Monday, October 31, 2016

Earth Psalms

      BOOK REVIEW:  In this weekly devotional, beloved author Francine Rivers invites you to join her in seeking the Creator through the marvelous natural world we live in. Francine shares observations she's gathered over a lifetime of exploring--abroad and in her own backyard--and reflects on how they might apply to your daily life. What do the majestic redwoods, the persistent woodpecker, or a glorious sunrise reveal about our artistic and generous God? How could that change your outlook or the way you handle adversity?
      Stunning photography, Scripture excerpts, applications, and prayers accompany Francine's reflections, inspiring you to be encouraged. Be challenged. Be comforted. God's power is immense; His attention to detail is precise; His love for you is vast and unfailing. The proof is all around you.

      MY REVIEW: Earth Psalms is a devotional-type book written by Francine Rivers. She has wanted to write a devotional for some time, and it has turned out very well, I thought. Fifty-two chapters allows for a one-chapter-per-week reading. Francine gets her examples and stories from her personal life, and does a wonderful job of inspiring one to find the beauty of God's handiwork in nature. The book itself is done up in a beautiful format, with glossy pages and stunning pictures. Definately a book to have laying on your stand or displayed on the dresser. Two thumbs up!

            I recieved this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS in exchange for my honest review. 

Wild Heather

    BOOK REVIEW:   Two families torn apart.....Two hearts drawn together......One impossible love.  Olivia Hewes has one dream: to make Chatham Manor's wool-producing venture profitable. She must succeed or be forced to trade her independence for a loveless marriage. And her most threatening competition comes from neighboring estate owner, Randolph Sherbourne.
   Sherbourne is a beloved benefactor of the town of Otley--beloved, that is, by all except his nearest neighbors: the Hewes family of Chatham Manor. Tormented by the recent demise of his father, Randolph has little time to spare for the centuries-old feud between the two estates.
   When Olivia's and Randolph's paths cross unexpectedly, Randolph is captivated by the charming Miss Hewes. Soon the two are drawn toward a forbidden love that will mean betraying both their families. But when the shocking truth about the death of Randolph's father is revealed, their future happiness seems doomed.

    MY REVIEW:   I like historical fiction. Something about the high society life is just interesting to read about. Anyways, this is one of those books. Chatham Manor and Thorne Hall are neighboring manors, separated by a resilient hawthorn hedge. Decades ago, two friends were knighted and given adjoining manors, and as time went by, someone planted a hedge along the property line. But alas, one side declared the other had taken some of his property in the act. Thus started the inevitable feud that grew through time, until the present day (in the book) when each family blames every little problem on the other family, and each declares the other to be the most horrid, despicable, lying family in the town.
    But what would you know, in one moment, when the children of these families accidentally meet, all that is changed. The two start to fall in love with each other and pursue avenues of peace, though met with resistance by their families. And then there is the owner of the local worsted mill, who spites each family against the other by declaring the other's wool superior, and other such acts.
    The feud is making its mark in the church, half siding with each family. When a heretical speaker gives a speech on his geological findings, the problems escalate, till a church split is on the horizon and the pastor is up for questioning.
     I really enjoyed this book, and it is not my first time reading it. I appreciated that Randolph and Olivia tried to fix the squabbles between their families, and that they had growing relationships with the pastor and his wife. Randolph is already a Christian, and Olivia becomes one as she observes the lives of the true Christians around her. All in all a very enjoyable book.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Damascus Way

    BOOK REVIEW:  The fledgling church is being scattered by persecution, spearheaded by a fanatical young Pharisee who does not realize he is helping to spread the truth "unto the ends of the earth".    Young Julia has everything money can buy, yet she and her Hebrew mother are less than second-class citizens. When Julia discovers the secret her Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Her future is clouded with uncertainty.
    Jacob, Abigail's brother, is attempting to find his own place among the believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard? Hired to protect a wealthy merchant's caravans on the secretive "Frankincense Trail", Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing messages between communities of believers dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia is also a courier. Can they put their initial mistrust aside to accomplish their mission?    An earthshaking encounter on the way to Damascus has repercussions far beyond the lives of Julia and Jacob. 

    MY REVIEW:   This is the third and last book of Janet Oke's and Davis Bunn's Bible Fiction series. THE DAMASCUS WAY is based on the lives of Jacob (Abigail's brother from previous books) and Julia (new character, daughter of a prominent merchant). Jacob has grown up since the earlier books, especially as the story progresses. Less stubborn and more reliable, he is granted a position as guard on Jamal's caravan. When he first meets Julia, he mistakes her identity, and asks her to draw water for his camels. This of course does not sit well with her.
    The story of Abigail is also picked up. In the last book, Stephen dies, and Abigail has a little girl. In this book, her daughter Dorcas is four years old. Abigail has been staying in Jerusalem, but her friends finally persuade her to leave. She agrees for Dorcas' sake--Jerusalem is no longer safe for a believer. The Roman soldier, Linux, is part of the caravan traveling to Nain. Dorcas becomes quite attached to him, and vice versa. Abigail struggles with her feelings; she still loves Stephen and doesn't want to be disloyal to his memory.
    There is history in this book, such as the persecution by Saul, the Pharisee, and a bit about his conversion on the road to Damascus. But as the third book, there is more fiction and less Bible. The prominent characters are the invented ones, and while the familiar ones are still in the story, they are in the background. Still, I enjoyed the book, and I'm a little sad that the series is over.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Guide Me Home

         Guide Me Home, by Kim Vogel Sawyer, is set at Mammoth Cave, which is a real-life site. Rebekah Hardin needs a job at Mammoth Cave to raise money for a headstone for her younger brother who had died in that very cave over a year ago. But the only available position is to guide tour groups through the cave. So Rebekah disguises as a man, calls herself Reb, and applies for the job.
          Devlin Bale is a college student studing cartography who thinks turning Mammoth Cave into a national park would benefit everyone, especially his father who is running for Senate. Devlin agrees to map the cave, since the best map they have is desperately outdated.
          Tolly, the steadfast old guide, and Reb are assigned the task of escorting Devlin through the entirety of Mammoth Cave--not an easy job as the cave is indeed, mammoth. It takes all summer to get the task done.
          When Rebekah realizes Devlin's second reason for being here, she isn't pleased. Her neighbors are not going to agree to sell their land, their heritage, so the government can have a park.
         I enjoyed the storyline, and how it is written from different viewpoints. Rebekah's sister, Cissy, is a sub-main character, and her story is told here as well. I have read Kim's books before, and this is written very much in her style. I can't decide if a second book could be written or not. The story ends, but there are a few threads that could be picked up.

         I recieved this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS in exchange for my honest review.

The New Believer's Guide to the Christian Life

     BOOK REVIEW:  As a new believer, you may have questions about what to expect. You wonder how to please God, or what will happen if you mess up. but being a Christian isn't about what you do. It's about who you are: a child of God. And God loves his children unconditionally. Through His overwhelming love, He changes us from the inside out.
    In this book, Alex Early gives a realistic depiction of the Christian Life. He reveals what it means to find your identity in Christ and how to pray with honesty and transparency. Discover the secrets to living as a child of your Heavenly Father.

    MY REVIEW:  I thought this was a very good book, with many valid points. I would say it is a good book for a new Christian to have, especially if not raised in a Christian environment.
    I found the format of this book to be easy-to-read-yet-full-of-truth-and-thought-provoking-ideas.
    A few of the ideas that I liked are:

  •  I don't want to please my father in order to get grace, but rather, because I've received grace, I want to please my father.
  • To live as God would have you live requires that God be living through you.
  • You are a soul with a body wrapped around it. Therefore, what you do physically is a window into who or what your soul values.
  • And many more abound.
        I recieved this book from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Sons of Isaac

  One thing that stands out about Roberta's books is her timeframe. This is the second of her books I have had the privelege to read, and in both of them, she spans over 100 years. In this book, she starts three years after Sarah's death and ends with Isaac's death.

   I have found that while she embelleshes some aspects, Roberta is fairly consistant with the Bible account in her books. 
  • Eleazer is sent back to Abraham's homeland to find a bride for Isaac, and Rebekah fills his jugs and waters his camels and comes with him cheerfully.
  • Jacob is born grabbing Esau's heel and Rebekah is told he will rule.
  • Esau sells his birthright for a bowl of stew. 
  • Jacob and Rebekah sceme to recieve the blessing and Jacob has to flee.
  • Jacob works seven years for Rachel, gets tricked by Laban into marrying Leah, and works seven more years.
  • Each of his twelve sons are born to same wife/handmaid as in the Bible.
  • Jacob never sees his mother as punishment for his deception.
  • He wrestles with the angel and has his name changed.
  • Jacob recieves all the odd animals of Laban's flocks and grows quite rich.
  • And many, many more.
  I like reading Bible fiction if it is acurate, and this book is one of them. 
                  I recieved this book from MOODY PUBLISHERS in exhange for my honest review.

A Fool and His Monet

   BOOK REVIEW:  Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art--one that's surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about who murdered her grandfather. She's joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother's pleas to do something safer--like getting married--Serena's determined to catch thieves and black market traders.
   When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Serena leaps into action--and a whole heap of trouble.
   MY REVIEW:  A Fool and His Monet is the first in the Serena Jones Mysteries. I have already read the second book, Another Day, Another Dali. I have really enjoyed both books.
   Though she is not the main character, Serena's Aunt Martha is one of my favorite people in these books. She is a fearless, adventure-loving, daring woman in her seventies who is always trying to "help" in Serena's cases. And she's actually very good, though she would do well to think more at times before boldly rushing in.
   I was looking forward to reading this book, and was not disappointed. I read it all at one time, and while that is not unusual for me, it is unusual that I do it in the middle of the day, or while driving (riding actually). I easily get distracted by something out the window, etc., but this time I sat down and only looked up when it was done.
   I liked the plot and how it was unraveled. It didn't strike me as too fast or too slow like some books do. I thought it was very well written, and I can't wait to read book three when it comes out next summer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Runaway Jury

    Every jury has a leader, and the verdict belongs to him.  
        It's the biggest civil trial in America; Wood vs. Pynex. Mrs. Celeste Wood is going to bat against the tobacco industry to get punitive damages for the death of her husband by lung cancer--caused by cigarettes.
        Rankin Fitch is controlling The Fund for the four biggest tobacco companies. It is a hidden "sock drawer" cache, for use in cases such as these when immediate funds are needed with no strings or authorization. He has also managed to win the previous eight trials and two mistrials brought against the industry. He plans to win this one as well.
       While canvasing the possible jurors, no one can find any information on one Nicolas Easter. He seems to have appeared with no past history. He manages to get selected for the jury, and for some unnamed reason, both sides are slightly worried about what he will do.
      Then the jury starts acting oddly. Guided by Nicolas, they start making demands, doing odd things (like reciting the Pledge of Alligiance in a spontanious moment), and declaring that they are being followed. Added to this, Fitch is contacted by an anonymous young woman who says she can predict the jury's decision. She starts by outlining what some of the jurors will wear the next day, and goes to the extent of getting certain jurors kicked out. She tells Fitch she is in it for the money (and gets quite an extensive sum from him), but that is not the true reason. Imagine Fitch's surprise when he finds out.
     THE RUNAWAY JURY is an interesting and detailed book. John Grisham is not a Christian writer, but his books are very good, I think. This is the first of his that I have read.
     I was very interested in the angle of the story. It was new and unique and catchy. It made for a very good story.

Monday, October 17, 2016

One False Move

      BOOK REVIEW:    A young reporter's routine assignment explodes into the opportunity of a lifetime: to investigate a threat that transforms the boundaries between reality and fantasy, harming innocent people. The quest brings with it the challenge of self-discovery, the thrill of romance, and more than a hint of danger. \
      From the highland towns of the Colorado Rockies to the glitzy excitement of the Hollywood movie industry, One False Move is a breathtaking rush along the cutting edge of journalism, technology, and the search for meaning.

      MY REVIEW:   One False Move depicts Claire's tale as she uncovers an awful conspiracy of mind control. Roger Swindley has come out with a new virtual reality game, BABYLON. Claire is working for the Denver Harold, and is sent in to see why several of the gamers have gone missing. What she uncovers is far worse than she could ever have expected.
     I actually started reading this book one day in August, but stopped just a few chapters from the end. I just finished it yesterday, so it's a little harder to review it. So, I guess I will stop here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Take One

      BOOK REVIEW:   Could they really change the world--before the world changes them? Filmmakers Chase Ryan and Keith Ellison left the mission field of Indonesia for the mission field of Hollywood with a dream bigger than both of them. Now they have done the impossible: raised enough money to produce a feature film with a message that could change the world. But as Chase and Keith begin shooting, their well-laid plans begin to unravel. With millions of dollars on the line, they make a desperate attempt to keep the film from falling apart--even as a temperamental actress, a botched production schedule, and their own insecurities leave little room for the creative and spiritual passion that once motivated them. Was God really behind this movie after all? A chance meeting and friendship with John Baxter could bring the encouragement they need to stay on mission and produce a movie that will actually change people's lives. In the midst of the questions and the cameras, is it possible to keep things above the line and make a movie unlike anything done before--or is the risk to great for everyone?
      MY REVIEW:   Karen Kingsbury is not an author I read a lot of. This is only the second of her books that I have read. I think she does a fine job, I simply don't prefer her books. TAKE ONE is the story of Chase and Keith producing a film that will hopefully impact the world, but they come against many obstacles. It is also the story of Keith's college daughter and her roommate, and a few of the Christian-in-college challenges they face. But as they trust in God, He sees them through in ways they never would have imagined.

Home Song

   BOOK REVIEW:  Mayor Emily Warwick can't remember the last time she let herself dream. That's something she did in her old life--when she allowed herself to hope. Now her days are consumed by the responsibilities of her job and the incessant demands of her elderly mother. And then there's her younger sister, Jessica, who is about to walk down the aisle with a man their mother despises. Emily has two months to bring their mother around, but so far--even with their minister's support--her plan isn't working. And it doesn't help that Emily's still mourning the husband she lost and wondering what happened to the baby she gave up for adoption twenty years ago. Sometimes she thinks it would take a miracle to fill the hole in her heart.

    MY REVIEW:   The charming town of Cape Light--and all its delightful occupants--is the subject of another Cape Light Novel. The town has more than its fair share of trials and sorrows, but as they lean on God and each other, they all make it through. Strength of community is tested and found stable, friendships are forged and made stronger, new ideas are embraced--after plenty of fuss, and the election is finally completed.
     Cape Light is the type of town where one feels welcome, accepted, and loved. Where everyone has a place and friends to share that place. If you're looking for a taste of such a place, just read HOME SONG, or any of the Cape Light Series.


       BOOK REVIEW:    Spunky, young Ruth Priggish is on the run from an eighty-year-old suitor. Faced with the prospect of marriage to the persistent old codger, Ruth throws caution to the wind and heads for Wyoming Territory, where freedom and independence await. Her only hope is to seek help from an unwilling protector: Dylan McCall.
       U.S. Marshall Dylan McCall is trying desperately to get to Wyoming before winter sets in. But when he finds himself saddled with a stubborn spitfire who won't take no for an answer, his job--and his heart--are at stake.
       MY REVIEW:   Lori Copeland has a series about Mail-Order Brides. RUTH is book number five, and there are a few more after it.
       Ruth is incredibly stubborn, but as the story progresses, she shows an equally dependable, capable, loyal streak. But she is determined to get to Wyoming, and this determination sometimes overtakes her common sense. And lands her in the water trough.
      I found this to be an enjoyable book with its fair share of humorous happenings.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where Two Hearts Meet

      BOOK REVIEW:   In her kitchen at Rose's Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.
      Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He's also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he's falling in love with the island's red shores and Caden's sweets.
     When Caden discovers Adam isn't who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he's writing could do more than ruin the inn's chances for survival--is might also break her heart.
     MY REVIEW:  Liz Johnson put some effort into this book. She describes several of Prince Edward Island's most beautiful scenery's, and has quite the cast of charming characters. The Red Door Inn sounds like one of the most peaceful and charming places to visit, if it were real.
     I liked the plot--Marie (the owner) and Caden are trying hard to keep the inn afloat. Also, Caden is entering the annual Lobster Cook-Out, which she has never won. This year her arch-nemesis--the beautiful and talented Bethany--has returned to the island. Caden has no idea what she is going to make. Everything has either been entered before, or wouldn't stand a chance.
     WHERE TWO HEARTS MEET is indeed about the budding interest between Caden and Adam, but there are also several more things going on, like the above-mentioned inn problems and cook-out worries. It is the second in a series, the first book being, THE RED DOOR INN--about the owners. There is also a third book to come out next summer.

                        I received this book from REVELL in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wild Montana Skies

   Kacey has been sent home to rest and recuperate after a terrible crash in Afganistan while flying for the military. But instead, she runs into her past--Benjamin King, famous country musician. They were engaged thirteen years ago, but when he missed the birth of their daughter, Audrey, he was convinced by Kacey's father that he was no longer wanted. So he left, without knowing Kacey had kept their daughter.
    His father had an accident a few months earlier, so Ben is home from Nashville for the summer. He is shocked when Kacey comes home and he realizes his daughter was not adopted. But Kacey doesn't want to tell Audrey about her dad, for fear Ben will leave again with her daughter's heart.
   In a nutshell, WILD MONTANA SKIES is the story of Kacey and Ben, getting over their hurt and grudges and falling back in love.
  I received this book from REVELL, a division of Baker Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Another Day, Another Dali

     BOOK REVIEW:    The world of art theft can be a deadly game--one that Serena Jones understands all too well.   When FBI Special Agent Serena Jones takes on the case of a forged Dali painting as a favor to her grandmother, she assumes it will be a typical investigation. Hopefully collaring the thief will also mean finally measuring up in her grandmother's eyes. But the deeper she delves into the forgery and the suspects surrounding it, the less typical it becomes.
     The Dali isn't the only painting that's fallen prey to the forgery-replacing thief, raising the possibility of a sophisticated theft ring--one with links to dirty cops, an aspiring young artist, and the unsolved murder of Serena's grandfather. To make matters worse, someone connected to the forgeries seems to be determined to stop Serena's investigation--no matter the cost.
     ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DALI gives the plucky Serena Jones--and readers--a new high-stakes case to crack. You won't want to miss a single brushstroke.

      MY REVIEW:    ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DALI is the second in the Serena Jones series. Serena has agreed to find the the missing painting of her grandmother's friend. But as she delves into it, she starts suspecting the adult children. What will she do if it turns out to be one of them?
      Her partner, Tanner, is hunting down members of a Russian mob, who seem to be targeting Serena in order to get him off the case. Suspense heightens as Serena is in several collisons and a drive-by shooting. But...what if she is not being targeted by the Russian mob? What if it is someone wanting her off of her case?
      Serena's Aunt Martha, who is in her seventies, has developed a thirst for adventure, which she satisfies by "helping" with Serena's cases. And she is actually pretty good, but gets into some interesting situations, one of which they almost don't get out of.
      I really enjoyed ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DALI. Book one, A FOOL AND HIS MONET, is definitely on my To Read list. The book is written in first person, and done very well. Definitely a good read.
               I received this book from REVELL, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cape Light

      Like his paintings, CAPE LIGHT by Thomas Kinkade is full of life and details. A small town full of charming characters who all know and love each other--mostly. But there are still a few people who have secrets. Like Mayor Emily Warwick, who hides behind her competant businesswoman front. And Sara, the young woman in town for the summer. No one can know the true reason she is here. Or who she is looking for.
      Jessica Warwick left several years ago for the big city. She loves it there, and Cape Light feels awkward and small. But when her mother has a stroke, Jessica comes home for a few months. Here she meets Sam Morgan cutting a hole in her office wall. As she spends time with him, Jessica gets more confused about what she wants out of life.
      The town of Cape Light has its share of charming old citizens. For instance: Charlie, who owns the diner and can be counted on to give his unique and sometimes forceful opinions on any subject. Or Sophie, known for her secret recipes, giving heart, and the bee-charming episode.
      CAPE LIGHT invites its reader to relax in the lovely sights and friendships, while enjoying all that is happening in its citizen's lives. It is also the first in a series, with several more books to look forward to.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Hidden Flame

        THE HIDDEN FLAME continues the story from THE CENTURION'S WIFE. Alban and Leah are gone, but Jacob and Abigail and all the others are still in Jerusalem.
      Two men want to court Abigail, but neither is a Follower of the Way. One is a rich, pompous merchant, and the other is a Roman soldier, one of Alban's friends.
      Jacob was not able to go with Alban and Leah, and he has been resenting that. He also wants to be a soldier, not a carpenter.
      Peter is boldly preaching, even when imprisoned and threatened. He stands firm for the Lord and leads the Followers with him.
      Stephen is dedicated to helping others. Assigned as one of the seven to feed the widows, he takes his job very seriously.
      Laban cannot realize why Alban could join these people. But as he keeps coming around, something pulls at him. There is something sincerely different about these people; they are at peace, even in their unknowing.
      I really liked all the history in this book. Like:

  •   Peter being led out of prison by an angel. 
  •   The stoning of Stephen with Saul of Tarsus standing by the coats
  •   Peter's shadow healing those laying along the way to the temple
  •   And more
      I have always liked Davis Bunn and Janet Oke's individual writings. But together, they written a wonderful series. 



      BOOK REVIEW:    Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the Beauty of the story. Those desires are far more than child's play. They are the secret to the feminine heart.
     And yet--how many women do you know who ever find that life? As the years pass by, the heart of a woman gets pushed aside, wounded, buried. She finds no romance except in novels, no adventure except on television, and she doubts very much that she will ever be the Beauty in any tale.
     Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficeincy and duty, chores and errands, striving to be the women they "ought" to be but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christian women add to the pressure. "Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman." The effect has not been good on the feminine soul.
     But her heart is still there. Sometimes when she watches a movie, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, her heart begins to speak again. A thirst rises within her to find the life she was meant to live--the life she dreamed of as a little girl.
     The message of CAPTIVATING is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman--they are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offersto come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.

      MY REVIEW:     I really enjoyed this book; I thought there were some very good points made. John and Stasi use examples from their lives and some of the people they know to bring their point around.
      One chapter talks of letting God in your heart and life. Letting Him be the one you run to when you need a friend--a friend who won't let you down. So many people go to friends or other addictions in their times of need, but God wants us to come to Him.
      Another chapter is dedicated to the subject of inner beauty. A woman who is at rest with who she is will attract others; she will be a delight to be around. A woman who is always trying to "fix" herself, never believing she is good enough, tells others that there is a problem and will not draw people to her. She lends an air of turmoil, rather than peace.
      I really liked this book; I'm glad I got to read it. (I say that about every book, don't I?)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

To Love a Stranger

    BOOK REVIEW:    Can a deception become an unexpected blessing?  Bessie Randall is stunned to learn that her sister is engaged in a long-distance flirtation with an army officer while using Bessie's name. Even more shocking is the fact that Jasper Mendenhall is now her husband by proxy--thanks to her sister's meddling. But with God's help, Bessie intends to be the best wife she can be.
   Jasper is waiting in Fort Bridger for the raven-haired beauty whose picture he carries in his pocket. When the small, mousy Bessie arrives, he is flooded with confusion--and perhaps disappointment. Can he accept this unexpected turn of events? And can Bessie face the hardships of a western fort--things like scorpions, poisonous spiders, and hostile Indians?
   Amidst all the trials, God sends unexpected blessings to Bessie. When he asks her to give up one of her most precious blessings of all, though, can she survive a broken heart? Will she have to go back home to Boston, leaving Jasper to find the wife he wanted all along?

    MY REVIEW:    I requested this book from the library, and was a little disappointed to find it is just a short story--169 pages. But that aside, I enjoyed the book. I like to read about mail-order brides and arranged marriages, and this was along the same lines.
    Bessie Randall has been married to a man she never even knew existed, but she is determined to make it work. I was very impressed with her determination, especially since she was given the chance to break the "marriage". And when her new husband has to leave for a new posting in Arizona Territory the same week she arrives, she goes along with him rather than stay behind with his sister's family. She trusted God to see her through, and He did.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Cottage

        BOOK REVIEW:  Is the future of Whales Reef in the hands of an outsider?  When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that "the Cottage" is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.
       The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman--and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place--and the character of its most prominent citizen--that soon gets under her skin.
       Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whales Reef. David's cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni's hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni's very life in danger....

         MY REVIEW:   THE COTTAGE is the second book in Michael Phillip's "Secrets of the Shetlands" series. The first book is about the death of the laird of Whales Reef, and all the commotion of the inheritance. This book comes in with Loni Ford, an American who is the closest heir.
        One of the things I like about the book is the Scottish accent. It's really fun to read. For example: "Nae, mum, we haena the likes o' sich here. Ye'll hae tae gae tae the pub, ye ken?"
        I wouldn't call this book a mystery novel, but somehow, with the way it is written, it reminds me of one, especially with all the controversy between Loni and her third cousin, Hardy, who thinks he should be the rightful heir. It is a very good book, I think, and I am glad I got the chance to read it.

  This book was given to me by BETHANY HOUSE in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Centurion's Wife

        BOOK REVIEW:  Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity. . .and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.
       Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. 
       Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death and missing body is causing such furor. This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources.
        At its core, The Centurion's Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

       MY REVIEW:   I think I am becoming a fan of Biblical fiction. This book is set over the time of Jesus' crucifixion. Leah is the niece of Pilate, but she works as a servant in his household. She is going to be married to a centurion (the one whose servant Jesus healed) and is not happy about it. 
       Sent by Pilate's wife, Leah is to see if the disciples are planning a revolt. She cannot meet the disciples, but she makes friends with Mary and Martha and a few other women. 
        It was interesting to read of this time through the eyes of another person, and with Janet Oke and Davis Bunn's attention to detail, it fits very well with the true account. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Devoted

    Most Amish fiction can be a little whatever, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Instead of focusing on a romantic angle, there was more depth. Yes, there was some romance involved, but it didn't stand out to me as the main theme. Just background.
    Ruthie Stoltzfus is restless. She wants to do more with her life, like go to college. She has secretly taken her GED and is waiting for the right time to leave. But something keeps her from going just yet.
   Patrick Kelly is exactly the opposite. He wants to become Amish. He has given himself one month to learn Pennsylvania Dutch, drive a buggy, and master the Amish lifestyle. As Ruthie's family gets to know him, they notice he seems uncoordinated. As it turns out, that is the very reason he has decided to become Amish.
   Luke Schrock is somewhat of the town's menace. He is reckless, wild, and everytime something goes wrong, every head turns his way. Ruthie's dad seems to be the only person who thinks there is any good in him.
   And the list goes on. These are the main characters, although there are several more prominent ones yet. It seems as though a lot goes by in this book. Sometimes you read a story and at the end you wonder how on earth the author came up with 250 pages, but here you know there could even have been several more.
      I received this book from REVELL, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for my review.

Knowing Yourself, Knowing God

   KNOWING YOURSELF, KNOWING GOD is written by Dr. John Shackleford, a Christian psychologist. He discusses how knowing your own personality and ego will help you find your True Self in Christ. He also discusses how knowing God, your Creator, will help you know yourself as well. After all, we are made in His image. And finally, he gives several people's stories of how they trusted God and He was there for them.
     I thought there were some good points, and some new ones too. John lists the different personality types and such, and also says every person has five different ego states. It was interesting to see what he had to say.
     He also discusses the importance of being yourself; not letting any of your individualism die or get lost in the background. Just being yourself rather than succumbing to the world's opinion of what you should be, etc.
      One thing that caught my attention was the subtitle. Going from an Ego-run life to a God-led life. I think it's rather fitting. No longer letting your self or ego run your life, but rather, letting God lead your life.
     The last section of the book has stories of trust from several people, and it is good to see that when you trust in God, He will see you through.  
             I received this book from the author through BOOKCRASH in exchange for my review. 

Tangled Webs

     BOOK REVIEW:    Finn has packed away his combat instincts--but he may need them again when danger begins to stalk his quiet hideaway...  After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieing pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not.  
     MY REVIEW:    TANGLED WEBS is a story of romance and intrigue. Although I found it to be more romance than anything.
     Finn McGregor is taking some time off to regroup and recover. He never suspects to run into Dana Lewis in the middle of a national park, much less have her as a neighbor.
      Dana had an accident three months earlier and is recouperating in her grandfather's old cabin. When it seems as though someone is out to get her, she and Finn work together to find out who it is, and why they are after her.
      I thought the intrigue was a little under-developed and the romance over-developed, but the overall story was interesting. TANGLED WEBS is the third in a series, Men of Valor. I think the previous books are about Finn's two older brothers. Irene Hannon has written several other series as well, such as the Private Justice series, and the Guardians of Justice series.
       I recieved this book from REVELL, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for my honest review.