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 www.DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/authordenisehunter

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: tracyhigley.com

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: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Vow-Unbroken/Caryl-McAdoo/9781476735511#sthash.OnENj53j.dpuf

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 MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com

The Sinner's Garden

Book Review:

The Sinners’ Garden
It is not often that I read a book that is so wonderful that I find it difficult to search out words to tell someone else what I loved about the book. The Sinner’s Garden by William Sirls is such a book. This book had all the traditional literary elements – strong, compelling plot, richly drawn characters – but it also showed the unique ways that God speaks to us. It also showed how God cares and expresses that caring in individual ways. What could be more effective for a teenage boy than having God speak through an ipod? The book showed the power of God and His provision in difficult times for His people through a supernatural garden. What a beautiful expression of God’s love.
Sirls has fashioned characters that became so real it was difficult to give them up at the end of the book. The book consumed me. I was forced to continue reading until I was done. Then, I felt sad that I had read the entire book. I felt a loss in my soul. The characters were ordinary people who had extraordinary things happen in their lives. There was Heather who had not been able to deal with the death of her father. Judi who believed that she deserved the abuse dished out by her ex-husband. And that is only the beginning. The relationship between Rip and nephew Andy is part of what I loved about the book but find if difficult to express the reason why. The plot was exciting and it built over the span of the book. However, I would have loved this book even without the excitement.
If I had a minor complaint it would be the epilogue. It seemed anticlimactic. I felt the ending would have been more effective without the epilogue. However, on the other hand, it did show God continuing to work in the life of another young boy.
The Sinner’s Garden is an amazing book. I recommend it because it is a wonderful story but it also reaches out to the reader and shows how detailed minded God is and how he has special, loving ways to communicate with each one of His children.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

In the small Lake Erie township of Benning, someone is at work cultivating a supernatural garden …

Andy Kemp’s young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.
As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.
Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.
As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.
Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.

About the Author:

Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows--some born of chance, some born of choice. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. "The Sinners’ Garden" is his second novel. His first novel, "The Reason," was published in 2012. William makes his home in southern Michigan and you can reach him at WilliamSirls.com.

Scraps of Evidence

Book Review:

Reading a good mystery is a great way to spend an evening or two and Barbara Cameron’s new book Scraps of Evidence is a good choice. The book is part of the Quilts of Love series. So pop some popcorn or make some fudge and settle in for a good read.
First of all, I fell in love with St. Augustine, Florida, the setting for this book. I would hate the summer humidity but fall sounded appealing. The historical aspects and beauty of the ocean side city sounded wonderful. But the different restaurants with descriptions of the food had me hooked. It sounded like culinary heaven.
Most of all, Cameron has written an exciting book. I did figure out the “who dunnit” part early on but this was also a good romance and the mystery unfolded at a fast pace that kept me happily reading. The final key that solved the mystery was a handmade quilt and that was an interesting twist. Cameron also created believable, likeable characters. Protagonists Tess and Logan were detective partners who were impressive and the villain was truly the worst of villains.
As previously stated, Scraps of Evidence is a good way to spend an evening giving the reader an exciting mystery, a romance and an opportunity to get to know beautiful St. Augustine. I recommend this book and look forward to other books in this series.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

(A Quilt of Love book)
Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan,for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he’s been trying to get to know her better and he’d like to be seeing her during those couple nights a week she spends with her quilting guild.
Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home and she acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan seems to be communicating a message to them about Tess’s uncle. There’s a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?
Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author:

Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the “Everything Weddings on a Budget Book” and “Her Restless Heart: A Woman’s Longing for Love and Acceptance.” Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.
Find out more about Barbara at http://barbaracameron.com.

A Road Unknown

A Road UnknownBook Review:

A Road Unknown by Barbara Cameron is the first book of a new series, Amish Roads. The series explores how contemporary society has changed Amish young people. In this book, Cameron looked at Elizabeth, a young woman who was the oldest of nine children. She had the heavy responsibility of helping her mother and caring for younger siblings with no time for her own interests. The author examined the issues faced by Elizabeth in a culture where young women stay in their parent’s home until marriage. The story was about Elizabeth’s struggle to identify who she was and who she hoped to become.
There are many books written about Amish life and culture today. This one is somewhat different in that the protagonist leaves her home and moves into a condo with an English roommate. Elizabeth learns to live with an electric coffee maker, a dishwasher and an electric sewing machine. She supports herself by working in a store that sells Amish handcrafts. Some readers may be disappointed because the setting is not typical.
I thought that one of the best parts of the book was Cameron’s description of a real friendship. Paula, Elizabeth’s roommate was instrumental in helping Elizabeth figure out what she wanted and she was a wonderful friend. The stern Bishop and Elizabeth’s cold, uncaring grandmother were easy to dislike and fortunately were a contrast to the new Amish friends who accepted Elizabeth into the community.
The book was easy to read and does offer a contrast to the usual Amish fiction. I do recommend it for the reader who enjoys this genre. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

(Book 1 in the new Amish Roads series)
Elizabeth is at a crossroad. She’s been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings, but Elizabeth Bontrager can’t decide which road to take. Goshen has its charms and pressures, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, sounds . . . well, like paradise. And it’s also home to her Englisch friend, Paula. Decision made. Elizabeth is Paradise bound.
But will the small town live up to its name? When Elizabeth meets Paula’s friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. And the same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love? 

About the Author:

Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the “Everything Weddings on a Budget Book” and “Her Restless Heart: A Woman’s Longing for Love and Acceptance.” Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Growing Up Duggar

Book Review

My 8-year-old granddaughter loves to watch the TLC program Nineteen Kids and Counting. At times I have watched with her so I was happy to have the opportunity to read Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger Duggar. The book included many personal photographs that my granddaughter enjoyed.
The Duggar girls have basically written out the philosophy of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s family. They truly are living a counter-cultural life and my impression was that this family is genuine. The girl’s explained what their parents have taught them. Getting to know yourself and what you believe and learning to love yourself because God loves you was a primary theme. They also have a strong belief that children are a treasure – a wonderful gift from God.
The Duggar parenting philosophy was also covered and becoming friends with siblings was also viewed as important. These girls are the best of friends and truly enjoy each other. The Duggar’s are well known for courtship rather than dating and the girl’s explained how courtship works using older brother Joshua and his wife Anna’s real-life comments.
Helping political candidates who the family believes in, helping out overseas in orphanages and working in prison ministry were other topics that were covered. It was clear that this family believes in raising children who care about telling others about Christ and reaching out to others. Each girl also talks about how their parents have helped them learn about things that interest them such as midwifery for Jill and photography for Jinger.  Each girl’s relationship with God was a primary theme throughout the book.
Growing Up Duggar is an interesting story even if you are not a fan of the TV show. I felt that most of what was covered in the book gave me much to think about. I liked the way this family is living out their beliefs whether it’s through homeschooling or traveling as a family. I recommend this book because it presents a different way of doing things and that makes thought-provoking reading.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Airing weekly throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, 19 Kids and Counting has made the huge Duggar family into a media phenomenon. The Duggar children are frequently asked, “Tell the truth; do you really agree with the lifestyle your parents have created for you?” Now, the four eldest Duggar girls—Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger—open up about the blessings and advantages of living the Duggar lifestyle.

With a backdrop of the key relationships in their lives—relationship with self, parents, siblings, friends, boys, and God—the four Duggar girls open up about their own personal faith and convictions, boys, dating, manners, living in a large family, politics, and much more. You’ll learn how the family navigates the difficult years between twelve and sixteen and what the girls look for in a man, all in a frank and fun book that will inspire teens and adults alike. Including lighthearted stories about the younger kids’ antics, Growing Up Duggar is a wise and entertaining trip into a family like no other.

About the Authors:

Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar appear with the rest of their family on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, which airs five times a week and is now in its tenth season. The Duggars have appeared on such national TV shows as the Today show, Good Morning America, The View, Inside Edition, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and more.


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