Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dreaming on Daisies

Author: Miralee Ferrill
Publisher: David C. Cook
October 2014
ISBN: 978-0781408103
Genre: Historical Romance

When her father's debts, brought on by heavy drinking, threaten Leah Carlson's family ranch, she fights to save it. When handsome banker Steven Harding must decline her loan request, he determines to do what he can to help. Just as he arrives to serve as a much-needed ranch hand, Leah's family secrets—and the pain of her past—come to a head. They could destroy everything she's fought for. And they could keep her from ever opening her heart again.

This is western historical romance that offers hope and healing to the deepest wounds in a woman's past.

DREAMING ON DAISIES is the third in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, but it easily stands alone. I didn’t read any of the two previous books but had no problem keeping up with what was happening in this story.

Leah is a very strong heroine, caught in a world of loss. Her mom died, her brother took off, and her stepfather checks out of life by becoming a drunkard. Steven, too, suffered a lot of loss. His sister vanished as a child, when she was recovered his mother checked out to dote on her, he lost his family land, and his home. I wondered how these poor characters would persevere and conquer.

I enjoyed reading this book, but it wasn’t stupendous, I must keep this on my bookshelf great.  It was more of a happy, quiet read that left me satisfied with a story well told, but I won’t have any problem passing my copy on to a friend.

If you like historicals, books based on Oregon history, then DREAMING ON DAISIES will be a great book to check out.  Recommended.

4 stars. Available in paperback and kindle. 384 pages. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Love Unexpected

Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
December 2014
ISBN: 978-0764212376
Genre: Historical Romance

Presque Isle, Michigan

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she's left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He's just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other's dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife's death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.

LOVE UNEXPECTED is a historical romance set in the area of Presque Isle, Michigan, one of my favorite lighthouses on Lake Huron.  I loved reading this story, getting acquainted with Patrick and Emma and learning their histories.  I absolutely loved the way Emma reacted toward Patrick’s son, calling him “Little Love.” So sweet. I felt sorry for Patrick with his past histories.  I pretty well knew how it would play out (I’m a writer, I know how a writer thinks) so there wasn’t any surprises, but it was far from predictable.  Jody Hedlund is quickly rising to the top of my favorite historical authors list. 

If you like historicals, lighthouses, or books strong on Michigan history, then LOVE UNEXPECTED will be a great book to check out.  Highly recommended.

5 stars. Available in hardcover, paperback, and kindle. 352 pages. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter Stories

EASTER STORIES:  Classic Tales For The Holy Season
C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, et. al.
Easter / Literary Collections
Plough Publishing House
373 pages
$18.00 U.S. Softcover

Everyone who believes Easter is about more than bunnies and eggs will be grateful for this new collection of short stories that shed light on the deeper meaning of the season. Selected for their spiritual value and literary quality, these classic tales capture the spirit of Easter in a way that will captivate readers of all ages. Parents and grandparents will find that children love to hear these stories read aloud, year after year. Easter Stories includes time-honored favorites from world-famous storytellers such as C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Selma Lagerlof, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Goudge, Maxim Gorky, Ruth Sawyer, and Walter Wangerin – as well as many you’ve never heard before. Illustrated with original woodcuts.

Don’t tell me that the publishing houses cannot produce a quality softcover book . . . I’m holding one in my hand!

Seriously, the first thing that impressed me about this book was the quality of the binding, even before I started reading.  The craftsmanship that went into this book is just another bonus to an already superb literary work.

This collection of stories from the masters is a thought-provoking, challenging, and uplifting adventure in prose and poetry, all with one aim in mind:  to lift Him up! 

They’ve succeeded.

This is a short review, because to cover every contribution to this anthology would make for a rather lengthy one.  Which would keep you from diving in and relishing the offerings from some of the world’s finest literary minds.

So please, don’t let me stop you.  Get in there!  The crown jewels have nothing on this book!

5 stars for a collection of timeless treasures!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

You Have a Brain

Author: Ben Carson, MD
Publisher: Zondervan
February 2015
ISBN: 978-0310745990
Genre: Nonfiction / Young Adult / Memoir / Christian Living
Reviewed by Jenna

Throughout his life, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson has needed to overcome many obstacles: His father leaving the family; being considered stupid by his classmates in grade school; growing up in inner-city Detroit; and having a violent temper. But Dr. Carson didn't let his circumstances control him, and instead discovered eight principles that helped shape his future.

In You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Think Big, Dr. Carson unpacks the eight important parts of Thinking Big—Talent, Honesty, Insight, being Nice, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth learning, and God—and presents the stories of people who demonstrated those things in his life. By applying the idea of T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. to your life, and by looking at those around you as well, you too can overcome obstacles and work toward achieving your dreams.

Includes discussion questions at the back of the book.

YOU HAVE A BRAIN is a book about  a famous neurosurgeon and his growing up years. He talks about his anger problems, discovering how he knew he wanted to be a neurosurgeon and his successes and failures. It is very interesting and he encourages thinking about what kind of doctor you want to be. He also encourages going to God when you need help.

I liked this book a lot. Very inspiration! I recommend it to those who don’t know what they want to do. They should read this book for encouragement.

5 stars. Available in hardcover, audio, MP3 CD,  and kindle. 240 pages. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch

Author: Susan K. Marlow
Publisher: Kregel
March 2015
ISBN:  978-0825443794
Genre: Tweener
Reviewed by Jenna

Join Andrea Carter for more adventures in nineteenth-century California!

The independent tomboy Andrea Carter and her beloved horse, Taffy, were first introduced in Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home in 2005. Since then, popular author Susan Marlow has penned five more books in the Circle C Adventures series, filled in Andi s early years with the Circle C Beginnings series, and started a chronicle of Andrea s teen years in Circle C Milestones.

Published to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this positive role model for girls, Andrea Carter s Tales from the Circle C Ranch is a collection of short stories inspired by fan questions that fills in many of the gaps between Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures. Taking place between 1873 and 1880, each story is prefaced by an explanatory note that pinpoints the action of the story in relation to events in the existing Andrea Carter books.

Wholesome fun, and with a clear Christian message throughout, Andrea Carter s Tales from the Circle C Ranch is a must-read for fans of the series and a fun introduction for those who haven t yet discovered these historical gems.

ANDREA CARTER’S TALES FROM THE CIRCLE C RANCH is a whole bunch of short stories based on questions that readers asked about other books they’ve read. Basically it’s a collection of stories behind the stories.

Some of them are funny, some of them are serious. I feel I missed a lot because I didn’t read all of the books. It makes me want to go back and find the books I missed and read them.

I enjoyed ANDREA CARTER’S TALES FOR THE CIRCLE C RANCH a lot and I recommend it to other fans of Ms. Marlow’s books who want to know more about the books and the characters.

Available in paperback. 160 pages.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Amish Childhood

Author: Jerry Eicher
Publisher: Harvest House
February 2013
ISBN: 978-0736950060
Genre: Autobiography/Memoir

Bestselling fiction author Jerry S. Eicher (nearly half a million books sold) turns his pen to a moving memoir of his life growing up Amish.

Jerry's mother was nineteen years old and nine months married when he was born. She had received Grandfather Stoll's permission for the wedding because she agreed to help out on the farm the following year. However, with Jerry on the way, those plans failed.

Jerry recounts his first two years of school in the Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario and his parents' decision to move to Honduras. Life in that beautiful Central American country is seen through an Amish boy's eyes--and then the dark days when the community failed and the family returned to America, much to young Jerry's regret. Jerry also tells of his struggle as a stutterer and his eventual conversion to Christ and the reasons for his departure from the childhood faith he knew.

Here is a must-read for not just Jerry's fiction fans, but also for readers curious about Amish life.

Okay, let me preface this by saying I’m not a fan of memoirs. I try to avoid them. But this one sounded like one I might be interested in, kind of like Ira Wagler’s, maybe.

No. Not at all.

This book is set in Honduras, and it very much reminds me of Dale Kramer’s Amish books set in Mexico—a failed Amish community there. Except this one is real, and Dale’s is loosely based on a true story.  I can’t say that I really enjoyed it. It is a memoir… and it is a collection of Mr. Eicher’s stories about his childhood, but one doesn’t really learn anything about the Amish culture or about their beliefs.

Still, if you’re a fan of Mr. Eicher’s books or interested in his life, or maybe interested in Honduras, or just really love memoirs, then you might enjoy reading MY AMISH CHILDHOOD.

Available in paperback  and kindle. 256 pages. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pieces of the Heart

Author: Bonnie Calhoun
Publisher: Abingdon Press – Quilts of Love
June 2013
ISBN: 978-1456752728
Genre: Historical romance

Layers of hope and prayers may not be strong enough to cover the wounds of war.

Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

PIECES OF THE HEART is set during World War II. Cordelia and Bernard are African American during a time of racial segregation. They plan to marry. But Bernard joins the army first and comes back a changed man. Throughout these years in their lives, both young people learn about prayer and God's love and deepen their relationship with him.

The storyline is rather misleading. The book starts with Cordelia and Bernard as thirteen year old children. Most of the book is set as they grow up together. I found it choppy, without a smooth flow, and I couldn’t really get into it, though I wanted to.

If  you like Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series, and missed this one, you might want to get it. They are all about a different quilt, written by different authors, during different time periods. Fans of historical romance, WWII, quilts, and/or Bonnie Calhoun might enjoy this book.

Available in paperback  and kindle. 242 pages.