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: http://ow.ly/C7ss8

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
10/1/2014
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

10/2/2014
Sarah | Growing for Christ
Kristina | Book Club Sisters

10/3/2014
Faith | Found a Christian by His Grace
Cassandra | Cassandra M's Place
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Susan | let's eat 2 day

10/5/2014
Amanda | Christian Shelf-Esteem
Jennifer | Mother of Three

10/6/2014
Victoria | deal sharing aunt
Katie | The Cutting Back Kitchen

10/7/2014
Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Carole | The Power of Words
Jake | JakeLeonard.me

10/9/2014
Lena | A Christian Writer's World
Joy | Splashes of Joy
Hallie | Book by Book

10/10/2014
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

10/11/2014
Karen | LyonsLady

10/12/2014
Melinda | Living laughing loving
Beth | For The Love of Books

10/13/2014
JoJo | JoJo's Corner
Katie | Too Read or Not Too Read

10/14/2014
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

10/15/2014
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

10/16/2014
Jennifer | A Peace of Mind
Sally | Proverbial Reads
Marissa | The Review Stew
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart

10/17/2014
Alena | The Homemade Creative
Beckie | By The Book
Victor |Vic's Media Room
Suzanne | Clicking Her Heels
Amanda | The Talbert Report

10/18/2014
Maria | Middle Places
Linda | FAITHFUL ACRES BOOKS
Jamie | Books and Beverages
Amanda | Amanda's Pile of Books

10/19/2014
Leticia | My Daily Trek

10/20/2014
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

10/21/2014
Erika | Serenity Reviews
Madilyn | The Literary Maidens
Vera | Luxury Reading
Taylor | Taylor Reid Reads and Breathes
Andi | Radiant Light

MY REVIEW

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt

Clayton Fincannon (Finn) and Eden Valmont are both idealistic young adults when they meet at Pepperdine University.  Both have volunteered at orphanages across the world, both value knowledge, and have goals to further their educations in literature and art.  Despite only knowing each other for a few months, they have become inseparable and Finn is not surprised when Eden asks him to accompany her back to Colorado to visit her family.  When she disappears from the campus the following week, leaving behind a note that she does not want Finn to pursue her, he cannot understand what has gone wrong.  As readers we learn about Finn's attempt to overcome his heartbreak the same way that Eden eventually learns -- by reading the book Finn published, a sort of memoir which tells of his decade of philanthropic work in Africa, his close relationship with his aging grandfather, and his continued love for the lost Eden.  A phone call from a former roommate with news about Finn's book and an upcoming college homecoming event propel Eden into facing all she left behind all those years earlier.  While I am accustomed to stories that shift from present time to flashbacks or earlier stories, Lingerfelt's use of the memoir to give us the earlier story is unique.

I have to admit the title The Mason Jar and all those "homey, old -fashioned" connotations we have attached to those simple glass vessels is what drew me to this book. In the end, I am not sure I was satisfied with its purpose in the story.  Finn and his grandfather left letters for each other in a the simple jar, and while those letters are key to underlying themes of the story, I never felt the jar was anything but a writer's device.  And while the character Finn expresses some very valid views on helping third world countries and the benefits of micro-lending throughout the story, I saw Finn and Eden less as fictional characters in a believable love story.  Instead, I began to think I was reading a parable, allegory or moral story.  While I can't give Lingerfelt's debut novel a full 5 star, two thumbs up rating, I see a developing talent and he wisely has woven an intriguing thread of a second novel Alabama Irish into this first book.  I may be curious enough to give that a try.  I received a copy of this title form Litfuse and the publisher for my honest review.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Butterflies, bugs, and flowers - A Happy quilt for a special 4 year old's birthday.

My daughter and I talked late summer about my sewing a quilt for Lizzie's twin bed in their new apartment.  We wanted something that she'd like for more than a short time, yet something that was young, fun, and bright.  Lizzie loves a series of books about butterfly girl and likes butterflies in general, so we decided that would be the focus if we could find suitable fabric.  Both Olivia and I looked online and started emailing links to photos and websites back and forth.  One day I stopped at a nearby quilt shop, The Welcome Home, in Portage, WI and my eyes traveled to bolts of the HAPPY BLOSSOMS collection -- butterflies, flowers, and bugs abounded.  Although I didn't have a pattern in mind, and I didn't know how I could incorporate the large flower pot panels (too small to be one center piece, but too large to be fussy cut sections of a block), I still knew this was the right fabric.  I purchased what I thought I would need and came home and started to sketch out a plan.
When I started to sew, I made some adjustments and did need to get some extra yardage of one print.
To off set the three printed flower pot panels, I created similar sized panels of fussy cut flowers and butterflies.  These six blocks, sewed together, made the center of the quilt.  They were echo quilted, while the rest of the quilt was quilted with large looping swirls.  I actually made the quilt in three large sections, quilted each one, and then put them together with strips, similar to those used in Marguerita McManus's quilt as you go method.  Quilters will understand all those details.

When I first thought about making this quilt I imagined a more traditional quilt with smaller blocks, but I soon saw that this large blocked, happy print is just right to brighten up Lizzie's room.  With her pastel green dresser and her favorite toys, it is a special space.  I was so happy to get this finished in time for the early birthday party we had for her this weekend with her cousins.



 If you look closely you can see some of the echo quilting.
The blue blocks are pieced, while the flower pots are small paneled prints.
The coral strips are the "Finish as you go" strips that join quilt sections.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Life is just too busy!

I was supposed to review THE MASON JAR by JAMES RUSSELL LINGERFELT  today, but I have asked for an extension from Litfuse because I simply have not had time to read much over the past couple weeks.  The last few days I have been trying to finish a special quilt for a very special granddaughter for her fourth birthday.  Today, I finished it!  Yeah! We are having a combination birthday party/early Thanksgiving tomorrow.  When the festivities are over, next week I plan to put my feet up and read!!  So I will be posting that review sometime next week.  For now, here is some publicity about the book.

About the book: 

What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she's ever read? "But," she said, "it's about you." The author is your college ex.
In The Mason Jar, Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather's desk---letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark debutante from Colorado. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she leaves, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.
Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the young woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar.
A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who wrote a book about her, and a reunion they never imagined.
Written for the bruised and broken, The Mason Jar is an inspirational romance that brings hope to people who have experienced disappointment in life due to separation from loved ones. With a redemptive ending that encourages us to love again and written in the fresh, romantic tones of Nicholas Sparks, The Mason Jar interweaves the imagery of Thoreau with the adventures and climatic family struggles common to Dances with WolvesA River Runs Through It, and Legends of the Fall
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/C52aq

About the author: 

James Russell Lingerfelt is the author of The Mason Jar and writes articles forThe Huffington Post. James connects with readers at his blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective, and divides his time between Southern California and his family's ranch in Alabama.

Find James online: website,FacebookTwitter




Here are the other bloggers who are reviewing THE MASON JAR.  Check out their blogs for their opinions.

10/1/2014
Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Elisha | Rainy Day Reviews
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Suzanne | Clicking Her Heels
Carrie | Farming On Faith
10/2/2014
Caroilne | Happy Four
Brooke | i blog 4 books
Rebekah | Caffeinated Christian Raves - N - Reviews
10/3/2014
Cristi | Cristi's Reviews
Erika | Serenity Reviews
Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Crystal | krystlbears Corner
Kay | Kaisy Daisy's Corner
Margaret | The World As I See It
10/4/2014
Faith | Found a Christian by His Grace
Angela | Griperang's Bookmarks
10/5/2014
Paige | Electively Paige
Victoria | deal sharing aunt
Katrina | Life With Katie
Lindsey | The IE Mommy
10/6/2014
Holly | 2 Kids
Angela | A Busy Mom of Two
Beth | for the love of books
Lis Ann | The Indigo Quill
Faye | Labor Not in Vain
Tressa | Wishful Endings
10/7/2014
Ruth | Composed By Grace
Rachel | Crafts-n-Fitness
Jamie | Books and Beverages
Melina | Melina's Book Blog
Colleen | A Madison Mom
Jennifer | Jen's Journey
10/8/2014
Lisa | Living Echoes
Beckie | By The Book
Ruth | This That and the Other Thing
Lena | A Christian Writer's World
Victor | Vic's Media Room
Tara | This Sweet Life
Ashley | Loving mommahood
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart
Carla | Working Mommy Journal
Kav | Best Reads (2010-2014)
10/9/2014
Krista | Welcome to Married Life
Cindy | Cindy's Book Reviews
Pamela | Daysong Reflections
10/10/2014
Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Kim | Window To My World
Nicole | bless their hearts mom
Lois | The Minister's Wife Stamps and Saves
Margaret | Frugal-Shopping
Becky | Christian Chick's Thoughts
Sue | Thoughts from Mill Street
Karen | Karen's Korner
10/11/2014
Rayleigh | Accelerate The Jesus Movement
Kristie | Moments
Kari | Slow it Down
10/12/2014
Liz | Western New Yorker
Julie | More Of Him
Joy | Splashes of Joy
Veronica | Veronica's 'Views
Shirley | A Mom After God's Own Heart
JoyAnne | Deco My Heart
Julia | Avid Reader Reviews
10/13/2014
Kelly | Leafy Not Beefy
Nancy | Neatly-Packaged
Joan | Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Lisa | A Rup Life
10/14/2014
April | Dixie n Dottie
Sarah | Life Isn't Always A Fairytale
Wendy | Wall-to-wall books
Zac | Zac Weikal (www.zacweikal.com)
10/15/2014
Taylor | Taylor Reid Reads and Breathes
Lori | Morning glories and moonflowers
Amber | snidbits
Noelle | Live and Dream a little dream
Cassandra | Cassandra M's Place
Deb | Deb's Book Review
Kira | Mommy Makes Time
Loren | Heart of a bookworm
Andi | Radiant Light
10/16/2014
Stephanie | Wife Mommy Me
Amanda | LoveandaPrayer
Edythe | Ski-Wee's Book Corner
Hallie | Book by Book
10/17/2014
Kristin | Kritters Ramblings
Melissa | Mel's World with Melissa Mashburn
Wendy | Life at Rossmont
Susan | let's eat 2 day
10/18/2014
Mindy | A Room Without Books is Empty
Linda | Faithful Acres Books
Molly | Reviews By Molly
10/19/2014
Lizzie | A Dusty Frame