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

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Kathy Herman's Not by Sight ~ Reviewed

Not by Sight: A Novel (Ozark Mountain Trilogy)
by Kathy Herman
Series: Ozark Mountain Trilogy
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781408040

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Amy Sorrells's How Sweet the Sound ~ Reviewed





HOW SWEET THE SOUND
Amy K. Sorrells
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (March 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434705447

Description:


A Southern Novel of Second Chances
From a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface.
Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama. Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.

This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.


Review:



How Sweet the Sound
 takes place during the summer of 1980 in a coastal Alabama town, where a family finally comes face to face with three generations of sin. The story is mainly told from the point of Anniston, a young girl born into a well-to-do family. When her Aunt is raped, and her father and uncle are killed when a long over-due confrontation takes place, secrets that have been hidden for years begin to surface, and no matter how hard the family tries not to deal with them, they are forced to.

This wasn't one of my favorite books, but it kept me interested, wanting to know what was going to happen next, and how the main characters would develop. It shows human nature, in that, most times, we only want to show the people on the outside the good in ourselves and our families, and don't want the bad things to surface. But sometimes, in doing that, we are just deceiving ourselves and avoiding not only the truth, but the healing that the Lord can provide.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Irene Hannon's One Perfect Spring ~ Reviewed


ONE PERFECT SPRING
Irene Hannon
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell (May 6, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800722671

Description:

Independent single mom Claire Summers is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Workaholic Keith Watson is interested only in the bottom line--until a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything. 

As the executive assistant to a philanthropic businessman, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations. But the girl isn't asking for money. She wants help finding the long-lost son of a neighbor. As Keith reluctantly digs into this assignment in his usual results-oriented style, he has no idea how involved he and Claire will become--nor how unusual the results will actually be. Who could have guessed that a child's kindhearted request would bring love and hope to so many lives . . . including his own?

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, fan favorite Irene Hannon offers this tenderhearted story that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms come only after the harshest winters.


Review: 


One Perfect Springs brings together the lives of several different people, who would have never known each other had it not been for the thoughtful request of a little girl. Claire Summers is a single Mom to Haley, trying to make ends meet. She is a school teacher, and while she and Haley are struggling financially, they are not lacking in love for each other. Haley decides to write a letter to a local business who has been known to donate money to worthy causes. She asks them to help their neighbor, Maureen, find the son she gave up for adoption 22 year ago, thinking it would be a great birthday present. The letter finds it's way to Keith Watson's desk. Keith is a workaholic who takes his job seriously – too seriously. He has no life outside of his job, and up until now, he's been happy about it. It's kept him from having to deal with issues in his past. However, when his boss, David, tells Keith his next job is to help this woman find her son, he discovers more than he bargains for, including a lovely woman named Claire.

I really enjoyed this book. It took some twists and turns that I wasn't expecting, that I didn't exactly like, but that worked out for good in the end. The characters and the story were endearing. I loved seeing how the characters' lives were brought together by the kindness and thoughtfulness of Haley, wanting to help her friend.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jessica Dotta's Price of Privilege ~ Reviewed

PRICE OF PRIVILEGE
By Jessica Dotta
Tyndale House Publishers
December 2014
978-1414375571

BACK COVER:

Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter―and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.

Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.

REVIEW:

It's a rare book that pulls me out of reality and immerses me in a story world so much that I'll willingly park my heinie on a chair and allow the world to go by. It's an even rarer author who writes so beautifully that my eyes get all watery and I want to throw away my laptop because I know I'll never be able to pen such haunting prose. Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta is just such a book.

Here is a taste of some of the word pictures taken from the story . . .

Thus we were caught up in our daily affairs like dogs running at full speed, when reality finally pulled hard on our leashes, catching us by surprise.

I felt as though I were walking over a slippery beam as I crossed the chamber on Isaac's arm.

Tormented eyes searched mine. It seemed as if, on the other side of an unreachable shore, Isaac was silently screaming and pleading for help behind his polished mask. Then his eyes went vacant as if something vital had died inside him.

This book took guts to write. It's not an easy thing to kill off a beloved character (don't worry, no spoiler as to whom), nor is it a piece of cake to expose layer after layer of hurt caused most often by verbal but sometimes physical abuse. Make no mistake, this is not a light read. That being said, this trilogy is on my keeper shelf because the story and the characters demand they will not be sent away.

If you love historical fiction and really want to get a feel for Victorian England, from the pulpy street view to the upper echelons of society, then run -- don't dawdle -- to the nearest bookstore and snatch yourself up a copy.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep


Bonus Review:


Jessica Dotta ended her epic story ably and left me feeling satisfied with the outcome. If you've read the previous books I think you will agree. I wouldn't start with this one if you haven't. There is much relationship building in the previous books. But the good news is if you haven't read any of them you don't have to wait like the rest of us. You can binge and you will want to. Dotta makes every chapter a page turner.

I was really surprised by a huge twist in the final book. But once I got over the shock and sorrow it was one of those events that made the ending work for me. I was pulled in too many directions and needed some closure with it.

If you love historicals and excellent writing you need to read this series.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Linda Maendel's Hutterite Diaries ~ Reviewed

Linda Maendel
MennoMedia, May 2015

Description: 
What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community? 
In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bring in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.
Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel’s story invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living.
Review: 
I was given the opportunity to read and review Hutterite Diaries by the publicist. Even though a copy was provided I wasn't obligated to give a favorable review. 

I was looking forward to reading this little (150 pages) book because I have a strong curiosity about the plain life. Maybe its because I loved the Little House series when I was a girl.  have also been a little curious about communal living. I guess my inner hippie thinks it would be kind of cool to share chores, meals and lives with like minded people. 

I hadn't even heard of Hutterites until I read Mary-Ann Kirby's I Am Hutterite. The similarities and differences to the Amish are fascinating. Some Hutterite communities wear polka dot head coverings. Meals and many chores are done in community and the members of the community become family.

Though the book is small and more anecdotal rather than inner thought style diary, I learned quite a bit about the lives and history of the Hutterites. As a matter of fact, I discovered that the Hutterites have and old connection to my state. The Iowa Amish helped supply items and the polka dot material came from there. I'm just a hundred and change miles from the Amana Colonies. I may have to go and visit again.

There is a question and answer section as well that answered a few questions I had. There is still a part of me that thinks I'd love to spend a few weeks absorbing the life with a Hutterite community. If you are intrigued by plain living or love religious history give this book a peek. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, June 08, 2015

Gail Gaymer Martin's A Mother to Love ~ Reviewed



A MOTHER TO LOVE
Gail Gaymer Martin
Series: Love Inspired
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (May 19, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373879628
Description: 

An Unexpected Family 

Angie Bursten wants to find love on her own timeline. Tired of her family's interference, coworker Rick Jameson comes to the rescue—as her pretend boyfriend. Angie starts to spend time with Rick and his adorable daughter, Carly, and what began as a hoax soon feels all too real. Betrayed by the woman he'd married, single dad Rick is slow to trust. But seeing Angie with Carly, he can't ignore the way he feels for his beautiful coworker. And when Angie helps Rick with the toughest battle of his life—gaining full custody of his child—there'll be no more pretending. If they can open their hearts, Rick and Angie have a real shot at happily-ever-after.

Review: 
A Mother to Love 
is about two co-workers, Angie Bursten and Rick Jameson. Angie is dealing with an overbearing mother and sister who are trying to match her with every eligible bachelor, just to get her married off and having a family. Yet she struggles with dating, due to mistakes in her past that weigh her down, and have caused her to drift from the Lord. Rick has been divorced for a few years from a wife who constantly tries to cause problems and keep his little girl away from him. Both Angie and Rick are hesitant in regards to relationships, but they have become good friends over the years. Things change when Rick helps Angie move into her new house. They begin hanging out more, until finally, Rick introduces her to his daughter, Carly. Carly and Angie form an instant bond, while Rick and Angie's feelings begin to develop quickly as well.

This was such a cute story. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I can relate to Angie's character, having made mistakes of my own in the past that I had a hard time forgiving myself for. It's such a wonderful feeling when you fully realize the full forgiveness you have through Jesus Christ. Angie's instant love for Rick's daughter was endearing as well. I'm sure that doesn't always happen, but their relationship was a wonderful bonus to the story.

Sarah Meyers