Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring for Susannah

Catherine Richmond's debut novel is set in the Dakota Territory following the Civil War. Susannah's parents have passed away and with no income and no prospects she begins writing letters to her pastor's brother who is living in the Dakota Territory. She becomes his mail order bride and boards a train to go meet her husband.

What follows is a time of getting to know each other. Learning how to love each other and to live together.

Susannah has never experienced unconditional love so every time something doesn't go the way she thinks it should, she expects Jesse (her husband) to send her packing. Jesse has infinite patience with her and gives his all at loving her right from the beginning.

There are some sexual references like nothing I have ever experienced in a "Christian" novel before. Nothing overt or anything that made me uncomfortable - just different from anything I've read before. That said, I'm not sure this is a book for younger girls.

I liked this book to a point and I've struggled with how to word this without giving too much away. As with most books in this genre there is a time of building up the relationship and then a time where the couple is put through trials. The trial happens too quickly after the relationship finally develops and lasts entirely too long. And when they finally come back together, the end of the book is too close. Jesse returns and five short pages later the book is done. Too many loose ends were left. It might be okay if this was the beginning of a series but there is no mention of another book.

All in all a good debut novel.


My copy was graciously provided by BookSneeze for my honest review.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Desert Gift

When you’re at the top . . . you’ve got a long way to fall. A nationally known marriage expert, Jillian Galloway is at the pinnacle of success. Her syndicated talk radio show is a hit and her first book is about to release. But just as she’s leaving for her West Coast publicity tour, Jill’s faithful husband of twenty-four years drops a bombshell: he wants a divorce.

As her world crashes down around her, Jill flees to her parents’ home in the California desert, wondering if everything she’s built her career on—and everything she’s built her life around—is a sham. She thought she’d done everything right. So how did her marriage slowly slip away? And will she ever get it back?

From best-selling author Sally John comes an insightful and inspiring story about the unexpected detours our lives can take, the lies we sometimes tell ourselves, and the hope that God is always at work, even in the desert.

Sally John's second book in the Side Roads series is just as compelling a read as the first book in the series.

This book brings out relationships other than just Jill and Jack's marriage. We meet Jill's sister Viv and her husband Marty - and get insight not only into Jill and Viv's relationship but also Viv and Marty's. Then there is Connor, Jill and Jack's son - who has a surprise of his own in store. And of course there Jill's loving relationship with her father Skip and her strained relationship with her mother Daisy.

But I think my favorite relationship in the book is the one that develops between Jill and Agnes, one of the ladies she meets through her sister Viv. Each and every one of us needs an "Agnes" in our lives.

Although the subject matter of a marriage expert going through a divorce is sad and serious, there are plenty of fun detours in the book.



Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Beyond All Measure

Unless she can trust God's love to cast out her fears, Ada may lose the heart of a good man.

Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady's companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada's friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt's primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.

With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.

Dorothy Love's Christian Fiction debut novel is a page turner. Set in the post Civil War era, we follow Ada as she moves from Boston to the back woods of Tennessee. A Northerner moving to the South so shortly after the end of the War faces unique challenges.

We follow Ada as she makes friends and plans for her future. Fighting the feelings of not wanting to be like her father and the heart break of why her fiancee broke off their engagement color her decisions as she attempts to start a business and a relationship.

Wonderful period fiction. Recommended.


Many thanks to BookSneeze for my complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Distant Hours

I discovered Kate Morton a year or so ago and eagerly await each new book that she writes. The Distant Hours did not disappoint.

The book begins in 1992 when a letter written 51 years ago is received by main character Edie Burchill's mother, Meredith. As a child, Meredith was evacuated from London during the war and stayed with a family in Kent. The family of three sisters and their father, lived in a castle in the countryside.

The story moves back and forth between the 1990s and the late 1930s/early 1940s. We learn of the complicated relationship between sisters Percy, Saffy and Juniper and their father Raymond Blythe, a world famous children's book author.

Lush descriptions, rich characters and twists and turns make this a must read book. There were several times that I thought I had it all figured out, only to find that Ms. Morton had a much more satisfying conclusion than anything I had come up with myself.

Highly recommended.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Holy Guacamole

When Trace Domingo is accepted into Chef Bonnie Miller's culinary boot camp, a life-threatening journey into Bonnie's past unfolds. In a vulnerable moment, Trace discovers part of Bonnie's closely-held secret. She hasn't yet decided to trust the "bootie" when a crisis makes the choice for her. The pair embark on a race against the clock across southern California and northern Baja in Mexico.

Laced with local references, historical sites, and culinary delights, Holy Guacamole is a fun summer beach read.

This book by writing team Dan and Denise Harmer is a delicious, light and fun read.

Highly recommended.


Many thanks to Glass Road Public Relations for my complimentary copy of this book.