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.