Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

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The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her, this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city—the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village—all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

I have to say that this book was compelling - but it was also disturbing.

The writing and the descriptions were enough to make you feel like you were there - but I can't imagine why anyone would want to be there.

The life Ruby lived was horrendous. But the pure, unselfish love that Ephram shows is incredible. For the majority of the book, Ruby is considered to be crazy - and who could blame her with what she went through. There are glimpses of sanity and in those times, there was hope.

I suppose the thing that is the hardest to deal with is that these types of things actually did happen.

As compelling as the book was - I really would not recommend it.


This book was given to me for my honest review by the Blogging for Books program.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Joy To The World by Scott Hahn

What could be more familiar than the Christmas story -- and yet what could be more extraordinary? The cast of characters is strange and exotic: shepherds and magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. The strangeness calls for an explanation, and this book provides it by examining the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context. Bestselling author Scott Hahn who has written extensively on Scripture and the early Church, brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story. Christmas, as it appears in the New Testament, is the story of a father, a mother, and a child -- their relationships, their interactions, their principles, their individual lives, and their common life. To see the life of this "earthly trinity" is to gaze into heaven.

This book begins with a trip to the Holy Land with his family and how the trip affected his daughter Hannah. She was particularly taken with an orphanage they visited. Fitting as they had just left the cave where Jesus was born.

The book is presented in chapters about different views. The differences between the Gospels tellings of the story. The magi, the angels, Mary and Joseph. The killing of the babies by Herod. He discusses genealogy and the different people involved in the story.

Very well written, in depth information that brings the Joy of it all to the celebration.


My copy of this book was provided by Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Post Card by Laura V. Hilton

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David Lapp (from Promised to Another) survived a "code blue" when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he's developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds temporary work in the area teaching school, and also makes fishing flies and weaves baskets. He sells his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.

Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Mark Graber, but wonders if there's more to life. When she sees David's name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he's in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he's called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?

I didn't realize, when I received this book, that it was the second in a series. But I have read enough of these types of books to pick up on different things that were said that led me to believe I wasn't at the beginning. But the book is still wonderful even if you don't know the back story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read a lot of Amish fiction - it's probably my favorite type of fiction. The culture of a slower paced life, focusing more on family and God - and of course the quilting! - draw me in. There are many different branches of the Amish community and I love reading how different authors portray the different communities. This story showed a difference that I have seldom seen explored - the idea that some Amish do not subscribe strictly to the Ordnung and the belief that the Bishop and the Pastors dictate what parts of the Bible are not to be followed. I loved that David and a few other characters (don't want to give any spoilers here) knew that they could be saved.

There were a couple of other reveals - that might not have been reveals if I had read the first book - that I wasn't sure where leading to where they led.

The characters where great - flawed but lovable. Some you just wanted to pray for because you knew they were wrong about things. And the descriptions - during the snow storm I wanted to get up and cover up with a quilt!

Highly recommended - whether you read the first book first or not - although I will be looking for that book shortly. And I will definitely be keeping my eye out for a follow up book to this one.


Thanks to Laura V. Hilton for providing me with this book for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

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When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliqu├ęd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

I simply love the Quilts of Love series. I have read at least ten of them and have not had a single one I didn't enjoy - so I was terribly upset to see that they are stopping the series at 25!

This book was just as good as every other one in the series. Set on the Big Island and using lots of Hawia'an terms (with a glossary in the back) and offering lush descriptions of the area, you felt like you were right there.

Twists and turns and some surprises I admit I didn't see coming made this a quite enjoyable book.

Highly recommended.


Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson

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Despite her spoiled upbringing, twenty-year-old Lenore Fulcher isn't pretentious. She simply believes a marriage should be built on true love. Her father, however, thinks she's wasted enough time searching for the perfect husband. He wants to marry her off to one of his business partners--who is seventeen years her senior--an idea that is out of the question for Lenore.

Kolbein Booth, a young lawyer from Chicago, arrives in Seattle looking for his headstrong sister, who he believes may have answered an advertisement for mail-order brides. Sick with worry, he storms into the Madison Bridal School, demanding to see his sister, only to learn she isn't there. But Lenore Fulcher is, and something about her captures his attention.

Is this the man Lenore has been searching for? She may not have long to find out...

I always enjoy Tracie Peterson's books and anxiously looked forward to this one. But I struggled to get interested in it. The main characters, per the synopsis, are Kolbein and Lenore but the book seemed to be more about Abrianna. But other than that, I just could not get involved with these characters. I can't put my finger on what I didn't care for but it just didn't pull me in.


My copy of this book was generously provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

You Can, You Will by Joel Osteen

 Product Details

In this New York Times bestsellerJoel Osteen shares eight undeniable qualities of winners that can help you to reach your potential and achieve new levels of success in your life. You are created to be a winner. Get these eight principles deep down on the inside and boldly go in the direction of your destiny. 

Positive and inspirational - which pretty much sums up Joel Osteen himself - also sum up the tone of this book. With chapters like:

  1. Keep Your Vision in Front of You - Dare to dream big dreams.
  2. Run Your Race - Focus on your unique course and goals.
  3. Expect Good Things - Anticipate great opportunities.
  4. Have a Positive Mind-set - Take control of your thoughts and attitudes.
  5. Commit to Excellence - Do your best and maintain high standards.
  6. Keep Growing - Be proactive, be intentional, build on your gifts, and continually improve.
  7. Serve Others - Invest yourself in others.
  8. Stay Passionate - Light the fire within and approach life with enthusiasm.

 You can see the direction he takes in this book. Take your good qualities and build them up and use them to improve yourself and help others.

 Apply these principles to your life and see how you can grow and expand and reach the goals you are striving for.


My copy of this book was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review by Hatchette Book Group.  

Good Health, Good Life by Joyce Meyer

 Product Details

To do the work we are meant to do, our bodies need to stay in shape. In this compact read Joyce Meyer presents her twelve-key plan to address the "self esteem drought" which perpetuates the habits that cause poor health. As she explores each of the twelve keys for good health, she offers five methods for improving our physical and spiritual wellness.

This little book is divided into 12 sections making it perfect for a year long plan.

I decided to read through all the chapters - one a day and then go back and spend a month focusing on each individual chapter.

The topics include Get God's Help, Learn to Love Your Body, Exercise, Water Your Life, etc. All things geared toward helping you make changes that will enhance the body that God has given you.

Very helpful and enlightening.


My copy of this book was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review by Hatchette Book Group.