Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Journey of Josephine Cain


Book Review


The Journey of Josephine Cain is a book in the series An American Tapestry by Nancy Moser. This book is set in America, post-Civil War. Josephine is an ingénue socialite who lives in Washington DC. Her father was a famed Civil War general who has an important role in laying the track, building the transcontinental railroad. The story chronicled Josephine’s life from the assassination of President Lincoln to the completion of the railroad.

In the beginning of the book, Josephine was a spoiled, whiney, uninteresting, shallow young woman – a girl who insisted on having her own way. The book ended with Josephine marrying. She became a strong, intelligent young woman who confidently made her way in the Wild West. I liked the mature version of Josephine. The difficulty for me was the story was not long enough for Moser to develop Josephine’s growth as a character. The change from shallow Josephine to the interesting person she became was abrupt. I think I would enjoy reading more about Josephine as she was at the end of the book.

For history buffs, the story is an interesting chronicle of the period as the tracks are laid through Nebraska, Wyoming and finally on to Promontory Point in Utah. Moser painted a picture of the ruggedness and the depravity of the temporary towns that followed the railroad workers. There were multiple saloons, gangs of outlaws and a house of prostitution, all transportable from town to town. Moser is from Nebraska and she described the prairie well – from the tall grass as high as a man’s head to the gorgeous sunsets.

I enjoyed the character of Josephine’s Aunt Bernice. Frieda Schultz, Josephine’s ladies’ maid was also interesting and appealing. General Cain, Josephine’s father was difficult to figure out. He was a man with strong leadership talents. He made his daughter’s wishes come true, yet was absent from his marriage. Josephine’s mother was the mother you can be thankful you never had.

Over all, this book is a good story and I do recommend it. It portrays an interesting period in the history of the United States. Also, Moser fleshes out her characters well – especially the secondary characters – the ones who play a supporting role. It is also a book that showed the strength of women. Women who played an important role in settling the West.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book


When a socialite from the nation's capital embarks on a journey to the Wild West, her life is changed forever.

A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general's daughter. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker. But if Josephine is willing, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose . . . and true love.


About the Author


Nancy Moser is the best-selling author of more than twenty novels. She is a winner and two-time nominee of the Christy Award, and her latest novel was named to Booklist's "Top 10 Romance Novels of 2011." Nancy and her husband have three grown children and three grandchildren, and they live in the Midwest.

Learn more at Nancy at: http://nancymoser.com/

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fields of Grace


Book Review


Hannah Luce has a story to tell. She was the sole survivor of a disastrous plane crash. Fields of Grace is her story told by Hannah, with Robin Gaby Fisher. Hannah is the daughter of Ron Luce, the founder of a ministry called Teen Mania. Hannah grew up as a princess, very pampered. She lived in a lakeside home and had traveled the world. She entered Oral Roberts University with a full-ride scholarship. After college, in an era when jobs were in short supply she was given full-time employment with Teen Mania.

Hannah told how as an adolescent she began to secretly question much of what she had been taught about God. I thought one of the somewhat amusing parts of the story was her description of trying to speak in tongues. After much prayer, with still no tongue speaking from above, she decides to fake it and makes up, on the spot, a message in gibberish. In some ways, I could relate to her story because as a teen-ager I felt like I could never get Christianity right. It took awhile; but I finally learned that it was not anything I could do. I was dependent on God rescuing me. Hannah was good at “God-talk” but her struggle to find God continued through her college years.

The story began with Hannah returning to the field in Kansas where her plane went down. It ended with the same setting. The middle of the story is an autobiographical depiction of her life, including her struggle with God. One of the more extraordinary parts of the book was her description of her post-accident life as a burn victim. She made the horror of it graphically real. Another thought-provoking segment was the inclusion of stories from the two women who were the first on the scene after the plane crashed. I was deeply touched by the fire chief who went with Hannah back to the field where the crash occurred and the nurse who was off-duty and still sat the entire night with Hannah. These are ordinary people who were truly heroes.

Hannah’s story showed a brave, gutsy young woman who survived a horrible accident. She told of feeling closer to God because of the accident. Yet, her theology still seemed confused. She went to the scene of the accident to try to put the event behind her and to enable her to move forward. I will be interested to see how God uses this young woman in the future.

This is an interesting book. There appear to be two parts to the book. It is an intimate look into the life of a young woman who was well connected in Christian circles; and it is an insider’s look at a young woman who suffered through a horrible accident. Obviously, Hannah could not go through the pain and suffering that she did and not be strongly affected. In a sense, I think that Hannah’s story is only beginning.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the book for $17.29


About the Book


On May 11, 2012, a small plane carrying five young adults en route to a Christian youth rally plummeted into a Kansas field. Only two survived the crash: twenty-seven-year-old ex-marine Austin Anderson, who would die the next morning from extensive burns, and his friend Hannah Luce, the twenty-two-year-old daughter of influential youth minister Ron Luce. Had it not been for Austin rising out of the rubble to help Hannah along in his last hours, and the assistance of a passing driver who just happened upon them, she may have died.

Fields of Grace is a story not just of survival against the odds, but of spiritual revelation. On the surface, Hannah was the dutiful daughter of Evangelical royalty, with a degree from Oral Roberts University and a staff position in her father’s ministry. Yet she had begun to investigate and question her early religious convictions. Hannah recounts the transformative aftermath of the crash—Austin’s strength as he took care of her even as his own body failed, the miracle of the stranger who rescued them, and memories of her beloved friend Garrett. Profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting, Fields of Grace is a story of a girl staring death in the face only to find resilience and hope from her faith—a new kind of faith that would change her forever.

Book Review


Hannah Luce is the daughter of Teen Mania Ministries cofounder and preacher Ron Luce. She lives in Chicago. At twenty-three years old, she’s also the founder of Mirror Tree, a nonprofit devoted to re-integrating refugees from the horrors of rape, genocide, civil wars, and other means of trauma by funding educational research to improve their lives.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Return to Me


Book Review


Return to Me by Lynn Austin is a powerful story. It is the first volume in a new series Restoration Chronicles. The book traces the story that begins in 539 BC when the prophet Daniel is summoned to read the message written on the wall for Babylonian King Belshazzar. The message predicted the fall of the Babylonian Empire. After the fall, Persian King Cyrus was the new ruler and he, fulfilling prophecy, let the Jewish people return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God. The story ends with the dedication of the new temple.

The book sent me back to study the scriptures – Ezra, Zechariah, (a central character in the story) and 2 Chronicles. I found that the scripture and the prophecies are fascinating; but Austin’s account made them come alive. I could imagine the grief Dinah, Iddo the priest’s wife felt. She had been born in Babylon and had married and had children in Babylon. It was her world, everything that was familiar. Now her husband was asking her to give all this up. None of their adult children chose to go, so Dinah had to leave her children and grandchildren. Only one grandson, young Zechariah went with his grandparents to Jerusalem. This book gave me an understanding that when the remnant left Babylon to return to Jerusalem they had to leave family, friends and everything that was familiar. I could feel the danger this remnant faced, being newcomers and being the minority.  Austin takes what I always thought were interesting passages from the Bible and with skillful writing, brings them to life.

I also was struck by the themes of the Almighty One: “Walk with me”, “Return to me.” In addition to making the story live, Austin gives the reader a chance to understand how much God wants us to have a relationship with Him. She shows this through Zachariah’s life. We are introduced to him when he was a serious 12-year-old student of the Torah. The author carefully shapes his character, showing his struggle to understand, believing in the God of the Torah, but having many unanswered questions. His journey and struggles through adolescence, into adulthood, and becoming an inspiring prophet, not only made a fascinating story but also made me realize anew what it meant to trust God.

This is a lengthy book, definitely worth taking the time to read. I recommend it. I am also looking forward to volume 2. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the Book for $9.16


About the Book



From the Acclaimed Author of Chronicles of the Kings

After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true---King Cyrus has declared the Jews may return to Jerusalem. Iddo, a priest, is sure this is a sign of God's renewed favor. For too long they've remained in Babylon, and many, including Iddo's sons, are losing the faith that sets them apart. And so only a few choose to leave everything to return---return to their home and their God.

Nothing about their journey to the Promised Land is easy. As hardships mount, even the faithful, like Iddo's beloved wife, Dinah, question the sacrifice of following God's leading. Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the family they left behind. But one life-changing encounter with the Holy One gives him insight that will change Zechariah---and history---forever.

Bringing the Old Testament to vibrant life, Return to Me tells the compelling story of two men living by faith in the midst of doubt, the women who love them, and the faithful remnant struggling to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

About the Author


Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

You can find out more about Lynn at http://www.lynnaustin.org/.

Give Away 

 

Lynn Austin is celebrating the release of Return to Me, the first book in her new Biblical fiction series, The Restoration Chronicles, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat party.
returntome-rafflecopter
 
  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Return to Me by Lynn Austin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "Return To Me" Facebook Author Chat Party on October 22nd. Connect with Lynn and friends for an evening of book chat, biblical trivia, prizes, and get an exclusive look at the next book in Lynn's Restoration Chronicles series!

So grab your copy of Return to Me and join Lynn on the evening of October 22nd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on the 22nd!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Gift for Rose


Book Review


It is not quite October as I write this. Yesterday, when I was in Wal-Mart I saw Christmas trees and a variety of corresponding decorations. It seemed out of place to me; but I just finished a book that put me in the correct frame of mind preparing for Christmas. The book was A Christmas Book for Rose by Tricia Goyer.


The book is set at the end of World War II in an Amish community in Ohio. It has many of the descriptions of Amish life that we have come to expect; but Goyer allows us to become intimately acquainted with a young woman who through circumstances that she has no control over, comes in conflict with the traditional mores of her community. Rose has what most of us would call “a full plate,” and we are privileged to get to know Rose’s thought processes and inner emotions. Rose’s story reminds us how God cares about the details of our lives and the amazing, beautiful ways he can bring healing to hurting, wounded souls.

This is a Christmas book; but not a usual Christmas story. It is a book that explores the vileness of war while showing how God really does “ work all things together for good.” From soldiers returning from the battlefield to the mood of communities in this post-war period of time, Goyer allows us to get a sense of this important historical era in our country.

This is a wonderful book, made even more special by the fact that it has a Christmas setting. I highly recommend it. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the book for $11.75


About the book


Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II---only to discover she's an Englischer herself. Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind---Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

About The Author

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and "Lead Your Family Like Jesus," (co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children.

You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com.


Give Away


Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her first Christmas novella, A Christmas Gift for Rosewith a Christmas Gift giveaway! 

Enter to win a NEW Kindle Fire HDX for you AND one for a friend!


christmas-gift-rose-rafflecopter

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX and one to give away to a friend!
  • A Christmas Gift for Rose, by Tricia Goyer for you and your friend!
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Christmas Gift for Rose Christmas pack (includes a recipe card, bookmark, a signed book plate, discussion questions, and a Gathering & Giving handout!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. All winners will be announced October 21st at Tricia's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Tricia's blog on the 21st to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Promise to Return


Book Review


There are many books written today that are set in Amish communities. It is always nice to come across one that is a standout. Promise to Return is a new novel, first book in a series called The Promise of Sunrise by Elizabeth Byler Younts. Sunrise is an Amish community in the Dover, Delaware area. This story explores the dilemma for Conscientious Objectors during World War II. It also looks at one of the difficulties of living in community.

In the past, I have enjoyed fiction with a setting in an Amish community and much of what I have read makes the community appealing. There are clearly many advantages in the Amish lifestyle. Younts explores what happens when the individual does not follow the mores of the community. Younts tells the difficulties of one young couple, Miriam and Henry, both of who were devoted to their faith. They were planning to be married and wanted to follow the Amish Ordnung. Then Henry is drafted. Coming from a sheltered community, Henry went to a Civilian Public Service Camp. While he was there, for the first time he heard about the plight of the Jewish people in Europe and why the United States was fighting in the war. He believed that God wanted him to enlist and fight.

Younts steers the story into an area that has the potential to affect most of us. In clear prose she shows the anguish that Henry and Miriam felt as they struggled with personal beliefs and community beliefs.   She explores issues of love and betrayal, juxtaposed with trust and faith and looks at how Henry’s choice affected Miriam.

This is not a book that falls within the genre of suspense; but I had trouble putting the book down. The path Miriam chooses does not become known until the end and the reader is not clued in as to what choice Miriam will make. This is a book that will make you ask yourself, what would you do? What if you believe God is calling you to something that goes against your Christian community standards? Younts has crafted a book that goes beyond most Amish fiction. I would love it if she publishes many more books in the series. I highly recommend reading it. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the book for $8.99


About the Book


It’s 1943 and Miriam Coblentz and Henry Mast are nearing their wedding day when the unthinkable happens—Henry is drafted. However, since he is a part of the pacifist Amish tradition, Henry is sent to a conscientious objector Civilian Public Service camp. When he leaves for the work camp, his gaping absence turns Miriam’s life upside down. Little does she know that it’s only the beginning…

When Henry returns home, he brings news that shakes Miriam and their Amish community to the core. He tells Miriam he believes God has called him to enlist in the Army and fight for his country, leaving her to make an important decision. She soon must choose between loyalty to the peaceful life she’s always known and her love for Henry and her faith in their shared destiny.

Two worlds collide in this unforgettable debut novel, providing a fascinating and rare look into Amish culture during World War II. While Henry is battling enemies across the ocean, Miriam struggles between devotion to Henry and her love of the Amish way of life. One question is at the bottom of it all: will she follow her religion or her heart?


About the Author


Elizabeth Byler Younts is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is an Air Force officer’s wife and a homeschooling mom with two young daughters. She makes her home wherever her family is stationed. Elizabeth was Amish as a child and after her parents left the church she still grew up among her Amish family and continues to speak Pennsylvania Dutch.

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