About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now enjoy reading to my granddaughter and supporting authors through my reviews!

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Making of Mrs. Hale (Regency Brides: Promise of Hope #3)The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the final book of the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series and it is a wonderful way to wrap the series up. As I read this story I was struck with the thought "the more things change the more they stay the same". It is 1818 in Regency England and two young people elope to a small village in Scotland that is known for quickie marriages. This is what Julia and Thomas did in the nineteenth century and this is what young couples are still doing today, two centuries later. The hopes are always the same: being together and living happily ever after but this doesn't always happen. At the beginning of The Making of Mrs. Hale we find Julia alone, poor, and hungry because Thomas is missing and she doesn't even know if he is alive! Her family was very much against this marriage and Julia is forced to go home to face them alone. Soon after, Thomas returns home and Julia forgives him; and then, he disappears again and she must once again deal with her mother and brother's disapproval. They can't understand why she allowed him back into her life in the first place and when they learn that Thomas has been accused of adultery while being held prisoner in a Spanish jail their mistrust seems to have been justified. Julia's mother suggests that she should get a divorce and finally be free of Thomas Hale and we see Julia's anguish as she wrestles between defending her husband and wondering if he really could be capable of being with another woman.

"Betrayal. She had never realized just how powerful that word was, just how poignant that word could be, until the last two days....How could he have loved her, if he had betrayed his vows, by being with another?" (p. 207) Yes, she knew that he had left her more than once so was he unfaithful? Could she ever completely trust him again?

The Making of Mrs. Hale shows Julia's growth as she faced all of these obstacles and conquered them. Through the worst times she continued to hope and she continued to have faith. Thomas returns and begins to prove that he has changed. He works to regain Julia's trust and we watch as they both try to strengthen their marriage and convince others that their elopement wasn't a huge mistake. Is it possible for Julia to truly trust? Is unfaithfulness forgivable? Can Thomas ever be the loving and faithful husband that Julia deserves?

Carolyn Miller's reputation as an author of clean and wholesome Regency romance continues to grow and she certainly doesn't disappoint with this book. She always writes of the moral values of this era but this book features some subjects that are often glossed over and many characters who are flawed. These only prove that humans make mistakes, redemption is possible and that God always offers forgiveness. Ms. Miller never fails to remind us that it is our duty to offer others the same love and forgiveness that we ourselves have been granted from God our Father.

The Making of Mrs. Hale can be read as a standalone book but people who've read the first two books of the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series will enjoy seeing how some previous characters are mentioned in this story. I recommend this book to all who enjoy Christian fiction set in the Regency era and I look forward to what Carolyn Miller has planned for her future works.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Murder of ConvenienceMurder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Geneva Anderson is twenty-three and seeing impaired and she feels stifled by her overprotective parents. She is livid when she learns that they have arranged for her to marry a man she doesn't love because of their fear that she will one day be blind and alone; she is even more distraught when he informs her that he probably won't remain faithful and that this will be a marriage of convenience only. When she hears about the USO she realizes that this could be her chance to break away and prove that she is capable of taking care of herself so she hurriedly leaves her home. The man that she is trying to escape follows her and is found murdered and suddenly Geneva finds herself facing the possiblility of being both blind and in jail. What follows is a story filled with mystery, intrigue, romance and history. Geneva gets a job as a singer with the USO and her sweet nature and beautiful voice make her popular with the soldiers. She also earns the attention of the musical director Devon Royal but she doesn't believe that he could possibly be interested in someone who may one day be blind. As she struggles to prove her innocence she encounters many people with motives as she uncovers multiple clues and even becomes involved in an undercover sting operation with The Pinkerton Detective Agency. Devon steps in to help her and it is with his support and protection that the true killer is finally discovered.

I am a fan of history and it is apparent that the author did a lot of research of this time period. I enjoyed learning about the patriotism of the young women who joined the USO so that they could support the war effort and we see how very important that performing for the troops was to help the morale of the soldiers serving in WWII. There are mentions of popular entertainers such as Dinah Shore and Ann Miller who performed for the troops and Linda Shenton Matchett uses some of the popular slang of the period, such as "I'll give you all the skinny" and "regular gumshoe" to make the story more realistic. She also mentions the rationing of food and there is one instance when Geneva puts on a pair of nylons and she wonders how the costume department was able to get them.

Matchett's story also satisfied my love of mysteries and I was kept busy trying to figure out who did what and just how it was done. I was very surprised when I finally learn the killer's identity.

And finally, this is a story of hope, faith and forgiveness, both human and divine. Geneva and Devon believe in the power of prayer and they often talk to God. The granting of forgiveness is shown through Geneva's relationship with her parents and through a character who realizes that he has failed to live a life that is pleasing to God.

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder of Convenience and I recommend it to all who enjoy Christian fiction filled with history and mystery.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

His Promise (The Amish of Hart County, #6)His Promise by Shelley Shepard Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sixth book that Shelley Shepard Gray has set in Hart County, Kentucky but it isn't necessary to read the other five books first. In "His Promise" we meet Grace King and the young Amish man that she secretly liked five years ago. She believed that he was interested in her sister Beth and even though John Michael Miller did "court" Beth he ended their relationship because his heart told him that it was Grace that he wanted. Fast forward five years and, after meeting again, it is apparent that there is definitely still a spark between Grace and John Michael.

This story has the sweet beginnings of romance but the relationship is beset with strained feelings between John Michael, Beth and some of the other members of the King family. There is also danger and mystery because it appears that someone may be lurking around the house where Grace is pet-sitting during the Christmas holidays and John Michael fears for her safety. The occurence of several robberies in the area and fires that appear to have been deliberately set cause alarm and fear among the citizens of Hart County. There is a moving scene between Grace and a lady who has lost her home to one of these fires when they both realize that their various trials don't mean that God hasn't been there with them. The two of them find comfort in these words from Isaiah 43:2. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flame will not set you ablaze."

Author Shelley Shepard Gray has written a faith-based story that places her Amish characters in unusual circumstances even as they stay true to the beliefs that are the foundation of their Amish faith. Grace's job as a pet sitter isn't the norm for a nineteen year old Amish woman and John Michael is employed as a Hart County fireman. There are other interesting characters such as Jennifer and Dorma but the one that almost steals the book is an adorable but cantankerous little dachshund named Snooze that Grace is in charge of. He puts Grace in several unpredictable situations and he provides readers with many laughs!

I enjoyed "His Promise: An Amish Christmas in Hart County" and I recommend it to anyone who likes Christmas stories mixed with Christian romance and Amish fiction. I believe that readers of the previous books in this series will especially like that Gray briefly mentions some of those prior storylines as she concludes The Amish of Hart County series.

I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher but a review was not required.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls: Unforgettable Tales of Women of Faith100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls: Unforgettable Tales of Women of Faith by Jean Fischer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this new book author Jean Fischer lists 100 women that she considers extraordinary. Many are from the Bible: Esther, Jochebed, Ruth, Mary, and Noah's wife; many others are from history: Clara Barton, Florence NIghtingale, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks; and some have lived in this century, such as Joni Eareckson Tada, Jackie Pullinger and Ruth Bell Graham. They all led different lives but they all possessed one common trait---they each loved God, they were each women of great faith and they each demonstrated their deep faith by choosing to live courageously.

Each person mentioned has been given two pages. One page is devoted to her life story and one page is a color illustration. I believe these creative, colorful images will be especially appealing to young readers and I also think that the one page biography is just enough information to either satisfy the reader's curiosity or to prompt them to want to learn more. It is also helpful that references to the actual Bible stories are given and that there is an appropriate Bible verse at the end of each of the stories.

This book targets girls ages 8-12 but I myself enjoyed learning more about these women of faith who chose to love and serve God. This is a beautiful hard-cover book that will be a perfect gift for the young girls in your life!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

The Bullying Breakthrough: Real Help for Parents and Teachers of the Bullied, Bystanders, and BulliesThe Bullying Breakthrough: Real Help for Parents and Teachers of the Bullied, Bystanders, and Bullies by Jonathan McKee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This new book from Jonathan McKee is a MUST-READ book for everyone! For parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone else who has young people in their lives. The Bullying Breakthrough is full of helpful suggestions to help deal with this serious problem that is plaguing our society. Have you ever had your child or grandchild come home from school and appear to be starving? Most of us would question or perhaps assume that they hadn't eaten lunch because they didn't like what was being served. What if "they skipped lunch in fear of walking through certain areas, or because their lunch money was stolen or their lunch tray dumped again". (p.124) The author himself was once bullied and he describes his bullying and how he felt. In a very telling paragraph he relates that "...I had an amazing home life. And I can tell you, if I had access to a gun in junior high, I would have considered blowing away not only the entire "Kill Jon Club" but every one of of the smug bystanders who laugh at their jokes and T-shirts! (Wow, did I just put that in print?) By God's grace, I never did. But take it from me, public ridicule does something to you mentally. It festers and boils, becoming something poisonous." (p. 159)

In his introduction McKee mentions the hundreds of surveys and interviews he conducted over several months so that he could write this book. He shares the stories of young people that we recognize from news accounts but there are so many more mentioned who have experienced this hurtful behavior and we knew nothing about them until now. He also offers many tips for recognizing, understanding and reaching out to these victims. Page after page, readers are offered "real help for parents and teachers of the bullied, bystanders and bullies". Because, as guilty as the bullies are, there is also guilt that should be placed on the bystanders. People who watch and laugh and people who watch and do nothing. At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions and the book ends with several pages of notes to help us find more resources discussing this problem.

I would hope that every school and every church would add this book to their libraries and I will suggest that my local public library purchase it also. I cannot recommend The Bullying Breakthrough enough!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

StratagemStratagem by Robin Caroll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stratagem is defined in the dictionary as a plan or scheme that can be used to outwit an opponent or to achieve a goal and author Robin Caroll uses this as both the name of her new book and the basis of the plot. From the very beginning readers are drawn into murder, police investigations, multiple suspects and motives, and many clues that completely baffle the mind. A beautiful young woman who did some deplorable things to further her career is found dead and her death soon becomes a murder investigation. Her ex-husband seems to be the obvious suspect when it is discovered that he helped develop the mind-bending adventure game that she was involved in. Grayson Thibodeaux is a psychologist who worked with his partner to invent this game for the corporation who employed his ex-wife Anna Belle. One of the policemen investigating the murder is Grayson's friend and he completely believes in his innocence but the female investigationg officer adamantly believes in his guilt. Her dogged determination to charge Grayson with the crime made her an easy person for me to dislike. It is obvious that she has a personal agenda in trying to convict him but the reason isn't immediately clear as to why she wants this so badly.

I like mysteries and I thoroughly enjoyed this book that is full of intrigue and twists and turns. There are several other characters who had motives and readers are teased with hints of how and why they could have been involved. I wasn't completely sure of the guilty person until the second part of the story because there are so many conflicting clues but Grayson Thibodeaux was never a suspect to me. Throughout it all, he showed compassion and love for the woman who had betrayed his love and trust and he also felt the need to be able to truly forgive her. And, as he grapples with his pain and loss while trying to find the true murderer, he finally realizes that "There were no coincidences. That is where his faith came in---God could take any situation, no matter how awful it seemed, and turn it around for good".

I appreciate the many mentions of God and prayer and the strong faith element woven throughout this story and I recommend Stratagem to anyone who enjoys Christian fiction and mystery/suspense novels.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection: 7 Historical Romances are a Beacon of Hope to Weary HeartsThe Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection: 7 Historical Romances are a Beacon of Hope to Weary Hearts by Lena Nelson Dooley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always been fascinated with lighthouses. A beacon of light high in a tower that warned sailors of danger and helped them safely guide their ships. I knew that there were people who maintained them but I had never really stopped to think about the type of person who took on this responsibility. Seven authors have joined to each write a novella about the lighthouses that were stationed along the Great Lakes between the years of 1883 to 1911. The Great Lighthouse Brides Collection offers readers the chance to imagine the lives of the men and women who served as lighthouse keepers. People who faced loneliness, hardship and danger as they kept the lighthouses going so that the journeys would be safe for the settlers who were forced to travel by ship. In each of these novella female characters play an important part. There is an independent young woman who wants to earn a job as a lighthouse keeper, the young woman who needs to protect her secret to remain at the lighthouse, and another young woman seeking to find who left her as a baby on the lighthouse steps. One woman is helped by a male lighthouse keeper when she finds herself forced to return to the place that caused her so much misery and still another is rescued by a lighthouse keeper after losing her past memories to amnesia. Add the mystery of a shipwreck and a young woman grieving for her fiancee who died in a shipwreck and you have seven stories that will keep you engrossed. Historical fiction, yes, but there is also lots of romance and some of the stories simply take your breath away!

I am very impressed with the ability of seven different authors to create stories that worked so well together. The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection is a great choice for anyone who only has short amounts of time to read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Christian romance.

I received a complimentary copy of this book but a positive review was not required.

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