and arriving at 18 just doesn't seem long enough to "grow up" as much as Isa thinks she has. I think 14 to 18 would be more realistic. But really, there wasn't anything big I could see needing changed, just a few minute details here and there.
    I don't read a lot about the World Wars, I guess because I prefer to read about happier times. I see a book set in those times and automatically look for a different one. But for whatever reason, I read this one. And I'm glad I did.
    I will say, the ending of the book disappointed me a little. So many things are left rather hanging. Oh, nothing serious, but enough to make a person wonder. Did so and so ever meet? Were these people conspiring together? Was this person a spy? Who was the spy? What happened directly afterwards for the main characters? Etc.
    Whisper on the Wind is the second book in Maureen Lang's GREAT WAR SERIES, the first book being Look to the East and the third being Springtime of the Spirit. I haven't read either of the others, but hope to before too long. This book didn't seem to need an accompaniment, but maybe after reading the others I'll change my mind. :)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Jefferson's America

   BOOK REVIEW:   History comes alive in this entertaining account of Thomas Jefferson's unrivaled age of American exploration.   At the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Britain, France, Spain, and the United States all jockeyed for control of the vast expanses west of the Mississippi River, war between any of these four powers was expected at any moment. To preserve America's foothold in the West, Jefferson played a game of strategy---putting into the field the only Americans he could: an eccentric cadre of explorers who finally annexed the land through courageous investigation.
    Jefferson most famously recruited Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, but there were others who did the same work in places where it was even more crucial. William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and the dauntless Zebulon Pike---all were dispatched on urgent missions to map the frontier, and each helped to unite the fast-growing nation.
    Told with great narrative verve, Jefferson's America rediscovers these seminal expeditions and illuminates the president's vision for a continental America.

    MY REVIEW:   While I enjoyed reading this book, it was one of those that never ended. It took me a bit to get into it as well. Finally, around the middle of the book I started remembering what was happening and looking forward to what was ahead. If I hadn't been in a hurry to finish the book I think I would have enjoyed it more.
    I can't imagine what life was like for those explorers---traveling and mapping a land that no other American had ever visited, without the tools and such we have today. It seems a dauntless and difficult task. And yet, for king and country (well, President and country) they faced the unknown and went were no American ever had.
    Some of the adventures these explorers had were quite interesting. Lewis and Clark heard of the great, indomitable grizzly bears, and decided to see one for themselves. They tracked them and searched for them but never saw anything but tracks. Finally after killing a young cub, they were rather unipressed with how easily it succumbed to them. Their disappointment, however, was short lived, and as they encountered full-grown bears that seemed impervious to rifle shots, a healthy fear set in. :)
    Other adventures were William Dunbar and George Hunter as they spent months trying to sail a heavy boat through shallow water; Zebulon Pike marching for days to reach a mountain, but being forced to turn back---such was the infamous Pike's Peak; and of course, the Red River trip, which, while failing its original objective, managed to set a definate western border to the Lousianna Purchase.
    I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bread of Angels

  BOOK REVIEW:     Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.
     But before she becomes Lydia, the seller of purple, she is simply a merchant's daughter who loves three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.
     With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish a business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances---along with her father's precious dye formula---help her become one of the city's preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the Apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming the first Christian in all of Europe. Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

  MY REVIEW:     Tessa Afshar is one of my favorite authors. She has written six books with this one, and the three that I have read I have loved. They are all Biblical Fiction. Two are about Rahab and Ruth respectively, but the other four books are on less well-known characters. The last review of hers I posted was Land of Silence, about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' skirt and was healed by faith. This book was written about Lydia, a seller of purple and a convert of Paul's.
     We don't know a lot about Lydia so the bulk of this story is made up. However, when Paul is introduced, there are several events taking place that can be found in Acts 16. For instance: verse 9 when Paul is called by vision to Macedonia; verses 13-15 when Paul and his companions spoke with the group of women worshiping by the river and Lydia is converted and baptized; verses 16-18 when Paul commanded the spirit leave the possessed damsel; verses 19-25 when her masters rose up against Paul and had him and Silas beaten and imprisoned; verses 26-34 when the earthquake loosed all the chains and the jailer was converted; verses 35-40 when Paul tells the magistrate of his and Silas' being Romans and being freed.
     Tessa portrays Lydia as a woman struggling with past betrayal and fear. She meets Rebekah, a young Jewess, and invites her along to Philippi. Together they build a prosperous business, with the help of several influential friends. However, there is one rival of theirs who is set on destroying them. Lydia is forced to overcome her fear and trust in God.
     This book jumps from Lydia at sixteen losing her father and going to Philippi and struggling to build a business, to twenty years later running a successful business. This is when Paul is introduced. I never thought of Lydia as much older than thirty at the most, but here she is near forty.
     I really enjoyed this book---I wasn't at all disappointed (except for her being older than I thought, of course, but that's a trivial thing, really). I am hoping there are many more books in store from Tessa.

     I received this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program and was not required to write a positive or otherwise review. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

There's A Fly in My Tea

     BOOK REVIEW:    Your life can be refreshing---to you and to others!   It's true! Despite your flaws and imperfections, your life can bring sweet comfort, joy and blessing to those around you. Each of us have some "flies"---those unhealthy, unproductive, even gross things-k-that creep into our lives and cause us to lose some of our flavor. But be encouraged. This study will help you discover Biblical Truths which will allow you to live a more flavorful and more satisfying life, like a cold glass of tea on a hot summer day. Ahhhh!
    In There's A Fly in My Tea, we'll take a fresh, vulnerable look at the ways we let those pesky flies of doubt, frustration, fear, and bitterness creep into our lives and spoil our testimony. We'll look at the life of Peter, a man who definitely allowed some flies into his life, and learn how our own lives can be used as a sweet savor to the Lord and those around us.

    MY REVIEW:   This book is based on the life of Peter. It can be for anyone, but is geared for women. The focus is maintaining a godly witness in our lives.
    The first thing I liked about this book was the title. The second was the cover. It's a simple, straightforward example of the unappealingness of a Christian who is not living for Christ. We don't know how quickly others see things that we think are hidden or inconsequential.
    The next thing I liked about the book was all the references used. Each chapter begins by naming the passage from which it is based, and throughout the chapter are many supporting verses.
    At the end of each chapter (there are 11) there are a few questions to be answered. I found that to be very helpful---it makes one think about what they've read and how they align with it.
    A few phrases I especially liked are:

  • My plans fail because the Lord wants me to turn to Him in my time of trouble, not lean on my own strength to get me through. 
  • We are not guaranteed tomorrow----neither is the person God has put in our path to witness to.
  • It is to our benefit to forgive so our relationship with God is not hindered and our joy can be complete. Then we can be the light to this lost world that God desires for us to be. 
  • God wants us to give thanks always and for all things---that includes the difficult times in our life---no matter how big or small. 
    I really enjoyed reading through this book, and found it to be full of things that I needed to hear. It makes a great devotional book, with the passages and questions, but can very easily be read as a chapter book. 

         I received this book from BOOKCRASH per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pride and Prejudice

     If asked, I would say that everyone has at least a basic concept of "Pride and Prejudice", either by reading the book, watching the movie, or simply word of mouth. But on second thought, that may not be so. For those of you who have never read/watched/heard about "Pride and Prejudice", I shall do my best to give a simple outline of the characters.
     Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are the parents of five daughters:

  • Jane----the eldest and sweetest of them all, shares an especially close bond with Lizzy, and catches the attention of the young, handsome, and (most importantly) very rich Mr. Bingley. 
  • Elizabeth (Lizzy)----the second daughter, the one of whom the story is based, is her father's favorite daughter and her mother's least. 
  • Mary----the middle and most overlooked daughter, spends her days playing her pianoforte, reading theology, and protesting any delight in parties and the like. 
  • Catherine (Kitty)----the fourth daughter, does everything her younger sister does, and spends her days flirting and dancing.
  • Lydia----the youngest daughter, her mother's favorite, shallow and spoiled, chases after the militia in impulsive, senseless ways.
     I really don't know what else to write without either making a mess of it or going on for pages, and since neither of those seem pleasant options for you or myself, I shall direct you to this site which shall do much a more elegant job than I. 
     I have watched the movie, and upon reading the book, was pleased to see that the two are inseparable. One can mimic the movie and be quoting the book. 
     That being said, thus ends my review. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trusting Grace

     BOOK REVIEW:   All of her life, Grace Bidwell has longed for children, but now the chances of her dreams coming true are looking slim. Widowed and caring for her elderly father, she struggles to maintain her late husband's farm until she places an ad for a hired hand.
     Robert Frasier arrives in town with three pitiful, bedraggled children who have nothing but the tattered clothes on their backs and a load of hurt, pride, and anger. Believing this is divine intervention in her life, Grace welcomes them with open arms. As feelings grow between her and Robert, Grace will have to convince him that she is a woman who can be trusted with his heart.

     MY REVIEW:   This is book three of Maggie Brendan's Virtues and Vices of the Old West. I have not read the previous two books, but their titles are The Trouble with Patience, and A Sweet Misfortune. I don't know how intertwined the books are with each other, but this book can definitely be read on its own.
      I enjoy books about the West in the early days, but this book disappointed me. Not only was it focused only on the romance between Grace and her hired hand, Robert and the potato farm, but there were also a few parts that I did not think needed to be included in the story.
     One thing I liked about the book was how readily Grace stepped into the kid's lives and was there for them. And her care for her father, who suffered from an unknown ailment.

  I received this book from REVELL per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Catching the Wind

   BOOK REVIEW: What happened to Brigitte Berthold?  That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.
   Now a wealthy old man, Daniel's final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby's tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons--and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel's lawyer, Lucas Hough--the lure of Brigitte's story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.

   MY REVIEW:  If you've ever read Cathy Gohlke's Secrets She Kept, you would find a resemblance between it and Catching the Wind. Both are written in flashback (every-otherish chapter) to reveal an old tale that is being discovered years later. And, both books are exceptionally well-written, telling a moving tale of tragedy and discovery.
   We think we face trials in our lives, but compared to those told in this book, they are nothing but trifling annoyances that hinder our grand illusions of the wonderful life we think we deserve.
   I really enjoyed this book--I read it all at once without a pause. The story unraveled in an interesting, not too slow manner. And the discoveries that Quenby made where quite interesting, though they can somewhat be guessed toward the end. I would say this is a perfect lazy afternoon book that doesn't make you feel as though you just wasted a whole afternoon.

        I received this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

Band of Sisters

   BOOK REVIEW:     Driven by a shameful past and a perilous future, Maureen O'Reilly and her sister flee Ireland in search of safety, liberty, and opportunity. But after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor has died, and his family--refusing to own his dept--casts her out. Impoverished and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to find employment in a prominent Manhattan department store, only to discover the elegant facade hides a dangerous secret.
   Despite her family' disapproval, Olivia Wakefield vows to honor her father's promise but can't find Maureen, the woman her brother-in-law so rudely turned away. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, who Olivia dares hope will become more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he's hiding.
   As women begin disappearing from the department store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But will they be too late? And in the midst of a world gone mad, can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

   MY REVIEW:   I am becoming a fan of Cathy Gohlke's books. I have previously read her Promise Me This and Secrets She Kept. She seems to have a deeper plot than some other authors, and something else I can't put my finger on.
   This book is set in the 1910's, about the immigration of Maureen and her sister from Ireland. Determined to make it on her own after her father's friend is found to have passed away, Maureen takes a position in a department store, narrowly surviving a tragic mistake. Forced to live in less-than-desirable circumstances, Maureen's sister starts to pull away and blame Maureen for their troubles in Ireland. Meanwhile Maureen stubbornly refuses help from those who would be friends.
   I was reminded as I read this book of the difficulties facing immigrants, especially women on their own. The city is unforgiving and treacherous to those who don't know it, and filled with preditors.
   Two things I was impressed with in the book are, first, the effort a group of first-class women put into helping those who needed it. They called themselves a Band of Sisters. And second, Maureen's efforts in helping both her friends and those in the same dire circumstance. She could have turned a blind eye and remained in ignorant "safety", but she chose to help those who didn't have anyone else to care about them. It truly is an inspiration.

The Gatekeepers

   BOOK REVIEW:  Since George Washington, presidents have depended on the advice of key confidants. But is wasn't until the twentieth century that the White House chief of staff became the second most powerful job in government. Unelected and unconfirmed, the chief serves at the whim of the president, hired and fired by him alone. He is the president's closest advisor and the person he depends on to execute his agenda. He decides who gets to see the president, negotiates with Congress, and--most crucially--enjoys unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. When the president makes a life-and-death decision, often the chief of staff is the only other person in the room. Each chief can make or break an administration.
   Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity, whose members have included Rahm Emanuel, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, and Donald Rumsfeld. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker and Panetta skillfully managed the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, ensuring their reelections--and, conversely, how Jimmy Carter never understood the importance of a chief, crippling his ability to govern. From Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the Iraq War, Whipple shows us how the chief of staff can make the difference between success and disaster.

    MY REVIEW:  I found this to be an interesting book. It covers the chiefs of staff dating back to that of Richard Nixon, who, as I understood it, was the first or at least near the first president to have an official chief of staff. There were a few presidents after him who decided to forgo that position, but their presidencies suffered for it. Having someone take care of the less-pressing political issues and monitor the president's schedule and those who get to see him at any time appeared to be a help to the presidency.
   The introduction to this book details a meeting of several previous chiefs of staff to give helpful "tips and tricks of the trade" to Rahm Emanuel as he prepared to be Obama's chief of staff. The next chapters cover the presidencies of Nixon through Trump.
   Not only did this book give insight to the chief of staff's position and influence, it also aligned the presidents for me and the main points of their reigns.
   One thing I didn't like about the book is the language included in Chris' collected quotes. Surely the quotes can keep their authenticity without such expletives.

I received this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review.