The Lady of Galway Manor By Jennifer Deibel

Annabeth DeLacy had led a sheltered, privileged life of the upper classes in England.  That quickly changed when her father, Lord Delacy was appointed landlord of a parish in Galway City, Ireland. It was 1920 The Irish War of Independence was looming on the horizon and there was much unrest. 

The only information she had about the Irish people was from her father’s prejudices; they were an uneducated, coarse, lazy and dishonest people, incapable of ruling themselves. While this did not color her attitude toward them, it did leave an impression.

She was not enamored with the genteel life and had no desire to stay tucked away in the mansion and play socialite.  She is surprised when her father agrees to her apprenticing to a local jewelry artesian Stephen Jennings. His family’s linage is from the creators of the famous Claddagh ring.  Stephen is a closed up bitter young man who had no clue his father had made the arrangement.  The daughter of an English Lord is the very last person he would want in his shop.  Unlike her class, Annabeth is down to earth, sympathetic and caring of others.  The mix of these two unlikely coworkers and people makes for some very interesting events that unfold.

I loved Annabeth’s innocence and sincerity.  Seeing the true condition of the poor Irish through the eyes by someone who had only known wealth was moving.  I could feel the shock, awe and compassion that touched her heart.  I also admired her character as no matter how distant or hateful Stephen was she always responded humbly and in kindness.

I think my favorite character was Stephen’s elderly father.  His joyfulness (in spite of any situation) sincere love and warmth toward everyone jumped off the pages and captured my heart.  I wanted to give him a hug!

I found Annabeth’s father and mother’s prideful arrogance aggravating.  How could they have raised such a sweet daughter?  It was easy to see the wealth and position they so valued was empty. 

Most of all I was fascinated by the Claddagh ring and its history! I had never heard of it until I read this book.  I immediately went to the internet to see what one looked like.  So beautiful!  It made me want one of course!

A strong faith is God is the golden thread that runs through this incredible story.  Once again Ms. Deibel paints a vivid picture of not only the characters, but the era and the struggles of those living in that time. An extraordinary book!   I can’t wait for her next one!


Never Leave Me By Jody Hedlund

I was very excited to read this second book of the “Water of Time” series.  I enjoyed the first one very much!  You can read it as a standalone, but I believe you would be missing a lot.

Ellen is young, beautiful and dying of the same rare fatal disease that took her mother’s life.  As she grows weaker, she is resigned to her death and tries to enjoy life as much as possible. She knows her time is short.  She is staying with Harrison, a wealthy, longtime family friend.  He had worked with her father on a cure for Ellen’s disease.  Her father did find a cure in the discovery of an ancient holy water.  The problem it is extremely rare and almost nonexistent in this day and time.   Ellen refuses to take one of the 2 flasks that Harrison has acquired through great effort and expense.  She believes it killed her father and her sister. To convince her, Harrison, a paraplegic, drinks one of the bottles.  There is no denying its power.  Seeking more water, she drinks the vial and transports back into England during the late 1300’s, where her sister had been living for a year.  There is so much unknown about the time travel and things do not go as planned.  In fact they go horribly wrong. 

This book was even more suspenseful and exciting than the last one! Ellen’s perception of the era was very different than her sister’s had been.  She was naïve about the complications that were created by bringing her 21st century point of view and mannerisms into the past. 

Once again Ms. Hedlund descriptiveness of the era was rich and detailed.  I loved that she was able to see what Harrison’s mansion and estate was like over 600 years ago!  Sort of a like a medieval version of “if walls could talk”. She also captured the thinking, reasoning and understanding of those living then.  That was an eye opener!  I loved peeping back in time with my 21st century lifestyle and knowledge while experiencing 14th century thinking. The plot is a gripping, on the edge of your seat race against time in a world they knew little about!  It is one thing to read history, totally another to live it! Through the characters in the book was fulfilled two situations we can only dream about: being healed of an incurable disease and meeting with those that we have lost.  I found this very satisfying and comforting.  Once again Ms. Hedlund kept God as a focus of strength and trust for the characters to overcome the obstacles they faced.

I read the book quickly as I could not put it down.  This amounted to some nights of very little sleep as I am a bedtime reader!  It was worth it!

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

The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water By Erin Bartels

While I applaud Ms. Bartel’s talent as a writer, I cannot give this book the review I was hoping.  It was a bit of a surprise.  The situations portrayed in the book were not what would be expected from a Christian publisher.   I hate giving bad reviews but it was not something I feel comfortable reading or encouraging others to.

There is frequent alcohol use, drunkenness, and descriptions of sexual molestation. The latter, due to the very nature of it, while not as explicit as it could have been, cannot be made clean.  The main character even has a man she has never met before stay in her cabin with her. He is there to help her translate her book into another language.  That is innocent enough, and nothing happens between them, but not in keeping with godly conduct.

There are several references and descriptions of the woman’s scantily clad attire, and her molester looking her over.  This made me uncomfortable just reading it.

In fact there is not Christian aspect or even God mentioned in the story.

I would not have agreed to review this book had there been any indication of these things. This book was definitely not for me. 

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

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.