Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling is the beginning of this authors new series, Under Northern Skies.  This is the story of Rune and Signe Carlson's immigration to America.  Rune's uncle, Einar sent a letter offering land and passage to Minnesota in exchange for working for him lumbering in the forest he owned and caring for his ailing wife.  Signe who is pregnant with their forth child does not want to go.  She loves living among their families even though they are so poor that they mostly eat porridge every day. Rune sees America as an opportunity that he would never get if they stayed in Norway and accepts the offer to move his family which included 3 sons to Minnesota.  The trip over the ocean was much harder than any of them but then when they get to the farm they find it in much worse condition that they expected and the work much harder than they expected.  The boys, Bjorn, Knute, and Leif, were all school aged but Einar expected them to all work like men.  Einar was a hard man never asked always demanded and always, always was stern.  Gern his wife was always screaming to Signe for something that she wanted and was also demanding in her own way but since she had gotten so weak and sick with her heart was unable to  be as demanding as Einar.  Signe stood her ground however when Einar said that the boys would not be able to go to school and so the 2 younger boys went to school when September came leaving only Bjorn to work in the forest with his dad and Einar.  Bjorn had a love of timbering and was glad not to go to school and oddly enough even Einar was more pleasant in the woods.  Signe on the other hand was in the house with Gern.  Signe had decided that she would make Gern well and started demanding that she move and get out of bed and at least sit in a chair.  Gern slowly but surely became stronger and as she regained her health she also became more nice and less demanding.  All were learning English, the boys were learning in school, and things continued to look up until the horrible accident with Bjorn.  How would they continue?  Well partly by Signe and Rune standing up to Einar and Signe figuring out just how much they owed Einar and realizing that they had already paid him back with all their hard work.  Read this book to find how this God loving family meshed with their hard unfeeling relatives and become one family.

I loved this book though I am not nearing as patient as Rune and Signe were with their relatives.  I believe most any older girl or woman would enjoy reading this delightful book on their coming to America.  There is little violence in this story and what there is would have been considered strict discipline in those days. There is no sexual content.  Any child who wished could read the book if they had the ability.   I received this book from BethanyHouse for this review.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston is the 4th installment of the Amish Heirloom Series by this author.  Where the others in the series feature the 3 daughters of Mattie and Leroy Fisher this segment of the series looks back into the life of the parents, Mattie and Leroy and how they spent their childhood as the very best of friends and though Leroy always knew that he loved and wanted to spend all his life with Mattie it took some convincing for Mattie to realize the great love that she had for Leroy. Mattie catches the 3 girls looking through her beloved hope chest just after they find the baby boy's clothing.  Mattie can no longer keep the secret that she and Leroy had never shared with the family.  Mattie in fact had met and in a whirlwind courtship had married Isaiah and at the beginning of the novel is pregnant and eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child.  Isaiah had run to the bank quickly before lunch but when he didn't return for lunch and then the police officer had knocked on their door to change her life completely.  The officer reported to the family that Isaiah had been in the bank during a robbery and in order to protect a woman had been shot pointblank in the chest.  Mattie doesn't know how she will be able to care for herself and the expected baby but moved back into her parents tiny home.  Within 4 months time though Leroy stepped forward and offered to marry her and help her care for the expected baby.  Mattie loved Leroy but only as a friend, Leroy on the other hand had always loved Mattie as much more than a friend from childhood.  This is the story of how Leroy and Mattie grew to love each other and even though the great tragedies that threatened to tear them apart in their first year together their love grew to be the one that would be a strong base for their family.

I loved this story quite possibly the best of the series.  Often an author starts out a series with the best story and then the others fill out the plot begun in the first.  But this series held the interest for the build up to the 4th installment it seemed to me.  I love this author's ability to tell a story and make the reader fall in love with her characters.  Great job Amy Clipston. 
 I received this book from BookLook for this review.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore is the newest book by this Christian author/educator.  This book is about Beth's advise on getting out of your own "pit of despair", whether it be drug dependency, sexual deviance, drinking, or gossiping.  All are sins and equally sinful.  Beth preaches that it doesn't really matter how you ended up in your slippery pit of filth but that you can get out of it and more importantly stay out of it.  She backgrounds her advise with scripture as always and usually the subject of honor in this book is Joseph with his famous coat of many colors who was thrown into his pit by his brothers.  Beth very openly discusses her own pit of sexual exploits as well as many of the causes.  Beth further explains that though she was abused as a child and that started her journey that Beth had to get out of her pit for her own well being as well as the future family who would have suffered needlessly if she had not.  Beth states that her family benefitted but that she had to do it for her own good.  Beth further states that though she had to work very hard at doing this herself with very little help from family or friends she could not have done it without the help of her friend and savior, Jesus Christ.

This book is sad in that it tells some of the story of Beth's sad childhood and tells further how adults can so easily and deeply injure the very being of who a child will turn out to be as an adult.  It also tells of how even though she could have wallowed in the self pity of her disastrous childhood and wallowed further in the pity of others she could not have an eternal life of joy until she made that long slippery climb out of that pit and stayed out of it.  She tells of how the enemy would entice her back into the pit, sometimes successfully, but when she finally climbed out of the pit for the last time how her life can only be truly happy when she lives a clean healthy life staying far away from the pit.  She states that she no longer will ever go back to the pit but the enemy continues to tempt her and that she remains strong but the help of God, scripture, prayer and her family.  Read this book if you need assistance getting out of your own pit or know someone who needs help getting out of their pit.
I received this book from Handlebar for this review.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall is the third installment of the Amish of Summer Grove series.  This series follows the story of the fire in the birthing center of an Amish community.  When the fire occurred there were 2 women giving birth, an Amish woman a set of twins-a boy and a girl- and a young girl, Brandi, gave birth to a baby girl.  All were rescued by the father of the twins, Isaac.  In the 2nd installment the families find out that the girls were actually switched during the rescue and the Amish couple would like to get acquainted with their biological daughter and started the ball rolling to have their biological daughter returned to them, of course they wanted to keep the daughter that they raised also.  That daughter, Ariana, is engaged to be married.  Skylar is a drug addict who is living with her mother and causing trouble in her family.  When Nicholas, Ariana's biological father, finds out about the switch he threatens a lawsuit on the birthing center and the only way he will not sue is to switch the girls back for a full year.  Ariana willingly goes to avoid the midwife being sued but the only way that Skylar agrees to go is because she is threatened with either drug rehab or live with the Amish family, the Brennemans.  The second installment is the first part of that year in which Ariana and her friend, Quill, who was Amish raised but left the family, convince Nicholas that Ariana needs to be returned and she will maintain contact with her biological family.  This installment is Ariana's return to the home and getting acquainted with Skylar who decides to remain in the Brenneman home for the rest of her time.  By this time Skylar has fought through her addiction and is helping the family keep Ariana's new restaurant take off in Ariana's absence. 

Ariana has been "out in the world" long enough to question authority and this irritates the church fathers as well as her own father, Isaac.  Ariana has also developed a friendship with Quill who has been rescuing women who are abused by their significant other and getting them into safe houses.  Quill has managed to irritate the Amish further by helping Amish people escape into the "English" world.  This installment is how Ariana and Skylar along with Abram the other twin become close family and all three learn to integrate into one family and maintain contact with Nicholas and Brandi also.  The three began to call themselves triplets and work together to make the restaurant a success in the community as well as working with their parents to see that the powerful Amish leaders are treating Ariana as well as the entire Brenneman family unfairly.  This book powerfully portrays how religious leaders can maintain their power to the detriment of the church and it's members.
 I think this book is one of the authors best books.  She takes a difficult subject, controlling leadership in a church, and tells how the church members suffer by it and learn to overcome it.  I think that this book should be read by all though most enjoyed by older girls and women.
I received this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah  for this review.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Egypts's Sister by Angela Hunt

Egypts's Sister by Angela Hunt is this author's newest book out.  Just to clarify, I love this author's work and I also loved this newest book of hers.  Egypt's sister is a fictionalized story of Cleopatra the 7th (the one most people think of as Cleopatra) from her childhood through her death.  This story follows the life of Cleopatra's fictional Jewish childhood servant/friend Chava.  In this story Chava and Cleopatra, who in this story is called Urbi by family and friends, are fast friends as children and young adults.  They do everything together and Chava lives a charmed Jewish life which includes many luxuries not often enjoyed by Jews of this time.  Chava even has a slave given to her which lives with her.  Chava's father is the tutor of the palace children and therefore Chava is educated along with the palace children but also enjoys the luxury of living with the tutor so actually has a better education than the palace children.  Chava's father has an assignment in which Chava must go through the scrolls and find and write down all of God's names and their meaning.  It is interesting work but Chava has no idea how important that this knowledge will be in her future.  Chava heard God once say to her that "Your friendship with the queen lies in my hands.  You will be with her on her happiest day and her last.  And you, daughter of Israel will know yourself, and you will bless her".  As adults Chava is offered the gift of citizenship for herself and her family if she will only worship in the various temples of the Egyptians.  Chava is told she doesn't have to actually believe the temple worship is real and she can pick which ever god she choses and she can also continue her Jewish worship.  Chava turns down this offer because of her Jewish belief and this starts the beginning of the end of Chava's charmed life.  Cleopatra is deeply insulted by this refusal of her gift and has  Chava and her father are arrested and sold as slaves.  For the 15 years that Chava is a slave Chava grows stronger and though she first rejects some of God's teachings she eventually learns that God is still guiding and protecting her life while she is a slave.  Chava still can keep track of some of Cleopatra's work as queen while working as a slave and she never gives up on the hope that eventually she can buy her freedom and her father's and come back home.

Read this book if you are at all interested in history of the Jews or of Cleopatra.  Read this book is you just enjoy a good read.  This book is well written and chronicles Cleopatra's life well and in the back of the book even tells more historic background of the time.  This book is not preachy nor particularly religious in its writings.  This author is one of the best historical fiction writers that I read and I also try to read them as they come out because they are so good.  Do yourself a favor and read this book.
I received this book from BethanyHouse for this review.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden is simply a fabulous book about life.  Maggie met Marco in college and they formed a fast friendship.  So many things about them were similar and they just fit together in life.  Maggie's roommate in college was Lena and Lena was so very different from them but oddly enough they all worked and loved each other.  All 3 of them were incredibly smart and talented but when it was all said and done Maggie and Marco were driven and Lena, well Lena mostly wanted to be a mom and make the home a comfortable place to come home.  Marco and Lena married and Lena became mom to 3 children.  Maggie became Aunt Maggie and visited their summer home every August on the island.  Shockingly Marco then suddenly died in a drowning accident and threw their life into a tailspin.  Lena is in shock and is mostly unable to handle life and Maggie steps in to help her.  Then Lena finds out that she is deeply in debt because of a loan that Marco took out in business and she finds that she simply cannot take it any more.  Lena takes off in her car by herself and has a car accident.  She is alive but she is in a coma. Why didn't she at least slow down before hitting the concrete retaining wall.  The police ask that question but no one but Lena can answer it and she is in a coma.  Maggie and Lena's aunt have all that they can do to take care of the children and the house but what about the Marco's loans?  One day the kids and Maggie go to a museum about the island's history and find out that there is a "beckoning" practice on the island in which they have a ceremony to beckon the dead back home so that they could then go to heaven.  The children decide to beckon their dad back home but then they also decide to beckon their mom back home so that she will get well and come back home to them.

This book is spellbinding.  It easily holds the reader's attention. You just won't want to put it down.  Ms. Linden takes the reader's emotions and you feel the hurt of the widow, you feel the terror of not having any money to take care of debts that you didn't even know existed earlier.  The sadness of the children who don't know what to do when their father unexpectedly dies and quickly after that their mother is in an accident and is possibly facing death also.  The San Juan Island's old customs and ceremonies, will they work?  Will they help the kids get through this overwhelming grief?  I would recommend reading this book to any woman who enjoys reading. 
I received this book from Booksneeze for this review.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere is the first book of the London Beginnings series.  Rosalyn Bernay and her 2 sisters are being raised in the orphanage in 1873 when this book opens.  Rosalyn is the oldest and today is the day she must leave because at the age of 17 she has aged out and they can no longer take care of her.  Rosalyn is lucky though because she has a job as the servant maid of Mrs. Williams.  Time passes and it is now 6 years later though and the new husband of Mrs. Williams has accused her of theft and she must leave quickly.  Rosalyn decides to run away on the train to her sisters and because she spots the new husband who tried to rape her she quickly buys a ticket to the train leaving first which happens to be headed to London.  Upon arriving in London she doesn't know what to do since she arrived after outgoing trains had stopped for the night.  First she is approached by a soldier who tries to help her but then she is approached by another man.  Rosalyn doesn't know what to do but finally a nice woman rescues her and takes her home with her.  Just as Rosalyn is getting an uneasy feeling that she might have made a mistake she arrives at the woman's home but quickly finds out that she had made a horrible mistake and the woman is a Madame of a rundown brothel.   In the middle of the night she decides to run away, gets caught, gets accused again of theft by the woman to the police, she pays off the woman with her mothers watch which was her last procession and gets away but now all of her worldly processions are gone.  At daybreak she ends up walking up to an opera house of Gilbert and Sullivan.  She manages to get herself hired to work as a dresser for them and there begins the story of Rosalyn and how she manages to get hired in London.
Rosalyn is talented and it isn't long until it is discovered that she can sing.

This first of the London series is so good that you will continue reading it well past the time you should be working at something else.  The reader will find themselves captivated by Rosalyn and her adventures in London.  This book is interesting reading for anyone who loves historic love stories though the love interest takes backseat to the work of putting on the HMS Pinafore.  Much of the history is maintained in the story while interweaving the fiction part of Rosalyn Bernay's character into the script.
I received this book from BethanyHouse for this review.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson

We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson is an outdoors person's book written by an outdoorsman.  Roger grew up in Ventura, California and though he had a father his grandfather was a much more important person to his growing to be the person that he was.  Roger's father used drugs and couldn't be the father he needed to be.  Roger's grandfather on the other hand came to California tied to the back of his father, the preacher riding on a motorcycle escaping the Dust Bowl and the depression.  Roger's grandfather stepped up and was there for Roger when his father was not.  He taught Roger to appreciate the wildlife, the surfing, and traveling to see what this country has to offer.  Roger wants to be to his boys what his grandfather was to him.  Roger wants to teach the boys self-reliance and appreciation of their surroundings.  Roger wants to teach his boys to be men.  This book tells of Roger's teachings, his self-doubt, his shortfalls and the passing on of Christianity so that they can also be men to be proud of.  Roger and his wife, Melissa, take the boys camping, hiking, and fly-fishing, but perhaps most importantly they teach the boys the importance of the creator God.  They learn of God in nature as well as in church.  Their Christianity is the backbone of their family. 

There are 32 hand drawn maps as well as other artwork contained in this book all drawn by the author's mother, Elain.  This book could be the backbone of an outdoorsy family vacation if the reader wishes.  There are so many interesting places to visit contained in the book that do not find their way into the usual tourist books.  There are cities to visit which are well known in the tourist books but these places and restaurants are different ones than the usual. The places that the people to live there would go because the food is good.  I think this book would be good for anyone who wants to backpack or camp in the United States. Places that need to be seen before they are ruined by tourists or just overpopulation moving into the quiet places.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kids NIV Visual Study Bible

Kids NIV Visual Study Bible is such a great easy to read Bible to study for kids but may I suggest that you buy it in the plainer leather like cover for yourself.  The writing is in the popular New International Version but there are so many study helps and pictures that the Bible is fun to read and study.  The pictures are not the simple drawings that one expects to find in a study Bible for children but rather actual pictures of for instance a model of Herod's temple or an actual sycamore fig tree in the Holy Land or Jews praying at the Wailing Wall.  There are little references in the outer column telling more information right beside where the story is in the Bible such as in Isaiah in the story of the prophecy against Arabia it talks of  the caravans of Dedanites and to the side in the column it tells that they were an Arabian merchant tribe who were attacked by the Assyrians and later by the Babylonians.  You don't have to look and see if it is footnoted and then look somewhere else, the explanation is right there beside the story.  Cool, huh?
This Bible is the complete Bible not just stories that would interest kids which is another reason why I plan to use this Bible for my own personal use.  Beginning each different book in the Bible is the title of course but in addition there is the author, why it was written, for whom it was written, a little bit about its importance, or the stories, or how it pertains to kids.  On page 239 the Bible wants to further reiterate that God showers his people with grace time after time so there is a large faint picture background of clouds with rain and over that is printed various times of grace that God gave His people in drops of water along with the reference where it can be found in the Bible.  This type of illustration is use time after time using different themes and subjects.

This Bible would make a good first complete Bible gift for any child capable of reading the text.  This Bible could take the child not only through childhood but also into adulthood.  This Bible has all the parts that one has grown to expect in a Bible including maps in the back along with table of weights and measures, and an infographics index. I would recommend this Bible for any reader wishing to study the Bible.
I received this book from Handlebar for this review.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An Amish Summer by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin

An Amish Summer by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin contains four novellas for your reading pleasure.  In the first Sharon and Sherilyn are sisters who are returning to Shipshewana for a little vacations with a couple of girlfriends.  Sherry has been writing Graham Holland since the last time the two of them met at a wedding.  Sherry is the plainer of the two sisters and since her sister is such a looker she doesn't get much notice.  Graham is also a quiet man but he thinks that he is writing to the beautiful sister.  When the two meet again he realizes his mistake but doesn't know how to tell them.  He doesn't even remember meeting Sherry but decides to get to know both girls better in order to decide who he likes better.  He talks this over with his friend, Toby who is also on the trip with Graham.  Toby would like to get to know Sharon but he is disgusted that Graham wants to keep both of them until he makes up his mind.  Toby says that if Graham won't tell them then he will so Graham tells the girls.  Of course they are just furious with him and don't want to speak to him.  How will this summer vacation end?

In the 2nd novella Amy Clipston tells the story of the summer before Arianna is to marry Jesse.  They have been friends all their life but as they grew up this friendship grew into a love that both wanted to last a lifetime.  Arianna's brother Tobias is Jesse's best friend but Tobias has been brooding lately and seems kind of depressed.  Tobias has been fighting with his father lately about taking over the family farm.  Tobias is the only son and is expected to inherit the farm but he doesn't want to farm and has been drinking to avoid the constant fighting with his dad.  The day that Tobias got drunk and wrecked the buggy because he was driving the horse so recklessly was the final straw with his father.  The two had a horrible fight and Tobias ran off that night to live with a relative in another state.   Marvin Arianna's dad also said that Arianna and Jesse had to stop seeing each other and it was Jesse's fault that Tobias started drinking and wrecked the buggy.  What to do? Arianna is so sad but she knows that she can't go against her father.  How will they all survive the summer?

In the 3rd novella Kathleen Fuller writes of Esther and Sarah Coblentz.  Sarah is beautiful and Esther is not.  Sarah is very social and everybody wants to date her and Esther is not.  Esther has loved her father's hired hand Judah for as long as she can remember but Judah only has eyes for Sarah.  Judah only thinks of Esther as Sarah's sister and treats her kind of like a sister.  The only person that seems to have noticed that Esther has eyes for Judah is her brother, Rueben. Rueben teases her about it and tells her not to be so obvious about it but also gives her hope that maybe someday Judah will love her in return.  That summer Esther's parents have allowed a college intern to stay at their home to learn about the Amish religion.  Sarah notices the good looking intern, Rhett, and wants to interest him in her but Rhett seems only interested in learning about the farm and how it works.  Rhett in fact only notices Esther which makes Sarah very jealous.  Esther is very interested in Rhett but only as a friend and quickly finds out that Rhett is engaged to his sweetheart back at home.  The interest that Rhett shows to Esther makes Judah notice Esther and for the first time as a woman that he could be interested in as a lifetime partner.  Will Judah and Esther ever get together?

In the final novella Ms. Irvin tells of the sweet love story of Martha Byler and Jacob King.  Martha is very concerned that Jacob only seems interested in having fun and none in growing up.  Martha is also concerned that even though her father has remarried and everyone loves their new mother Martha feels responsible for caring for her younger brothers and sisters as she has done since she was a preteen.  Jacob feels that he IS grown up but he just wants to have a little fun.  This is the summer that Martha learns to trust Jacob's judgment and Jacob figures out that maybe he does need to change some of his behaviors if he wants to be Martha's husband.  The sweet story has a few twists and turns as Martha and Jacob learn to rely on each other and truly love each other.

These novellas are a great read for summer time pleasure.  You will not be sorry that you purchased this thick book to enjoy these stories.
I received this book from BookLook for this review.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is one of my all time favorite books now.  Though this is the 20 Anniversary Edition of this book I had never read it.  When it came out again I snatched it up to see what everyone was talking about and now I know.  This is the story of a man who had lost touch with his favorite teacher and when he found out that his teacher was dying of ALS he made it a point to reconnect with him.  While in college he had met with his teacher on Tuesdays to work on a senior project and as luck would have it he again met with him on a Tuesday.  This is the story of the last Tuesdays of Morrie's life and how they spent them.  Every week Mitch Albom had a different topic to discuss from family to death.  9 topics to discuss in the time they had left.  Every week Mitch got on a plane to Morrie's house bringing Morrie's favorite foods, the topic to discuss and a tape recorder.  Every week he brought these things though soon Morrie could no longer eat the food, though it was difficult for Morrie to talk, every week Mitch brought it all and spent the Tuesday listening to Morrie's thoughts, philosophy on the topic and learning what it was like to live and to die.  Mitch and Morrie grew even closer together these last weeks working on this project.  Mitch learned some of the cares that Morrie needed including the "ass wiping" which Morrie dreaded as he knew that it would come a day that he would be too weak to do this for himself.  Morrie learned to die as Mitch looked on and learned along with him.

Reading this book you will laugh, you will cry, but most of all you will ponder on the meaning and purpose of your own life.  Don't think that you can casually read this book.  It will draw you in and grab hold of you as you not only marvel on the strength of Morrie as his gets closer to his death but will be grateful that Mitch took the time out of his business of living to finish this last project with his favorite teacher,"Coach".  This book can and should be read by everyone.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist

Love Letters from God Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart by Glenys Nellist is a delightful picture/story book for girls on the women of the Bible.  This book has wonderful pictures accompanying each story.  The book begins of course at the beginning with the story of Eve.  Each story is contained in 2 pages and includes a letter from God which can be personalized by the giver of the book to contain the girl's name in the letter.  There are many good children's Bible stories on the market today but this is the first that I have seen that tells of the women of the Bible's stories.  This book contains not only the well known women of the Bible such as Eve and Mary the mother of Jesus but also the females who are seldom mentioned such as Naaman's servant girl.  It also brings out how each might have been feeling as they were going through their life following the path that God had lain out for them. 

I loved the Love Letters from God specially made for girls.  As a woman who raised all girls I never knew how to answer the many questions about why no one talks very much about the women in the Bible.  This Book would have been such a delight to provide for my children as they were growing up and I am so glad that this author has provided this book for the females growing up  in our world today.  I would recommend this for any young reader but also for children to be read to.  This would make a wonderful bedtime storybook.  This book would make a delightful gift for any little girl.
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for this review.

Hello Stars by Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts

Hello Stars by Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts is the first in the new series, Lena in the Spotlight.  This series stars Lena as the oldest child in her family.  Lena on the advice of her friend Savannah has entered a contest to meet her favorite star Mallory Winston and even though in the video entry she made she had a piece of candy between her teeth she won. The prize not only included meeting Mallory but also living for the summer in Hollywood starring in a role in a movie.  Lena soon finds that making a movie is more work than she anticipated and spending the whole summer in California away from her friends is more lonely than she thought.  Lena learns to make new friends in California and trust God to guide her along the way. Lena becomes friends with Mallory as well as Kay B who helps her get ready for her scenes.   Lena learns to work hard and enjoy the fun as it comes. Most of all Lena learns to relax and trust God to lead her toward the plan He has set for her life. 

I enjoyed this book and think that any tween girl would enjoy reading this book.  This book has a Christian message as this Christian family learns to live in California and follow the path that God has set for them.  The book is about a 12 year old and is written so that 12 year olds could easily read it.  There is no violence nor sexual content.
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for this review.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman is the next novel out by this mystery writer.
Miguel Rodrigus is a Mexican who crossed illegally into Texas and was caught.  He was housed in the juvenile detention and was murdered while there.  Texas is trying to sweep it under the rug but when Miguel's mother, a Mexican immigrant who is raising her other son legally in one of the surrounding towns of Washington DC.  She is poor but working steadily to keep food on the table for herself and Jorge.  Someone had anonymously sent her pictures of Miguel's dead body and she went to a law office, Elliott and Johnson, to get justice.  Miguel's mother, had readily talked to one of the partners, Gerard, but now she refused to give anymore information to anyone.  Gerard assigned the case to a rising young female attorney, Hayden, but Hayden was getting no help from either Gerard nor Miguel's mother.  Then someone breaks into both Hayden's and Gerard's office and killed Gerard.  Hayden had gotten into Gerard's office and took Miguel's file and had a clerk, Angela copy it and send it to her home.  Then Angela is fired and Hayden is offered no help from the remaining partners and is told her job is also on the line.  Why did everyone suddenly clam up? Why did Miguel's mother refuse to help even though she appears to want Hayden's help?  Hayden realizes she can't win this case in Texas and tries to get the case moved but first she must go investigate in Texas where the crime occurred.  Suddenly she has no expense account to fly down there.  Why is the firm trying to keep her from winning this case?  Why hadn't Miguel who was a minor immigrate with his mother?  All these questions swirl around in Hayden's brain as she fights for the young Miguel's justice and 'accidents' suddenly start happening to Hayden and anyone who tries to help her.

Great murder mystery from this author.  You will love reading this page turner and find it hard to put down.  I would recommend this as good reading for anyone high school age and over.  There is some violence as there would be in any murder mystery, no cursing, no explicit sexual content.
I received this book from Booklook for this review.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis is the newest book by this author. Ms Lewis' next Amish love story centers on the last summer of Sallie Ruehl before studying for her baptism and joining The People of her Amish community.  Sallie has been planning this last summer for years and has saved up for her trip to Australia.  Then she hears that her beloved nephew needs an important surgery she feels pulled by God to donate the trip money to his fund to pay for the needed surgery.  Just afterwards she finds an opportunity to be the nanny for the summer for a well to do family while they vacation on the beach at Cape May in New Jersey.  She would be spending the summer caring for their daughter Autumn  while the mother cares for her new infant son.  She feels that this might be Providence that this happened right after donating her trip money to the fund.  Her aunt, Essie, feels much the same way but her mother on the other hand is obviously disappointed that Sallie won't be taking her lessons on her baptism this summer as she had hoped.  Sallie knows that she won't be going without her father's blessing but he surprises her by okaying the trip.  In no time at all Monique Logan shows up in her car to whisk her away to the Jersey beach.  Sallie loves the beach as she expected and she loves working for the family as she expected, she is even learning all the workings of the thoroughly modern cabin that the Logans are letting her stay in during the summer---but what she didn't expect is to fall for the Mennonite boy, Kevin, she met on the beach who is a summer intern working on a boat as a tour guide.  Sallie is torn by her growing feelings for Kevin and her guilt about Perry who is waiting for her at home.  What will she do?  Can she put off her baptism again?  She is not baptized so the church won't shun her but can she live happily outside of The People.  Read this book to find out Sallie's solution to this dilemma.




I loved this book about the Jersey shore.  This book brings out the importance of baptism in the Amish church but also the love that the families still have for each other even when choosing life outside the fold of the church.  It brings out some of the decisions that the young Amish must make in order to either stay in the church or the shunning that occurs if the decision to stray from the church is made after the baptism.  Timing is everything in all communities and the Amish are no different.  It also tells of how one may straddle the fence so to speak in order to avoid irritating the family and avoiding the shunning while still staying our of the church membership.
I received this book from BethanyHouse for this review.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

In a Different Key by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

In a Different Key by John Donvan and Caren Zucker is an extremely interesting book on autism.  The book manages to take a subject of which I had no direct knowledge of and hold my interest from the very first page.  The book begins by drawing the reader into it with the story of Donald a little boy growing up in Mississippi.  His mother, Mary was just exhausted with caring for him.  She kept him home which was not the norm of the 1930s but when he was joined by his little brother she begins to accept that maybe the doctor is right and maybe an institution would be good for him.  Beaman, his father is a very involved father especially of the 1930s but Donald was a boy who would not interact with anyone. If you tried to hug him he pulled himself away.  He rarely spoke to anyone and if he did answer a question it most likely had nothing to do with the question.  He appeared to enjoy being alone most of all.  Both parents agree he is not normal but are beside themselves for what to do.  Donald wouldn't eat, he preferred to wear no clothes, it seemed as if he couldn't feel the cold weather, and though at an early age he could sing many songs and recite from memory he quit talking to people in a meaningful way between 2-3 years old.  For a year Mary and Beamon left Donald in the institution but what few smiles Donald had they noticed were gone and finally Mary had enough and the family came back and took Donald home.  Still they struggled with all of Donald's oddities and didn't know what to do until Donald was given into the care of Dr. Leo Kanner.  Dr. Kanner eventually diagnosed Donald as "autistic disturbances of affective contact".  Donald was the first diagnosed case of what became known as autism.
The book then tells of other cases and scientific trials, exams, and treatments rounding out the progress of the treatment of autism until the present day.  The book holds the attention though I have only a passing acquaintance with the disorder I read many parts of the book 2 and 3 times because of the interesting way the authors have of telling the story.  I would recommend this book to any of those who have children with autism spectrum disorder or work/interact with these children.  This book explains many things of the difficulties that these children and their family faces on a daily basis in an honest and interesting way.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Home is Wherever Mom Is

Home is Wherever Mom Is  is a delightful adult coloring book especially for Moms. With Mother's Day coming up I would think that this would be a good gift for the woman who has everything, creativeness and some time on her hands.  The pages are mostly intricate small spaces to fill with the color of pencils, pens or markers.  Be aware that there is a small amount of bleed through using regular markers so if you're picky you will be sacrificing the back of the page that you color with markers.  I think that the colored pens do a great job if you are wanting the jewel tones of the markers but I like colored pencils the best.  I like the way that pencils fill the small spaces for a more impressive picture and I don't mind the more muted color of the pencil.  The more expensive pencils resharpen best to points for the nicest outcome rather than the colored pencils mostly used by schoolchildren.  I love doing these books and this is one of the better ones.  There are pages also included which are mostly lettering to color in for those who like that or for less intricate pages to color.  These books are a nice way to wind down in the evening after a rough day at work.  I would highly recommend this book for gift giving or to use yourself.  Some of these books are quite expensive and this one is quite reasonable for the nice thick pages that is contained within the covers. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An Amish Home by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller

An Amish Home by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller is 4 novellas by these 4 well known authors.  In the 1st, A Cup Half Full by Ms. Wiseman, the reader is introduced to Sarah who when only a week into her marriage was in a car vs. horse and buggy accident.  Sarah would never walk again. Sarah would always be confined to a wheel chair.  Sarah had worked through that it was not Abram's fault that she would never again walk though Abram was still working on not blaming himself.  Sarah has been told that she can have children but she is afraid that she won't be able to properly care for a child safely.  Sarah has many things to work through but when she is afraid that Abram is unfaithful and doesn't want her anymore Sarah finally finds her courage to face all her fears and begin to live life--it won't be the perfect one that she first thought that she would have but it will be a good one.

Chace and Mia have had it rough and now was the worse time of all because now they were homeless.  Chace had grown up in foster care but had decided that Mia and the baby would always have everything that they needed but now that they had been evicted Chace was beginning to feel like the failure that Mia's parents had always called him.  Mia had always had all the material items that she ever needed but when she told her parents that she was going to marry Chace and have his children they disowned her.  But when Chace was offered the daadihaus that his Amish boss owned they thought that at least they wouldn't be homeless but that was before Mia tried to live without electricity.  There was no switch to turn up the heat--they had to add coal to the fire.  There was no light switch they had to light candles or else use the Coleman for light at night. The young couple start to bicker endlessly.  But when the baby got sick and there was no money to go to the doctor Mia left.  How does this young couple figure out what to do?

Thomas and Noreen King were hopelessly in love when they married 15 years ago but what had happened to that love?  Noreen had been cooking the meal and had run down to the cellar to get preserves to make a dessert and when she came back upstairs the kitchen was engulfed in flames and Noreen was trapped.  Then something hit her in the head and she fell and her hip was hurt and she couldn't move just in time Thomas ran in and saved her.  The community came in to help them put out the fire but it had burned the house up completely and most of the corn crop. The next days and weeks were spent cleaning up the site in order to rebuild.  The bishop had offered them their daadihaus to live in until their house was built.  Thomas and Noreen's marriage had continued to flounder however.  Both Thomas and Noreen had never before had their problems so public before but now all the advice that they receive is to pray for each other and their marriage. Then just when they begin to once again hope their home site is robbed.  They killed the pigs, stole Thomas' tools, and take the money that Thomas had hidden in a tin box.  It was all the money to rebuild.  Now what would they do?

Faith is grieving the loss of her grandfather as well as she had just broke up with Silas when she found that she just couldn't live with someone that she couldn't rely on.  Faith had always loved working with wood with her grandfather in his shop and would like to be a carpenter but it is not a proper job for a girl and so her father said no.  Silas is her ex-fiancé and he has found that he needs to be more reliable because his mother who had him late in life now has dementia.  Now Silas needs to help his father care for her in addition to working in the carpentry shop with him.  Silas had to grow up and grow up fast.  Then Faith and Silas both got hired for the same job--making the cabinets for a couple's kitchen who were soon to be wed.  Faith needs the reassurance that she can be a real carpenter and Silas needs the money so they decide to work together but can they do it and on time?

This book was a delight to read and I would think that any woman or girl would love reading it. No sex, no violence.  The reader's attention is held from the moment that they start to read.  I received this book from Booklook for this review.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs has the subtitle of Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene and there are stories of the women aforementioned but also there is so much more in this study for Easter.  There is Salome. There is Martha.  The spirit and the courage of all these women who were seeking to minister to Jesus in his time of need are the center of this study book.  Until reading this book I had no idea of the courage that it took to follow Jesus all the way to the cross.  I had no idea that just being present at Jesus' crucifixion could have gotten them the same punishment. The 3 Marys have the starring roles in this book but there is surprising information also found about the other women and I found out so much about Martha.  Martha is the woman of the stories of Easter that I can most identify with and understand and I was pleased to see so much written of her in this study.

This book is of course an Easter study but included into this study is a more in-depth Bible study.  All of these studies can take place over the course of Lent picking the study that is more in line with how deep into the Bible you want to delve.  One study takes place only on Sundays of Lent and one takes place daily.  But if you only wanted to read the book and just look up interesting Bible verses mentioned along the way you could easily do that also and completely enjoy your study. This Bible study is one of the most flexible one that I have participated.  The only thing is that it is centered around the women of Lent.  Though there is nothing bad said about the men of Easter it certainly centers on Jesus and his women followers and because of that I would recommend this study for teens and women.  This study is very well written and I highly recommend it.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison is the author's 4th novel, the other 3 were best sellers.  If you are wanting to read a book that will change the way you view the world, the way you shop for your clothing, or the way you view the corporate world than read this book. The novel  catches the reader's attention in the first chapter with the fire which trapped the factory workers inside the building which only had one door and the windows that were barred.  Somehow a few of the workers managed to through the window and a few escaped the fire to either die in the fall or suffer many lifelong injuries.  Needless to say the factory was not following the rules that the United States companies had laid down but it was also found that the US companies had overseers who did know and were just turning a blind eye to the atrocities found in the factories.  This factory was a subcontractor for a supplier that the US company did know.  These people who managed to survive were not covered by any workman's compensation nor any other insurance.  When the US company found out that it was their products that were being made they also did little or nothing to help the victims of the fire or their family.  This novel is about how the person sent to investigate the fire for the US corporation was changed.  When he reported the abuses going on in Bangladesh and other countries' factories working for them the corporation chose to continue to ignore the abuses taking place and just strengthen the rules that the inspectors would oversee. Cameron the senior officer of the corporation sent to look into the could not live with that plan and went to a reporter, Josh, who he knew was also married to a lawyer in hopes of starting a law suit to defend some of the victims. 

 Mr. Addison was changed by a fire in 2012 in a Bangladesh fashions factory named Tazreen.  In that fire the factory was manufacturing clothing for Walmart but they also manufactured clothing for Target, Sears, Gap, Zara, and many more.  This fire was similar to the one described in the novel and just as in the novel the press made a big story out of it for a short time then went on to the next big thing.  In the novel it is fictionalized as to what could have happened.

As I read this book I was aghast at how blasé I am about the clothing that I wear and where it comes from.  I had known that my clothing was now carrying the Bangladesh label and were a now Viet Nam and others.  One thing these labels have in common is that they are all developing countries.  I hope that I am a better consumer and do not just forget these people who make my clothing when the next big thing catches my attention.
I received this book from BookLook for this review.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Amish Weddings by Leslie Gould

Amish Weddings by Leslie Gould is the third installment in the Neighbors of Lancaster County series.  I waited in such anticipation for Ms Gould's next novel and she didn't disappoint. Rose Lehman is so excitedly waiting until her older sister Lila is married before she can start planning her wedding to Reuben Byler, the bishop's son.  She just wishes he was more exciting and freely expressing his feelings like Trevor who is visiting Zane Beck, Lila's fiancé.  Trevor always seeks her out and talks to her.  Trevor has even snuck in a kiss.   Rose is even starting to wonder if maybe she has feelings for Trevor but for now she is just enjoying talking to him.  Rose is mostly busy helping get ready for Lila's wedding until Lila has a horrible accident in her buggy when a car rammed into the back of it.  Before she knew it Lila was flying over her horse's head and landed by the creek with the horse on top of her.  Lila required weeks and weeks of help and exercises and Rose was there to help her.  However that gave Rose free time to sneak off with Trevor.  As Lila got better and was not so groggy from the pain medications she was more alert and able to come home.  Rose lost her freedom but she found out she had also lost more than that when she found herself pregnant and Trevor is nowhere to be found.

I thought when I saw the title and weddings were plural that this would be a happy go lucky Amish novel centered around planning several weddings.  This book does explore the planning of 3 Lehman weddings but each of them has a major curve to throw in for good measure.  In addition to all that Lila wants to seek out her biological father who she assumes would show her much more love than she has received from the Dat the stepfather who raised her.  Lila and Rose and even Dat, Tim Lehman all have some growing and learning about real love and how to show it.

I loved this book. This author is so good and I know I've said it before but she makes the Amish in her novel more realistic than any other author.  This book can be read by any and probably more enjoyed by older girls and women.  The only drawback for the very young would be the discussion of pregnancy before marriage.  There is no discussion of how she got pregnant or any other sexual content.  So make sure young ones are already educated before reading, my children were educated very young so it wouldn't have made any difference.
I received this book from BethanyHouse for this review.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Falling Free by Shannan Martin is a book that'll make you think about what your life is meant to be.  Shannan and her husband had everything they wanted: good government jobs, a house on 6 acres in the country, 3 children (maybe adopted but certainly well loved), a good education and the list could go on and on.  The only thing was Shannan wished that she felt closer to God.  Then all at once it happened.  Their financial security/jobs were gone and with it the ability to easily pay for living in the house in the country.  Her husband, Cory, found a job working for the school system for less money and Shannan had found even working part time with the children was becoming impossible so that job's money was also gone and so the house was placed on the market and they began to look in the city of Goshen for their house.  They found a new house close to the rail road tracks.  It was  new though smaller and cheaper and closer to Cory's work.  It was doable. Then Cory was offered a job as chaplain of the jail for even less money.  After discussion they decided that this was the life that God wanted for them.  Not the pretty home but a plain one, not the top of the line school for the children but the poor school at the end of the block with the low test scores.  Their children would grow up along side children from broken homes whose father they didn't even know or were in jail/prison.  This was the life that God had chosen for them.  This life of getting closer to God by getting closer to his people.  This learning to know and love the down and out, the drug addicts, the incarcerated, the tattoos that screamed profanity even if the owner didn't.  When they met and got to know their neighbor they learned what Jesus meant when he said he wanted us to love our neighbor.  Their neighbors( who needed so much from barest of necessity to hearing the Word) became their friends.  The incarcerated became visitors in their home and sometimes if needed their overnight guest.  But the Martins quickly learned it was a two way street.  The poor shared with them from their meager cabinets.  Shannan awakened one morning to the sounds of her sidewalk being shoveled by a man who couldn't dress warmly enough because that is what he could do for the Martins whom he loved.  After a class which combined the jailed inmates along with a class from the school, the inmates took it upon themselves to make Sweet Slam (a concoction of cookies and candy bars mashed together and pressed into bars) and offer it to the class.  The Martins were surrounded by the love of their neighbors.  This is what God wanted for the Martins and they didn't even know to ask for it.

Falling Free is a book about the gutsy move that the Martins made in order to follow the Lord and do his teaching.   This books was written for a high school to adult audience. It would be good reading for anyone though maybe not hold the interest of the younger such as middle school age group.  The book carefully sidesteps actually having curse words in it but alludes to the cussing occasionally.  I especially would recommend this reading especially for those planning to go into inner city mission work.
I received this book from BookLook for this review.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray

Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray is a fabulous read.  This book is told in alternating parts in present day America as well as 2 generations back starting in 1936 and ending in the 1950's.  Picasso isn't painting.  He has hidden himself away in Juan-les-Pins in a rented house on the seashore.  He has his paints but he doesn't use them.  He mostly sleeps away his days.  He has employed the Café Paradis to bring him his meals daily.  He has left orders to just leave them there and he will get them as he wishes and most of all tell no one that Picasso is living there.  Ondine is a fifteen year old girl living with her parents above the Café Paradis.  Ondine works for her mother in the kitchen.  Ondine is ordered by her mother to deliver the food on her bicycle up the hill to the house and tell no one.  Ondine left Picasso a note stating that she hoped that he liked his food.  Ondine serves the food keeping careful track daily of his likes and dislikes in the leather book that her mother had given her.  To Ondine's surprise Picasso leaves her a note and drew her a little picture.  After serving the food Ondine is supposed to return on her bike and pack up the supplies and return them back to her mother's café.  One day when she packed up she noticed that her mother's beloved pink and blue striped pitcher is missing.  Even though she is not supposed to Ondine searches through Picasso's house to find the pitcher so that her mother won't be angry.  Picasso catches her looking through his paintings. Eventually they develop a friendship and he asks her to pose for him.  Ondine poses and Picasso paints several pictures and she asks to see them but she is mortified when she sees the painting is so grotesquely formed.  Her eyes are both on the same side of her head ect ect quite Picassoesque.  Ondine is surprised to find herself thinking quite sexually about this older man in his 50s.  She has also noticed that Picasso paints nudes and wonders whether eventually he will ask her to pose nude.  He eventually does, she asks if she will be paid which angers Picasso then decides that she will not pose nude. Meanwhile back in the café it is war time and no one has money and not surprisingly Ondine's parents find themselves in need of cash.  Ondine is shocked to find out that their plan is to marry her off to an older man who has the cash to go into partnership with them. She is still very much in love with her one love, Luke.  Ondine runs away straight to Picasso and offers herself to him.
Modern day New York.  Celine who is Ondine's granddaughter is a successful Hollywood makeup artist.  Celine's mother, Julie is growing noticeably weaker and her stepsiblings make all decisions regarding her care.  Celine thinks that the medicine that is making her worse.   During her last visit with her mother Julie gave her Ondine's leather recipe book from cooking with Picasso.  Julie had hidden it in a special place in the kitchen.  Julie said that her mother also hid things.  Julie also tells her that Ondine had a special present from Picasso hidden but Julie had never found out where.   When Celine's father died he left everything to the older sibling twins with all decisions to be made by the boy twin.  Her brother makes all decisions about her mother and has placed her in a nursing home that will only listen to advise from him.  Feeling frustrated Celine decides to use the tickets to a French cooking school vacation that her mother would not be able to use and revisit the sites of Grandmother Ondine.
Now I just loved this book but I must caution any future readers that there is sexually contact between 15 year old Ondine and Picasso who is at the time in his 50s.  There is also talk later on about Picasso having sexual contact with many much younger women.  Putting all of that aside this is a great mystery novel especially ( I think anyway) for women.  I got this book on audio but think that it could be more enjoyed if read in book or ebook form.  I will read it again in written form just for the pleasure of it.
I received this book from Blogging for Book for this review.

You Carried Me by Melissa Ohden

You Carried Me by Melissa Ohden is a book by an abortion survivor.  Melissa grew up always knowing that she was adopted.  She was raised with her older sister, Tammy,  who also was adopted.  These girls were soon joined by the very happy addition of a brother when their mother surprised everyone by getting pregnant after all those years.  Both girls had been told that their birth mothers loved them but just couldn't raise them and so they were adopted.  Melissa grew up happy and loved and wanted.  As the girls grew up they discovered different interests and grew apart though always loved each other.  One day Tammy let it slip in an argument that Melissa's mother didn't love her.  Tammy didn't know that Melissa had never been told she was an abortion survivor.  Though Melissa's parents did the best that they could Melissa just couldn't resolve the fact that her biological mother had tried to abort her.  This story is of how Melissa learned to deal with this assumed rejection of her by her birth mother and the story of how Melissa found forgiveness for her birth parents and then the story of how she searched for them and finally found them.  She wrote each of them a letter and waited and waited and waited some more for a response. 

This book is a tough book to read.  Sometimes I needed to stop to cry and I have never had to go through any of these things.  Melissa is a strong woman who eventually went through a severe depression and with treatment came out on the other side.  Like many who go through great tribulation she wanted to help others get through the same struggles and founded  the Abortion Survivors Network to help others impacted by abortion.  She worked through her shyness enough to become a speaker on this subject.  She found that many didn't want to hear her story, many didn't believe her story and after a period of silence she found the courage to again speak out on the subject of abortion.  Melissa Ohden is a woman of courage who has found the strength to educated us all on this difficult subject.
I received this book from Handlebar for this review.