Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Heart's Pursuit

The Heart's PursuitBook Review:

A book by Robin Lee Hatcher is always something to look forward to. The Heart’s Pursuit is not an exception. The unlikely duo of Silver Matlock, a jilted bride and a bounty hunter, Jared Newman traveling together makes for a great story. They traveled from the Denver area to Virginia City, Nevada. Traveling this route in 1873, through mountains and desert, mostly on horseback made for an arduous trip.
Hatcher is masterful at creating characters. Her characters are complete. She allows you to get to really know them. I loved Silver. She was much more than a 19th century “lady.” She was brave and gutsy and handled the difficult trail ride with a true classiness. Jared was also an appealing character. In spite of his driven desire to catch the murderer of his family, he displayed softness and vulnerability underneath his tough façade. You will find yourself cheering for them both and wanting things to work out well for them.
I also really liked Corrine Duvall, a secondary character. Corrine was a wealthy woman who had not forgotten the difficulties of being young and alone. I loved the descriptions of her gorgeous, beautiful home and the young women fortunate enough to be her housemates.
The descriptions of life on the trail were graphic. I could feel the disappointment after a difficult day of riding – being exhausted and having to eat hardtack and beans for dinner. I could feel the roughness of the ground under a blanket and being so exhausted that sleep came anyway.
The Heart’s Pursuit is a very good book and I recommend it. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

A jilted bride desperate to save her family from ruin.
A bounty hunter seeking vengeance for a ravaged past.
An arduous trek toward justice---or redemption.
Silver Matlock and Jared Newman know traveling together is a bad idea. Bad for Silver's already tarnished reputation in her small Colorado town. Bad for bounty hunter Jared's secret, single-minded mission for revenge. But Silver is determined to track down the rogue who left her at the altar and stole the last remnant of her father's fortune. And Jared's in a hurry to hunt down the murderer who destroyed his family---even if Silver is too distractingly beautiful for comfort.
The pair takes off over mountain and desert, past bleak homesteads and raw mining towns, hot on the trail of the two villains who took what wasn't theirs to take. Soon supplies dwindle, secrets emerge, and suspicion leave Silver and Jared at odds when they need each other most. To confront an enemy deadlier than desert rattlesnakes and rocky cliffs, Silver and Jared must learn to forgive and trust and face the question they haven't dared voice: What happens next?

About the Author:

Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heart-warming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, two RT Career Achievement Awards, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over sixty novels.

Daisies Are Forever

Daisies Are ForeverBook Review:

I read Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma and thought that it was a fabulous book. When I was given the opportunity to read another book by Tolsma, I jumped at the chance. Daisies are Forever was also a wonderful book. Like Snow on the Tulips, this new Tolsma book is set during World War II. However, this book was written about average people in Germany. This was a slant on the war that was new to me. Using stories passed down in her own family, Tolsma gave us an intimate insight into how the war affected German citizens.
The story is about Gisela Cramer who evacuated from East Prussia and walked to Berlin with her cousin’s two tiny daughters and three elderly people, including two women with dementia. On the way she picked up a British soldier who had escaped from a German POW camp and helped him escape by saying they were married. This book made me feel the fear, the constant, grinding fear that never let up.
My initial reaction was contemplating what people are able to tolerate to survive. The human spirit is indeed remarkable. This showed with startling clarity what it was like to live under the Third Reich. I have read several books that dealt with Americans and British and their roles during this war. This was the first book I have read that told the other side – the German people who were also victims. On an intellectual level I understood that not all German people were worshipping their Fuhrer; but this book brought to life the people who suffered and desperately wanted the war to stop. Starvation, bombing and constant danger were a part of their lives.
The book is exciting and also very tense. The two sisters with dementia offered comic relief, talking about being on holiday in Paris and Vienna as they sat in a dark, musty basement, hiding from the bombs. It was interesting to watch a real romance develop between the two protagonists who pretended marriage.
This is definitely a book worth reading. Realizing that this was a fictional account of experiences of real people made it incredibly powerful. I definitely recommend this book. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Gisela must hold on to hope and love despite all odds in the midst of a war-torn country.
Gisela Cramer is an American living in eastern Germany with her cousin Ella Reinhardt. When the Red Army invades, they must leave their home to escape to safety in Berlin.
However, Ella is a nurse and refuses to leave, sending her young daughters with Gisela. During their journey, Gisela meets Mitch Edwards, an escaped British POW. She pretends she is his wife in order to preserve his safety among other Germans, especially one wounded German soldier, Kurt, who has suspicions about Mitch’s identity. Kurt also has feelings for Gisela and tries to uncover the truth about her “marriage.”
Their journey to Gisela’s mother in Berlin is riddled with tragedy and hardship, but they strive to keep Ella’s daughters safe so they can reunite with their mother. During the journey Gisela and Mitch begin to develop feelings for one another beyond friendship. They reach Berlin, but their struggles are far from over. Gisela and Mitch must learn to live for the day and find hope in the darkest of circumstances.
In this moving, historically accurate portrayal of WWII Germany, the characters learn that, even with destruction all around them, some things last forever.

About the Author:

“New York Times” best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author of “Daisies are Forever,” “Snow on the Tulips,” and the contributing author of “A Log Cabin Christmas.” When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.
Find out more about Liz at

A Promise in Pieces

A Promise in PiecesBook Review:

It has been some time since reading a book has made me cry. I’m talking about tears, runny nose – the whole experience. Emily T. Wierenga’s book A Promise in Pieces was the reason for my tears. The book is part of the Quilts of Love series. The story moves between the World War II era and the year 2000. The protagonist is Clara, who became a newly minted army nurse during World War II.
Clara is taking taking a road trip with her family: husband, children and grandchildren. Her grandson asks her about her earlier life and Clara tells her story. The story moves between the contemporary family road trip and Clara’s earlier life. I have read several works of fiction that are set in WWII but none have affected me as profoundly as this book. I have been trying to ascertain why this seemingly simple book made such an impression. I think that it is partly in the telling of the story. Clara tells it almost like a reporter objectively reporting the news. The simplicity of Clara telling her story makes an impression. A more emotional accounting would not have the same effect.
Wierenga is a skilled, beautiful writer and this book is crafted in a way that leaves a strong impression. There was much to think about. It is a book about a spiritual struggle, the beauty and loyalty of a deep friendship and the strength of family. But I think, most of all, this is a book about a life well lived.
I definitely recommend this book and I hope that Wierenga writes many more. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it. From the Quilts of Love series

About the Author:

Emily Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for “The Christian Courier,” and the author of “Save My Children,” “Chasing Silhouettes,” and “Mom in the Mirror.” Emily and her family reside in Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.
Find out more about Emily at

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Sensible Arrangement

Book Review:

A Sensible Arrangement
A Sensible Arrangement is the newest book in a new series by Tracie Peterson. The book follows the same pattern that is used in Peterson’s books. While it could be argued that the format is somewhat formulaic I have to ask myself why I continue to read Peterson’s books even though I have a pretty good idea about how the story will go? Why do I read every book by her that I can get my hands on? The answer is that in spite of the similarities in her books, Peterson writes a good story. This book is her one hundredth published book. Obviously, she is doing a lot right.
This is a story about an arranged marriage, actually one that worked out rather well. The marriage was between a woman (Marty) who just wanted to get out of Texas and a man (Jake) whose dream was to return to Texas. The story is set in Denver, Colorado in the early 1890’s, a time of financial difficulties in the United States. Peterson’s descriptions about what was happening in the economy had a familiarity. Jake was a banker, not always a good place to be in falling economic conditions. In spite of the problems, Jake and Marty were a compatible couple.
One of my favorite parts of the story was conversation between Marty and her ladies’ maid, Alice. Marty had been deeply hurt when her first husband died and she did what is so easy to do. She blamed God. After all, God could have stopped the accident that killed her husband. Young Alice has some of the best answers to this dilemma that I have heard. The book is worth reading just for this wisdom. Kudos to Tracie Peterson.
My one complaint with the book is it ended with many loose ends. I had a lot of questions – things I wanted to know. The book is part of the Lone star Brides series and I certainly do hope that book two will provide the answers. I do recommend this book.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

A Lone Star Brides book.
Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past. Answering an advertisement for a “Lone Star bride,” she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn’t know.
Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her. Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake’s yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty’s dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.
What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways… and dreams and secrets collide?

About the Author:

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie’s Web site at

Critical Condition

Book Review:

Critical Condition
Retired physician, Richard L. Mabry, has written a thriller set in a medical backdrop. Critical Condition is indeed a page-turner. I could not help but feel that the protagonist, Dr. Shannon Frasier, must have had the feeling that she was reliving the trials of the biblical Job. After a shooting that resulted in a murder in her front yard, Shannon’s life completely pivoted out of control.
As Shannon’s life skids more and more into chaos, this competent doctor finds herself turning more and more to the God that she had known growing up. Shannon struggled with the familiar refrain that if there was a God why had he not stopped tragedy.
It became evident fairly early in the story that there were some dangerous times ahead for Shannon and the book began to pick up, rushing toward an exciting ending. I admired Shannon’s drive to not let a criminal destroy her life and I think any reader would admire her coolness in a time of extreme danger.
I recommend this book. It is exciting and will definitely keep the reader going until the final page. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book: 

Dr. Frasier couldn't save the gunshot victim on her front lawn. Now she's fighting for her own life.
It began as a quiet dinner party honoring Dr. Shannon Frasier's colleague, but became a nightmare when a man was shot on her lawn, reviving emotions from a similar episode a decade ago. Then a midnight call from her sister, Megan, causes Shannon to fear that her sister is on drugs again.
Her "almost-fiancé" Dr. Mark Gilbert's support only adds to Shannon's feelings of guilt, since she can't bring herself to fully commit to him. She turns for help to her pastor-father, only to learn that he's just been diagnosed with leukemia. Shannon thought it couldn't get any worse. Then the late-night, threatening phone calls begin, the rough voice asking, "What did he say before he died?"
With everything around her in a critical state, simply staying alive will require all the resources and focus Shannon has.

About the Author:

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of four critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader's Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award. He is a past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.

Maybelle in Stitches

Book Review:

Maybelle In Stitches
In the last few years there has been talk about “The Greatest Generation” and the contributions that this World War II cohort made to the USA. In my part of the country, there have been news stories about WWII veterans being able to make a trip to Washington DC to visit the war memorial. I have recently read several works of fiction with a setting during WWII. Consequently, I have had a new interest in this important period of our country’s history. Joyce Magnin’s book Maybelle in Stitches is a story that took place during WWII, part of the Quilts of Love series. It is a book that laid out the seriousness of the war. Not every man who went to fight came home and those who did come home were changed forever.
The easy-going prose and the lighthearted book title belie the seriousness of the situation. The book is set in 1943 in a suburb of Philadelphia, centered on women who worked at Sun Ship and Dry Dock, a shipyard that built ships during World War II. Maybelle Kazinski was the main character along with her friends, co-workers and housemates. The story centered on wives employed at the shipyard whose husbands were serving overseas. In spite of the uncertainty of life these women did their job and did it well.
I enjoyed the camaraderie between the women and how well they assisted and sustained each other through all kinds of life situations. Coping with rationing, blackouts and shortages were a common problem. Maybelle and her friends began working on a quilt that Maybelle’s mother had started. The work helped to draw these women together and they stood by each other through difficult times of death and a husband who was MIA.
Maybelle in Stitches is a book that is entertaining along with showcasing what life was like during the period of the Second World War.  Magnin also paid tribute to the valuable contribution made by women working in what was once considered “men’s work,” and doing an excellent job. I recommend this book.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Maybelle Kazinzki can’t sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house she gets the crazy idea to finish it—somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.
Her recently departed mother’s quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother’s childhood, her grandmother’s childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden’s stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle’s faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful- no matter what. And it’ll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.

About the Author:

Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright’s Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the StoryCrafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dancing With Fireflies

Book Review:

Dancing with Fireflies (A Chapel Springs Romance)
I just finished reading Dancing With Fireflies by Denise Hunter part of the Chapel Springs Romance series and I was just a bit frustrated with the book. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed this book. Earlier, I had read Barefoot Summer a previous book in the series and I was familiar with the appealing McKinley family of Chapel Springs, Indiana. Here’s the thing. I really liked the McKinley’s.  The protagonist, second daughter Jade was delightful. Almost part of the family Daniel Dawson was a dream-come-true man. I loved reading how the family worked together, helped each other and remained very close. What’s not to like, right?
The source of my frustration was in the relationship between Jade and Daniel. By page twelve it was readily apparent that these two belonged together and were in love with each other. The entire book was based on these two trusting each other, loving their time together with Daniel continually reaching out to help Jade. It was so apparent that they belonged together. Now I realize that I had insider information – privileged to be in the minds of both Jade and Daniel; but it seemed to me that if they would just tell each other how they felt this problem could be solved.
This book was definitely worth reading. You will wish you were a part of the McKinley family, attending the weekly family meal, having girl’s nights in or out with the McKinley sisters and enjoying life in beautiful, close knit Chapel Springs. I suspect that like me, you will wish that Jade and Daniel could just cut to the chase and become a couple. You are sure to develop an affection for these two characters and will rejoice at the ending. The take-away for me is the importance of honest communication in relationships. So much pain could have been avoided by sharing feelings.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

About the Author:

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including "Barefoot Summer" and "The Convenient Groom". She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn't writing she's busy raising three heroes-in-the making with her husband.

You can learn more about Denise through her website or by visiting her FaceBook page at

The Queen's Handmaid

Book Review:

The Queen's Handmaid
The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley is a continuous merger of creative fiction and historical research. The book is set in 39 BC and was broad in scope, as it traveled between Alexandria, Rome, Masada, Jericho and Jerusalem. This novel traced the rise of Herod the Great and incorporated all of the intrigue between rulers, their families, and advisors. Well-known historical characters Cleopatra, Marc Antony, Herod’s wife Mariamme, Alexandra, Mariamme’s mother, and Caesar Augustus all made an appearance. The story was told from the perspective of Lydia, a fictional character who was Queen Mariamme’s handmaid. 

The book is fast-paced and the tension builds as the story progressed. After Herod murdered his wife Lydia found that her life was in danger and she was forced escape the wrath of Herod. Through Lydia’s eyes, Higley explored Herod’s fall into madness. 

The author skillfully brought out events that will lead to the birth of Christ and the journey of the Magi the topic of a future novel. This book has made ancient history come alive and interesting. I was continually being drawn in by the mystery of who Lydia was, the task set before her by a Jewish scholar, and in the end the excitement of Lydia’s need to escape. I loved this book and am looking forward to the next volume.

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

About the Book:

From the servant halls of Cleopatra's Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled. 
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she's had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod's political family---his sister, his wife, and their mothers---and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

About the Author:

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored many novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. 

See Tracy's travel journals and more at:

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Sky Without Stars

Book Review:
My husband and I spent the first two years of our marriage working and living in a small town in South Dakota. It was near the Rosebud Reservation. There were events in that area that were difficult to understand. After a bar fight, the White participant was taken by ambulance to the community hospital. The Native American participant waited an hour for the ambulance to come from the reservation and take him back to the reservation for medical treatment. Linda S. Clare’s novel A Sky Without Stars triggered some of those memories for me.
This book is set in Phoenix, Arizona in 1951. The plot explored the life of a Native American single mom, Frankie, trying to support herself and her son. She has few skills and no education. The poverty is grinding, without enough food. The book affected me strongly because it showed what life is like when there are no safety nets. Frankie had many bad things happen to her and she really had no place to turn.
Circumstances were difficult for Frankie; but I felt like the phrase “No social acumen whatsoever” fitted her perfectly. She would always say exactly what she thought, often making the situation worse for herself. I could not help but wonder if she had been White could she have been outspoken and not suffered the same consequences?
Clare clearly laid out the dilemma for Native Americans – trying to fit into society and still not abandon their culture. The problem with alcoholism was widespread and Frankie had both an alcoholic father and husband. I have not lived near a reservation for many years and I do not know what the situation is like today. Back in the 1950’s life was difficult – especially for a single mother. When I lived in South Dakota in the 1960’s life was difficult. Have things improved at all? This is the question I am left with.
A Sky Without Stars is not always an easy read. I found myself worried about Frankie and her son. This is (among many other things) a love story and I really wondered if Frankie’s relationship with her male friend would ever work out. The book does make the reader think about issues that have been with us for generations. The obvious question is have things gotten any better?
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Will the Lakota Star Quilt she is making help Frankie sew a new future of happiness?Frankie Chasing Bear is caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she also thinks he will need to learn the white man’s ways to succeed. After the untimely death of her husband, Frankie joins the U.S. Government’s Relocation Program and moves to Arizona. There she begins sewing a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn, and prayed into it.
A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars, but neither the quilt—nor her new life—comes easily to Frankie. Nick Vandergriff, for instance, is the last man Frankie wants to trust. He’s half-Lakota but Christian, and Frankie can see no good coming from that faith after her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian school. Can Nick convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren’t all bad? And will Frankie learn that love is the most important ingredient—for her son’s quilt and life itself?

About the Author:

Linda S. Clare is an award-winning author and coauthor of several books and has also published many essays, stories, and poems in publications including The Christian Reader, The Denver Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Born in Arizona, Linda and her husband now make their home in Eugene, Oregon, where Linda has taught college-level creative writing classes, and writes, edits, and mentors other writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter, a church retreat leader, and mom to four grown children and five wayward cats.

Vow Unbroken

Book Review:

Vow Unbroken
Vow Unbroken by Caryl McAdoo is a story that showed how God leads and cares for His children. I love stories about God’s provision and McAdoo’s story certainly does that. Susannah, a 19th century widow in the Texas Red River Valley, her 14 year-old nephew and 9 year-old daughter, worked hard through difficulties to get their cotton crop ready to sell. A local businessman tried to take advantage of her, offering only half what the crop was worth. The story is about her trip with a hired man, Henry, her nephew Levi and daughter Rebecca, to a port where she can sell her cotton.
As might be expected, the trip was full of adventure. Henry came with a dog named Blue that definitely earned his keep. I loved the Blue parts of the story. I was impressed by Henry and despite his bad reputation; Sue and her children found him to be a wonderful man. Predictably, Sue fell in love. The problem was that she made a vow before God that she would not marry again without her father’s blessing. I felt that I really got to know this couple well because McAdoo allowed the reader to enter the minds of both Sue and Henry, giving the reader a sense of being an insider.
The travel story is interesting – and it intrigued me. Sitting on a hard bench of a wagon pulled by mules could not have been easy. I also was amazed at the tasty meals that Sue was able to pull off using a campfire. She even was able to make a cake using duck eggs. The water part of the trip was a giant raft – a flatboat to New Orleans, followed by transport on steamboat to Memphis to meet Sue’s father.
Vow Unbroken was a delightful story. It was exciting, funny and a love story with appealing characters. Lovers of historical romance will enjoy this book. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

A spunky young widow hires a farmhand with a bad reputation to help her get her cotton to Jefferson to meet the wagon train, and sparks fly—but can she love a man who doesn’t love the Lord?

Susannah Abbot Baylor reluctantly hires Henry Buckmeyer to help her along the Jefferson Trace, the hard stretch of land between her Texas farm and the cotton market, where she is determined to get a fair price for her crop. It’s been a rough year, and she’s in danger of losing the land her husband left to her and the children, but she’ll need help getting both of her wagons to Jefferson safely. She knows Henry’s reputation as a layabout and is prepared for his insolence, but she is not expecting his irresistible good looks or his gentle manner. Soon they are entwined in a romantic relationship that only gets more complicated when Susannah learns that Henry doesn’t know God the way she does. Dangers arise on the road—but none as difficult as the trial her heart is going through.

Will Susannah and Henry’s love overcome their differences? And will she get her crop safely to the cotton market with enough money to save the farm? In this heartening and adventurous tale, a young woman’s fortitude, faith, and heart are put to the ultimate test. - See more at:

About the Author:

Caryl McAdoo lives in Red River County, Texas, where she brags the nearest soda pop or gasoline is almost ten miles from home. In the country setting of the Texas piney woods, she enjoys four wheeling over the 916-acre McAdoo Ranch, horseback riding, and caring for donkeys, dairy goats, chickens, and a plethora of dogs and cats. Caryl credits her relationship with the Lord for every good blessing in her life, including ten children (counting “in-loves”) and fourteen grandsugars. Her heart’s desire is to bring Him glory.

Healer of Carthage

Book Review:

book coverIf asked, I would have told anyone that I was not interested in time travel stories. I thought the whole topic was ridiculous. New author, Lynne Gentry has written an interesting novel that involved time travel. Healer of Carthage is book one in a new series called The Carthage Chronicles. The book presented some fascinating concepts and ideas.
Gentry researched this novel using theological, medical and historical sources. The protagonist, Lizbeth Hastings, fell through a water opening in a cave to third century Carthage. My thoughts as I read the beginning of the book were that her survival instincts were poor. Going into a brand new culture and telling the citizens exactly what she thought of them did not seem exactly prudent. As the book progressed Lizbeth became more likeable and I became hooked on the story.
The book is plain about the problems in the Roman Empire during this time period. Christians were persecuted severely and the poor were treated abysmally. Lizbeth, a 21st century first year medical resident, found herself known as “a healer” in 3rd century Carthage where she found herself fighting a plague. I liked watching the changes in Lizbeth as she settled in to her new life, fell in love with a Christian aristocrat and got married. The part that really interested me was how she learned to love her new life. I wondered how many of us would feel more at home in a previous century. It is an interesting idea.
My one complaint would be that the book ended in a situation where I definitely wanted it to go on. The publisher has included the first chapter of the second volume in the series and I do plan on reading it; but I have many unanswered questions. I recommend this book. I know when I want to read volume two; volume one was a good book.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

A twenty-first-century doctor. A third-century plague. A love out of time.

First-year resident Dr. Lisbeth Hastings is too busy to take her father’s bizarre summons seriously. But when a tragic mistake puts her career in jeopardy, answering her father’s call seems her only hope of redeeming the devastating failure that her life has become.

While exploring the haunting cave at her father’s archaeological dig, Lisbeth falls through a hidden hole, awakening to find herself the object of a slave auction and the ruins of Roman Carthage inexplicably restored to a thriving metropolis. Is it possible that she’s traveled back in time, and, if so, how can she find her way back home?

Cyprian Thascius believes God called him to rescue the mysterious woman from the slave trader’s cell. What he doesn’t understand is why saving the church of his newfound faith requires him to love a woman whose peculiar ways could get him killed. But who is he to question God?

As their different worlds collide, it sparks an intense attraction that unites Lisbeth and Cyprian in a battle against a deadly epidemic. Even as they confront persecution, uncover buried secrets, and ignite the beginnings of a medical revolution, Roman wrath threatens to separate them forever. Can they find their way to each other through all these obstacles? Or are the eighteen hundred years between them too far of a leap?

About the Author:

This girl who grew up on a Kansas dairy farm never wanted to be a writer, but she has always been a storyteller. Her mother called it "Selling wind in a bag." Lynne started out writing plays and skits. Then in a moment of sheer insanity, she decided to take a stab at writing full-length novels. Reinventing Leona was her first and it is no longer in print. Healer of Carthage is her latest novel, releasing March 2014.

Lynne can milk a cow, drive a tractor, organize a banquet, prepare a kid for that first professional acting audition, or sit across the table and enjoy a cup of coffee with you.

She counts her thirty-plus year marriage and her two wonderful children as her greatest accomplishment.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Thief

Book Review:

There have been many books written about the events that occurred during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. I have just finished reading one that has affected me profoundly. The Thief by Stephanie Landsem, is book two in her Living Water series.
The story is written with the viewpoints of two very different protagonists. Nissa, is a poor Jewish woman and Longginus, a Roman centurion. Their parallel lives are inextricably linked and tell the story of the last days of Jesus in Jerusalem. In the end, their lives come together dramatically.
Landsem does many things well. First of all, this is an excellent story, meticulously researched and builds up to the climatic finish. I did not want to put the book down. Also, Landsem uses sensory rich prose to give the reader a view into the life of the underclass in Jerusalem. In Nissa’s neighborhood I could smell the vile odor from the tannery. I was able to feel Nissa’s hunger pangs. I could sense her exhaustion as she carried her heavy water pitcher home. The contrast with the lives of the elite religious class was striking. It gave me a new perception of the poor people that Jesus ministered to and the arrogant wealthy and uncaring religious scholars. The author also showed through the character of the Roman centurion how subjective the rules were for this class – how easy it was to fall out of favor. Longginus was a good man. He gave up everything for trying to do what was right.
Landsem also has been able to describe the suffering of Jesus in a way that has affected me forever. We become so accustomed to the story of Calvary and what Jesus has done for us. This book gave me a new gratefulness and a new understanding. I recommend this book to be read before Holy Week. It is a powerful story of redemption and it gave me a new appreciation for what Jesus did for me.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.
Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.
Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.
When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.
Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?
The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.

About the Author:

Stephanie Landsem loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

It Had to be You

Book Review:

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren is the first volume of a new series about the Christiansen family. The book includes a prequel for free. This novel is set in Minnesota, both the Twin Cities and a town Warren calls Deep Haven on the North Shore. As I live in Minnesota this interested me and I felt that Warren does an excellent job showcasing this beautiful state.
If you are a reader who enjoys athletics – especially hockey, Minnesota’s favorite past time – this will be an enjoyable book. Warren gave a glimpse into the world of the NHL that is not pretty. She also touched on football and track, showing how one wrong move really changes the life of an athlete.
This is not a book just for sports fans, however. It is a love story and – spoiler alert – it is a book that will probably make the reader cry. Warren illustrated well what happened when one person becomes too responsible for another. As a parent, I felt that through fiction, the author was able to dish out some excellent advice. It is good lesson for anyone too invested in another person.
Warren’s characters are presented honestly, showing all the warts and blemishes; but still revealed the goodness that is there when individuals invite Jesus into their lives. I fell in love with the Christiansen family – Mom, Dad and six kids – and I look forward to additional books in the series. They were one of those families that made me not want to say goodbye. Single Dad, Sam also worked his way into my heart.
The author also knew her way around the transplant center and Children’s Hospital at the University of Minnesota. This portion of the book also gave the reader much to think about. Warren touched on topics loved ones surely go through like fearing an organ will not be available and researching ideas like how to buy an organ.
There is much to like and enjoy and also much to think about in It Had to be You. I recommend this book and as stated am looking forward to additional volumes in the series. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

(A Christensen Family Novel)
 Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen’s cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits—and starting to fear she doesn’t have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.
Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior—on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he’s getting from Eden Christiansen isn’t making things any easier. But when Owen’s carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

About the Book:

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at


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