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Showing posts from 2014

Book Review: Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund (3.5 stars, 2014)

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Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story takes place in 1859, on Presque Isle, Michigan. With their steamboat under attack by fresh-water pirates, Emma Chamber and her brother Ryan jump overboard into the frigid waters of Lake Huron, praying for a miracle. Neither of them believe strongly in miracles anymore, ever since their mother died of starvation in Ireland and their father passed away after doing whatever was necessary for them to survive, including theft which then led him to drink. But lighthouse keeper Patrick Garraty spotted the sinking steamboat from his perch and rushes to save whoever he can, meaning Ryan and Emma. Befuddled by the loss of their passage, once again nearly penniless, Ryan must work locally in order to earn enough for their passage on a new ship, work which will take him at least a few months. Emma is left to her own devices, saddened that her brother is once again saddled with her as a burden, that is until Patrick Garraty and the …

Book to Movie: Thoughts on "Stand by Me" (1986) and the original short story "The Body" by Stephen King

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I know what you're thinking. What in the world is she doing reading a Stephen King story? Well, push your eyeballs back in your head and hear me out before you run shrieking from my blog. I have a very . . . liberal approach to literature. I have enjoyed many a story than most Christians make the sign of the cross over. That's just me, it's who I am, and while I'm not swayed by the stories, I do find them an intriguing psychological look at humanity. Know your enemy, so they say, not that I view Stephen King as my enemy, although I'm sure of my readers must disagree on that point.

No, what I'm saying is that I first encountered The Body not through King, but through the film Stand by Me that they based off his short story. I didn't even realize it was one of Stephen King's stories until I reached the end and did some online research. I had no clue. What you're probably wondering now is, what in the world is this story about other than a body? It…

Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin (2014, 4 stars)

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Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People familiar with scripture are most likely also familiar with the story of Esther, how she saved the Jews from being slaughtered by approaching the king when he had not called for her. Keepers of the Covenant approach the story from a different angle, this time through the eyes and experiences of Ezra, a devout man of God from the same era. Ezra lives through the attack upon the Jews, because remember that while the king proclaimed the Jews could defend themselves, he could not undo the permission already given for them to be attacked. So there was an attack on the 13th day of the 12th month, and Ezra, usually a scholar, fought alongside his brothers, defending his people from their enemies. Fast-forward at least a dozen years and we have Ezra asking the new king's permission for the Jews to leave for Jerusalem, their promised land, so they may worship as instructed in the Torah. This story really is about Ezra and…

Book Review: The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (2014, 5 stars)

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The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a mysterious manuscript from the forbidden slush mountain arrives on book editor Jen Gibbs' desk in New York, she knows she should put it right back where it obviously came from. That enormous mountain of paper in the conference room is absolutely forbidden to touch, and here she has a piece of it. A significant piece of it as it turns out because once Jen starts reading the decades old manuscript called The Story Keeper by an unknown writer, she is hooked. Not only because of the poignant tale of Rand and Sarra in the Appalachian mountains as they try to escape the evils of men in the 1880s, but also because she is reminded, strongly, of her own ties to the Appalachians, her painful childhood that she escaped at the tender age of 18 and has done everything possible to forget. With the blessing of George Vida, head of Vida Publishing House, Jen heads back to the place she thought she had left behind forever, Looking Gla…

Book Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton (2014)

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The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Western North Carolina, 1787 - Tamsen Littlejohn knows that her life is destined to be aligned with whatever man her stepfather deems suitable, that is, the man who can socially advance him the farthest in society. When her stepfather's latest attempt at matchmaking runs awry, leaving Tamsen with a bitter taste in her mouth as she watches Ambrose Kincaid backhand his slave, Tamsen rushes to the consoling arms of her mother. Her stepfather, Hezekiah Parish, changes her world forever in a horrific act of violence, leaving Tamsen desperate to escape. Little did she expect that the young man she encountered in the barn one night during her first escape attempt, Jesse Bird, would this time assist her escape plans instead of foil them as he had unwittingly done before. On the run, Tamsen has no choice but to trust this stranger who now holds her life in his very capable hands.

Jesse Bird always suspected that when l…

Book Review: The Giftsnatcher by Charity Bishop (2014)

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The Giftsnatcher by Charity Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alana and her sister Irina make their living pretending to be witches in Victorian London. And it is partially true, except that "witchcraft" for Alana is actually a talent, a spiritual gift as it were, the gift of being able to take the spiritual gifts, or talents, of others. She collects them, hoards them, and sells them sometimes for a profit or gives the gifts of others away. Her life, in its own way, is peaceful and mundane until Lord Tremaine steps through the door with his grandson, desperately trying to find a way to put the pieces of Edgar's tattered magic back together. Alana never imagines that agreeing to find a magic strong enough to heal Edgar's brokenness will lead her down a dark path of evil shades leaping at her from corners, or that she would ever encounter Dr. Joseph Bell, a hunter whose spiritual gift is to fight the evil of the world. The more Alana discovers about Edgar's family, th…

Book Review: The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund (2010)

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The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Whitbread desires to be of profound service to her family, her neighbors, and to her Lord. So when Sister Costin dies soon after the birth of her 4th child, Elizabeth's heart breaks, not only for the babe, but for the husband and three small children left behind. This being a strict, Puritan society during 1650s England, Elizabeth is bound by the laws of her town and make an unfortunate enemy of Mrs. Grew, a powerhouse of female influence upon her husband, Alderman Grew because Elizabeth refuses to back away from helping the Costin infant, even at Mrs. Grew's insistence. The babe, Thomas, struggles to survive, and it is only through the wet nursing of a woman of debatable character is he able to grow strong, all due to Elizabeth's influence and compassion for the family.

As for the husband, John Costin, he grieves the loss of his precious wife, Mary, but focuses all the harder upon his calling from …

Book Review: With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden (2014)

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With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is the year 1891 and tuberculosis has become one of the major causes of death in America. For doctor/researcher Trevor McDonough, this is unacceptable. Ever since he entered the medical profession, he has pondered and planned ways to defeat this dreadful disease, to the point where he has gained funding for his own research wing of a local hospital in Washington, D.C. Only the patients with tuberculosis in their blood as well as in their lungs are accepted, and he knows that he cannot save any of them and so do they, but his research for a cure could potentially save the lives of countless others.

In need of an assistant to calculate and tabulate his findings, Trevor decides to hire Kate Livingston, the girl who challenged him every step of way during their school years, who was equally as smart as him in many respects, and who lost a college scholarship to him upon their graduation. Needless to say, Kate is not necessar…

Book Review: Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell (2013, 3 stars)

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Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Lucy Kendall's life, all should be perfect, but it's just not. She wants to be involved in her father's candy company, especially now that his health is failing so dreadfully, but he wanted her to have better opportunities, and her mother is most insistent that Lucy become a lady and marry well instead. The notion doesn't seem so bad when she meets a charming young man entirely by chance and then keeps him encountering him. At least, he seems an ideal choice for her esteem until she discovers that his name is Charlie Clark and he is, in fact, the son of the man who stole her father's original candy company that makes Royal Taffy and has profited mightily from it.

Charlie himself is drawn to Lucy more deeply than he imagined possible. Having only recently joined the father who left him, his mother, and siblings in the lurch so many years ago, Charlie is unfamiliar with the animosity and rivalry between the Kendal…

Classics Club Spin Read: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)

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This is actually the very first book I read for my Classics Club challenge. It's delightful to feel that I've gotten started on this project, finally, after 8 months of having no interest in beginning. So it was probably providential that I began with a book I had never read and really had no knowledge about. I not only read the book, but also went out of my way to watch the film adaptation for I Capture the Castle from 2003, so I will also include a write-up about the movie at the end of this post.

For the uninformed, this story is essentially the journal of a young 17-year-old girl named Cassandra Mortmain and takes place sometime in the 1930s. Cassandra has inherited her father's gift for prose, but unlike him, she does not suffer from writer's block. Her family lives in a castle but are actually the poorest of the families in the area, to say nothing of being a bit odd. Her father, a man who goes by his surname, wrote exactly one book in his life, Jacob Wrestling, a…

Book Review: Fair Play by Deeanne Gist (2014)

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Fair Play by Deeanne Gist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dr. Billy Jack Tate isn't your ordinary doctor. In fact, "he" is actually a she, named after two her grandfathers. She has fought and clawed her way up in a profession dominated almost solely by men in 1893, so it is a godsend when she is asked to do the doctoring at the Women's Building at the Chicago World's Fair. Her clientele of patients is almost nill so she is desperate for a regular income. What she didn't expect was the pig-headed Columbian guard, Hunter Scott, to start pestering her. On loan to the fair from the Texas Rangers, Hunter Scott is a tough man with traditional views about the role of women in society. He can't let Billy walk home alone at night, and when he finds an abandoned infant at the Women's Building, Hunter starts imagining what life might be like with Billy as his wife and lots of little babies to care for. Except that she refuses to give up doctoring and he refuses to give …

The Classics Club Spin

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So, I joined The Classics Club several months ago and have yet to read a single classic. This might be as good a time as any to start. The spin works with me choosing 20 books from My List and labeling them as 1 to 20. I will do as the challenge suggests and pick 5 that I'm reticent to read, 5 that I'm dying to read, 5 that I'm neutral about, and 5 that will be re-reads for me. It seems that the challenge is sort of a 3 week per book reading schedule, which shouldn't be too hard to stick to.

The first spin is #17, which I looked up only after I created this list. I'm quite neutral about I Capture the Castle so we'll see how I like it. I have no opinion whatsoever going in!

Bunyan, John: The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) Dumas, Alexandre: The Man in the Iron Mask (1850) Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter (1850)* Dickens, Charles: Little Dorrit (1857)James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady (1881)Pyle, Howard: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883)*   Wilde, O…

Book Review: Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke (2014)

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My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is the year 1939 and American, albeit German-born, Rachel Kramer visits Germany once again with her adopted father. It is a regular trip, every 2 years, for her to have a harmless check-up from the doctors at the Institute. Even though she is now a full-grown woman, the check-ups must continue and so, reticent though she may be, Rachel agrees to this trip, not having the heart to refuse her father. But this Germany is not the Germany of her youth. The black spider is everywhere, plastered on flags flying from almost every building, and the SS officers acquainted with her father prattle on about eugenics and purity of race. Yes, her father works in eugenics and has for as long as she can remember, but there is something different about the discussions now that make Rachel nervous. Talk of one race being more valued than another set pings of concern through her brain, but it is only when she Rachel speaks with her oldest childhood friend, Kristine, that she t…

Book Review: Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black (Wars of the Realm #1)

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Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For college boy Drew Carter, the world will never be normal again. When he and his friend Ben begin experimenting with a machine that can help a person perceive the world at faster than the speed of light, Drew sees something he never anticipated, an enormous, malevolent creature who is like a man, but not like a man, all at the same time. When the Lasok machine, a device invented by Ben's physics mentor, explodes, Drew finds himself blinded and his friend injured. Against all odds, his sight returns slowly, but he has been changed by the explosion. His senses are heightened, his instincts sharp, his reactions swift and sure, and now he can see these beings without the aid of the Lasok machine. By studying these creatures, the Invaders as he calls them, Drew realizes there are two kinds, the dark ones who influence evil thoughts in men and are usually capable of turning those thoughts to action, and then the light ones, who…

Book Review: Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings (2014)

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Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anne Tillerton, a buffalo hunter who wears men's clothes, finds herself tracking down a runaway cook to Garber, Texas, successfully thwarting a train robbery/murder in the process. What she didn't expect is that she would actually know the man she saved from a lifetime ago. Or that she would end up caring for the cook, Tessa's infant son when she heads off into the great-unknown with her latest paramour. Anne is stuck with a baby in a strange town and the only chance for a job comes from Nick Lovelace, the man from the train, who would like it very much if she would please consider wearing a dress to the office. Anne's life isn't easy, at least compared with Nick's, but if there is one thing Anne does well it's make other people think outside their comfort zone. And Nick finds himself questioning his motivations. He builds railroads, yes, but how far is he willing to bend his conscience to plea…

Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert (2014)

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Katie Ganshert's newest novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful hits stores on April 15th, 2014.

Author's Website
Read Chapter One


It is the story of Ivy Clark, a ravishingly beautiful young woman of a hard upbringing. She is the daughter of an adulterer and his mistress, and the one thing she always wanted but could never attain was her father's love. Not even the affection lavishing on her every summer by her father's wife, Marilyn, could make the ache go away. He didn't want her. Never wanted her. So, when the opportunity arises for her to start modeling with her father's brother, Bruce, as her agent, she takes it. Her mother is dead and apart from foster homes, she has little choice, entering the world of modeling as a young teenager and never looking back. She learns the walk, the talk, and puts every ounce of her womanhood to use in manipulating men and making a name for herself in the modeling community.

But now Ivy is getting old. She's nearly 25, a death …

Book Review: Life Support (Grace Medical #3) by Candace Calvert

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Life Support by Candace Calvert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers familiar with the series have already met the affectionate Lauren Barclay inRescue Team, the 2nd book in the Grace Medical series by Candace Calvert. Lauren always puts other people's needs before her own, to the detriment of her own relationships and happiness. It is a part of her genetic makeup, and it is strongest when troubles pop up in the life of her younger sister, Jessica. When Lauren's parents need her to keep an eye on Jess while they head off to Colorado for family business, Laurence has little choice. She leaves Austen for Houston and takes up residence at Houston Grace Medical. Between the jitters she gets whenever she encounters Eli Landry, local PA and friend to Jessica, and the constricting fear that Jessica might have one of her extreme "lows," Lauren is torn more ways than she can count. Especially when Eli starts sneaking his way into her heart, not hard to do since he's a loving a…

Book Review: Death by the Book by Julianna Deering (2014)

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Death by the Book by Julianna Deering
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is 1932 and only a few months have passed since the events that turned Drew Farthering's peaceful existence on its head. All he wants now is to convince Madeline, the love of his life, to marry him. Unfortunately for Drew, life throws another wrench in his plans, both by dropping off Madeline's aged, incredibly stubborn aunt on his doorstep as well as a new string of murders that connect to people Drew either knows personally, or knows of through a friend. Drew struggles with Aunt Ruth's disdain and mistrust of his intentions towards her niece, just as he is also dragged back into solving mysteries with the local constabulary. The last thing he anticipated was that the murders, people left slaughtered with a hat pin stuck into their chest bearing a note in Shakespearean script, would slowly creep ever closer to his home. Just as life was returning to normal, mayhem erupts again and Drew must find a solution b…