Monday, July 27, 2015

Stephanie Grace Whitson's Daughter of the Regiment ~ Reviewed


Daughter of the Regiment 
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (March 24, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1455529036

Description:

Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She'd rather let "the Americans" settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri's Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as "her boys." And while she doesn't see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.

As the mistress of her brother's Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker's business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her. 

Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.

Review: 


 I just finished Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson. I loved this book! I’m a fan of historical fiction and this is a good one. The story takes place in Missouri at the beginning of the Civil War. Maggie Malone is an Irish immigrant who lives in Missouri with her brothers who like her are supporters of the Union. They have neighbors who have a plantation and are slave owners. There’s a wonderful contrast in the book between Maggie who’s tough, unfeminine, great at shooting and working on the farm and Libbie who lives on the plantation and is a picture of the feminine Southern Belle (although things are not always as they seem). The book offers a fascinating look at the horror of being neighbors one week and facing each other in battle the next. It caused me to wonder what I’d do if my neighbor suddenly became my enemy. Throughout the book the author, Stephanie Grace Whitson, shows a masterful contrast between the two women and their situations. Maggie has followed her brothers into battle where she meets the fascinating Sergeant Coulter while Libbie stays on the plantation under the domination of her older brother who’s a slave-owner and decides to turn his property into a Rebel camp. The author paints a picture of each character that helped me understand even those who are minor characters. Between the house slaves who work for Libbie, Maggie’s brothers and other soldiers in the Union army all the characters seem like real people and I found myself caring about what happened to them. I’d never heard of the Daughters of the Regiment before (women who sometimes traveled with Union soldiers) and it amazes me to think of their bravery.  This is truly historical “fiction” as the characters and battles are fictional but it is historically accurate and gives us a picture of how the Civil War impacted the lives of everyday people. I didn’t want the story to end and appreciate so much the afterward provided by the author which gives a look into what happens to each character (loved this). 

     If you enjoy historical fiction, I know you will enjoy this book. If you don’t usually read historical fiction, you don’t know what you are missing! It has romance, adventure, history, drama (including a look at an abusive relationship), faith and humor. Plus there’s a dog! What more could a reader want?

Reviewed by: Susan Aken

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mary Ellis's A Plain Man ~ Reviewed


A Plain Man Paperback
by Mary Ellis
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736949801

Description:

Bestselling author Mary Ellis offers an engaging new standalone Amish romance about a prodigal seeking to find his way home. 
Though Caleb Beachy lived in the Englisch world for some years, he is a Plain man at heart. When he decides to return to the Amish lifestyle, he moves back home and goes to work for his father. Soon these two strong-willed men find themselves at odds. Caleb discovers there's more to embracing his faith and reconnecting with the community than merely driving a horse and buggy and giving up Levis.
Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left. All grown up now, she gives Caleb hope for the future. She soothes his frayed temper and is determined to remind him that while his faith may have wavered, God never left his side. Caleb is tempted to return Josie's feelings, but the choices he made while away are a heavy burden on his conscience. Will past mistakes end up destroying their fledgling romance? Or will she be able to break through the wall around his heart? 
A Plain Man is more than just a sweet romance centered in Amish beliefs. It's the ever-fresh story of a wounded heart finding joy, health, and healing in God's infinite grace.

Review: 

A Plain Man tells the story of Caleb Beach. After leaving the Amish faith for five years to live in the world, he has come back home. While away from his family, he found he was drawn to alcohol and women. Finally, after being out of work for a while and finding no satisfaction living a worldly life, he has returned home, however, he is having a hard time adjusting. He is living the Amish life on the outside, but inside he's still struggling with his faith. He is also having to struggle with living under his father's roof again, and showing him the respect that he is due, both as a son and now as an employee. On top of all of this, he is re-introduced to Josie Yoder, which confuses his emotions even more.

It was interesting reading a story about someone who had lived in the world for five years, and then came back to the Amish faith. My mind would think that after that long, it would be difficult to go back home and re-adjust to a simpler life. But I enjoyed reading about Caleb and seeing how God changed him. Also, I liked seeing him come to terms with all of his guilt over the things he had done while living in the world, and realizing that forgiveness is available.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lisa Wingate's The Story Keeper ~ Reviewed



The Story Keeper
by Lisa Wingate
Series: A Carolina Heirlooms Novel
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 22, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414386893
Review:

Yes. I am a fan of Lisa Wingate. The Story Keeper contains all of the reasons Wingate is such a satisfying author. The story within a story is something she does so well. This tool brings her characters to life because they are discovering some event from the past that forces them to deal with the present and dredge up and work through some of their current struggles. 

But even if Wingate didn't use this method in her fiction, I'm pretty sure she'd still write great characters. In this particular story the reader gets to meet Jen Gibbs. Jen has big dreams as an editor and finally has a toe in the door of a small but prestigious house. A portion of a manuscript shows up on Jen's desk one day and rocks her world. She starts chasing a bunny trail, but it leads somewhere she thought she'd left behind and bolted the door on. Facing her past, and scrambling to grasp her future she risks job, reputation and comfort to chase the story to the end. 

You know. If you aren't reading books by Lisa Wingate, I just have to ask why not? 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stephanie Landsem's The Tomb ~ Reviewed


The Tomb: A Novel of Martha
by Stephanie Landsem
Series: The Living Water Series
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (March 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451689128


Friday, July 10, 2015

Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven ~ Reviewed


Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
by Eben Alexander
Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (October 23, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451695195
Description: 

A Scientist's Case for the Afterlife...

Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.

Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.


Review:

When I first heard about this book I was intrigued. I work in the medical field and I am fascinated with the workings of the human body. I've seen so many instances where the body can literally die over something as seemingly insignificant as a urinary tract infection. And I've seen people rally and overcome multi system shut down. The idea that a black and white clinician experienced something that opened his world to color really felt like a must read. 

The writing is great. Dr. Alexander paints of picture of who he was and who he has become since his experience. The medical aspects were easy to follow without being too clinical. His experience with his coma was amazing and it is a miracle he's alive today. The statistics were chilling.

I can't say I can embrace all of Dr. Alexander's experiences as absolute truth, but I'm glad I read his account and feel that it would interest anyone who is interested in near death experiences. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Candace Calvert's Rescue Team ~ Reviewed



RESCUE TEAM
Candace Calvert
Series: Grace Medical
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414361122

Description: 

Tired of running from her past, nurse Kate Callison intends to become Austin Grace Hospital’s permanent ER director and make Texas her home. Despite staff friction, she’s moving ahead. Then unthinkable tragedy wraps the ER in crime tape, bringing swarms of media, legal chaos―and a search-and-rescue hero who seems determined to meddle in her life. 

For Wes Tanner, nothing beats finding someone who’s lost; he’s known that helpless terror firsthand. So he’ll expand his team’s lifeline of hope: K9 tracking, swift water rescue, even horse-mounted searches. He’s ready for anything―except Austin Grace’s prickly and dismissive ER director. 

As Kate and Wes discover more about each other, new respect becomes something deeper. Kate wonders if her heart might have finally found a home. Then an unsolved missing persons case―and a startling new one―become catalysts that threaten the loss of all she and Wes have found. 


Review:

Rescue Team 
is book 2 in the Grace Medical Series. In this book, we meet Kate Callison. She is the interim ER director at Grace Medical, attempting to fill the shoes of the former director whom everyone loved, however, she disappeared mysteriously. Kate feels she can't meet anyone's expectations. In the meantime, she is running from her own past, and incidents keep coming up that force her to face them. We also meet Wes Tanner, a man who works for the family business as well as being part of the volunteer search and rescue team in the area. Circumstances bring them together on several occasions, and they find they can't fight their attraction for each other, however, Kate's past continues to haunt her, causing her to fear that a relationship with Wes will never be possible.

I wasn't sure if I would be able to get into this book at first, however, I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself really cheering on Kate's character, hoping that she would find redemption and be able to forgive herself for mistakes made in the past. I also thought the author did a great job regarding the medical part of the story. It was very informative without being over my head.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, July 03, 2015

Cara Luecht's Gathered Waters ~ Reviewed




Gathered Waters 
by Cara Luecht
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: WhiteFire Publishing (April 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939023300
Description:


They want to worship as their hearts demand...but is it something they can give up everything for?  

Brianna has only ever been what her life demanded. A wife, a hostess, a mother. But when a stand her husband takes ostracizes them from the Lutheran church that controls so much of life in Sweden, Brianna finds herself needing to find a strength beyond her station...a strength that will see her through prejudice and persecution and to a home she never dreamed she would find. 
Based on the true story of the author s family s journey from Sweden to America, this sweeping saga paints the brilliance of new faith, the bravery of a new land...and the beauty of plunging beneath the waters and emerging a new person, capable of what one never thought one could do.

Review:

This little historical (little because at 250 pages it is tiny for a historical) is packed full of story. Covering a time frame I've not looked at before, and a challenging and costly time in religion. 

When religion rears it's ugly head as has happened over and over again through the centuries, the price to follow Christ climbs for Brianna's family. In this particular situation, greed and pride drive folks away from church and away from the protection that is provided by a community that believes the same way and obeys all dictates from above. To be a rebel means to choose Christ over family and the comfort that comes with close family oftentimes. Based on a true story, and with the authors' family letters shared with the reader, Cara Luecht tells the fictionalized account of how this story might have played out as her family members escaped from Sweden to America.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer