Monday, January 12, 2015

The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

 The 13th Gift    

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

I can't say enough what a touching, moving story this was.

It was, in a way, bittersweet for me. My kids and I were celebrating our first Christmas "without" their father, my husband. But he did not die - he just decided to leave. The parallels were similar - but not the same. How do you celebrate one of the biggest holidays - which isn't just a "holiday" but a "season" when this year is so different from all the ones before it?

Mrs. Smith and some members of her family just didn't want to celebrate. I took a different path and decided that we would keep some traditions that we didn't want to give up and make others based on where we felt our life was at that point. And, in the end, that's pretty much what the Smith family did.

The journey from the first gift to the last brought many different reactions - from the initial gift that Mrs. Smith wanted nothing to do with to the gifts that brought eager anticipation. The difference the gifts made in every member of the family, from Megan who was "in" from the first gift, to the boys who came along as the presents made more of an impact, there was a journey through the sadness to the acceptance that things, while they would never be the same, would be okay.

Fabulous reading - and it will be a holiday staple that I will read again and again.

Highly recommended.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Most Inconvient Marriage by Regina Jennings

A Most Inconvenient Marriage

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.
With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.
After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?
 A great light hearted read - full of fun and twists and turns. Hard to put down and totally enjoyable.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up and read it.
This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonson Falcones  

Spain, 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wandering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When, by chance, she meets Milagros Carmona—a spellbinding, rebellious gypsy—the two women become inseparable. Caridad is swept into an exotic fringe society full of romance and art, passion and dancing.

But their way of life changes instantly when gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate and their world as a free people becomes perilous. The community is split up—some are imprisoned, some forced into hiding, all fearing for their lives. After a dangerous separation, Caridad and Milagros are reunited and join in the gypsies’ struggle for sovereignty against the widespread oppression. It’s a treacherous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won.

From the bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is an unforgettable historical fresco filled with characters that live, suffer, and fight for the lives of those they love, and for the freedom they can’t live without.

This is a very well researched, thought out and well written book - but there was too much violence against women for my liking.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jesus Daily by Aaron Tabor, MD

Based on the major themes found on the most active Facebook page in history, JESUS DAILY is a 365-day interactive devotional that goes beyond even the fan page to create a deeper experience and cultural movement that celebrates your redemption in Christ. JESUS DAILY presents a devotional thought but also challenges you to respond to each daily reflection using a variety of social media tools.

JESUS DAILY is a worldwide revolution in how you can connect, share, and worship the Father personally and with other believers.

Great little book with a Bible verse, short devotional and daily interaction designed to help you connect to others via social media for each day of the year. It's a quick read to give you some encouragement and set your feet on the path for the day.

The wonderful people at the Hatchette Book Group, who graciously supplied me with my copy of this book, are also giving a copy of the book and a great t-shirt to one lucky winner here on my blog. They will only be able to extend this offer to US readers. Please leave a comment and I'll pick a name next Monday, December 8th.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Unveiled Wife

About a month ago, a friend recommended this devotional to me. I went over and looked at the website and thought, gee, maybe not. You see, my husband and I are having very, very bad marital problems. Ok, let's be honest. He moved out. Told me he doesn't love me anymore and doesn't want to be married to me anymore.

But the thing is, I still love him and I'm still committed to our marriage. So I figured, I'll read the devotional and see what it has to say - what can it hurt, right?

I simply cannot believe how God has moved through Jennifer Smith to meet me where I am. Each day, I get her devotionals by email and almost every single day, she's talking about something I'm struggling with.

For example, one day when I felt particularly angry with my husband for leaving, Jennifer's devotion was on Forgiving My Husband. When trying to understand how my husband was feeling and why he choose to leave, there was a devotional on When Expectations Cripple A Marriage. When my husband told me he never felt like I supported him, there was a devotion on Working Together.

This devotional is wonderful for women who are in a stable marriage - and I have recommended it to many of my friends who are. But it is also wonderful for women who are in a floundering marriage. There is encouragement and almost a "how to" guide for making changes for the future.

Of course my prayer is that my husband will allow me a chance to show him how much I love him and how I can change and make our marriage a success with a second chance. But even if he doesn't these devotionals are a wonderful guide for how I can pray for him - and myself.

For more information on this wonderful devotional click here.

To buy a copy for yourself, click here

Highly recommended.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller

In the clay-rich hills of the newly founded state of West Virginia, two families tentatively come together to rebuild a war-torn brickmaking business.

Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it's Ewan's job to get the company up and running again.

Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he'll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work is put in jeopardy. As his hopes for the future crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. Can she help him save the brickworks, and will Ewan finally get a shot at winning her heart?

Lots of historical details, flawed but loveable characters and a "will they or won't they" plot line make for a great read.

Focusing on a few characters who have come from Ireland, who of course face the struggles of prejudice as newcomers from another country right after the Civil War, when the United States are still struggling with the after effects - including the death of Laura's father - of the war, we get to see the difficulties of traveling far from home to make a new start.

And those here in the States are making a new start too. Can everyone work together and further a lasting and enduring company?


Many thanks to Bethany House for my copy of this book.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Love Undone

A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

An exceptional novel of love that must be denied. But what do you do, when everything you do to put distance between yourself and the one you love but can't have, fails to remove the longing from your heart?

Cindy has written so many of my favorite "Amish" fiction books. Her characters are flawed but lovable and her descriptions are lush and vivid.

I love that Cindy brings her characters from one book to another - sometimes as a minor plot line and sometimes just as a name dropped in passing - each book feels like a little bit of home.

You can click here for more information about the book.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."