Friday, October 24, 2014

A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick

A Light in the Wilderness  -     By: Jane Kirkpatrick
A Light in the Wilderness shows again that there are wonderful stories of courage, determination, and strength to be found in the files of our country's many museums and archives.  And Jane Kirkpatrick has made a successful writing career discovering and retelling the mostly unknown stories of some of those women.  In an interview that follows the book, Kirkpatrick talks about the process of writing historical fiction, Research gives her the who, what, where, and when facts.Then she "explore(s) the why and how of their lives."  She also says she likes to choose women who would mostly be seen as "ordinary" so that we, the readers, can put ourselves into their lives, considering, as we read, what we would do in similar circumstances.  Choosing just how many facts to include in her historical fiction is a balancing act; she says readers can be overwhelmed and bored with too many facts, but need enough to capture an authenticity of the time period.  I wholeheartedly concur with her philosophy on historical fiction.  I've read some that is entirely too fluffy and captures nothing of the true time period or the people; I've also read some recently so laden with facts that the essence of the main character is never given a chance to breathe. When I see that Kirkpatrick has written another book, I know I will not be disappointed and that I will learn about another fascinating woman from the past.

In A Light in the Wilderness that woman is Letitia Carson, a free black woman who travels to Oregon with her common law husband in the 1840's.  Knowing that their interracial marriage would not be legally recognized and always fearing that her "free' papers would not be honored in the new territory, Letitia convinced her husband to enter into a contract saying she was paid for her "work" with money, property, and livestock.  That way she felt she would be protected if he would die.  When he does die almost a decade after arriving in Oregon all his belongings and properties are legally seized as they determine who should inherit.  Letitia brings suit against the estate, the first black woman to do so, and the first black woman to have a contract recognized.  Kirkpatrick has done a superb job of filling in those "how" and "why" questions about Letitia and her Irish immigrant husband Davey, basing her narrative on a myriad of documents and sources.  Key to the story are the friendships she made with Nancy, one of the white settlers whose babies she helped deliver and Betsy, a Kalapuya Indian who lived on what would be Davey Carson's homestead, all well documented.  What emerges is a story of a unique marriage and a strong woman who knew the world was against her, but never lost sight of her desire to provide for herself and her children.  I don't if Jane's inclusion of  Charity the cow is historical or not, but it was one of those special details that makes her writing alive with warmth and believability  Jane Kirkpatrick has included historical background about Letitia on her website and she writes more about why she was called to write this book.  I will continue to read Kirkpatrick's books. I have never been disappointed.  I only wish I could hear her speak about all her works.  She has given us a treasure trove of stories from the past..

 I received an ecopy of this title from Netgalley for review purposes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

Myquillyn Smith identifies herself as a nester, someone who has always wanted to provide " a beautiful nest" for her family.  Her popular blog THE NESTING PLACE and now her book share
the secrets of doing just that even when you are in a rental property AND on a very limited budget.
While Myquillyn does share the story of some of her decorating redoes, this is NOT a how to do it book.  It is more a book of encouragement and a sharing of Myquillyn's philosophy.  In 18 years, she and her family (hubby and three sons) have moved 13 times.  Most of the time have been into rentals, and once they were cramped into a small two bedroom condo.  But by finding things of beauty that spoke to her, the author was able to make each place a nest of comfort and love for her family.

When I ordered this book through inter-library loan, I expected a typical coffee table decorating book full of large colored spreads of immaculate rooms.  Right off I was surprised by the smaller book format and the large amount of text, but I was quickly pulled in by Myquillyn's easy flowing narration.  It was like listening to a good friend (despite our age differences) tell about what she loves in her home.  I especially liked the list Top Eleven Reasons Renting is Awesome. My daughter and her little girl recently moved into a two bedroom apartment, even smaller than the small ranch house that had been home.  After reading this book, I so much more appreciate the little things my daughter has done to make that rental place their own.   Each thrift store find is a statement-making treasure.

As I started the book, I quickly looked at the photos, and not seeing the big photo spreads I had expected, I figured I would read a little of the text and then return the book.  But I soon found, that although the author's quirky style of white statuary is not my cup of tea, I loved her writing and her views on making a home both beautiful and comfortable.  I greatly appreciated her focus that we already have what we need, now we just need to acknowledge that and then settle into appreciating our great blessings.  If you're always looking at home decor magazines and wishing your home looked like the model homes on the latest tour of homes, then you need to get this book or check out her blog.  Make sure you read The Imperfectionist Manifesto and also the chapter about her visit to Tanzania.  Soon you'll be looking at your home with new eyes, and while you may not see perfection, you will certainly see beauty.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

About the book: 

The Old Testament Comes to Thrilling Life in the Latest from Lynn Austin
In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king's palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.
When the battles come to an end, Ezra's brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude's widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple---but the fight to keep God's Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges . . . this one for the survival of God's covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: 

Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

Here are all the bloggers reviewing Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
Crystal | Welcome to my world(of reviews)
Tiffany | The Crafty Home
Sydney | Saved By Grace
Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Jennifer | Royal Little Lambs
Bethany | Giveaways of Blessing

Sarah | Growing for Christ
Kristina | Book Club Sisters

Faith | Found a Christian by His Grace
Cassandra | Cassandra M's Place
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Susan | let's eat 2 day

Amanda | Christian Shelf-Esteem
Jennifer | Mother of Three

Victoria | deal sharing aunt
Katie | The Cutting Back Kitchen

Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Carole | The Power of Words
Jake |

Lena | A Christian Writer's World
Joy | Splashes of Joy
Hallie | Book by Book

Mary | Mary's Cup of Tea
Shecki | Greatly Blessed
Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Kim | Window To My World
Jill | Book Review Travels
Kristie | Moments
Becky | Christian Chick's Thoughts
Erin | For Him and My Family

Karen | LyonsLady

Melinda | Living laughing loving
Beth | For The Love of Books

JoJo | JoJo's Corner
Katie | Too Read or Not Too Read

Rachel | Crafts-n-Fitness
Rayleigh | Accelerate The Jesus Movement
Krista | Welcome to Married Life
Nancy | sunny island breezes
Laura | Harvest Lane Cottage
Charity | Giveaway Lady

Pam | Southern Gal Loves to Read
Mark | Thoughts of a Sojourner
Michele | My Blessings From Above
Michelle | Our Little Corner of the World
Lisa | Seeking with all Yur Heart
Lois | The Minister's Wife Stamps and Saves
Renee | Little Homeschool on the Prairie
Linda | Linda's Lunacy
Veronica | Veronica's 'Views

Jennifer | A Peace of Mind
Sally | Proverbial Reads
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Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart

Alena | The Homemade Creative
Beckie | By The Book
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Suzanne | Clicking Her Heels
Amanda | The Talbert Report

Maria | Middle Places
Jamie | Books and Beverages
Amanda | Amanda's Pile of Books

Leticia | My Daily Trek

Amy | A Nest in the Rocks
Mindy | A Room Without Books is Empty
Amanda | inklings and notions
Wendy | Life at Rossmont
Marjorie | The Writer's Tool
Ramona | Create With Joy
Sue | Thoughts from Mill Street

Erika | Serenity Reviews
Madilyn | The Literary Maidens
Vera | Luxury Reading
Taylor | Taylor Reid Reads and Breathes
Andi | Radiant Light


Keepers of the Covenant is the second in THE RESTORATION CHRONICLES SERIES and within a few pages readers will understand why Lynn Austin is considered one of Christian fiction's best authors.  Austin has brought the Old Testament scriptures of the Jewish exiles in Babylonia to life.  When the people receive King Xerxes's decree(crafted by Haman's hand) that on a certain day all Jews are to be wiped out, they feel abandoned by God and hopeless.  When a second decree comes months later saying that the Jewish people may defend themselves, they see that Haman has been replaced by Mordecai, a name they recognize as being Jewish.  Plus they hear rumors that the king has married a Jewish woman. Perhaps God is keeping his promises.  We will recognize this as the story of Esther and her uncle, but what Austin writes is an imagining of how the people are affected by the two decrees.  I especially liked the inclusion of Amina and Sayfah, two Gentile girls whose family has been killed in the bloodshed that occurs on the thirteenth day of Adar.  Both girls, but especially Amina who had a physical deformity, had been mistreated by their father.  Left homeless and vulnerable,   kind grandmotherly Hodaya, herself a Gentile who married into the Jewish faith, takes the girls in and lavishes them with acceptance and love.  Their stories, along with those of Ezra, Devorah, and Reuben bring ancient times to life.  I received a copy of this title from Litfuse for review purposes.  All opinions are mine.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Deceived by Irene Hannon

DeceivedThe death of her husband and young son in a boating accident three years earlier had plummeted Kate Marshall into a depression, Unable to understand why her son's body is never found but his little life jacket is found near the overturned boat, she numbs her pain with too many pills.  Finally, able to pull herself up and rebuild her life as a career counselor to abused women, Kate moves from New York to St. Louis.New friends and a new church help her begin again, until the day she hears a young boy's voice on the escalator and sees  straw blond hair so like her own..  In an instant she calls Kevin's name and the boy turns toward her voice, and then disappears into a crowded store hustled along with by the man at his side. While mall security and local police assume Kate is just seeing what she'd like to believe is her son, the still grieving mother cannot let the sighting go.

Connor Sullivan, former Secret Service agent turned PI, doesn't seem much merit in Kate's case, but her earnest plea and her beauty cause him to start a preliminary investigation.  Soon it appears Kate might be right, her son might be alive.  But how would a boating accident in upper New York state end with the little boy being in St. Louis three years later?  Could the boy be in danger?  And what about Kate herself?

From  the first words of the riveting prologue to the ending scenes,Irene Hannon keeps the suspense high in this novel, mixing it with just enough romance to satisfy those readers expecting both in their novels.  I liked that this tale did not bounce back and forth across settings and wild chases. Instead, little bits of new information build, never enough to give us a complete picture, but enough to stir apprehension and unease.  Despite its length at just under 400 pages, I rushed through this puzzling tale, wanting to make my way to the conclusion.  I received a copy of DECEIVED from Revell Publishing for review purposes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tea with Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg

Tea with Grandpa   As I quickly ran into our library last week, this book sitting on top of the children's shelves caught my eye.  Since our 3 (almost 4) year old granddaughter was coming for the weekend, I thought this would be a great book to share. I turned around and checked it out, knowing that sometime during the weekend the doll dishes would be out. Grandpa (my hubby) made a kid's kitchen out of a revamped desk/bookcase unit and all the grandkids like to play restaurant with it.  (See older posting for photos of the kitchen).  Lizzie is still young enough that she sometimes simply wants to play tea party.

She did get time to play in the kitchen over the weekend -- with her cousins, then with her mom, and later with me.  I'm not sure if she ever did have "tea" with grandpa, but we did find time to read this cute book.  Every day at half past three the grandpa and the little girl have afternoon tea, a loving ritual filled with love and laughter.  The soft illustrations clearly show that both enjoy their time together.  Seems to be a simple story of an age old tradition of a grandparent making a special spot in their day for  a youngster.  Only when I reached near the end of the book and the little girl says she can't reach her muffin across the table to the grandpa, did I realize that each single page spread shows only one person at a time, either the girl or the grandpa.  Then clearly on the last page, as the little girl reminds her grandpa that they will meet again tomorrow at half past three do you see that she is at the table in her house talking to her grandpa via video chat as he sits at his table far away.  I smiled as Lizzie came to this page because we've been video chatting (skyping) with her since she was two!
We've never played any games with her via skype, but certainly could try.  Like many other grandparents across the world, video chatting is one technology that actually brings loved ones closer.  Barney Saltzberg has done a wonderful job of capturing that closeness with his simple rhyme and pastel drawings.  If you have a little one that you chat with, maybe you can find this book and share it -- or just share some tea across the distance.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dead Tease by Victoria Houston

When I finished DEAD LIL' HUSTLER by Victoria Houston last month, I made a check of her website to see if I had missed any of her books and found that I had not read DEAD  TEASE.  Within a couple days of placing an online request through WPLC (Wisconsin Public Library Consortium) I had notice that the book was ready to download on my Nook.  Like the other Loon Lake mysteries,
Police Chief Lewellyn "Lew" Ferris calls on Dr. Paul "Doc" Osborne to help solve an unsolved crime, a task made more difficult by the remoteness of their small Northern Wisconsin town, its small police force and even smaller budget.  Jennifer Williams, graphic artist for Midwest Medical Clinic, is found dead outside her condo.  John McNeill, CEO of the clinic, knows he has had nothing to do with the young woman's death, but is anxious that others may know about his recent affair with Jen.  He is also troubled that his wife keeps insisting that someone is lurking outside their lakeside home, always when he is away.  Could what he has been calling her imagination be an actual threat?

Over the multiple Loon Lake books, Houston has successfully built up both Lew and Paul's characters, giving credibility to their deepening relationship despite an obvious difference in age.  In this volume, we get a peak into Paul's old life -- a tenuous balancing act of work, pleasing his wife, and fitting into the social culture of Loon Lake's well to do.  Also, we see a new side of Paul as a caring, but slightly overwhelmed, grandfather of a teenage girl. 

While some Houston mysteries may be a little short on tension and suspense, I was never sure of the villain until the very last scene of DEAD TEASE.  Well done, Houston.  And Chief Ferris and Dr. Osborne definitely deserve some fishing time on the water.  

Dead Tease Book Cover