Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Light in the Wilderness ~ Jane Kirkpatrick ~ Reviewed




A Light in the Wilderness
Jane Kirkpatrick
Pages 308
Binding Softcover
Release Date Sept. 2014
Publisher Revell
ISBN 1401687652

Description:

Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read--as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere--even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. This multilayered story from bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick will grip readers' hearts and minds as they travel with Letitia on the dusty and dangerous Oregon trail into the boundless American West.

Review:

Though Letitia’s been freed, she can’t truly leave the cruel reality of slavery behind her. She cringes at the harsh life many others, still enslaved, face each day. But more than that, she carries with her the crippling fear that her newfound freedom will be ripped from her. All she has to prove her status, after all, are papers she can’t even read. Papers that can be taken from her, destoryed, or lost, sending her back into bondage. Besides, even those don’t guarantee her freedom, not when hateful patrollers are about, looking for someone to beat down. But if she could get to Oregon, then she could truly be free.

Couldn’t she?

This was one of the most gripping, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking novels I’ve read in some time. Ms. Kirkpatrick did a masterful job with each of her characters, but the one I loved most was Letitia. Oh, sweet, strong, frightened, weak Letitia! There were so many times I wished someone would help you! Shield you from the hatred swirling all around you.

When we first encounter this sweet woman of faith, she’s beaten down, muted by her fear. But holding tight to her papers, she fights for the confidence deserving of a freed woman. Regardless if others accept her or her status. But so long as her confidence rests on those papers—which she can’t even read!—she will never truly be freed from her terror.

In Letitiia we see an authentic mix of fear and courage, of conviction and insecurity, coupled with a determination that propels her forward. And with each step forward, she fights to leave her bitterness behind, dropping it down before it even has a chance to take root. For hatred is a type of slavery she refuses to embrace.

Then there’s Davey, the man who shows her kindness and maybe even something more. When we first met Davey, I wasn’t sure what to think of him. He was quite kind and gentle, considering his times. But even so, he held a fair amount of male chauvinism, at least early on. But then again, characters without flaws, even those that infuriate us on occasion, fall flat. And yet, even with his flaws, for the most part Davey was an honorable man who strived to do what was right. Not that he always knew what the right thing to do was!

Though he did lie and hide the truth on more than one occasion, internally justifying his behavior when he did so. This angered me on more than one occasion, and yet, in many ways, it was his irksome behavior that made him most authentic.

If you enjoy deep, authentic, and historically rich novels, you’ll love A Light in the Wilderness. But keep a box of tissues handy, for this one’s a tear-jerker!

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eva Gibson's A Stitch and A Prayer ~ Reviewed


Stitch And A Prayer (Quilts Of Love)
By Eva J. Gibson
Binding Softcover
Release Date Feb 1, 2014
Publisher Abingdon Press
Age 1-17
Series Quilts Of Love
ISBN 1426772521


Description:

After her fiance returns from the Klondike gold rush in 1897, Florence Harms sets about building a new life in her new marriage even though the lingering effects of illness have left her weak and vulnerable. She and her young husband, Will, work tirelessly to clear the land around their Northwest cabin, content with their modest life.

But then a stranger comes knocking and Florence suddenly senses a restlessness in Will s spirit that she had never seen before. When he leaves her with only a note that tells her he will return before their baby s birth, she is devastated, and the illness that stiffened her joints returns. Counting the days until Will walks back through her door, Florence busies herself with a Tree of Life quilt displaying a map of the farm they call home. Doubts claw at her heart as Florence struggles to believe Will s promise to return to her. Will her labor of love and faith in God sustain her as she waits to see her beloved once again?"


Review:

A stitch and a Prayer is about a newly married woman named Florence Harms, and takes place shortly after the Klondike gold rush in 1897. Her and her husband, Will, are trying to set up a new life for themselves. Florence has been battling terrible bouts of arthritis for some time, which makes it hard for her to be the wife she wants to be for Will. When she finds out she is pregnant, despite her joy, there is some nervousness, and too, wondering how she will cope with the other illness she is dealing with. In the meantime, a strange visitor shows up at their door, and shortly after, Will leaves without an explanation, promising to return in time for the birth of the baby.

This book ok, but it took a while to get in to. I couldn’t tell if it was a sequel to another story or not. It seemed to talk about things like I should have already known about them, which was very confusing to me. I did enjoy how the story unfolded, though, and the other supporting characters in the story made it fun as well.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Laura Frantz's Love's Fortune ~ Reviewed

By Laura Frantz
2014
Revell
9780800720438

BACK COVER COPY:

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena "Wren" Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Wren makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.

As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Wren feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

MY REVIEW:

From the wilds of Kentucky to the grand mansions of Pittsburgh, Love's Fortune takes the reader on a grand adventure of intrigue and romance. Join the dashing James Sackett and the sweet yet independent Wren Ballantyne in a sweet and educational story.

One of the things I love most about author Laura Frantz's writing is her attention to historical detail. I always learn tidbits I didn't know, and while reading, actually feel like I've been taken back in time. I had no idea that steamboats were so horrifically dangerous or that there's such a thing as an ice cream fork.

What most surprised me was the elegance of Pittsburgh. Admittedly, it's described as a dirty town, but high society lived and acted as though they were proper British folk.

Though Love's Legacy is the third installment in the Ballantyne Legacy, it can be read as a stand-alone. I'm living proof of it since (dare I admit?) I haven't read the first two in the series. After devouring this one, however, I'll be sure to pick up the first titles. Do yourself a favor and buy all three. You won't be sorry.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Monday, September 08, 2014

Angela Breidenbach's A Healing Heart ~ Reviewed


A Healing Heart: Quilts of Love Series [Paperback]
By Angela Breidenbach (Author),
Studio: Abingdon Press
Pages 236
Binding Softcover
Release Date Apr 1, 2013
Publisher Abingdon Press
Series Quilts Of Love
ISBN 1426752695




DescriptionMara Keegan is an uber-successful mother and a widow of three years. She's been chasing success and all the "good things in life" for her family to make up for the cruel whim God played on them by taking her husband. In an effort to be the perfect mom, she decides to make a photo memory quilt, a graduation present for her daughter, Cadence.
She s not yet finished when she experiences a heart attack. While Mara recuperates, she revisits the choices she's made that led to this physically and spiritually broken heart. The memory quilt must be finished in time for Cadence's big day, but Mara struggles with her burgeoning feelings for the man who must keep Mara's business going during her recovery, Joel Ryan. Can Joel find his way into Mara's heart and onto Cadence's quilt?"

Review: 

A Healing Heart is about Mara Keegan.  Being a widowed mother of three children, along with running the business her husband left behind, leaves Mara with little free time for her family or her own hobbies and interests. After a heart attack and a broken ankle force her to slow down, she also comes face to face with having to trust someone else with her business.  Joel Ryan, her new business coach, wastes no time stepping to help out in any way he can, until he finally works his way into the hearts of Mara’s children, and herself.  However, she’s not sure she can let herself trust this man with everything, especially when he has such a strong faith in the Lord and her faith is so broken at the moment.
                
I did enjoy this book.  I liked Joel’s character.  Initially, when Mara had met him a few years before, he was not a Christian and tried to pull some unfair business dealings.  He has since become a believer and has to work really hard to earn Mara’s trust, but he doesn’t balk from the job.  His actions and love towards her and the family show the work that the Lord has done in changing him.  I think he was my favorite character.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mary Ellis's Quaker and the Rebel ~ Reviewed


Quaker And The Rebel (Civil War Heroines V1)
By Mary Ellis (Author)
Pages 346
Binding Softcover
Release Date Jan 1, 2014
Publisher Harvest House Publishers
Series Civil War Heroines
Series Number 1
ISBN 0736950508


Publishers Description

Bestselling author Mary Ellis presents The Quaker and the Rebel, Book 1 of her brand-new Civil War historical romance series, which tells the stories of brave women in times of testing and the men who love them.
Emily Harrison's life has been turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempted to continue her parents' work as conductors in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm was sold in foreclosure. Now alone, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor's family in slave-holding Virginia. Perhaps she can continue her rescue efforts from there.
Alexander Hunt is the doctor's handsome nephew. While he does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle's newest employee, he cannot take time to pursue Emily. Alex is not at all what he seems--rich, spoiled, and indolent. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a Quaker leader of Rebel partisans. A man of the shadows, he carries no firearm and wholeheartedly believes in Emily's antislavery convictions.
The path before Alex and Emily is complicated and sometimes life threatening. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger to both of them. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they find faith in God amid the challenges they face and trust in the possibility for a bright future together? 

Review:

The Quaker and the Rebel is about Emily Harrison, a young woman who is alone in the world during the Civil War.  She is a Yankee, through and through, and a Quaker.  She takes a job with a Southern family, the Benningtons, to be a governess to their daughters.  At the same time, she plans to get involved in the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape to freedom.  In the meantime, she meets the Benningtons’ nephew, Alexander Hunt.  She perceives him to be an arrogant aristocrat who cares nothing for the plight of the slaves, yet she can’t help feeling an attraction to him, much to her frustration.  What she doesn’t know is that Andrew is the famed Gray Wraith, who leads raids on Union Army in order to provide provisions for the Confederates with no personal gain for himself.  As they begin to fall in love with each other, they also start to learn more secrets about each other’s loyalties, and are unsure how to handle their growing feelings for each other along with their loyalties to their cause.
                
This book was excellent.  It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I had a hard time putting it down, as I kept wanting to know what would happen next.  I actually really liked Alexander’s character.  While he kept his identity hidden, he was real about himself.  Emily, on the other hand, came off as self-righteous, yet she was lying to the very people that took her in and came to love her, instead of trusting them to help her. You won’t be disappointed in this book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sarah Ladd's The Headmistress of Rosemere ~ Reviewed

THE HEADMISTRESS OF ROSEMERE
By Sarah E. Ladd
2013
Thomas Nelson
978-1401688363

BACK COVER COPY:

Patience Creighton has devoted her life to running her father’s boarding school. But when the enigmatic master of the estate appears at her door, battered and unconscious, the young headmistress suddenly finds her livelihood—and her heart —in the hands of one dangerously handsome gentleman.

At twenty-five, Patience Creighton is already a spinster. The busy headmistress of Rosemere always expected a dashing man to sweep her off her feet and take her away . . . but that man never came. And since her father’s death, keeping the school running and her mother happy has been plenty to keep her occupied.

William Sterling dallied his way into financial trouble and mortal danger. When he is assaulted by his creditors’ henchmen on the road home from a tavern, he guides his horse to the doorstep of his tenant, the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After being tended to by Patience, the wounded William rides off into the dawn—but makes a point to learn more about the lovely headmistress.

As he spends more time at Rosemere, something delicate begins to develop between William and Patience. But that will not deter William’s creditors. With little money to repay his debts, and less for the upkeep of his estate, it becomes clear that sacrificing Rosemere may be the only way to preserve his legacy. But it may also cost him his happiness.
REVIEW:

The Headmistress of Rosemere is a compelling Regency that was a good combination of intrigue and romance. I didn't read the first book in this series, so I'm a little behind on some of the characters' backstories, but that being said, as a stand-alone, I didn't have any trouble getting into the story -- except that I listened to this as an audiobook and some of the narration for the men (as read by a woman) was a little hokey.

Back to the book . . . the characters are believable. You'll fall in love with little Emma, cheer for the underdog heroine, Patience, and alternately want to smack upside the head and/or throw your arms around William, the hero. Well-written and an engaging read, so much so that I'm planning on buying a paperback copy so I can read it with my eyeballs instead of my ears.

And yes, I will pick up the sequel as well, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall, when it comes out this fall.

Review by: Michelle Griep

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Robin Carroll's Hidden in the Stars ~ Reviewed



Hidden in the Stars: Quilts of Love Series [Paperback]
By Robin Caroll (Author)
Pages 240
Binding Softcover
Release Date Jul 1, 2014
Publisher Abingdon Press
Series Quilts Of Love
ISBN 1426773609





Description
Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn t help either, so Julian hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.

Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia s mother s special quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer still at large silence her forever?

Review:

Hidden in the Stars introduces us to Sophia Montgomery.  She is an aspiring gymnast who has just been chosen to be part of the US Olympic team.  While visiting her mother before practice starts, their home is invaded.  Sophia’s mother, Nina, is killed, and Sophia sustains major injuries, some of which will keep her from ever being able to do gymnastics again.  Her case is assigned to Julian Frazier, who is determined to find the suspects.  Communication is difficult, as Sophia can’t write due to hand injuries, and can’t speak due to injury to her vocal chords.  However, despite her injuries, and despite the fact that she is a victim and he is a detective, their attraction to each other begins to grow.  However, Julian doesn’t let this hinder him from solving the case.  If nothing else, it pushes him to solve it quicker.  When news of Sophia’s injuries hits the media, everyone is on high alert, as they have figured out that the suspects intended for Sophia to die.
                
I read this book pretty quick, and had a hard time putting it down.  I was in suspense the whole time, but enjoyed it.  I really felt for Sophia’s character, and admired her strength and faith in the Lord.  It was interesting to see all of the clues come together so that the case could finally be solved. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers