Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley - Review of the first book in McKenna's Daughters series

Margaret Lenora Caine, an only child, grew up in Seattle and had a very privileged life. She has noticed a change in her mother, Florence, in the last few years, she feels like her mother is constantly criticizing her and trying to change the person she has become. Maggie can't figure out what she's done to upset her mother. Maggie loves to design dresses which is what her grandmother does in Little Rock, Arkansas but she has never seen her and she is her only grandchild.

In a few days Maggie will be turning 18 and she wants to design a special dress but her mother already has something else in mind. When she remembers that there are some of her mother's old dresses in the attic Maggie goes exploring. She finds a beautiful green dress that would only need to be shortened and will look nice with her red hair. Maggie continues to look through chests in the attic and finds a little white chest, when she gets to the bottom of it she finds out a family secret, she may have figured out why her mother want's to change her, or is that really what is going on.

What a great story this is, Lena did a wonderful job. I couldn't put this book down and read it in about 1 1/2 days. I can hardly wait to read number two in the series, Mary's Blessing, I will be starting it as soon as I'm done with this review. You won't go wrong investing in this book.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Murray Pura's American Civil War Series - Cry of Freedom - Volume 1 - Return To Shirley Plantation by Carrie Faucett Pagels - Review

Angelina Rose is a freed slave who chose to stay in Virginia until she could save enough money to pay the owners of her niece and nephew for their freedom, then she would move north. She had a job lined up as a seamstress up north but declined so she could be with her sisters kids.

Matthew Scott was abducted against his will and conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead father’s political leaning but his mother was a strong abolitionist. He ended up on Shirley Plantation as a wounded soldier.

What I thought would be a war story turned out to be more of a personal story and thoroughly enjoyable to read. Carrie did a wonderful job of holding my interest in this short story and made it a very quick read for me. I've read some books that take place during the civil war and I prefer this kind, more about the people and what they went through.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Bride for All Seasons by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy and Robin Lee Hatcher - Review

And Then Came Spring
by Margaret Brownley
The longer superstitious Mary-Jo Parker waited for Daniel Garrett, the more mad she became. Finally after waiting for two hours she heads for a hotel when she is run into by a young boy, when she helps him up she asks if he knows Daniel Garret. Mary-Jo is shocked when he answers with a yes that's my dad, after all there was no mention of children in the ad posted in the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue. When asked where he is, the boy points across the street to the church. Mary-Jo dressed in a bright yellow dress rushes into the church where everyone is dressed in black on a Wednesday, then the sheriff informs her that Daniel is the man in the casket she hurries up to look at him then leaves. This is the second time she's been engaged and the second time to have her intended die. She just barely has money for a motel room for one night yet alone a return ticket to Georgia. 

An Ever-After Summer
by Debra Clopton
Melvin Eldora Smith is known as a born killer and has lived with her Aunt Millicent since she was born, according to Aunt Millicent she has killed three people. She has grown up with the whole town talking about her and even the kids taunting and calling her Murderin' Melvina. She has learned to depend on God so when Aunt Millicent found out that Melvin Eldora had been working on a farm and sometimes wearing mens jeans she slapped a copy of the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue in front of her and told her she had one hour to pick out a husband. When she saw Matthew's ad that he needed a mother for his two-year-old baby girl she knew that was the family for her. She didn't know that Matthew didn't want a wife and he didn't want a bible-thumper. 

Autumn's Angel
by Robin Lee Hatcher
Luvena was a single woman with the responsibility of her nephew and two neices. She had nothing because her father had lost the family fortune, her mother had died and now her sister and brother-in-law had died in a boating accident. When she saw Clay's ad for a wife to help him run the Grand Coeur she writes him as she's always wanted to be an opera singer. Clay sends the money for her to come but he's in for a surprise when she gets off the stage coach with three kids in tow. When he tells Luvena there's a big mistake here she faints but he takes her home and there is no marriage. She writes to the owner of the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue to inform him of the mistake and complain about the changes made to their letters to each other she then demands he run another ad for her, free of charge of course.

Winter Wedding Bells
by Mary Connealy
David, convinced he's going to die due to complications from pneumonia so he places an ad in the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue for a wife to care for his two sons and run his ranch once he's gone. Megan had raised her five brothers and thought this was the man for her. David didn't plan on her not believing that he had less than a year to live. Matter of fact she didn't find this out until they were married and headed home. He informed Megan that there would be no wifely duties as he didn't want to leave her with child, this doesn't sit well with this Irish woman.

I'm surprised the owner of the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue survived after all of the ads and letters he changed to bring couples together. In this day, he would be sued many times over. These ladies just continue to put their best foot forward with their writing ability. They have some pretty entertaining stories in this book.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Along Wooded Paths by Tricia Goyer - Review of the second book in A Big Sky Novel series

Marianna Sommer is still in Montana helping her family, at least that's what she says. She is really trying to figure out where she belongs, in Indiana with Aaron Zook or in Montana with Ben. Ben, an Englischer, has led her to believe differently about God but she still plans to stay Amish. Things get even more complicated when Aaron shows up in Montana unexpectedly. Marianna finds out by hearing than an Amish man was in an accident and is hurt in the hospital, his name is Aaron Zook and he's from Indianna.

Marianna's dad gets him out of the hospital and Aaron is now staying with them, his leg is in a cast and he won't be able to walk for several weeks, and taking her bedroom. Now she has both of the men she thinks she loves in the same town and finds her heart changing daily, if not more often.

Who will Marianna end up with? She feels like she really does love Ben but unless he becomes Amish it will be impossible to marry him. Then there's the days she feels that connection with Aaron that can't be broken and she's known him her whole life and has always planned on marrying him.

Tricia did a really good job keeping me in suspense on this one, and I have a feeling with the book ending as it did that things may change in the third book, "Beyond Hope's Valley". Way to leave us hanging! Anyone that likes Amish Fiction should read this series, I think you would really enjoy it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer - Review of the first book in A Big Sky Novel series

Marianna Sommers was born early due to a freak accident that killed her two older sisters, Marilyn and Joanna. Her parents and older brother survived but her mother went into premature labor and her dad named her Marianna after the older sisters that were killed. She lived her life in Indiana and planned on marrying Aaron Zook once they started courting and both joined the church.

The family was blessed with three more boys and a daughter. Levi, her brother that survived the accident, left the Amish when he got older. Marianna spent her life taking care of the younger siblings, doing chores and working for a neighbor taking care of kids. She had little time to herself and always seemed sad but kind, didn't express any anger over her situation. She did wish she had been able to know Marilyn and Joanna to know what they were like and wondered how her life would be different if the accident never happened. Even though she and Aaron weren't courting she knew that he planned on marriage too and was even starting to build a house for them.

Things changed when her dad decided to move his family to Montana, she thought about staying in Indiana with her Aunt, after all she would be 20 in about a month. When she was told that her mother was in the family way again, she decided she didn't have any choice but to go with them. She couldn't explain to Aaron why she had to go, it wasn't her place to tell that news. Her mother was reluctant to move too but her dad wouldn't let her talk him into staying in Indiana.

How do you think you would handle thinking that you weren't good enough your whole life? Your birthday brings back the memory of two dead sisters that you're named after and your parents always talk about how 'good' each of the girls were. Would you feel like you were forgotten yet you're right in front of them, like you don't even mean anything to them? The whole community seems to look at you with sympathy because they know the whole story and see how it's affected your family throughout the years.

What a good book this was and Tricia makes you feel the sorrow within Marianna's heart. Through it all she stays true to her faith. I've had this book for quite some time and finally pulled it out of my 'to read' pile and have started the second one, Along Wooded Paths, as I'm anxious to move ahead in Marianna's life with her. There is one more book in the series, Beyond Hope's Valley, I now have to get that so I'll be able to finish her story. Tricia did a wonderful job.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Face of Heaven by Murray Pura - Review of the second book in the Snapshots in History series

Lyndel Keim finds two runaway slaves in their barn and promises to help them and keep them safe. She gains the help of her brother Levi and his friend Nathaniel King. Reluctantly her father lets them stay in the attic until they are healthy enough to move on. They soon have visitors among which is the owner of the slaves and have to turn them over. Lyndel, Levi and Nathaniel are all heartbroken but not as bad as they are when they find one of the slaves hung in a tree on their property. The Amish community agree to have a proper burial and bury him in their cemetery.

Nathaniel, who has become Lyndel's beau, is so distraught that he decides to join the Union and fight against slavery. Lyndel finds that she can't sit at home and do nothing while Nathaniel is doing all he can so she leaves to go nurse the wounded. Nathaniel and Lyndel work closely in the field and soon they are joined by Levi and a few other young members of their community. They are all now under the bann and not allowed any communication with family.

Murray does a fantastic job of pulling you into the story and telling what it must have been like on the front lines. Nathaniel and Lyndell were lucky to be able to see each other during the war and they showed such faith and dependence on God throughout. I shed some tears while reading the first book, The Wings of Morning, and I shed some more while reading this one. I expect to shed some more when the third book, Whispers of a New Dawn when I get it.

I do not think I could have been as strong as Lyndell, or any of our ancestors, could you? I am so to be thankful to them and to our military who continue to fight for our rights. Thank you Murray for sharing these stories with us, they make us stop and think about how lucky we really are today.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley  <> book review 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.”

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer - Review

Crockett Archer is on his way to interview for the preaching position at a church in Piney Woods, Texas but he doesn't quite make it there. Silas Robbins, notorious for holding up trains but never harming anyone or taking large amounts of money, decides to hold up the train that Crockett is on after 16 years of laying low. It isn't money he's after this time though, it's the preacher! His daughter, Joanna, told him that she wants a preacher for her birthday the next day and he will do anything to make his daughter happy, yet again no one was harmed and this time no money at all was taken.

When Silas returns with a preacher Joanna can't believe her father actually kidnapped a man after he'd promised her mother that he'd quit robbing trains. Joanna and Crockett go for a walk so she can explain what this is all about, along the way being confronted by someone who claims to be her suitor pulls a gun on Crockett. They return to the ranch house and Joanna loans Crockett her horse so he can go into Deanville and catch a train and move on to Piney Woods.

Crockett gets to town and sends a telegram explaining he is safe and will catch the next train to Piney Woods. In the mean time the Sheriff finds out he's in town and tries to get him to press charges, Crockett refuses, and then he gets a wire telling him to meet one of the elders in Caldwell where he finds out they gave the position to the other applicant. Now what to do?

This is a novel but Crockett is one of the brothers from Short-Straw Bride and does find himself in some strange predicaments, some funny and some more serious. I liked this one even better than Short-Straw Bride, so much so, that I stayed 'awake' one night (morning) till 4:00 A.M. to finish it! You can't go wrong with a Karen Witemeyer book! !

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim

Rachel Stoltzfus finds herself single and pregnant making her the talk of her Old Order Mennonite community. She is living with her twin sister Leah and her husband Tobias King, she was helping when Leah had a problem pregnancy and continues to live there as her dad won't let her come home to live since she is an outcast.

She refuses to disclose the father of the baby and soon finds herself leaving her sisters house and living with Ida Mae Speck who has left her Old Order Mennonite community a few years ago. Ida Mae is a great support for Rachel and when Rachel's son Eli gets sick, she is there at every turn, even calling her family when she thinks Rachel needs them.

I really enjoyed this book and read it rather quickly, for me anyway, and had to use a few tissues in the end. Have you ever had a sibling rivalry, not one where you just don't get along, but privately in your mind? There is more than one sibling rivalry going on in this story, in more than one family, internal feelings, but one sibling doesn't know the other sibling has similar feelings. I think there have been times when I was upset with a sibling and not voiced it but these feelings, rivalry's, have been going on most of their lives.

The story is written from the view of two people, Rachel Stoltzfus and Amos King, Tobias's father, he is being buried as the story begins. The first chapter was a little confusing to me but I was soon involved and kept things pretty straight. This is not your typical Amish story therefore it's a little more interesting because you don't hear about these things going on in the Amish, or Mennonite, community too often but it makes you realize they do have things happen in their families just like us "English" people do.

This is the first book I read that Jolina has written, I think it may be her only book so far, and I am looking forward to some more. You might want to go find a copy and read it, it's quite good!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Prairie Song by Mona Hodgson - Review of the first book in Hearts Seeking Home series

Anna Goben not only lost her brother to the Civil War, but she lost her Mother and Grandfather too. Wilma turned to alcohol after learning of her sons death and Anna's grandfather was lost in a malaise of grief and depression. Anna comes up with the idea to leave St Charles, MO and relocate to California. Wilma and Otto agree to go with the Boone's Lick Company Wagon Train, they won't go alone though, several of Anna's friends from her quilting club are going along while some are staying in St Charles.

Things get started on the wrong foot as Anna had agreed to marry Boney, her brothers best friend from childhood, but as everyone is waiting for the wedding to start she motions him to the back of the church and tells him that she can't marry him. Being the good person he is, he accepted that and informed all of the guests that the wedding is being called off. Now she just has to face her Mother and Grandfather.

Boney is employed by the Boone's Lick Company Wagon Train and several of his co-workers were at the wedding so they now have ill feelings toward Anna, letting her know their feelings later that day when she went to talk to her friends at the dry goods store and explain her decision. Not only will this cause problems on the trip, the men taking the wagon train west decide that women should not be traveling with them, it seems like the trip is encountering nothing but problems.

I enjoyed the book but I thought it moved along kind of slowly, I did like the stories attached to each character and how they dealt with their individual problems though. I will read the next book, no title yet that I have found or when it will be published, as I am interested in what is in store for everyone.

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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”