The Midnight Saint By Mitchel Whitington

Adam is contacted by an angel, named Saint Lucia. She informs him she will be visiting him for the next 12 nights, and then he will die. Each night he may ask one question about death but he may not ask how his will come about. He of course is frightened and confused. He wants to make the most of his last 11 days, so he begins to take stock of his life and his relationships, especially with God. He works to get all his ducks in a row, so to speak, concerning his earthly matters. Then he focuses on spending time with his wife and daughter in the way he should have all along. Faced with his demise he is also faced with the years he wasted and how precious his life is.
When I first wanted to read this book, I thought it was Christian fiction, but now I would just have to rate it as fiction. I must admit was uncomfortable with the mixing of biblical truths with fantasy. For example, Lucia was to have lived a previous life. Scripture states that angels are angels and men are men. They do not become angels after death.
While the story gives the assumption that Adam will go to heaven, nowhere is salvation by accepting Christ mentioned. I was surprised there were curse words in a book proclaiming a religious theme. God’s name is even used in vain. I felt the same way Adam’s intimate relationship with his wife. While not explicit, was somewhat descriptive. The story was interesting and easy to read. The ending caught me by surprise. The theme was a great reminder to live every day to the fullest with our loved ones and serving God, because we never know when it might be our time to meet him.
I received this book free from Bookcrash and 23 House Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Blessing by Lyn Cote

This is another wonderful book in Lyn Cote’s “Quaker Bride Series”. This book is entirely different than her 1st one, “Honor”. I applaud her in that because too often books in a series have a great deal of similarities in the story line.
The story is rich in historical detail of the 1800’s, concerning strong beliefs and activities of the Abolitionists and Suffragettes movements, and also those who opposed them.
Blessing Brightman was not your typical Quaker woman. She rebelled against her parents and married a wealthy society man, only to find her a widow. Not only had she been accepted to society, but she also inherited a great deal of money. She was passionate about using her wealth to help others. She was a part of the Underground Railroad, had a home for orphaned children, and went into the seediest parts of town to rescue women in prostitution. One thing I so admired about Blessing is how she was highly respected and accepted among the elite, yet she was true to God and her beliefs. She dressed expensively, but modestly and tastefully. She was not afraid to speak the truth where it was needed. I love, love, loved the cover. The stunningly beautiful woman on the front is exactly like what I would imagine Blessing looking like.
Gerald Ramsay stood for everything Blessing did not. He was disinherited by his harsh and distant father. This fuels his desire to prove him wrong by creating his own wealth, by whatever means necessary, even illegally. He is bitter, selfish, strong dislikes outspoken women, and is totally against women’s rights and abolishing slavery. They meet when he comes to Cincinnati to prevent his cousin from marrying a suffragette, who happens to be Blessing’s best friend.
Saying they clash is an understatement. Yet they continue to be thrown together in different situations. Blessing, much to Gerald’s chagrin, stands her ground. It is beautiful as the story unfolds to see deeper into the minds and hearts of the characters. Also to watch Blessing’s testimony and life begin to change Gerald’s heart not only toward her but in many other areas. There is excitement, surprises, and action. This book was so good I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. finishing it! The historical notes by the author at the end were exceptional! I anxiously await the next book in the series, “Faith” to be published in 2016!
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz

In old historic homes and properties, I have always wished that “walls could talk” and this book fits the bill!  Marin Ellis, a 37 year old, single, introvert, unexpectedly finds herself the guardian of Rebecca, her 15 year old half-sister after her father and step-mother suddenly die. The sisters have never met until the funeral. Marin decides to do some traveling so they might get to know each other better and just get away for a while.  They find themselves in the quaint seaside town of Goswell, England.  Rebecca falls in love with a Victorian home and begs her sister to buy it.  Wanting a fresh start for both of them, she agrees. The home was built in 1905 by a previous vicar for his mother-in-law.  So they take the leap into this new adventure and leave the states to relocate.  Along with the house is an old enclosed, overgrown garden.  At first, Rebecca is excited about reviving it, but after she loses interest, Marin is drawn to it and begins the laborious work to restore it.

Now flash back to 1918 and 19 year old Eleanor Sanderson.  Her father is the vicar and her grandmother is the one the house previously mentioned was built for. World War 2 has just ended and families are waiting for their boys and men to come home.  Eleanor is especially excited about her beloved brother, Walter’s return. They received news that he is dead and the grief is almost more than she can ear.  To try to move forward, she becomes interested in renewing the old vicarage garden that has been laid to waste. She wants to do it in her brother’s memory and also if or others who have lost loved ones.

The story goes back and forth between the two women’s lives.  Both had a strong desire for a fresh start.  Marin mourned of a relationship with her father she never had, and Eleanor the relationship with her brother she would never have again.

The author’s description of the U.S.A. after WW2 gave me a greater awareness and understanding of what our country and people faced. There weren’t many families that weren’t dealing with the death of a loved one.  The losses left a large gaping hole in the hearts of the people and the functioning of our nation with so many men gone. The men that did return were drastically changed by the horrors they experienced and the guilt that they made it home and their buddies didn’t. Through Ms. Swartz’s skillful writing I experience what those before me faced in a very personal way.

There was also a great contrast in what was important during the 2 different eras, and how relationships with families, men and women so drastically differed. What was considered the latest and best in homes and appliances during the 1900’s were more of a hardship in the present day. Marin’s frustrations and struggles in handling the antiquated home were humorous at times.

I was fascinated by two women facing finding themselves, experience loss, adjusting to change, learning to love and forgive, but more than 100 years apart. Seeing how each dealt with this according to tradition and what society dictated during their time in history.  The author did an excellent job of intertwining the two stories. It was never confusing or awkward.  Full of surprises and a great read!

I received this book free from Kregel Publications.  I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have shared are my own.  

 

To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

What a wonderful historical Christian romance! It has so many things going for it than just being well written and a great story! It is clear the author has meticulously researched the time, 1653, and details about the European settlers in America. In addition, some of the characters are based on some descendants Ms. Demarino’s personal family tree. All this combined develops some realistic characters and helps the reader slip into their era and lives. Another big plus for me was the strong spiritual center to the story, played out in the their lives.. There was a lot of scripture application which I am sure was a part of the original setters existence, to be able to handle all the hardships they faced.
The book begins with Heather Flower, Indian princess of the Montaukett tribe, lying bound and left to die after an attack of the fierce Narragansett tribe. It had been her wedding day, and she was about to marry the man she had grown up with and loved, only to watch him be murdered in cold blood. After ransom was paid, instead of releasing her the rival tribe left her helpless and alone. Thirteen other women were taken but she had no idea if her friends were dead or alive.
As part of a search party, Dutch Lt. Dirk Van Buren comes to her rescue. There is an immediate spark between them. To heal from her tragic loss she goes to live with her aunt and her tribe. Nearby is an English settlement that has been close friends to her family since she was small. There also lives Benjamin Horton a childhood friend who has always loved Heather Flower. He wants very much to make her his wife. Her emotions are in turmoil. She still grieves over the loss of her husband yet she is drawn to both of the men? What should she do?
The author did a beautiful and skillful job of simultaneously presenting the daily details of the individual characters daily lives and their relationships with one another too. Along with this, she included historical details in many areas: politics, European and Indian customs, work, home life, childbirth, challenges and much more. Each character was well developed and their particular personalities made them seem very real. Add to all this a surprise ending!
I have not read the 1st book of the series, A Place in His Heart, but I am definitely going to! This book stood alone but I am anxious to read what led up to the story. At the end is a sneak peek at book number 3 that is coming. Can’t wait!
I received this book free from the Revell Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls By Rob Elliott, Illustrator Jonny Hawkins

What a wonderful surprise! Good clean fun, entertainment for kids! This book is just the right size to take anywhere anytime. It fits in the palm of my hand, so I know it is easy for a child to carry. All you need is a pencil, but if you want to bring crayons or markers that would be a bonus. I suggest a pencil so if the child wants to “re-do” a part; they can erase and start over. My mind is spinning with ideas for this book! Great for keeping your children or grandchildren entertained on trips, waiting for appointments, waiting rooms, running errands (which kids hate!), when you are in a meeting with another adult, and there is nothing for the kids to do. The possibilities are endless as there are many times and places you need something for kids to pass the time quietly. I love the fact it is something that will spark imagination and creativity. Better yet it is something OTHER THAN an electronic device. It will also make a wonderful gift, and because of how wholesome the content it can be used for door prizes or gifts in your church! It is suggested for kids 9 – 12 but I see it working for ages 5 – 80! Children love silly jokes and riddles. This book is packed with 220 of them. Each page shares a riddle/joke. Below it is the answer. There are illustrations that are not completely finished. A suggestion is given on how the child can finish the picture. Be prepared as they will not only want to share their pictures with you but also read you the jokes! For getting a few extra miles out of the book, the children can color the pictures and then save the book to have their very own personalized joke book to enjoy over and over. This book is designated for girls but boys will enjoy it just as much. Hours of fun and amusement! Buy more than one so the kids can do new illustrations for the jokes. One time around will not be enough!

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys By Rob Elliott, Illustrator Jonny Hawkins

What a wonderful surprise! Good clean fun, entertainment for kids! This book is just the right size to take anywhere anytime. It fits in the palm of my hand, so I know it is easy for a child to carry. All you need is a pencil, but if you want to bring crayons or markers that would be a bonus. I suggest a pencil so if the child wants to “re-do” a part; they can erase and start over.
My mind is spinning with ideas for this book! Great for keeping your children or grandchildren entertained on trips, waiting for appointments, waiting rooms, running errands (which kids hate!), when you are in a meeting with another adult, and there is nothing for the kids to do. The possibilities are endless as there are many times and places you need something for kids to pass the time quietly. I love the fact it is something that will spark imagination and creativity. Better yet it is something OTHER THAN an electronic device. It will also make a wonderful gift, and because of how wholesome the content it can be used for door prizes or gifts in your church!
It is suggested for kids 9 – 12 but I see it working for ages 5 – 80! Children love silly jokes and riddles. This book is packed with 220 of them. Each page shares a riddle/joke. Below it is the answer. There are illustrations that are not completely finished. A suggestion is given on how the child can finish the picture. Be prepared as they will not only want to share their pictures with you but also read you the jokes! For getting a few extra miles out of the book, the children can color the pictures and then save the book to have their very own personalized joke book to enjoy over and over.
This book is designated for boys but girls will enjoy it just as much. Hours of fun and amusement! Buy more than one so the kids can do new illustrations for the jokes. One time around will not be enough!
I received this book free from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

The Innocent By Ann H. Gabhart

The post-Civil war period was one of the most difficult times in history, not only for surveying soldiers, but also the families they left behind. This novel gave me an even deeper glimpse into how hard it was.
In 1865, young Carlyn Kearney was one of those facing the aftermath. Her situation was complicated by the fact that her beloved husband, Ambrose, was reported missing 2 years ago. The last time she had heard from him was in 1863. Was he dead? Was she a widow? How long did she wait for him to return. She loved him and didn’t want to give up hope, but this was only a small part of the hardships she faced. I cannot imagine being a widow during that time. Tending the home was more than cleaning and paying the electric bill. There were animals to care for, a garden, and much more.
Unable to pay the loan on their farm, Carlyn was being harassed and threatened by her repugnant and cruel landlord, Curt Whitlow. All she had for protection was her gun and her very capable dog Asher, whom she loved deeply. Finally the day came when Curt and Sheriff Mitchell Brodie, gave her a deadline to be out of her home. Sheriff Brodie was immediately taken with her courage, beauty, and vulnerability.
Everything looks hopeless for the young widow but a saying of her mother’s continues to come to mind, “Pray anyway.” And that she does!
She decides to join the local Shaker Community where she will receive food and shelter while she waits for word of Ambrose. She does not believe as they do, but she feels she can live with them for her needs to be met. Not allowing dogs, she is forced to give Asher to the Sheriff. Mitchell is fine with that as it gives him a way to keep in touch and feed his growing attraction to her.
I knew little about the Shaker’s beliefs and practices other than their simplicity in living and ban against marriage. I was shocked and how far they took their strict behavior and lifestyle. It seemed a sad life built around rules and legalism. From how you spoke, to what you wore, and how you ate, their guidelines were extremely unyielding. Caryln found herself in a different kind of suffering and questioned if her decision to join was the right one. Strange things began to happen after Caryln arrived and of course the Shakers blamed her.
This book is filled with many surprises and lots of excitement! Woven right through middle of all the action is a beautiful story of 2 people learning to love again, and strong faith in the midst of harrowing trials. What really left an impression on me was Caryln’s mother’s spiritual teaching, “Pray anyway.” It has come back to e many times since I read the book, and know it will continue to.
I received this book free from Revell Reads Blog Tour Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I stated are my own.