Dreams Rekindled By Amanda Cabot

I had read the first book in this series and so enjoyed it.  It took me a bit to realize that this was book two.  It has romance, humor, suspense and danger all rolled into one! 

Dorothy Clark has decided to be a confirmed spinster.  After watching her mother’s emotional breakdown after the death of Dorothy’s Dad, she has decided no love is worth that.  She never wants to put her children through such trauma.  Her dream is to become a writer, but this is a hard road to travel for a woman in the 1850’s.  Brandon Holloway moves to Mesquite Springs with the goal of starting a newspaper.  All he has is his printing press and some heavy baggage from the past.  He is impressed by the serene spirit and harmony of the community.  Things quickly change when an outsider moves there with ulterior motives which will threaten the town’s peaceful way of life and endanger many.

The excitement in the book kept me turning pages!   So many times I wished I could warn Dorothy and Brandon what was going on!  The lessons in the story of personal growth and leaving the past behind were phenomenal, and they involved seeing the truth rather than being guided by emotions.  A book you will want to read, but if you read at bedtime, start early because you won’t want to put it down!  I cannot wait for book number three!

I received this book from Library Thing’s Early Reviewers.  The opinions I have stated are my own.

Flooded: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life Is Hard and Doubt Is Rising By Nicki Koziar

Oh wow!  This book came into my life at just the right time! Life’s circumstances and suffering had me slip into a spiritual low.  My vibrant strong faith has faltered.  I found myself doubting God helping me in areas of my life. This made my suffering greater and I was ashamed of my spiritual walk.

The “unknowns” in my life had not only “flooded” me but almost washed me away.  What a blessing this book is! I know the stories in the Bible are examples to us in how to deal with trial, but I never ever thought of looking at Noah’s experiences in that way!  The book is divided into 5 decisions you need to make when faced with a crisis to be a conqueror.

Ms. Koziar’s writing style is one that makes you feel she is writing directly to you, very personable.  The Lord has brought me through many hard things in my life, but I realized that instead of it being a strengthening lesson, there has been some remaining doubt for what is to come. I realized doubt is sin, because I am not trusting God can take care of me.  She made me dig deep and look at what was really there in my heart and mind.  The author does it in such a way that you are guided into it and inspired, not beaten over the head and made to feel guilty. The words jumped off the page at me, requiring a highlighter, so inspiring! Another part I liked about the books is that she gives you “handles” to your wheelbarrow.  She doesn’t just point out the issues but presents ways to overcome them. You aren’t left hanging. Well written and easy to read but you will want to really study it! 

I received this book from Baker Publishing Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

Make Their Day By Karen Ehman

Ms. Ehman is one of my favorite authors! I love sharing, giving and doing for others.  She always has beautiful, thoughtful and unique ideas to brighten people’s days and make them feels special.  This book as with her others has practical ideas anyone can do. The majority without a lot of work or cost. They are flexible in that you can personalize them to fit your special giving situation. More than ever right now people need to be encouraged. 

As the book cover says there are 101 of these little treasures. I found them all to be uncomplicated and easy.  The most impressive thing I found was that ALL of them are extraordinarily thoughtful, and that is something that really touches people’s hearts.  One of my favorite of the 8 sections is “Throughout Your Day and Around the Town.”  I love surprising people that work in the community as they are seldom recognized.

This is not giving me a pat on the back as the Lord gets the credit, but I want to share a personal experience in this area.  There was a woman at a very busy business in town.  EVERYTIME I was there no matter how busy they were or how grumpy a customer she was always patient, kind and wore a real smile.  The Lord kept prompting to do something for her.  So I put together a little bag, and wrote a letter telling her how much I appreciated her.  She cried.  Next time I went in she told me that day she had planned to take her life.  She was so discouraged and alone.  The tiny gift and note that only took a small amount of time gave her hope and made her want to go on.  I learned that you never ever underestimate the impact of small acts of kindness as in this book.  Remember, the gift you give is not truly the “gift”; the true gift is that you thought of them and cared.

I received these books from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Facing the Dawn By Cindy Ruchti

This book is powerful; it will take your breath away!  The author captures the raw truth about parenting, grief, and just how overwhelming life is at times!  She brings you through the story with a kaleidoscope of emotions and circumstances but also with humor, reminding how God is with us in every moment we face.

Mara is what you might call a “single” married Mom.  Her husband is a humanitarian in Uganda providing water and wells for the impoverished. She has been keeping the home fires burning with working and dealing with her 3 children. The two teenagers are in full rebellion, and her sweet preteen is always her bright spot.  Everyone is missing and needing Dad.   She battles resentment for him not being there for his own family and guilt because of the importance of his work.

Then the real bottom falls out. She suffers 2 devastating life changing catastrophes.  Her world and life are turned upside down and she is paralyzed by the events and her family’s future.  Her forever best friend (as she calls her) Ashlee had moved back to town and not a minute too soon. Ashlee’s deep faith and personal journey with brokenness becomes a lifeline for Mara. One she doesn’t want at first. She continually turns Mara back to God and His truths. Ashlee never gives up, nudging her forward when she wants to give up.   I sure wish I had an Ashlee in my life.  Ruchti brings lightness to such heavy moments with Mara’s wonderful sense of humor.  The humorous thoughts you have in serious times that are so inappropriate and tactless that you dare not speak them out loud

I have not experienced these exact circumstances but I could relate to Mara’s pain and confusion.  What it is like to be incapacitated emotionally, physically and spiritually to the point you are helpless.   A very moving inspirational story! 

I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  The thoughts expressed are my own.

A Dance in Donegal By Jennifer Deibel

It is the 1920’s and Moria is on the cusp of an exciting future, all looks bright.  She has just graduated and qualified to be a teacher.  Her mother’s beloved village in Donegal, Ireland has offered her a teaching job.  Instilled with her mother’s never dying love of her hometown, she is going to go.  Then suddenly her mother dies.  After several months she decides to go ahead and move and take the job.  She is nervous and a bit frightened being all alone in the world, but she knows this would make her mother happy.

Greater obstacles than just moving to a new country face her. There are odd quirks to the language, superstitions, customs and a very different culture.  Upon arriving the locals treat her with contempt and she hears odd murmurings about her mother, but has no clue about the reasons.  She purposes to soldier on and throw her life and heart into educating the children.  She also wants to ferret out the truth about her mother. 

She does find some loving and supportive friends to carry her through.  I was endeared to those characters.  I found their compassion and making her a part of their homes comforting. Sean McFadden was one of those friends.  He became her protector and listening ear.  What impressed me the most was Moria’s diligence in seeking God and His Word for strength and guidance. I love the scriptures quote and how she applied them to her problems.  Throughout I see Moria grow not only as a woman but also as a Christian. Very inspiring! As the story unfolds there are many twists and turns, not to mention big surprises.  I wish I could share more but I don’t want to give away the story!

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Moonlight School By Suzanne Woods Fisher

I love everything about this book: the cover, the title and the story!  If that isn’t wonderful enough, the fact that it is based on a true story is icing on the cake!  Many of the characters in the book were real people!  Cora Wilson Stewart fought tirelessly for the education of the Appalachian children and adults.  She didn’t just campaign but took actions to further her dream.  She herself grew  up in the hills of Kentucky where poverty and lack of educational opportunity was the norm.  How well she understood their plight. Her accomplishments are incredible.

In this fictional story, Cora’s, wealthy and privileged younger cousin is sent by her father to assist her.  Lucy has the impression that she is coming as a stenographer.  Cora shatters that preconceived idea very quickly.  In a few days Lucy is on horseback (she has never ridden a horse) and being sent up into the woods and hills of the Kentucky Hollows to see people she has not clue where they live!  She is definitely put out of her comfort zone.  Her job is to take write the letters they want to send family and loved ones.  As you can imagine she is overwhelmed.

Severe poverty, lack of hygiene, not to mention countless traditions and superstitions of the people is a bit of a culture shock at first. She grows to realize the vast gulf between the life she has taken for granted and theirs. Very quickly Lucy develops a love the people and hurt for their suffering.  She blossoms into quite activist for those she serves.

Appalachia and its people have always held a fascination for me.  The author’s descriptiveness of the people, their environment, and their customs added to my interest.  The characters are captivating. Wyatt and Angie were two of my favorites. The book is much deeper than just this historical time and the wonderful people. There are many surprises, one especially about a tragedy in Lucy’s past.   A beautifully written book you don’t want to miss reading!

I received this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

That Way and No Other By Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael is one of my two favorite female missionaries. From the 1st time I started reading her books she had an enormous impact on my spiritual life. She writes like no other author I have ever read. Her words reach deep into you that inspire, convict and open your eyes. I believe her writing is so powerful because she led a totally committed life to the Lord and doing the work he called her to do. She lived life of total sacrifice, something that is rare in any era.
The first part of this book introduces the reader to who Amy was with two short biographies. The following 6 chapters are excerpts from her books. Her wisdom and spiritual insights are dynamic! The subjects she covers are varied. All are fruits of her 55 years on the mission field and the incredible challenges she faced. I wanted to underline, memorize and line after line. This book will inspire you in ways you can’t imagine!

All That We Carried By Erin Bartels

Olivia and Melanie have been alienated from one another for 10 years, ever since the tragic death of their parents.  Melanie suggests they go on a hike, something they did as children.  Olivia hesitantly agrees.  This was some hike, it was a weeklong!  I just thought I had been hiking. I see now it was just long walks in the woods!  Melanie had hoped to renew their broken relationship.

The interaction, and communication (or lack of it) between the two sisters was so real! Olivia is controlling, bossy, and OCD planning.  Melanie is impulsive and light hearted, totally opposite of her older sister.  Their differences were even greater than that and are tested on this trip. The destination was the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan.  The trails they would take are remote and rugged.  Can you imagine going on a venture like this with a family member you have not seen in a decade!? 

The time and the unresolved grief had created many issues in their lives they did not even recognize they had.  As you can imagine away from civilization with just the two of them, each was faced with deep introspection of their life, beliefs, values, and things they had buried deep within themselves years ago.  I felt the frustration they experienced with each other.  The struggle wasn’t just physical as it would be with such a grueling journey, it was also emotional.  There were unexpected surprises and drama along the way.  I enjoyed the description of the scenery, it was fantastic!  It made me want to go look for pictures on the internet.

I saw a great lesson in how we cannot run from our painful experiences and not gave them affect our future in ways we never imagined.   A beautiful story of unresolved grief, forgiveness, and fresh starts. 

I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions I have stated are my own.

Madison: Cricket of the Valley By Diane Dettmann

We’ve all had them in our home at one time or another.  Their pretty little chirp very quickly can become maddening.  That is why I have never understood the Chinese custom of keeping one in a cage in your home. Crickets are not only noisy but can cause damage to fabric paper and many other things.  This is from a human point of view.  I never thought to look at it from the cricket’s point of view.  Ms. Dettmann helped me do exactly that. Stan and Edith have retired and moved to the country: perfect home, perfect view, peaceful, EXCEPT for the crickets in the house.  Edith cannot stand them, especially when they jump on her in the night. They give her the “hebbie-jebbies to put it mildly, and she is on all out quest to exterminate them.  Much to her dismay nothing works! At the same time I read about Edith’s woes, I also learn about Madison, resident camel cricket, according to his life and experiences in their home.  Her grandchildren come for a visit and find a book on crickets.  The boys are fascinated about them and even build a cricket cabin in the workshop for Madison and his friends.  That’s when Edith’s’ attitude begins to change, and I have to say mine did too. I never knew how fascinating these little guys were. I learned so much about how their bodies operate, survival, reproduction, and thanks to the author’s vivid imagination, how the world looks to them. I believe this book is a forerunner of a new, fun way to teach children (and adults) scientific information about nature and the many creatures we share this planet with. As an adult I loved the beautiful countryside photos at the beginning of each chapter. And I must say I won’t be “squishing” (sorry to be so graphic) crickets anymore! This is a delightful entertaining book.

What Momma Left Behind By Cindy K. Sproles

I find myself at a loss for words to describe Cindy Sproles books!  She is incredible!  Her books are always on my read list! Her understanding and ability to capture all the aspects of life in the Appalachian Mountains in the late 1890’s breathtakingly real.  Each story, including this one reaches deep inside of you on an emotional level. You aren’t just reading about the characters and their experiences, but living them.

Influenza has struck the small community of Sourwood, Tennessee.  Many many people are dying, but what is worse they are leaving orphaned children alone in a poverty stricken environment. After the death of her father, Worie is thankful to have her mother.  Then tragedy strikes.  She finds her mother dead from suicide. She faces grief and confusion as to why her mother would take her life.  Worie is 19 years old so she isn’t in as dire straits as all the young children left alone. 

Totally unexpectedly the orphans of the area begin showing up at her home seeking help. How can she help them, she hasn’t much?  Yet her loving tender heart moves to do the impossible and take them in. God works through these heart retching events to change Worie’s life and the lives of others around her. 

It rang so true to me that God uses horrible circumstances to turn our trust to Him when there is nowhere else to turn. I loved the wise words friends Ely and Bess; they are ones to remember. I was inspired by Worie’s courage, determination, and willingness to listen to God.  This book is filled with unexpected surprises, mystery, and beautiful examples of the love and help of those around us.  A very emotional but uplifting book.