Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Dawn

Grace Graham has never stood and faced the challenges before her.  She usually turns and runs away.  Suddenly, she's faced with challenges in every direction and there is no where to run.  Her job, romantic relationship, family relationships, and more are on the line.  What's a woman to do?

That is the general outline for Another Dawn by Kathryn Cushman.  I was interested enough and thought it would be an enjoyable read.  I was expecting the typical Christian romance novel.  A few chapters in, I was disappointed to learn that this book is about far more than Grace and her challenges.  There are several big issues involved, highly charges issues of our times.  I felt let down that I was not warned about them in the preview materials I read.  This went from a relaxing read to something playing with my emotions and thoughts.  While I don't mind books that do that, I don't appreciate not having a warning about it.  After much thought, I reasoned that the publisher has intentionally left this information out and I will respect that in my review, but if anyone would like more information, they may contact me and I will share more.  Aside from that, the characters are written well enough.  The Ruminating Reader gives 3 out of 5 pieces of bacon. 

Kathryn Cushman practiced as a pharmacist until she became a full time novelist.  She is also a wife and mother of two.

I thought about the backyard and the stone circle around the tree.  The place where people started over. They pushed through hard, impossible circumstances to do the right thing, even though they didn't want to.  Even though maybe it wasn't really their fault.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse

Her father had lamented ever allowing the volumes into his house, blaming them in part for the "romantic fancies" that had led to her fall.
Mariah Aubrey has been sent away in disgrace from her home and family.  Her new home is far away in an old gatehouse on the estate where her aunt lives.  To support herself and her servant/friend, Mariah secretly writes novels.  She knows if anyone finds out, her relationship with her family could be even worse.  Her living situation is none too secure because her cousin gets control of the state and he's a man with a gambling problem.  The estate is leased to Captain Matthew Bryant.  How will he react to the girl in the gatehouse?  Will Mariah's secret be safe? 

I do not want to give any spoilers, but I will say Mariah's story is the main part of the book, but there are other character and subplots as well which leads to a a very interesting novel.  This is the first Regency period novel I have read in a long time and it was a good introduction back into the genre.  Kalssen's characters are well written and realistic with the gifts and faults of real people.  She manages to give a satisfactory ending to the main story and the substories so that the reader isn't left feeling like they're missing details.  There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and the book from being predictable; I think that was my favorite aspect of the book.  The faith portions are blended into the story smoothly and do not feel preachy or added on.  I will be sure to look up Julie Klassen and check out some of her other books.  I award The Girl in the Gatehouse four out of five pieces of bacon.

Julie Klassen is an award winning novelist who lives in Minnesota with her husband and two sons.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to Be God's Little Princess

Growing up is not easy and there are many things a young lady should know.  This book provides help to girls and their parents in learning these things.  Topics covered include manners, fashion, etiquette, relationships, entertaining, and knowing God.  Scattered through the chapters are fun quizzes and craft activities.  Walsh speaks frankly to her audience, tells them they are a princess and makes it plain that certain things are required of them.  Her book helps girls to see what areas of their personal lives they need improvement in.  She helps to calm those that are nervous about growing up.

I still am not sure what audience this book is intended for.  The topics covered suggest the preteen/early teen market, but I am not sure many girls of that age find the princess genre appealing.  That said, I think that the content within is interesting enough that most girls would be able to overlook the presentation.  It does introduce them to the idea that they are daughters of the King, of royalty beyond this Earth.  I think the quizzes are fun and I am tempted to try some of the crafts with my oldest daughter (who is still a bit young for the content).  I think this book could be a lot of fun for a mother/daughter to read together.  It would provide many great conversation starters.  I received this book in electronic form, but think I will look into getting a hard copy to use with my girls when they get a bit older.  I give How to Be God's Little Princess 4 out of 5 pieces of bacon.

Sheila Walsh was born in Scotland and travelled around a bit before finding herself at home in America.  She has hosted shows on TV as well as writing both fiction and non fiction.  She has also toured as a speaker with Women of Faith.  She is currently working on her Master's Degree.  She lives in Texas with her husband and son.

Look in the mirror!  Who is staring back? A princess.  And she is you!  You're growing up, life is changing and you're excited to see what's going to happen next.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Civil War

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Civil War is another yearly devotional book, this time from the Civil War time period.  Each starts with a quote from someone living at that time; men, women, children, soldiers, slaves, politicians and more.  There is a Scripture as well as some commentary from Terry Tuley.  This book offers an insight into the time period as well as the Christian faith.

This devotional is as captivating as the first one I reported on, Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II.  It is very interesting to see the faith of our forefathers and how it impacted such a momentous time of our country's history.  This book is not just from the military standpoint as there are quotes from and information about women and children, slaves, and plain old regular people.  It helps to give a rounded view of the time.  The faith of American citizens in this time of war was amazing.  If you love history, this is a book you will enjoy for the historical twist as well as the faith enriching words from the past and of Tuley.  I award this book five out of five pieces of bacon.

Terry R. Tuley is the senior pastor of a church in Knoxville, Tennessee.  In addition to writing, he is a military historian who collect items from the Civil War period.  He is a lover of books and collects rare religious books.  This married father of three also enjoys hiking and fishing. 

Stories of Faith and Courage from the Civil War was written by Terry Tuley and published by God & Country Press, an imprint of AMG Publishers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Desert Gift

It's not quite that simple.  There's a disconnect because we're not who we were when we got married.  This is not the life I signed up for.  We've both changed too much.

Jillian Galloway  is a nationally syndicated host of her own radio show.  She is about to step into the world of book touring with her very first book.  Her subject of expertise?  Marriage.  Her work is based on listening to countless women talk about their marriages as well as her own experience of being married to Jack for twenty four years.  As their marriage is long lasting and secure, the book is full of stories and examples of their own life together.  Jack even created recipes for the book.  They'll do the book tour then have a well deserved vacation together.  Life couldn't be better.  As they depart their home, Jack tells Jillian that he isn't going and wants a separation.  Before she can catch her breath and respond, he puts her in a taxi and begins his new solitary life.  Jillian's world comes crashing down as everything she has believed in gets challenged, including her relationship with God.

Having recently read The Beach House by Sally John, I was excited to read another of her books.  She did not disappoint in her well developed characters and real to life plot.  She makes an excellent point through the book that marriage is not a one-size-fits-all venture, there is no formula to follow for the perfect marriage.  There are many books and "experts" which offer good advice, but they do not guarantee anything.  Without a formula to solve the problems, Jillian wonders if there is any way to repair her marriage and herself.  I like the way the story is unpredictable, moving forwards and backwards as each character makes decisions.  I enjoyed less the subplot of her son, saying more would spoil the tale.  I award Desert Gift four out of five pieces of bacon.   

Sally John writes across a broad spectrum.  She has written novels, computer software manuals, and magazine articles.  She is a speaker at conferences about writing and family issues.  She has worked independently and collaborated with others.  In the past she also taught.  Sally John is a mother, grandmother, and wife.

Desert Gift was written by Sally John, published by Tyndale House Publishing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Beach House

 What was it about the beach house?

Jo, Char, Mollie, and Andie grew up together, sharing the secrets of their lives.  Eventually, careers and marriages pulled them in different directions and they drifted apart.  Twelve years after they were last together, Jo invites them all for a week on the beach.  Each woman travels with more luggage than just her clothes.  As they begin to catch up with each other, their personal issues and struggles are revealed.  Will the ties of friendship hold?  Will faith in God come through?

This book was excellent!  The characters were well written, the setting was realistic, and the plot interesting.  It wasn't hard to find something of myself in each of the four main characters, thus feeling a personal connection with their storyline.  This is not a book where the characters get easy answers to their problems.  They have real issues and must work through them just as real people must.  Cliches are not solutions to real problems, nor are they offered as such in The Beach House.  I had a hard time putting this book down and would have read through if I had less responsibility.  I think I neglected things a bit as it was.  Life isn't always fun and pretty, but with the right people around us, it is better!  This book gets five out of five pieces of bacon!

Sally John writes across a broad spectrum.  She has written novels, computer software manuals, and magazine articles.  She is a speaker at conferences about writing and family issues.  She has worked independently and collaborated with others.  In the past she also taught.  Sally John is a mother, grandmother, and wife.

And right there, in the middle of the Chicken Pie Shop while ordering cherry pie a la mode, Jo made up for the dozen years she had not wept.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Plain Wisdom

Our hope and prayer are that these memories will encourage and strengthen you as you create memories within your friend and family circles.

It doesn't matter if you belong to the Old Order Amish or if you are "Englischer," some things are universal to the human condition.  Plain Wisdom explores these common links of birth, death, financial difficulties, laughter, and much more.  Cindy Woodsmall (the Englischer) and Miriam Flaud (Old Order Amish) each offer words of wisdom regarding each topic, set in its own chapter.  Along the way, the women share some recipes and traditions of their culture.

I was excited to read this book.  I expected to be drawn in by both the similarities and differences of these two women.  Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed.  The essays written by these women were so short that I couldn't really connect with the writing or writers.  It felt like this was only a partial work instead of a complete one.  I do think what they wrote was heartfelt and has much potential, I'd just like to see it be expanded and flow together more smoothly.  If you do pick this book up, I recommend you intend to read it in small doses instead of just sitting down with it.  I'm giving Plain Wisdom 2 out of 5 pieces of bacon.

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best selling author of several novels.  She is also a wife and mother.  Miriam Flaud is wife, mother, and grandmother.  She lives within an Old Amish Order community.

Plain Wisdom was written by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud.  It was published by WaterBrook Press