Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

Lady in Waiting is an intriguing story – actually two stories – of Jane, a New York antique store owner living in the 21st century and Jane, the Tudor Queen of the 16th century. The 21st century Jane is waiting for her husband to make the decision of what he wants to do about the emptiness in their marriage, just as she has waited for him and her parents to make the decisions that have shaped her entire life. While she waits she discovers a ring hidden in a recently acquired book that she decides could have belonged only to Lady Jane Grey. Jane’s quest to learn more about the 16th century Jane leads her on a journey inside her own soul – a journey that leads to the discovery of what duty and choice mean, and the decisions she needs to make to preserve her marriage.

This is the first novel I have read by author Susan Meissner, but it won’t be the last. Her writing is fluid and seamless and the stories flow smoothly between the centuries. I felt an immediate liking for her characters, enjoying them so much that it was hard to put the book down. I recommend this book highly, and be sure to follow it up with more of Susan Meissner’s books!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathan Rogers

Grady has been pretending he was a feechieboy for as long as he can remember, travelling from town to town with Professor Floyd and putting on a real professional act. That is, until people stop believing in feechiefolk. Now, you tell me, how can you make any decent money educating the populace about feechiefolk when they don’t even pretend to believe what you say?

As Grady and Floyd travel throughout the island of Corenwald we follow Grady on a quest. Although he has been raised by a show man on the road, Grady longs for home – a place to belong with people who know him and want him. In every village he peers into people’s faces, looking for a familiar looking eyebrow or ear, any family resemblance. He wonders what it would be like to have a friend, to see the same people every day, to find out who his real family is.

Jonathan Rogers has created a world of swamps, alligators and small towns that feels very familiar. The Corenwald world fits around the reader’s shoulders like an easy old sweater. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of Grady’s story, due out in 2011.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Sonja and Todd Burpo’s amazing story of their son’s journey to heaven and back is a book of discovery. After nearly losing their son during an emergency appendectomy they are treated to a slow revelation of what happened during the minutes when they had nearly lost hope.

But lost hope is the opposite of what this book is about. Over the next several years Colton shares what he saw in a matter of fact, every day, little boy way. “Of course I sat on Jesus’ lap – doesn’t everybody?” is his approach to his experience. Colton’s straightforward faith and revelations of meeting people he couldn’t have known is what convinces his parents that what their little boy saw was real.

Colton’s experience in the hospital was anything but normal, and filled with awe-inspiring episodes that leave his parents and the reader with the assurance that heaven is for real.

I received a free copy of this book for review from Booksneeze. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

In Chris Fabry’s newest novel, Almost Heaven, he tackles the question of God’s omniscience and omnipotence. Why, we have to ask ourselves, does God allow bad things – sometimes horrible things – to happen? How can one man’s life – scarred by tragedy – serve to glorify God?

Those are the questions that Malachi, the angel assigned to “look after” Billy Allman, asks as he watches and tries to protect his charge. He searches for understanding of God’s purpose, but even though he is able to see the top side of God’s tapestry, as he puts it, while mere humans are forced to work their way through the tangled threads of the underside, he still has trouble understanding the significance of this one boy’s life.

Billy lives in the coal mining area of the West Virginia hills. He experiences things that make us weep, but in spite of everything he still maintains his faith in God and His good purpose. What Malachi doesn’t understand is Billy’s soul – the soul that praises God in a song that weaves its way through Billy’s life. That music seeks, and finds, its resolution in the climax of the book.

Chris Fabry has given us a book filled with real people experiencing real life, and a glimpse into what one person can do when he seeks to serve God. I’m looking forward to reading more of Mr. Fabry’s books.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided a copy of this book for my review.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: Where Hearts are Free by Golden Keyes Parsons

Golden Keyes Parsons’ third book in her “Darkness to Light” trilogy follows the story of Philippe Clavell, a young indentured servant near Philadelphia in 1681, and Bridgett Barrington, the lovely young daughter of his master. In spite of the fact that Bridgett is Catholic and Philippe is a Huguenot refugee from France whose family was forced to leave because of Catholic oppression, the two young people fall in love. But Philippe, who was raised amidst the splendor of the Royal court, seeks to follow his master’s wishes and leaves the Barrington plantation without expressing his love to Bridget. As a result, a heartbroken Bridget agrees to a match arranged by her parents to a handsome businessman from the city, Edward Moorehead. When Philippe learns about Edward’s true business and unsavory past, he vows to rescue Bridget from her dangerous betrothed. But even if Philippe is successful, will his mother accept his Catholic bride?

Set in the frontier of 17th century Pennsylvania, we see a glimpse into the lives of the early colonial settlers and their struggles with the native tribes, the British army and their new-found religious freedom. Mrs. Parson’s characters and story were delightful, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Review: Catching Moondrops

Jessilyn Lassiter is waiting for her parents, and especially handsome Luke Talley, to notice that at 18 years old she is no longer a child. In the small town of Calloway, Virginia in 1938, Jessilyn thinks she is ready to take her place as Luke’s wife and a full-fledged member of the community, but her community is in turmoil during this long, hot summer – a young, black doctor, Tal Pritchett, has come to town, and the Klan is active once more.

Jessilyn is the bridge between the black and white communities as she witnesses both the destroying influence of the racial threats and the growing love between Tal and her best friend, Gemma. The tension comes to the boiling point when Jessilyn’s neighbor, Miss Cleta, accepts Tal’s treatment – and the Klan cannot overlook the fact that a white woman is treated by a black doctor.

The racial prejudice that simmers beneath the surface of this peaceful town is ugly, and author Jennifer Erin Valent treats it with a matter of fact distance that makes Jessilyn’s experiences all the more realistic. Jessilyn hates the Klan and what they stand for, but it is her hate and rage that finally cause her to understand the faith in God that her parents, Luke and Gemma have.

Tyndale House publishers provided a copy of this book for review.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review: Patton: the Pursuit of Destiny by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin

From the legacy of George Patton’s illustrious ancestors to the muddy roads of World War II Europe, this book follows Patton’s pursuit of the destiny that awaits him. This easily read biography doesn’t gloss over Patton’s all too human faults, but it also reveals the inner quality of a man driven by ambition and his own military genius. Through well organized chapters we follow Patton from one stage of his life to the next, through both his triumphs and his failures.

The book opens with a look at Patton’s childhood – an idyllic time on his grandfather’s ranch in southern California. We see a young man who was shaped by stories of his hero-grandfather and steeped in the study of classical warfare. We see a young career officer who is frustrated by the lack of combat in his life, while at the same time fascinated by the possibilities he sees in motorized warfare. We see the general who grieves at the waste of human life during war, and does his utmost to wage quick and decisive battles in order to preserve the lives involved.

There is really no better story than a well told biography, and this book fits the bill. I enjoyed learning details about Patton’s life that had escaped me before, such as his participation in the 1912 Olympics and his prowess as a swordsman. This book showed me a Patton I had never met, and now I feel like I know a hero.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review: Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang

Isa Lassone, an American by birth, was raised in pre-World War One Belgium. Privileged, pampered and neglected by her parents, Isa found her true home and a second family in the hotel where she stayed while her parents traveled. There she had also come to learn of God from Genny Kirkland, her mentor and second mother.

Then in 1914 the Germans invaded Belgium and Isa’s parents fled with her to America. Two years later Isa works against all odds to return to Belgium and the loved ones she left behind. She brings them hope, an unshaken faith in God….and a way to escape the German tyranny. But while she was gone, the Belgium she knew has disappeared. Her home has been occupied by the German army, the Kirkland family has lost their dear father and her beloved Edward Kirkland refuses to see that she is more than the spoiled child he had known two years before. Isa determines to show Edward that he is wrong – and finds herself involved in a most dangerous enterprise: the publication of the newspaper of the resistance – La Libre Belgique.

Author Maureen Lang shows us a clear view of an occupied society, and the power of the written word that can inspire even the most wretched person to hope for freedom. Most of all, she shows us the unshakable power of God, even in the midst of oppression. I look forward to reading more of Mrs. Lang’s books!

Tyndale House publishers provided a copy of this book for review.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

The Christian experience is one of death and rebirth, and that is the story of May in this newest book by Lisa Samson.

May Seymour has just graduated from the University of Kentucky, and has no idea what she will do with her life. Up until this point she has been self-centered and privileged, and the only things on the horizon are a possible job interview…and the back-up plan of a trip to Rwanda.

In the months before she leaves for Africa, May meets Claudius, a simple farmer with a fatherly love for May. She spends the summer on his farm, learning to enjoy the slower pace of life in the Kentucky hills. Claudius has hope that after Rwanda she might come home to his farm, and possibly even marry Eli – a local boy that May knows from her years at UK.

But life happens. In Rwanda May learns about God, friendship, love and war, and comes home to the farm a scarred and broken girl. Healing is slow and not without pain, but it does come as surely as the crocus blooms in the spring. But May never expected the death of self that true resurrection requires.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

WIP (Works in Progress)

Do all writers have multiple works in progress at a time? I really don’t know, but I suspect it has something to do with how we read. I always have multiple books that I’m reading at one time.

I’m always reading the Bible – I’m on my ninth year of reading the Bible through in a year. I’m also reading a new book published by Love Inspired – The Rancher’s Promise by Jillian Hart. I also try to keep a classical literature book going – currently it’s Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I have read retellings of the book before, but never the original. I’m reading it slowly – I’ll pick it up once every couple weeks. I’m usually also reading a non-fiction book, but I haven’t picked one up for awhile.

My writing seems to follow the same pattern. The writing I do for my blogs is daily, but short. I’m also working on a Christian romance set in a northern Indiana Amish community in the 1930’s. The first chapter is finished, and now the outline and characters are “cooking” in my mind. A long-term project, started a few years ago for a contest I didn’t win, is a retelling of Icelandic Sagas for young readers. It’s waiting on the back shelf until my youngest graduates from our homeschool and I’m not teaching anymore. Meanwhile, I pick up an Icelandic Saga to read once in awhile…And then the final project, and the one with the tightest deadline, is a book on homemaking skills written for girls. I’m the “contributing writer” – the project really belongs to Marmee Dear of the Homemaker’s Mentor ( It’s a fun project, and I’m enjoying helping Martha work it up.

I’ll try to keep you updated on the various projects as we go along!