A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

Wooo whoo! Another bookshelf keeper! Tressa was filled with excitement and expectation at her father’s summons for her and her mother to come home. He had never done it before! Upon arrival she finds it was the butler who sent the message and her father is dead. She is of course heartbroken. She had never given up hope to have a relationship with her cold and distant father. Her mother is delighted because now she can spend his vast fortune he controlled. A monkey wrench is thrown into her greedy plans because it is rumored he has hidden the wealth but no one knows where! He had promised to tell Tressa before he died! So she and her mother sit in their magnificent castle home with an unpaid staff of 65 and “shillingness”.
As you know when it rains it pours with life’s problems. Merchants are demanding unpaid bills, treasure hunters and greedy relatives descend upon the castle hoping to get part of the hidden treasure. On top of that she is met by a shadowy man that claims was hired for her father to care for the vineyards. A job he never delegated to anyone!
I found this book to have many “treasures” of the best kind. First was the spiritual analogy of the vineyard and John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Even though this was a fiction book, it drew the reader to the importance of Christ and their relationship with Him. The author did it so naturally! It made the story even more beautiful. Instead of just reading and enjoying it I also derived spiritual insights and thoughts. The quotes from the notebook of a viticulturist before each chapter were though provoking, making me want to them more than once.
I loved the mystery, suspense and excitement! I was guessing from moment to the next about what was going to happen. Even when I jumped to conclusions I was usually wrong! Tressa’s sweet spirit and living as a Christian in such dire situations was refreshing. Her focus was on the needs of others despite her problems. I must say her mother was a bit annoying with her shallowness and “llama llama mama drama.” The author’s detailed descriptiveness of characters, emotions and setting made it like a movie was playing in my head!
An incredible book! I will definitely want to read every book Ms. Politano writes!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.


Still Surviving Henry: The Untold Stories! By Erin Young

I was hooked from the first time I read Surviving Henry so when I saw another book about this lovable canine disaster, I couldn’t’ wait to read it! I found it as hilarious as the first one!
There is no doubt that Henry has not slowed down in his antics and challenging his family to keep on their toes. I love humor and we all need lots of it with the way the world is today. There are few books that can make me laugh out loud and Ms. Young’s is one of those.
Some reading the book might think, “Oh my! Why don’t’ they just get rid of him?” Not me! I totally get the Young’s and devotion to Henry. Our family has had a few fur babies like this though not as extreme. It goes past them being a pet. They are very much loved, four legged family members.
This book went deeper, past the laughter, and into the heart of the author and thousands of other animal lovers. There is a deep compassion and sensitivity toward our pets, God’s creatures, with which He has entrusted us.
I saw myself in Ms. Young. No matter how difficult, inconvenient, or expensive, our canine family member is worth is all. I related to her desire to help other animals in need and asking myself why I got involved after it turned into a big fiasco. Because once I began that journey I couldn’t just turn away. I had to see it through until the precious little life was in safe and loving hands.
I loved her heartfelt lessons God was teaching her through Henry. I know I have learned many from my canine companions. Her message at the end of the book to treasure every moment with these special gifts from God truly touched me. I have thought of it often. No matter how much trouble they cause, it cannot be compared with the joy, laughter, companionship and love they bring us.
Another incredible book by Ms. Young. I could give it 6 stars if I could. Thank you Erin!
Be sure to go to http://survivinghenry.com/ to see videos of Henry in action and learn more about his amazing family.

Climbing Prayer Mountain By Tim Spykstra

Prayer is our greatest privilege and source of power from God yet the most neglected. Any book that can help me strengthen my prayer life is of great interest to me. I found this book to be exactly that.
I liked how Mr. Spykstra compared prayer to exercise for the spirit. Praying should be easy but many times it is not. We struggle with fear, doubts, distractions both mental and physical, and simply giving quality time to talking with the Father.
The author’s use of spiritual greats of the Bible and their examples of prayer was unusual and helped me study the subject from a different perspective. The book is divided into 4 sections: Moses, Elijah, Jesus and Peter and John. Ten days is spent on each one, looking at their challenges and victories in prayer.
I found each one very thought provoking and a springboard for more study. I appreciated the many scriptural references included each day. At the beginning of the daily devotional is a motivating thought on prayer. Every day is a section called: Ponder Meditate and Pray. All 4 sections are followed by questions for extended study for each day.
I was impressed that the book had a full week of devotionals – 7 days – instead of the usual 5 as in most. Personally I don’t want to “take the weekend off” from daily time with the Lord.
An exceptional book you will want to read and add to your collection!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bookcrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255:”Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

A Defense of Honor By Kristi Ann Hunter

This is my first book of Ms. Hunter’s to read and it has left me wanting to read all of them. I cannot even begin to express how much I liked this book and how well written it is.
In the early 1800’s in England, a young aristocratic woman that found herself expecting out of wedlock had no hope. The standard protocol for the family was to disown her or send her away. Shame and ruin of the family name in society outweighed a daughter’s needs or that of the innocent child. Fathers of these precious babes were far and few between who would step up and take responsibility.
Twelve years earlier Kit left her life of privilege and wealth to embark on the mission to help these unwed mothers and save their children. It was all due to her feeling responsible for her friend, Daphne ending up in the family way. In that time they had grown to a family of 12 children, her, Daphne and another woman named Jess.
Her love and concern for the mothers and children were sincere but she was fueled by her guilt and trying to somehow pay for Daphne’s plight. Her methods of providing for everyone were somewhat underhanded and dark, but she saw it as justifiable with so many lives at stake.
During one of her excursions into London she finds herself being chased and finds retreat hiding behind the plants at an elite ball. Lord Graham Wharton spots her and is captivated by her. Even after she flees he cannot forget her. About this time he is drawn into his friend Oliver’s search for his sister who has disappeared. Unwittingly he finds himself on Kit’s doorstep literally. Secrets unfold, romance blossoms and God begins to work in all their lives.
Not only is this an intriguing novel, but I found it inspirational too. Trust in God was a strong thread that ran throughout the story. I saw how sometimes we think we trust Him and are not. We can get so drawn into “taking care” of ourselves we do not see we have put Him aside. The author also beautifully illustrated how He is taking care of your problems even though the answers have not appeared. I love love, loved this book! I cannot wait to read the next two in the series! You can read the novella that precedes the book, A Search for Refuge for free on Amazon!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Edge of Over There By Shawn Smucker

This book was a great disappointment to me. The author is obviously a talented writer and I love the cover, but I found the book very confusing as to the characters and events going on.
That is not where the problem lies for me though. There is no way I can qualify it as Christian fiction. The story refers to angels and the tree of life but not in a biblical sense and that was the first thing that came to my mind when seeing those words. God, Christ, and everything associated with such terminology was never mentioned. I felt that the sacred things of God and His Word were used as part of something dark, even evil. To me this was a sacrilege. I was unable to finish the book I found it so offensive. I do not believe you can associate the Holy things of God with demonic, sinful ideas. Sci-Fi and the Lord just do not mix.
I hate to leave negative reviews but this book was not for me.
I received this book from Revell Publishers for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Minding the Light by Suzanne Wood Fisher

I was so happy to get to read this second book in the Nantucket Series! I must admit I was thinking, “How can the author top Phoebe’s Light?”, but she did! It is now the 1800’s and the story of Mary Coffin Starbucks family continues as does her mysterious and treasured diary from 1660.
The last book was such an interesting wealth of information about the life of whalers. This books shares another side of their story, what their families faced while they were out to sea earning a living.
Daphne and Jane Coffin Macy are Mary’s great-great-great granddaughters. Great Mary’s diary has been passed down through the years and falls in to the hands of Daphne. As with the last book, pages of her diary are shared throughout the book.
I cannot imagine having my spouse away for that long of a time, not knowing if he were dead or alive or even to return. The hardships financially and emotionally of the wives, children, and family was incredible as Ms. Fisher so deftly draws the reader into. Look at it from the whaler’s view. How much as his home and family changed in that time? I saw Ren struggle with adapting to home and the difficulties he was presented. After all, the challenges on a ship are far different than those among family and at home. There are so very many adjustments for everyone even though they are blessed to be back.
I always like how Ms. Fisher’s characters, no matter how small, are fleshed out that you feel as you know them and have met them. No matter how many years pass, man’s shortcomings never change nor does virtue and character. Daphne was so sweet and kind, always putting others needs before hers. Her faith and reliance on God was inspiring. You can’t even begin to believe, that she is Lillian’s daughter. Lillian is her opposite, a very bitter, dishonest greedy woman. I think my favorite character was Abraham; Ren’s extremely loyal black officer and friend on Ren’s ship. He had more character in his pinkie than some of the wealthy, “upstanding” citizens of the island.
This story holds more surprises and intrigue than the other book, especially concerning Great Mary’s diary. I even more anxious for the next book to come out!!!
I received this book from Revell publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Phoebe’s Light By Suzanne Woods Fisher

I knew where Nantucket was and of course I had a general idea about the whaling industry in the past, but I knew NOTHING about the actual life and facts this vocation entailed!
Ms. Fisher’s talented writing made me feel as if I was on Nantucket Island watching the people and on the ship experiencing the work of the crew and captain. Amazing! Phoebe Starbuck was an 18 year old teenager in the 1760’s. Upon her birthday she was given a much coveted diary of her great-grandmother, Mary Coffin Starbucks who wrote it 100 years earlier. The wisdom of “Great Mary” as she was called was legendary. Throughout the story pages of the diary are shared, giving the reader glimpses into the founding of Nantucket Island. Most of all Phoebe’s great-grandmother’s experience and faith helped her face insurmountable odds. I loved great Mary’s wise writings. Some of them I wanted to write down and keep!
Her childhood sweetheart, Matthew Macy had turned away from God and Quaker church so she ended relationship with him that was to end in marriage. She shows that young teens 350 years ago in many ways are not different than they are today. She had a crush on the dashing and wealthy Captain Phineas Foulger and just KNEW he was the one for her to marry, not even bringing God into the equation! Suddenly he asks for her hand and after a hurried she on cloud 9. She convinces him to let her sail with him on his next whaling expedition, something totally unheard of. Surprisingly he agrees!
This is where the adventure and suspense begins. The descriptiveness of the living and working on a whaling ship were incredible! I was riveted to the book! Poor Phoebe’s dreams and life were overturned, especially her stomach. Her suffering with sea sickness and the harsh environment made me think I was going to have to go take some Pepto-Bismol at some points!
She learned that seeking your own way instead of God’s will not work out like you think. But her story also shows that He will take care of us even in our foolish choices. Another incredible read from Suzanne Woods Fisher. I can’t wait for the rest of the books in this series!

Hearts Entwined By Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears

Novella’s are such a wonderful change of pace in reading. While a good long book is really to get into is great, I love how novella’s allow you have a have a “snack” and the treat of moving on to the next story! Hearts Entwined is exceptional as are all the authors! This collection of historical romances is top notch!
The Love Knot by Karen Witemeyer, has an unusual plot which I thoroughly enjoyed. Misunderstanding drove Claire and Pieter apart years ago but a surprising event brings them back together. This is a beautiful story of forgiveness and what true love really is. It can overcome the strongest stubbornness and pride.
The Tangled Ties That Bind by Mary Connealy, was a delightful read, filled with so much humor. Conner has been gone from home for 5 years but returns with big plans for his future to marry his childhood love Maggie. After 5 years she has quit waiting and has moved on with her life. He definitely took her for granted. Both are equally set on pursuing their dreams and it doesn’t set well with each other. Conner is determined not to give up. Through his deep love and sacrifices for Maggie, God brings about amazing things.
Bound and Determined by Regina Jennings. Ms. Jennings books are hard to put down so this story was a page turner too! This novella had a lot of humor in it too. (Love that!) Bradley Willis is a private in the cavalry. His youthful impulsiveness though with good intent has him “punished” with a mission to carry out. To his surprise it is escorting a Captain and is very attractive daughter, Ambrosia, across the scorching Texas plain. Oh and the captain’s beloved camels! Bradley and Ambrosia’s feisty personalities were fun to watch play out. Learning about the camels was fascinating and their usefulness to the Texas Calvary in the mid 1800’s.
Tied and True by Melissa Jagears kept me turning pages. It is the story of poor boy falls in love with rich girl but with a twist to it. Marianne’s parents had her life planned out for her up to the detail of whom she would marry, an equally wealthy childhood friend, David. Her heart though had made other plans as she fell in love with his poor secretary, Calvin. He returned her feelings but strongly believed it would not work. The things she did to prove her love were incredible! I liked her compassion and true servant’s heart in the Lord. Not only her family’s bank account stood in the way of convincing Calvin but memories of a difficult childhood. Marianne truly displayed the motto, “Actions speak louder than words” to show him that her love was what was important, not rich lifestyle was all she wanted. My what spunk she had! A sweet love story.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I hav

The Sound of Rain By Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Appalachian Mountains are as much a part of Judd Markley as the blood that flows through his veins. They were his beloved home but, that all changed when the mine collapsed where he and his brother, Joe, worked, badly injuring him and taking the life of his little brother. The grief and the memories are to strong and he can’t bear to stay. He flees to South Carolina and is hired by a timber company. There he throws himself it to work and tries to make sense of his scattered future without Joe.
When he first meets the boss’s beautiful daughter Larkin, all he sees is a superficial bratty rich girl. But as they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, even a pretty, wealthy one. Always running into each other, they begin to develop a friendship and Larkin is not what she had judged her to be. Joe was running from the past and Larkin wanted to run into the future she felt God had for her. That is to serve with her disowned brother, Ben, who was a pastor in the woodlands of Kentucky, helping the poverty stricken. Both find themselves in need of God’s strength. Ben needs His strength to turn back to Him and trust Him again. Larkin needs His strength to go against her father and his worldly plans for her even if it means hurting him. Larkin pulls some real doozeys to have her way, catching Judd in the middle. In spite of all the internal and external conflicts they find themselves falling in love.
I can understand Judd’s grief and wanting to run from it. I admired his fortitude and gumption to put all he had into a new and very unfamiliar job. His work ethic was amazing. I loved Larkin’s faith and determination to follow God’s plan no matter what obstacles stood in her way. Even when faced with the reality of her naivety she wasn’t deterred.
The Appalachian people and their lifestyle has long been great interest to me. The community and people that Ben worked with were wonderful! Their personalities, behavior and customs were intriguing. The contrast between their lives and Larkins were startling especially as she tried to integrate herself into their mountain home. I think my favorite character of all was Granny Jane. She was such fun and her patience Larkin and wisdom were refreshing. I was caught up in her way of thinking and sayings! An excellent book that truly drops you into the time and place right along with the characters. Another terrific book by Ms. Thomas.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Breath of Hope By Lauraine Snelling

This is one of those book series that you wish the author could write faster; like maybe a book every few months! I read the Promise of Dawn and could not wait for this book to come out! You can read it as a standalone but you will want to read the first one so you won’t miss anything!
After a great many struggles, Rune and his family are still working for his cantankerous (and that’s putting it nicely) Uncle Einar, and finishing building their new home. With them moving soon, Uncle Eniar will need more help. He offers to pay Nilda, Rune’s sister, passage to America. She is beyond ecstatic! Her family insists her brother Ivar come with her, but he choose to earn money for his own trip. America the land of promise to so many immigrants! Just as with her brother and his family she has no clue of what she will be facing in the way of her uncle’s mean and hateful ways. He does not care for his family just his land and obsession of logging the vast trees.
Just as in the previous book the author has a talent for vividly painting not only the characters experiences and daily life, but also their thoughts and emotions. I felt as if I was right there seeing and being a part of everything, but also stepping inside of each character and perceiving the situations thorough their eyes.
Once again I was greatly inspired by the family’s deep faith in God and how they lived it. Uncle Einar reminds me of people that are so embittered and mean spirited that nothing seems break through their hard shell. God is the only one that can. Seeing the Carlson’s love, patience and forgiveness is overwhelming. You can’t help but wonder how they do it after being consistently mistreated. A lesson for all to learn. I was once more shocked at the extremely hard work and challenge simply to exist in this era. I am afraid I might have given up. Another amazing book in this series! I cannot wait to read the next one!
I received this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.