25 Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Can living a pretense EVER make you happy????

                             "What Follows After"
               By Dan Walsh         

Having always been impressed by this author's creations, I immediately "dug" in to this book with enthusiasm! This book is definitely a five star book in my opinion. Dan Walsh uses his talent to immerse you in the story from the first page, not allowing you peace of mind, until you reach the end of the book.  What is very special about this author, is that he has a message in all of his works, a very clear one, that underlies the whole story, engaging your mind in applying it in your own life. 

The time is 1962 when life was simple, the world made a lot more sense than now, and most families were quite happy and content.  When a family did have a problem, you KNEW you were still supposed to pretend that everything was fine! No one must know that your perfect family did not exist!  

The main characters, Scott and Gina Harrison had been living a lie! They attend all family get togethers in the same car, however they had been living separate lives for over a year. This charade has been forced upon their two sons, as well. The boys had to lie to their grandparents, teachers, and their friends. Can this kind of lie ever achieve a life of happiness?? Is it not wrong to make your children lie to protect your image in the public eye??? Dan's characters are, as usual, realistic, complicated beings who have the same problems as many others. I felt this couple's fears and worries as the plot develops. At times, my heart was pounding with concern and wondering what on earth the next chapter would bring!

One of the boys, Colt develops a plan. He and his little brother will run away and refuse to come home until their mom and dad get back together. Sounds simple, doesn't it??? At least it does in a child's mind. BUT things go terribly wrong! Scott and Gina must somehow come to grips with their years of neglect and problems in order to  find their sons. 

The message throughout the book was one that we all need to remember. The things that matter most in life are NOT what others think!! Love, truth, and family are the key to a life of happiness! You have to deal with the hard times and look back on them as a learning experience! We all need to look into our lives and think about the hard times! Can we smile about them now??? Has God met our needs as He has promised? Of course He has!  Does the past really matter now? God knows where He is leading us, it is up to us to follow His plan.

Loved this book!! If you want to be completely absorbed from beginning to end, try this novel. Truly a winner! Eagerly awaiting Dan's next creation!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Revell. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.           

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Denise Hunter's Book 2 of the Chapel Springs Series is another winner!

                        "Dancing with Fireflies"

           By Denise Hunter  

If you are looking for an inspirational journey, open this book, begin reading chapter one and your adventure will begin. Do NOT expect to be able to put this book down to eat, do daily tasks, or sleep!! Your world becomes the picturesque town of Chapel Spring and your family becomes the McKinley clan. This compelling tale will keep you so totally involved that the world will just go on around you.

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she'd never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He's loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she's back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she's hiding secrets from her family, and she's strangely attracted to the man who's always called her "squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

I loved the first book in this series, "Barefoot in Summer", however, I feel this one was even more appealing to my tastes. It is an inspirational love story with a thread of redemption running throughout the plot. Happiness can be achieved at the end of a very long tunnel!  Denise deals with a somewhat delicate subject in a tasteful, realistic manner. She tells it the way it is, including the heartache,tragedy and feelings of blame and unworthiness but also infuses her tale with the knowledge of God's grace and how a tragedy can turn life around , still ending in a positive , joyful way.

The McKinley family became mine as the characters were developed in such a realistic manner. They were loving and kind, yes, but also had the same faults and problems as every other American family. None of our lives are perfect and this story exemplifies that fact well. 

Twists and turns in the plot were encountered in the turn of a page. Do NOT even try to figure out how this story will end, as  you will be shaking your head in disbelief and surprise , as unexpected events and feelings occur. 

Denise Hunter is definitely an author to watch for!!! I am eagerly awaiting book three in this series. 

Definitely a five star book!!! MARVELOUS!

About the Author: Denise Hunter is an internationally published best-selling author. Her books have won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and was a RITA finalist. In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all of her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps, too. When Denise isn't writing, she's busy raising three heroes-in-the-making with her husband.

Learn more about Denise at: http://www.denisehunterbooks.com

To read more reviews of this book : http://litfusegroup.com/author/dhunter

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/uJ6OD

This book was provided by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Winner in the Quilts of Love Series!

                              "Maybelle in Stitches"

  By Joyce Magnin     
When I open a new book from the "Quilts of Love" Series, it is like opening a Christmas gift!  It is an exciting surprise that brings me great joy and pleasure ! Each book is unique in its plot line, however, the common bond, they all share, is the importance of a quilt. As a quilter, these tales are near and dear to my heart. I love fabric, I love quilts and I love to read about the importance of a quilt in the lives of others. However, this book would also appeal to those who have never even held a needle and thread! Maybelle , the main character is certainly not experienced in this art, yet finds quilting meets a need deep within her. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed each book in this series and "Maybelle in Stitches" was no exception. ."A patchwork quilt holds together two hearts separated by miles of ocean and the Second World War."  A quilt plays an important role in keeping a young bride sane and busy, a quilt that she had not even known existed!

About the book: Maybelle Kazinzki can't sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother's house she gets the crazy idea to finish it---somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.

Her recently departed mother's quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother's childhood, her grandmother's childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden's stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle's faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful---no matter what. And it'll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

From the first page of this book, I was part of this story. My attention was grabbed and held captive until I finished the last page. The characters are described in such a way that they become friends. I laughed and cried with Maybelle and her friends, and at times, wished I could give her a big hug and yes, even some advice.  These young war brides are all held together by the common bond of a husband/boyfriend  away at war, not knowing if or when they would return. This is something I have read about in history but it became very real to me in the telling of this story. 

The book had enough twists and turns in the plot to keep my interest  throughout . Perhaps it was not fast moving, however, it encompassed so many emotions and feelings along the way that the reader is totally involved. The time is needed to process these and identify with the characters. 

I believe my favorite part of the story  was knowing that Maybelle was NOT a quilter, not even a sewer! I had to sit and giggle at some of the silly thoughts and actions . Her determination was clearly evident as the quilt grew and grew, along with her faith, strength and friendships.  This quilt was a symbol of hope and belief that her husband would return to her. What a wonderful way of showing how God supplies our needs in some very unexpected ways!

LOVED this book!! A five star! 

About the Author: Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright's Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the Story Crafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Learn more about Joyce at: http://joycemagnin.blogspot.com

This book was supplied by Litfuse, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
To read more reviews of this book: http://litfusegroup.com/author/JMagnin

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Cozy Mystery Written in a Typical British Setting

"Death by the Book"

 By Julianna Deering

Julianna continues "The Drew Farthering Mysteries" with another British style mystery,"Death by the Book", which follows Book One, "Rules of Murder". I had not heard of this author, so was very curious. I do love mysteries! The term "cozy" often puts me off, however, I decided to give this book a try! 

The setting is the village of Farthering St. John, the era is the 1930's, perfect for this cozy mystery to take place. Drew Farthering, the main character, wants nothing more than to end the summer of 1932, by announcing his engagement. However, instead, he finds himself in the middle of another mysterious case when the family soliciter is found murdered, in the MOST strange and unique way- with an antique hatpin accompanied by a cryptic message, Advice to Jack, piercing his chest. 

There is clear evidence of secret meetings with a young girl's confession that points to the soliciter having lived a double life. BUT, what does this have to do with the murder of a physician on a nearby golf course?? Is there a connection?? What could it be? The reader is kept guessing as the plot involves twists and turns that totally confuse and add complications. I was perplexed as to how this mystery would ever be solved. My guesses were not even near the actual outcome. The only connection that can be discovered- another puzzling note, with another similar looking weapon- a bloodied HATPIN!  

The police succeed in arresting a suspect but Drew is not convinced that the right suspect is in custody. His own investigations and the results are very different from the police.  In fact, they lead him looking closer and closer to home! A scary situation.

The book was written with the flavour of Agatha Christie and contained many qualities that are evident in typical British mysteries. I felt the the story started off very slowly and it took me a while to fully understand what was happening and how the characters connected with each other. Perhaps, had I read Book One, this would have been easier and grabbed my attention earlier. I do think it is a book that cozy mystery lovers would enjoy. Since it is not my favourite genre, I had some difficulty getting through the book. I must say, the ending was a COMPLETE shock!! Totally unexpected!! The author leads you in other directions to guess the conclusion and all of them were wrong! 

The characters were quirky and unique. I loved Aunt Ruth with her honest , often crazy remarks. Each of the people in the story had interesting and somewhat unusual personalities. They were all described in details that gave you a clear picture and understanding of them. I could see each of them in my mind as I worked my way through the adventure.

This book is well written with an interesting plot line, however, to me, it seemed to be slow moving. This could be that it just wasn't "my type" of book. It was what I would class a good  read for those who enjoy this genre.   
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...