A Heart Adrift By Laura Frantz

Laura Frantz writes the most amazing books, but this one in my opinion tops them all!  Every time I read one of Ms. Frantz’s books I learn so much about the time in history.   Not just new facts but she matches the emotions and thoughts of those during that era.  Talk about a great history lesson that is super entertaining!

It is 1755 during colonial America in the colony of Virginia.

Esmee Shaw and Captain Henri Lennox were deeply in love and destined for the altar that is until a lover’s spat caused them to part ways, 10 years ago!!!  Fast forward 10 years later and she is 28 years old, an old maid for sure in those times!  She has settled into the life of caring for her deceased mother’s chocolate shop and her father.  She longs for more but what?  She won’t admit it but Henri still holds her heart.  

Much to her confusion and surprise, Captain Lennox returns home after all these years at sea.  He has no doubt his love for Esmee has never died and wants to restore their relationship.  With love, nothing is ever simple.  Because of his bravery and expertise as a sea captain, the government asks him to complete a dangerous and secret mission.  His commitment to the sea was the cause of their parting in the beginning.  Can he turn his back on his country for love?

There is so much more to this book.  It was unique in that when you thought the story was ending, it surprises you with new, different, and exciting developments!  I loved this!   

I immediately became immersed not only in their love story but also in the complicated and trying lives the colonists lived.   Reading about politics, rules of society, daily life, handling illness, survival and those less fortunate during this era made this more than a novel, it became an experienceWhat resonated most with me was the characters strong faith and reliance on God.  Very inspirational!  I would so like to see a sequel to this book. It was an honor to read and review it before publication!

Till Morning is Nigh By Leisha Kelly

The U.S. was in the grip of the great depression. December 1932, two families were still reeling the devastating loss of loved ones the year before.  Julia and Samuel Wortham and their 3 children felt very blessed.  A sweet elderly woman named Emma Graham had brought them into her home.  Just a few days before Christmas, 1931 Emma and Wila Hammond tragically died. Wila left 10 motherless children.  George, their alcoholic father was so filled with grief he disappeared and tried to take his life.  One year later at the same time both families are still in heavy in grief. George goes missing again and everyone fears the worst.  All 10 children appear or the Wortham’s doorstep. Three of the children are ill.  As Christmas quickly approaches, Julia courageously works to nurse the sick, feed the brood, and entertain 13 children, trying to keep their minds off their father and the anniversary of their mother’s death.  With no money she directs their focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  Please don’t be put off by the sadness.  This book is a beautiful story of the simple times and joys of life.  Though most were in poverty, the church and community pulled together to share what they had.  Your heart will be warmed and inspired.  The children had no toys but Julia had paper, crayons, glue and scissors.  With these small things she helped the children create a paper nativity that became their daily center of attention.  Her strong faith in the Lord brought hope.   Meager supplies became cookies, fruit bread and meals.  With the patience of Job, Julia loved, comforted, and consoled each one although she herself struggled.  Her creativity out of scraps and odds and ends provided gifts for all the children.  Such a difference in the expensive presents expected now. It all centers on God’s miraculous provision at all times.  This is a beautiful Christmas story.  A keeper and a 5 star book! You want to read it, trust me! The story that leads up to this one is Emma’s Gift by the same author.  Another great book!

Conquer Your Deliverance By John Ramirez

Prior to accepting Christ John was a high satanic priest.  His experiences and knowledge are unique, valuable and eye opening to Christians.  He shares the enemy’s strategies he uses on Believers that they are often not even aware of.  His story from where he began in a life of poverty, how he became involved in the occult and God delivering him is truly amazing. His personal stories and experiences are incredible. He has a burning desire to teach other to recognize Satan’s tactics and lies, then he how to overcome them and have success in their Christian walk. 

There were parts of the book I could not agree with as I found them unscriptural and not doctrinally sound.  All in all it is informative and those parts that are scripturally reliable will give the reader a wealth of knowledge to live a victorious Christian life.

I received this book from Bethany House Nonfiction/Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Happy Crab By Layla and Kevin Palmer

It isn’t often you find a children’s book based on a true story. Personally I think that makes any book better for adults or children!  Knowing this will help a child relate and become involved in the book even more.

Happy is a hermit crab living life to the fullest. He has enjoyed drifting all over the world in the waves, meeting many new creatures and having fun adventures.  One day a young boy finds his shell on the beach!  What a treasure to a child! He had no clue it was Happy’s home.  On the way home he discovers the shell had someone living in it.  Encouraged by his parents he returns Happy back to the beach.

The illustrations are adorable and fun!   Not only will children enjoy it but it held some important lessons you can share with them.  The little boy cared more about the happiness and well-being of the little crab over his pleasure of keeping the pretty shell.  In a “me me me” world this is so important for them to learn to put others before yourself. 

This also reminded me of when I was a child.  I caught frogs, fire flies, praying mantises, cicadas, and more. My parents would carefully fix a jar with leaves and twigs for me to observe them.  But after 2 days I would be required to release them back where they came from. Even my ant farm had a time limit!   I was very young but I still remember explaining to me it would be cruel to keep them as they belonged in nature.  All life matters even the smallest things.  They were so wise.  Children need to be taught to care for and respect all creatures.  I followed the same example with my children.

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

A View Most Glorious By Regina Scott

Coraline Baxter was not your average woman for the late 1800’s.  She was a mixture of that era’s women’s libber and a proper lady that followed all the social customs of time.  A suffragette, college graduate, intelligent, creative but she had definite ideas about what she wanted in life.  On the other hand she totally under the thumb of her overbearing, social snob of a mother.  She couldn’t’ seem to truly stand up to her.

To escape her mother’s choice for her marriage to Cash Kincaid, a creepy (in my opinion) socially successful business man, she came up with a plan.  Her suffrage group had a publicity idea to draw attention to women’s votes: climb Mount Rainier.  Somehow she persuades her mother to agree to call off the wedding if she is successful.  I am sure her mother agreed because this was considered close to impossible for a woman, especially one of the “elite” like Coraline.

She sets her sights on hiring the best climbing guide there is, Nathan Hardee.  He was once big among the wealthy social circles until he left it all behind for a reclusive life in the woods.  Not a woman to be told no, other than by her mother, she pursues him until he agrees.  The clincher is Coraline has zero climbing experience not in the best of shape.  To add to the difficulty her not so healthy stepfather was the only man available to chaperone her.  The odds were stacked against her. The story that ensues is filled with adventure, excitement, the unexpected and beautiful scenic descriptions that will ae your breath away! I found it incredible how inadequate their clothing and climbing gear was compared to what is available today!  BRRRRR.  This made the climb an even greater accomplishment. 

Coraline’s courage, spunk and sweet spirit won me over!  I was impressed that with her snobbish upbringing she was still so loving and accepting of everyone, even those that then would have been considered lower class.

Nathan Hardee’s showed such character and integrity, despite his disappointments and bitterness from his past.  His strong desire to protect Coraline and her stepfather truly touched me.

Throughout the book I just wanted to shake her mother.  Her arrogance and attitude of superiority were extremely frustrating.  I realized later that all of her misguided attempts to steer her daughter’s future were out of love. She wanted her to have the best and didn’t want Coraline to go through the hard times she had.

I wanted to hug Waldo her stepfather.  Such a sweet, sweet man that managed to balance his love and support for Coraline and his love and understanding of his wife and her abrasive personality. A story you will enjoy and be inspired by!

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

A Season on the Wind By Suzanne Woods Fisher

My uncle was a passionate bird watcher all his life.  He traveled the world to observe different birds and at one time had been only one of five in the world to have seen a particular species. In his later years he even volunteered for the Audubon Society giving classes for children.  Don’t get me wrong. I love nature and birds, but I would never quite grasp his obsession and excitement for the hobby.  until reading this book.

Penny Weaver and her brother Micah have moved to a new Amish community to live in her deceased grandmother’s home.  Their transition was forced by the fact their former bishop was opposed to Micah’s budding career as bird guide.  At only 18 he was fast becoming well known for incredible skills to find scarce birds. 

Ben Zook was a world famous writer and bird photographer that was raised in this Amish community.  He hires Micah after a very rare species is spotted in the area.  He and his cousin Natalie (who has zero interest in his interest) stay at the Weaver’s guest house.  He is forced to face painful secrets buried deep in this heart all these years. 

Penny is overwhelmed to see Ben after 20 years.  After meeting him as a young girl she still cherishes the short time they knew each other and continues to have a crush on him.  Has God brought him back to her after all these years? Be ready for lots of surprises!

Each character goes on their own special journey and healing in areas they would have never imagined.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Penny’s home life.  It was easy to imagine sitting in her cozy home drinking tea and eating some of her delicious cooking.  I could feel the relaxation and contentment.

At the end of every chapter is an excerpt from Micah’s bird-watching log about a different species.  In the beginning I ashamedly thought “boring”, but  I was hooked after the first one.  They are fascinating! I learned so much about birds I was familiar with and new ones too.  His accounts of their personalities and often humorous antidotes were wonderful!  Now I see why my uncle was so avid in his pursuits.  A wonderful book!

A Christmas in the Alps  By Melody Carlson

Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas in France in the scenic Alps!   I know you can’t see me but my hand is raised!  A trip like this isn’t possible for me but I was able to travel with Simone and share in her experiences.

Solid, responsible and loving, Simone has taken care of her Grandmother Betty for the last couple of years. Her friend Andrea is helping her with the monumental task of sifting through a life time of accumulation.   During their endeavor they come upon 3 year old letter addressed to her from her great grandmother.  If that weren’t enough of surprise, Simone reads that her great grandmother asks her to make a trip to the French Alps to find a hidden treasure she has left during the war.  Her grandmother has since died and was a nonagenarian when she wrote it. The chances of it still being there after all these years and the mental state of her relative when she wrote it are questionable.  Would it be worth a trip to France on such slim chances?  Andrea thinks Simone is ready for adventure and a change of scenery.  She encourages . . . no pushes. . . forces Simone into making the trip.  While Simone sees many obstacles, the biggest is her paralyzing anxiety about flying!

After Andrea, being the good friend she is has made all the arrangements Simone boards her flight to France.  She is blessed with a kind, not to mention handsome, young man named Kyle.  He calms her through her panic attacks along the way.  They go their separate ways in Iceland but exchange numbers, hoping to meet again in Paris.

Meeting and becoming acquainted with her French side of the “family” is not all joyfulness and affection, but she perseveres and the secrets of her ancestry open up in surprising ways. She finds the treasure her great-grandmother wrote of is not at all what she imagined.  

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

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery By Amanda Cox.

So many things attracted me to this book; the cover, the title, the back cover blurb and the author’s reputation for good books!  I must say I was not disappointed!  I loved this book! This story spans a period of 60 years in the lives of 3 generations of women.  The old saying, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” came to my mind as I read.  It holds true in these 3 women’s lives because when we are dishonest in any situation, we open the door to problems that will eventually be out of our control. Each of these women was not deceitful by nature, but through circumstances beyond their control felt hiding their secrets would be less painful for those they loved. 

The Old Depot Grocery had been the center of the family’s life since 1965 when Glory married the owner Clarence, a man 10 years her senior.  The marriage didn’t start out as a traditional one for sure, but through the years grew strong in affection and respect. After her husband died she continued to run the store that she saw as a life blood to her family and community.  After 56 years it was becoming a burden with the new grocery store in town taking most of its customers.  Although she was in her 80’s she was determined to keep it going.  She has secrets from her past that drive her on.

Her daughter, Rosemary, who grew up in the store has other plans.  She wants the store sold and her mother’s last years to be those of ease.  Tempers flare and heads butt as they disagree.  Her mother’s future isn’t the only reason she wants to sell.  She holds many secrets in her heart that have been hidden for many years.

Enter Sarah, daughter and granddaughter.  She has just lost her husband in an accident and comes home in hope of support and healing.  She gets caught in the crossfire of her family and while seeing both sides she has her opinions and even plans. Sarah has her own secrets she holds close.  As the three women once again live in close proximity, their secrecy gives way to a slippery slope of emotions and events that reveal what none of them felt would ever come to light.

I saw so many deep lessons as I read. Shame and fear of upsetting others involved are never motives to hide the truth.  It hurts far more to find out one was betrayed than to face the pain of facts.  The longer one conceals secrets, the more complicated they become and the harder it is to come clean.  I also saw how forgiving yourself is often more difficult than forgiving another.

I couldn’t put the book down!  There are so many surprises along the way! It was incredible to view all three lives and see what the other ones could not see.  A dynamic and entertaining book!

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

Aunt Ida Clare By Michele McCarthy

Children are bombarded with so much negative in the world. They are faced with bullies and unkind kids at school.  Media programs that make them feel they don’t measure up in many ways. Even adults in their life unthinkingly make statements that can undermine their value in their eyes.  They have little encouragement or teaching them to show how truly special they are.  These comments stay with their impressionable minds and hearts for life. I know some of the remarks made to me in my youth have stayed with me all these years. (And trust me that is a lot of years!) Because of these things, too many children have a “can’t do” rather than a “can do” mind set.  

This book is a wonderful, fun way to encourage and turn about a child’s thinking.  It centers around the importance of words.  And after all that is where it all begins isn’t it, with the spoken word?

All of us have that crazy aunt.  Well Aunt Ida was definitely one of those!  She has just moved to town near the children and is called upon to babysit them.  At first they are skeptical but are quickly caught up in her excitement, positivity and quirkiness.  There are lots of unusual fun, descriptive words.  (Personally my favorite word is bodacious but much to my disappointment it is not in the book).

Aunt Ida quickly turns the children’s negative thinking around.  Two things I especially liked about is one, it center’s around the Bible and God’s perspective on our words. Secondly I loved the object lesson she uses to get this across.  It is unforgettable and easily applied to your children’s lives.  Not telling what it is because I don’t want to be a spoiler!

I will not only read it with my grandchildren (more than once) but also use it as a lesson in my Sunday school class.  I also plan to get each child the item used in the object lesson! A much needed powerful little book that I see being a real game changer in children’s lives! Thank you to Michele McCarty for giving me a copy of this book.  The opinions in this review are my own.

Under the Bayou Moon  By Valerie Fraser Luesse

I have some close friends from Louisiana that are so in love with their state and the life they had there.  I have been there briefly once but otherwise knew little about it.  After reading this book I understand what they are talking about.

The time is 1949.  Ellie Fields wants to break out of her family’s preconceived ideas about how her future would be and have some adventure!  That opportunity comes when she is offered a teaching job in the Bernadette, Louisiana.  She sets off alone from her comfortable home in Alabama in her 1939 car she has named Mabel. 

What she finds is a far cry from what she expected.  She finds she will be teaching 12 grades alone.  The children are terrified of teachers due to some abusive discipline the school board wants enforced when children speak their native language, French.   The housing she is provided is only accessible by a fairly long boat ride and her home has no electricity or indoor amenities.  She is really out in the boonies alone! Such a culture shock! Ellie is determined to stay and do the very best job she can.  I loved her fearlessness, grit and determination to face challenges head on and to be a part of the community. Raphe Broussard, a lifetime resident, becomes a source of encouragement and guidance she needs to settle in.  He is trying to raise his orphaned nephew.  A job he definitely feels unqualified for.  Little do they know a powerful politician has evil motives to do harm to the sleepy community to clear the way for his financial advancement.

The characters and town were delightful.  The deep caring and commitment they had for each other is something I wish was everywhere.  Their lives were poor and even backward, but they were so content and happy!  I was swept away by the author’s beautiful descriptions of the bayou, and the simple lifestyle of the people.  I felt so peaceful and relaxed, and pictured myself sitting on their front porches, looking out at the water, no TV, phones, or internet to distract.  Pure pleasure!  I felt a longing to go and experience it.   I learned so much about the Cajun heritage, traditions and personality!   One surprising thing about the book was that when most would end, this one was just beginning.  I enjoyed the excitement and mystery!  I either couldn’t put the book down because I was caught up in the beautiful moments or because I had to see what happened next!  A book you want to read!

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