Friday, May 31, 2013

The Passion of Mary-Margaret

by Lisa Sampson

Thomas Nelson Publishers

Mary-Margaret was an orphan from birth; at least, that's how her grandmother told it. Her mother died giving birth to her, and her father; a nameless, faceless, raping seminarian was never a part of her life. At least, that's the story her mother, Mary Margaret the first, came home saying was the truth. So Mary-Margaret was raised by her grandmother and aunt who was special. 

Born in 1930 on a beautiful island off Chesapeake Bay, Mary-Margaret knows exactly what she wants to be. A religious sister. Despite the mysteries of her past, she simply wants to be in love with Jesus and serve Him the rest of her life. But when He asks the impossible of her before she takes her vows, will she be able to truly follow Him with all her heart, mind, and soul? Or is marrying Jude just asking too much? 

Religious Sister Marries Syphilitic Male Prostitute. All I can say is, "WOW". There are so many thoughts I had going into this book, and while the beginning tended to drag a little, by the middle of the story, it was a vibrant recollection of a life. The constant back and forth between the present day and the past always makes for a good story and it brings a certain tone you cannot get any other way. Samson took some very big risks in this novel. She dealt with some heavy issues that we still do not have the answers for. While she didn't go to extreme detail about certain vices, sins, and human error; it was enough to get a glimpse of what we are capable of becoming if not for the grace of God. 

Perfecting Kate

by Tamara Leigh

Multnomah Publishers

Kate Meadows is pretty sure she has her life in order. She believes in embracing singledom and being unbelievable and inconceivably happy. As a successful San Francisco artist, she doesn't need a man in the picture. But then, not just one, but two men enter her life unexpectedly. Michael Palmier is a makeup artist who actually seems to be flirting with her, not her perfect roommate, Maia. The only thing she can't take about him is that he keeps handing her business cards to people who zap away physical imperfections - for a price. 

Then there is Dr. Clive Alexander. Once a cosmetic surgeon for the rich and famous, he has changed specialties and now works for a hospital as a reconstructive burn specialist and surgeon. Too bad her hearts skips a beat every time she sees him, as he sees to be only interested in her work. As she fights herself and God on some big decisions in her life, how far will she go to perfect herself? And is lying by silence really lying or just shielding others from the awful truth? 

Kate has got to be, hands down, the funniest girl in chick lit. Maybe I just haven't read enough of the genre, but Leigh brings Kate to life that is in a word - perfect. She's flawed, her relationship with God is teetering on disaster at times, and the predicaments she gets herself into are all too true to life. But more than all that, it brings us to the sobering question on where our walk with God actually is. Are we like Kate and "skip out" on our time with God because we have "so much" going on? Kate learned the hard way that God's ways are higher than our ways, and that being the case, the most we can do is listen, and obey.

This book was provided for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Courage to Change

by Elizabeth Maddrey

Hope Spring Books

Phil Reid is a divorced attorney with the strong belief that re-marriage is wrong. He bases his belief on what what the Bible says, and he blames himself for the divorce from his ex-wife Brandi. When he became a Christian, he most certainly did not expect the dissolution of his marriage; but when partying and drinking are no longer his extra curricular activities, his wife Brandi wants none of it. Helpless to show her the Light that is now in his life, Phil has no choice but to let his wife go.

But the last thing Brandi wants is to be let go. Even though she left Phil, Brandi is angry and bitter that he is living life without her. So when Phil finally admits his to himself that he has feelings for fellow attorney, Allison Vasek, he is leery of pursuing a relationship because of his doubts about remarriage. Allison is everything he needs in a wife, but still he hesitates. When Brandi begins to show up in their life and threatens their lives, it becomes a matter of choice. Will Allison ever find her happy ending that she's been waiting so long for? Or is Phil right in his belief that God frowns on remarriage of believers? 

It was so nice to continue the story that Maddrey teased us with at the end of her last novel. This particular novel dealt with the age old "should Christians remarry" issue. It is a tough question, and as so many things in life there are gray areas. But Maddrey dealt with it gracefully, and showed why in some cases it can still be God-honoring to do so. The story had some characters from the first book in the Grant Us Grace series, but it can be read alone and enjoyed just as much. An excellent, thought-provoking novel. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Love's Pursuit

by Siri Mitchell

Bethany House Publishers

Susannah Philips lives in a Puritan community in Stoneybrooke, Massachusetts. Just as her faith in God is seemingly preordained, so is her betrothal and marriage to John Prescotte. A beautiful redhead, she is unaware of how her appearance affects members of the opposite sex. She is only concerned that her goodness must be apparent to all, because the thoughts she harbors in her head are exactly what her community condemns.

When the community is threatened by Indians, a military captain is sent to protect them. Captain Daniel Holcombe is precisely the kind of man Susannah knows she should stay away from, but something about him draws her like a bee to honey. The way he views God is completely against what the Puritans have taught her, and the way he approaches everything in life is contrary to what she thinks she believes.

So when the town's wealthiest bachelor, Simeon Wright, asks for her hand in marriage, she is taken aback and confused as to what to do. Having no real reason to deny Simeon, her confusion about her feelings for Daniel only increase, and her bewilderment over John not stepping in to claim her only serve to spin her future in hapless circles. Will she be able to sort out her feelings in time? Or is a love greater than that of any man pursuing her?  

This read more like a tragedy than a romance. I really got into this story, despite my intentions to the contrary. As I sat there and read about Susannah's struggles and the ever-observing eyes of Small-hope, I couldn't help but wonder if girls like this existed in the past. The pain of Small-hope's past and the heartbreaking future awaiting Susannah are just some of the things you will have to read for yourself. I promise you it will be a pleasant journey. Just don't expect a light, fluffy, happy ending. This one will get to you, and the story will stay with you long after it is over. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Heart Most Worthy

by Siri Mitchell

Bethany House Publishers

Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana are all immigrants from the old country - Italy. It is 1918 in Boston, Massachusetts. and the Italians are still segregating themselves from Americans, and each other. Three young  women try to make a life for themselves and their families in this new world full of ideas, and innovation. 

Julietta is a seamstress for Madame Fortier's elite dress shop. A seductive young woman, she is a firm believer that men need to have the privilege of her presence, and is quite reckless in her way with men. This erroneous way of thinking soon gets her in trouble, and before long she is faced with the biggest problem of her young life. Will she realize the danger in time? 

Annamaria is a shy, obedient young woman, and all she has in her future is a life of servitude to her family. Also a seamstress of Madame Fortier's, she is quiet and afraid to step out of the life that she believes she is destined for. But when she has an encounter with the grocer's son; from the wrong family, she has a choice. Follow her heart, or take care of her family as is expected of the eldest daughter? 

Luciana is a young, Roman woman fleeing from a certain past, and she ends up looking for work at Madame Fortier's shop. Keeping her secrets from the girls at the shop, she comes and goes in almost complete silence. When she is chosen to take care of a particularly difficult client, she meets a young man that gives her hope for the future. Will she be able to begin anew in the new country where hope and new beginnings are promised? 

The omnipresent viewpoint of this novel was actually a refreshing change for me. It was different than what I am used to, but it did cause me to spend a week in my journal writing the same way! I was very pleased to learn about the early beginnings of Italians in America, and I never realized how they kept themselves apart even in the new country. It goes to show that at one time or another, everyone has unreasonable prejudices against others for no reason other than pride. An eye-opening novel to the things that matter the most. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wisdom to Know

by Elizabeth Maddrey

Hope Springs Books

Lydia Brown has everything wrong with her life. Overshadowed by her perfect sisters with their perfect lives, she struggles to be the woman her family expects her to be. Her father is a pastor, making her feel she has to have a life the reflects his calling. But instead of aspiring to be better for God, she decides the pressure of it all is too much.   

When a mistake with a boyfriend leaves her with an unplanned pregnancy, she panics. Not wanting to be discovered, she desperately tries to hide her sin; hoping that an abortion will erase everything. But her best friend Kevin McGregor knows something is amiss, and despite his efforts, Lydia remains closed off to everyone. After a car accident leaves her family and Kevin with more questions than answers, Kevin must come to grips with God's plan for Lydia - and where he fits into the shattered pieces that are her life.

This was a very sobering novel of the reality of a life that has taken the wrong turn. Even more so is the realization that once you've stepped off the path of God's will, it just gets easier to keep making the wrong choices. Instead of facing up to the past and acknowledging she needed help, she kept getting deeper and deeper into sin. While many of us think we have more sense than to get into what we consider really bad stuff, how easy is it to give ground, little by little, to the devil? A well written novel that reminded me of the grace of God that keeps me day by day.

This book was provided for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

At Every Turn

by Anne Mateer

Bethany House Publishers

Alyce Benson is as impulsive and impetuous as they come. Raised in a family of means in 1916, she is accustomed to getting things taken care of, with money never being an object. But when she offers to donate three thousand dollars to the missionary work in Africa, she gets in way over her head. Thinking her father will just give her the money, she is in for a disappointment when her father refuses to give to her cause.

Left up the creek with no paddle, she tries to get creative on raising the money herself. Having a secret love of fast automobiles, she comes up with an idea of a lifetime. Her father's mechanic, Webster, tells her that her father's company is sponsoring a car he's been working on in upcoming races across the country. The winner can take home up to five thousand dollars in prize money. 

But money slips through her fingers as she sees needs in the community she can't ignore. She turns to Webster to help her safeguard the money, but then things come up about him that make her question her judgement to trust him. Will she be able to keep her word and have the money ready for the missionary couple who so desperately need it? Or will she loose everything even as she tries to salvage her promise and the man she has come to love? 

Mateer as always, gives a spectacular novel that can't be rivaled. The characters are alive and vibrant, the story line refreshing and humorous at times. But the absolute best part about her novels is the fact that she makes you feel like the story is your own. You forget that you are in the present day as you, (for just a moment) pretend it is you who is behind the wheel driving madly for the finish line. I can promise you an adventure if you read this novel, and I know you will enjoy every bit as much as I did.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013


by Travis Thrasher

Faith Words Publishers

Tyler Harrison has lived his whole life waiting for that big break, that big project, that big something that will make him feel that he has achieved his life's purpose. But it seems that no matter what he does, no matter what big artist he produces and records, he just can't seem to arrive to that feeling of satisfaction. His entire life has been one big disappointment, and no matter what he achieves, it is never enough.

Months before his 40th birthday, he is approached by a man that claims he is an angel named Matthew. Matthew tells Tyler he is going to die on his 40th birthday, and gives him some evidence to prove that what he is saying is true. Confused, Tyler doesn't know what to do with the information he's been given. He doesn't doubt the angel for a second, but he does wonder what he's supposed to do with the knowledge. As the days draw closer to his birthday, he sees his life as it truly is, not as what he has supposed it to be. Will Tyler learn the purpose of the day of his death being revealed? And will he be able to redeem a life wasted in time?

You know a book is well written when you feel you are going losing your mind right alongside the main character. Oddly enough, this book gave me a picture of how my own life can be. I didn't get all the music references, probably because I'm too young for all that. But I felt like I was Tyler. And as I saw how his life was, and how it could have been; it really gave me a wake-up slap and made me realize that the choices we make really do affect those around us as well as ourselves. This has made it to the top of my list as a definite favorite from Thrasher. A work well done and an absolutely amazing read.