The Melody of the Mulberries By Tonya Jewel Blessing

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s first book, The Whispering in the Willows and was excited to see her second book. It is a delightful continuance the previous book. Appalachian culture and life style has always fascinated me. Ms. Blessing not only gives insight into this, but also into the minds and thinking of the people. One particular subject is the superstitions and mysticism that is so prevalent. I liked the strong biblical strength of the main characters as the not only relied on God but tried to share His truths with their neighbors. Their continuous focus on the Lord was an example and encouragement in relationships, and misunderstandings. I was impressed with how she handled prejudice and racism, showing how God’s love can overcome. I am looking forward to Tonya’s next book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


What Am I Feeling? By Dr. Josh Straub & Christi Straub

Emotions are powerful things, not only for adults but also for children. Sometimes it is hard to understand them or even why we are experiencing them, especially for little ones. Good feelings are easy but bad ones are confusing for kids. Adults can usually name them but children can’t. They just know their feelings are there.
This book is a beautiful tool to help young ones understand emotions are a part of the way God made us, but we must learn to control them. We aren’t just victims of
how we feel. I love, love, love the repeated saying, “A feeling is just a feeling, it’s not in charge of you.” One all ages need to remember! The authors offer child and parent ways to biblically get a reign on strong emotions with God’s help.
I liked that the book was in rhyme. This is not only delightful to the child but helps them remember what has been read. The illustrations are spot on! Colorful and simple pictures of children in emotion sparking situations that all little ones can relate to. The feeling chart was great but I would have like to have seen greater number represented. I am going to go on line and copy a more extensive chart to use with the book.
A wonderful book for kids and a great teaching tool for parents! I received this book from BH Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

One More River to Cross By Jane Kirkpatrick

To say I am an avid fan of Jane Kirkpatrick is putting it mildly! I have loved all her books but she really out did herself this time! Her detail (as always) to research is impeccable. What I find remarkable is her ability to understand and capture the emotions and physical details of the people involved to the point the story does not appear as historical fiction but a personal account of the characters.
The 1800’s was a time when settlers were heading west for the promise of better more prosperous lives. These brave men, women and children had no idea what danger or difficulties lied ahead, all they saw was their dream. In 1844 the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend left Missouri to travel over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to California. As they reach the mountain range snow begins to fall and the trip becomes a race against time to before severe winter weather sets in. The decision is made to divide up into 3 groups. One will stay in a crude built shelter and protect supplies until the others return in the spring. As the remaining 2 groups move on, they realize the way is impassable for the wagons. A second larger crude shelter is built and the women and children are left as the third group forges on to California to bring back a rescue party.
As I read I thought about how my impressions of these westward settlers pretty much came from the show Wagon Train. Boy was I misguided! The hardships these people faced are unbelievable! The constant fear of death or loss of a loved one was a part of life. The lack of food and starvation was an endless reminder of their mortality. It is one thing to be hungry yourself, but to have small children with nothing to eat is another. Can you imagine giving your children animal hides to chew on hoping there would be some sustenance? Mothers who bore children on the journey even feared they would not have breast milk for their babies to survive.
And the cold, oh the cold! Fire didn’t do much to warm you and about the only thing between you and the elements was a crude structure that had snow and wind blowing through the cracks. I don’t do well with frosty weather, and Ms. Kirkpatrick’s descriptions their battle against frigid temperatures was so vivid I found trouble keeping warm!
What I found truly amazing was their perseverance, ingenuity, and courage. People from all nationalities and walks of life worked together without pettiness or irritation even during the worst of times. Instead of whining and dragging each other down, they uplifted and encouraged one another. No one belly-upped and quit in the face of their suffering which is what I am sure I would have done! A remarkable book you want to read! I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Christmas in Winter Hill By Melody Carlson

Slow my beating heart! Another Melody Carlson Christmas book! I cannot even express how I look forward to each one of Ms. Carlson’s new holiday books! It amazes me how she captures the spirit of the season and all character’s individual perceptions.
Winter Hill looks like a fresh new start her life and her career to recently divorced Krista. Her job as a small town city manager turns out to be much more complex than she anticipated. A difficult childhood in foster care has turned Krista into a non-Christmas person. Even with her little daughter Emily she doesn’t celebrate the holiday. Wouldn’t you know it! Winter Hill is Christmas celebration crazy! As new city manager she is thrown directly into the hubbub of planning the big event. More serious problems are at hand as Krista finds some concerning evidence in the inner workings of the city finances.
There were so many emotions Ms. Carlson captured in her characters. For one, the excitement of town’s people preparing for their giant annual celebration. It was contagious just reading it! I could picture all the food, game booths and families spending quality time together.
Not everyone has Currier and Ives Christmas memories. Pain and disappointment can sometimes run deep, like Krista’s from her childhood in foster care. I felt her struggle in trying to hide her attitude from her new associates and her sweet little daughter. I experienced her anxiety of doing the right thing even though it was unpopular as a new person in town. The author’s talented writing also enabled me to picture each person, the decorations, and all the details surrounding the story. It was almost like watching a Christmas movie! Not only will this book put you in the Christmas spirit but will delight you with many surprises along the way. Another incredible Christmas book by the author! I can’t wait for the next one!
I received this book from Revell Publications in exchange for an honest review.
The opinions are my own.