Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Prayer Box: A Book Review

Summer is on it's way and hopefully you have a list of Books to take to the cottage or read on those lazy summer nights!


                                   

I have just finished reading The Prayer Box, by Lisa Wingate!

What a great story about a lady who lived her whole life in a small vacation community and yet remained a mystery to that whole community.

It doesn't take long for this book to grab you and reel you in.  Iola Anne Poole had lived on Hatteras Island her whole life and died at the ripe age of ninety one!  Hatteras Island is a community of people that live there all year long and an increased population during the summer season.  Artisans and good people call this home and wait for the influx of visitors in order to finance their off seasons.  Home cooked meals, coffee shops with caring staff, make this island a wonderful place to live and an even better place to spend your summer months.  Everyone who lives here knows everyone else.  With the exception of Iola Anne Poole!

What starts out as a new beginning for Tandi Jo Reese, ends up being her lifeline to a future without fear.  Tandi Jo is hiding from a controlling and manipulative man.  She and her two children are literally running from a past of fear and control, into a future that will hopefully be better.

Iola, rents Tandi a cottage that is part of the property she owns.  Tandi in search of a better place for herself and her children jumps at the chance of having a secure roof over their heads without the fear of being found.  Her landlady is even willing to rent to her on a weekly basis.  

Just two weeks into this new beginning, Iola dies!  Tandi is already having problems with the rent.  Her "ex", (you'll learn more about him when you read the book)  does not know where she is and she does not want him to find her.

Iola, left her belongings and everything else in her life to the church just up the road from her Rambling Victorian home.  The pastor needs help to clean out Iola's home.

Tandi, now has a job.  Hired by the pastor to clean out her home, Tandi comes across a walk in closet full of decorated boxes.


Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

What happens next is for you to find out.  I really don't want to spoil this novel for you.  So much happens in such a reasonably short time frame.  You will need to pick up this book and enjoy it for yourself.

Those boxes and life on Hatteras Island has made it possible for Tandi to understand that there is more to life than running and hiding.  That there are good people in the world and that everything you learn from life can come to your aid when you need it the most.




This book has won many awards, and  has been recommended by Debbie Macomber , one the New York Times Bestselling Authors.  (I enjoy her writings as well).

It is the firsts in a series of 3 novels, and, I know I will read all of them.

The Prayer Box is a lovely summer read and will have you thinking about your own relationships, familial and with the people around you.  This book really is a summer gift and I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I have.



About the Author

 Lisa Wingate has written several novels and each one has had it's share of acclaim.  


While I was busy taking in this novel, my co-writer Bev Owens just finished reviewing another of her books, Before We Were Yours!  I had read this book as well and enjoyed it immensely.  So when I saw The Prayer Box, I was already enchanted with the author. Her stories are really enjoyable and I can see why she has such great reviews!  




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Honey Bus - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
Honey has long been known as the elixir of life.  For Meredith May, a young child whose life had been turned upside down and inside out by parental discord, the miraculous powers of honey, bees, and her beekeeper grandfather would be a vital lifeline.  To read Meredith's memoir, The Honey Bus, is to be mesmerized by how honeybees took the raw material of a confused girl and turned her into something golden.

At five years of age, May found herself uprooted from everything familiar.  Due to the divorce of her parents, Meredith and her brother were suddenly moved cross-country to live with their grandfather in California.  This was an incredibly upsetting, and confusing, turn of events.  For May, things no longer made sense, as no one had explained what was happening.  To make matters worse, her mother barricaded herself behind a bedroom door, and entered a seemingly endless season of child abandonment.

Sensing the need for connection, nurturing, and something to fill the deep hole in his granddaughter's psyche, Franklin Peace began to introduce Meredith to the wonders of beekeeping.  That journey began with a flurry of bee stings—which would terrorize most children.  Counter to what one might expect, the temporary pain of that surprise attack by swarming bees built up a kind of immunity to the deeper sting of feeling alone in the world.

Like a bee drawn to honey, May's curiosity about the rusty old Army bus in her grandfather's back yard was not to be denied.  The ramshackle honey bus was the object of Meredith's great desire.  She longed to be granted entry into that portal, for she knew that magical things happened inside her grandfather's top secret laboratory.  On the day when she was finally deemed old enough for a membership into the honey bus's secret society, May's joy knew no bounds.

As her grandfather's beekeeping apprentice, Meredith not only entered into the fantastical world of honeybees, but more importantly, she found her forever family.
Bees need the warmth of family.  Alone, a single bee isn't likely to make it through the night.  A beehive revolves around one principle—the family.  I knew that gnawing need for a family.
May's sage, quietly unassuming grandfather used the language of bees to reveal the ancient ways that were relevant to learning how to persevere through collective strength.  As she fed off of this Way of the Bees, Meredith learned all that she could not learn from her birth parents.  It was the bees that were, in essence, raising her.  From them, the author gained insight into compassion and how to thrive by caring for others. 



In following Meredith through the mystical portal into honeybee society, we find ourselves joining in the dance of the bees.  You will revel in the poetry of what it is to be in the presence of sacred creatures that exist for the greater good.  The artistry of Meredith May's writing was, to this reader, the sweetest of nectars.

Just as honeybees make themselves essential through their generosity, this book is essential reading in that it gives us what we need to enter into the bee's state of grace.  Bees give far more than they ever take.  Spending time in The Honey Bus has given me the desire to be more of what someone else might need right now.  And, perhaps, that is the true elixir of life.









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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Spirit of the Season by Fern Michaels - Book Review


Spirit of the Season is a Holiday Romance book by Fern Michaels, best-selling author of The Sisterhood Series and The Men of the Sisterhood books. 


Synopsis



Spirit of the Season - A Holiday Romance Story

Joy Preston grew up in a small town in North Carolina where her grandparents and mother ran a successful Bed and Breakfast called Heart and Soul. In her teens, Joy falls in love with Colorado on a family vacation. Subsequently, she decides to go to collage out there where she majors in Business and Marketing.  While thinking of starting her own company, her marketing professor tells her class that when designing a product the simplest ideas were almost always the most successful. Joy comes up with the idea for a Nail Polish Company and calls it Simply Joy. 

When the story begins it is seven years later and Joy is CEO of her own successful company, which she runs with the help of her two best friends. Their small office is located in Denver, with the product produced in a lab in New York. While working late one night, she gets a call from Izzy, who has worked for her grandmother at the B&B for many years. The news is not good; her grandmother has died of a heart attack.

It is almost Thanksgiving as Joy returns to North Carolina to help her mother & Izzy make arrangements for keeping the B&B running, as it is filled to capacity for the upcoming holidays. This is partly due to the fact that Heart and Soul has a special charm, especially at holiday time, because of how it is always elaborately decorated for the season, with themed guest rooms and dazzling lawn displays. And rumor has it that, during the holidays, guests can be reunited with the spirit of a loved one who has passed on.  

After a private memorial for her grandmother, Joy and her mother meet with estate attorney Will Drake, Joy is shocked to learn that her grandmother's will stipulates that Joy is to take over Heart and Soul and live at the B&B as owner and operator for six months.  Otherwise, the B&B will become the legal property of the state of North Carolina. 

Joy is quite upset and cannot understand why her grandmother would add such a thing to her will.  Though she misses her Nana dearly, Joy has her own company to run and loves living in a big city. She also thoroughly enjoys Colorado's winter sports. She has always been sure she would never live in a small town again where everyone knows everything you do. 

But it IS the holiday season and the B&B is fully booked and decorated, ready to participate in the Parade of Homes competition and gingerbread house contest.  So, since her company can be run from anywhere, Joy decides to stay for the six months to honor her grandmother's wishes.

Add together the Spirit of the Season, handsome attorney Will Drake, and perhaps a little ghostly matchmaking from Joy's beloved Nana, and we have a delightful holiday romance novel. 


Summary


Christmas is a time for remembering loved ones past and present. In this new novel by  New York Times  bestselling author Fern Michaels, the holidays are also the time to discover a future that, like the perfect gift, is as satisfying as it is surprising . . .







For more book reviews on Review This Reviews check out ReviewThisBooks.com





Spirit of the Season Book Review by (c) Wednesday Elf 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Before We Were Yours Book Review

A Book That Will Touch Your Heart

After having just finished the book Before We Were Yours, I would like to review it for you today. It isn't a book that I would have chosen for myself, to be honest. My youngest daughter gave it to me for Mother's Day this year. It turns out she made a very good choice for her mamma to read. The novel by Lisa Wingate falls into the historical fiction genre which is a genre that I read often but it also falls under Sisters Fiction (I didn't even know that was a thing!) and Mothers and Children fiction (another new genre to me). Anyway, it turned out to be one of those books that I found difficult to put down. Let me tell you about it.

before we were yours
This made me think of Rill and Fern in Before We Were Yours
image courtesy of pixabay.com
It took me a little while to get used to going back and forth in time as I read the first few chapters but after a short period of time, I rather liked the way the author was making the story unfold.

Before We Were Yours Synopsis


Although, the story line in this novel is fictional, it is based on historical records of a time in the not so distant past where children from very poor families were literally stolen from their parents to be adopted out to families with money and power. Spoiler alert: what these kids go through is gonna tug at your heart. 

Lisa Wingate weaves us through decades of time while telling the story of a family of River Gypsies or Shanty-boat people on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee. As you turn the pages, you learn about two families that are two generations apart. You see the power of the strings that hold a family together or rip them apart.  Will there be consequences from secrets kept and secrets shared?

Personally, I loved the honest way that the author wrote about the struggles that most multi-generational families have when faced with having to place a loved one in a facility to be cared for. She portrayed the heartache of a family member no longer being able to live in their own home. Those awful moments when someone you love no longer recognizes who you are. This wasn't the main plot of the novel but was interspersed very well as the story progresses through a span of about 80 years. 

This is a story that probably will break your heart, but by the end, I think it will mend your heart, too.  

Every Family Can Relate

I think one of the remarkable things I took away from this novel was that just about everyone will relate to this story about family. I kept thinking about my paternal grandmother while I read. Granny was a strong soul who went through a similar childhood as the Foss children did. She came from a poor family with several children. Her mother died in childbirth when she was about 8. It was decided that her father wasn't fit to raise the children. The younger ones were adopted out quickly but Granny and her sister Cora were deemed too old. They were sent to an orphanage. Those two sisters spent years trying to get back to their family. They actually escaped from 4 orphanages together. She and Cora stayed close and they were able to re-unite with their siblings when they were adults and even took care of their elderly father in his last years. 

Another connection to my own family was that Granny suffered from Alzheimer's. Having to put someone you love in a care facility for their own safety isn't an easy one for any family. It broke my heart that she didn't recognize me at all but it hurt even more to see my Dad's face when she didn't know him. The author writes about this in a sympathetic and poignant way. 

I highly recommend this book! I think it will resonate with many. Whether we are a mother, father, daughter, son, sister, or brother; I think parts of the story will seem like a bit of our own.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Learning to See - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
You have seen the photos.  The Migrant Mother.  Desperate families on the move.  Children experiencing abject poverty.  Desolate internment camps.

Migrant Mother (1936)
Credit: Dorothea Lange/Public Domain

You have heard the photographer's name.  Dorothea Lange.  But how many of us know the backstory of how Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn Lange (1895-1965) became one of the most famous documentary photographers of all time?

Dorothea Lange (1936)
Credit: The Library of Congress/No Restrictions

Learning to See is historical fiction that reads like an organic biography.  Elise Hooper used volumes of historical records and interviews to create this compelling memoir-like novel.  Like many based-on-true-life stories, the fiction morphs with the nonfiction into a very realistic portrait of the complex life and times of Dorothea Lange.

We are first introduced to the intrepid twenty-two-year-old Nutzhorn as she arrives in the bohemian San Francisco of 1918.  Having been the victim of a thief who makes off with her life savings, Dorothea must use her wits to secure housing and a job as a photographic assistant.  Before long, the renamed Lange decides to forge her own path as an independent studio photographer.

As things unfold, we discover Dorothea's many evolving iterations: friend, businesswoman, wife, mother, and fearless social activist.  There are elements of Lange's life that some will find upsetting (like choosing to foster out her children during the hard economic times of the Great Depression).  The sacrifices endured for the sake of Lange's calling will have lifelong ramifications.

This is a book for those who appreciate historical fiction, biographies, defining moments in time, photography, or reflections on the human landscape of America.  I couldn't help but see the parallels between the subjects of Lange's Depression Era portraits and those that are beginning to define this current time of economic collapse, migrant oppression, and social injustice.

As a photographer with a connection to our country's unseen and often marginalized individuals, the themes of this book deeply resonate.  For me, Lange's unvarnished look at the real America took me to a place deep within myself that wishes to compassionately acknowledge and respond to the pain of those who are struggling mightily.  We know there are multitudes experiencing the hardest times of their lives at this very moment in our nation's history.

Woman of the High Plains (1938)
Credit: Dorothea Lange/Public Domain
This is not the time to look away.  To peer into the haunting images of Dorothea Lange's America, is to have the opportunity of a lifetime to learn to see and to define who we will become in relationship to, and with, those who are trying to survive, while hoping for a better tomorrow.

I highly recommend this novel and encourage members of book clubs to consider Learning to See as a group selection.  It is sure to generate the kinds of conversations that matter.










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Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Huntress Book Review

The Huntress Book Review
Told in three narratives, Kate Quinn's book, The Huntress, dives into Nazi-era Soviet Union and post-war Boston. It follows the post-war efforts of a small company whose purpose is hunting for and bringing to justice war criminals.

The main characters include Ian, a proper British journalist who was on the ground in Europe during the war and who turns postwar away from journalism to the task of finding war criminals. His purpose becomes a bit clouded by vengeance when he searches for the elusive target for whom this book is titled. That is, the Huntress who ruthlessly lured and killed men, women and children.

The second character is Nina, a woman who grew up dirt-poor and savage in Siberia. As an adult she becomes a pilot for the Soviet Union and a member of the all-female Night Witch bomber regiment who, during her time on the ground during the war, has an encounter with the Huntress.

Finally, we have Jordan, an ambitious teenager who lives with her father and sister in Boston. She wants to become a photographer and to break out of the societal requirement for a woman of the times that says she must get married, settle down and have children.

In the end, all are brought together by the Huntress.

THE HUNTRESS OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER


Here’s a peek via the official book trailer from publisher Williams Morrow:




REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave The Huntress a 4.27 out of 5 stars and 91 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s pretty good.

On the back cover, Booklist says that this book is “An impressive historical novel sure to harness WWIIi-fiction fans’ attention.” I agree.

The Washington Post calls this book a “compulsively readable historical novel” and says that it is a “powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” I agree.

WHO SHOULD READ THE HUNTRESS?


Fans of World War II fiction, which by the way comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, will enjoy this book. In particular, if you would like a look into the hunt for war criminals, Russian folklore and the lesser-known world of the Night Witches, you will want to pick this book up. If you enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network or Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz you will want to read this book. It quickly becomes a thriller and a page turner demonstrating how war changes people and the costs of seeking justice.

You should know that this book has numerous adult themes, which is what you naturally comes with a book about war crimes. Those themes include abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, war and sex.

Do be aware that there are numerous books called the Huntress. Don't make the mistake that a friend of mine made and read the wrong one. You can find your copy of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:

Buy your copy of The Huntress on Amazon.
The Ragged Edge of Night Book Review.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Movie Review.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Watership Down Book Review

Wonderful Book To Read

A review of a classic book for you  to consider reading, Watership Down. You may have been required to read this book when you were in Middle or High School. I fall into an age group that wasn't; when I was still attending school it hadn't been written yet. So, I'm quite late to the game but I enjoyed this book a whole lot and would have loved writing a report on it or discussing it in a classroom. (I was one of those strange kids who relished those book assignments!)

watership down rabbits
Would the rabbits of Watership Down look like these two?
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I had heard of this book written by Richard Adams and first published in 1972 but had never considered reading it. From the title I guess I thought that it probably had something to do with a ship or a sea battle. I couldn't have been more wrong. Watership Down is actually a chalk hill in Hampshire, England. The story is about a group of wild rabbits who flee from their colony and warren when one rabbit senses that danger is on the way.

Richard Adams didn't set out to write a book but instead began to make-up the story to entertain his children on a long road trip. His daughters loved the tales so much that they encouraged him to write it all down and make it into a book. Adams was rejected by several publishers before Rex Collings Ltd took a chance on him and published it for him. The book was so well received that it won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize. I wonder what those publishers that rejected it thought when that happened!

My attention was drawn to the book when I was watching a re-run of a British television show. The presenter was in Hampshire showing properties to a couple who wanted to move to the country. He pointed to the real Watership Down and referenced the book. My curiosity was peaked so I looked up the novel and ended up buying it. I was not disappointed!


Brief Synopsis of Watership Down


The main characters of this wonderful book for children or young adults are wild rabbits. Just like with humans each has his or her own personality. Fiver and Hazel are friends growing up in a colony of rabbits in England. Both are about a year old and haven't found their place in the hierarchy of the colony yet. Life is hard for young rabbits in any warren; it is a bit harder for Fiver because he is smaller than most rabbits of his age and most think he is more than a little strange. Fiver shares a vision that he has had with his friend that warns of some kind of danger coming to their hillside home. He insists that the entire colony needs to flee immediately. Hazel has learned that his strange little friend is usually right when he "sees" things and encourages him to go tell the Chief Rabbit.

The Chief dismisses little Fiver when he hears the warning. He figures the little buck is just trying to find an insured spot in the colony since he will never be able to be in the warrior or guard class, he is just too small. A few believe the small rabbit while others are rather easily convinced. A small band of young male rabbits leave the warren in the middle of the night to follow Fiver and Hazel to a new land that is believed to be safer for them to begin their own colony in. 

As you can imagine their trip to the down (hill) that they can see on the horizon is filled with adventure and danger. The young rabbits form stronger friendships and try things that are new to them. Each finds strengths they never knew they had. 

I loved this story! Even though it was originally written for children, adults can and do enjoy it, too. It is rather a tome with over 400 pages but I think you will find that it isn't difficult to finish, it is so well written and interesting that you just keep flipping those pages. It is a great book to read for yourself but also one that would be wonderful to read to a child or group of children in several sittings. You can share it with children aged 8 or older and I think they will love it just as much as you will.




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Friday, April 17, 2020

The Rebel Bride Book Review

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 10 in the Series 

The Rebel Bride Book Reviewed
When I started this historical fiction series, I knew it included a book that took place during the American Civil War.  After all, it would be very difficult to write a series that includes major historical events and omit the civil war.  Nevertheless, this was the one book I did not look forward to reading.  I put it off for several weeks after I finished reading the 9th book in the series.  Only because it has been such a wonderful and well-written series, did I decide to go ahead and chance it.

I get so tired of reading books filled with opinions or propaganda about the American Civil War.  Frankly, it is one subject that will cause me to stop in the middle a book, put it down, and never finish reading if the author deems it necessary to spout vitriol. We all know wars are fought for many reasons and that evil criminal acts are overlooked in wartime.  Often the real reason one takes up arms against their brother is lost long before the first bloody battle.  Justification for invasion and brutality becomes the mantra of the day that reverberates for many generations that follow.

It turns out, I had nothing to fear about reading The Rebel Bride.  The author did not denigrate the soldiers. She simply set up a wartime situation where individuals are challenged to be honorable instead of depraved.

Ironically, this book turned out to be one of my favorites in the series.  I would like to believe that even in the midst of war, basic human decency and kindness still exist.


Plot of The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear
1863 Tennessee - American Civil War - April 1961 - April 1965


 Rebel Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower)The war had already taken so much from Pearl MacFarlane.  Her 3 oldest brothers are casualties of war, lost in the battles of Shiloh, Fishing Creek, and Chickamauga. Her father is mentally broken, with only occasional moments of clarity.  Her mother, previously deceased.  Her youngest brother, and only remaining sibling, drifts away to places unknown, presumably hunting, as soon as he rises each morning.  The work of the farm is left almost completely to Pearl and there is only so much she can do. 

When her cousin, a sergeant for the Confederacy, arrives with wounded prisoners of war, Pearl is not at all prepared to be conscripted to duty.  She doesn't have food, beds, or even training as a nurse, yet she is required to care for these men.  The physical and emotional toll on Pearl is tremendous.  

Because her cousin has a soft spot for Pearl, he sends a man to help her tend the prisoners.  Fortunately, Portius does know how to treat and bandage the wounds and amputations.  He also has the physical strength to help the wounded soldiers move when necessary.

At first, it is difficult for Pearl to aid the very men who could have killed her brothers.  At the very least, they represent the army responsible for their deaths.  However, as she nurses them, learns their names, their birthplaces, and hears stories about their lives, she sees the individuals as living human beings who need help.  In turn, there are a few who try to help her, if in no other way, by being respectful of her father.  Unfortunately, as with any group, there are some who would prey on the isolation and her vulnerability. 

Not only is Pearl faced with providing food, shelter and medical attention to the enemy, she is further challenged by her romantic feelings for one of the prisoners.  In the midst of the American Civil War, a Confederate and a Yankee do not make an ideal couple.


More Factual Background


The story of The Rebel Bride takes place in Tennessee.  Every county of Tennessee endured battles.  Homes and farmland were destroyed along the way, many were intentionally destroyed as threatened in the book.  

During the Civil War, it is a fact that homeowners were required to take in wounded soldiers from both sides depending on which army occupied their area at any given time.  One renowned home, turned hospital, still stands and is located not very far from my own home.

Few people realize that Norwegian immigrants fought in the Civil War for the Union.  Shannon McNear includes a wounded Norwegian soldier in the group of prisoners tended by Pearl.

The only real fictional liberty that McNear might have carried too far in this book, is the marriage between a black woman and a white man (one of Pearl's older brothers).  Even McNear admits that it is highly unlikely that could have happened.

Surprisingly, I highly recommend this book.  



  

Previously Reviewed Book from the Daughters of the Mayflower Series

 
The Mayflower Bride Book ReviewThe Mayflower Bride Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction! An excellent historical romantic fiction about the Mayflower voyagers: Separatists & Strangers.



The Pirate Bride Book ReviewThe Pirate Bride Book Review

At the innocent age of 12, Maribel Cordoba's life changes forever. Her formative years & education are guided by nuns, but she never truly forgets the pirate who stole her heart.



The Captured Bride Book ReviewThe Captured Bride Book Review

An unlikely team is assigned a mission that is fraught with danger. It becomes necessary to trust a previously perceived enemy. I highly recommend this historical Christian fiction.



The Patriot Bride Book ReviewThe Patriot Bride Book Reviewed

After enduring several life tragedies, this wealthy young widow finds the strength & needed alliance to serve the patriots as a messenger. Highly recommended!



The Liberty Bride Book ReviewThe Liberty Bride Book Reviewed

In The Liberty Bride, Emeline Baratt is sailing home to America. Her allegiance to America is greatly tested when the unthinkable happens.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lost in Transplantation - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
One of the deepest human yearnings is to know that our lives have meaning and purpose.  There is this need to make a real difference.  Eldonna Edwards' memoir, Lost in Transplantation, is ultimately a book about how you find your way to that place.

For Edwards, the gift was that of life.  In choosing to be a living kidney donor, she literally gave of herself to ensure another individual, and a stranger at that, could experience the very life of life.  This story, though, is not written to spotlight Eldonna.  The real underlying message is one that will, perhaps in more subtle ways, inspire each of us to commit an act of uncommon goodness, grace, generosity, or no-strings-attached love.

The opportunity, for Edwards, arrived unexpectedly.  As a 48-year-old single mom enrolled in community college courses, Eldonna learned that one of her young classmates was suffering from a kidney condition that would prematurely end her life.  Though she did not know this young woman very well, Edwards quickly realized she wanted to donate a kidney to her.  To Eldonna's great disappointment, her offer was rejected.  Sometimes an individual in great need is not ready to receive—not even a gift being freely given with pure motives.

This could very easily have been the end of it, but a seed had been planted.  Edwards found herself on a quest to learn everything she could about the need for kidney donors and the process of donor selection.  The more she discovered, the stronger the urge grew to help someone on the kidney transplant list.  It turns out, though, that there would be major hurdles standing in the way.

To read Lost in Transplantation, is to accompany Eldonna on her winding pathway to giving what she most wanted to give.  It is also to be there when she receives what she most needed to receive.  You will find yourself becoming completely invested in the author and her mission because of Eldonna's authenticity, her humility, her beautiful humanity, and the unassuming way she touches hearts.

This book held great meaning for me.  When my mother was diagnosed with renal cancer, which required the removal of her malignant kidney, I began to think about the possibility of needing to donate a kidney to her.  Mom had various conditions that made the reliance on one kidney rather precarious and quite risky.  As I sat in the hospital by her bedside following nephrectomy surgery, I learned that her sole remaining kidney was not picking up the extra duty that her second kidney had previously performed.  I was ready to offer my mother one of my kidneys should it become necessary.

To offer a close family member a kidney is one thing.  To offer a total stranger a kidney is quite another.  Lost in Transplantation will move you in ways you weren't expecting.  Perhaps this will be the story that leads you to an act of kindness or mercy that will completely transform a life.  Not everyone can donate a kidney, but each of us can donate something, big or small, that will make the kind of difference that brings meaning and purpose into life.

I wish to thank Eldonna Edwards for the gift of this book and her healing presence in the world.  You inspire me!  I highly recommend that you pick up her memoir today.  For those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this for free.  This link will take you there.





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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Book Review: Missing Sister


The Missing Sister is an exciting mystery that takes place in some out of the way places in Paris:  the catacombs, the brothels, and the underworld

Characters

  • Shayna Darby is recovering from the death of her parents when she gets a startling call from Paris.  Her twin sister, who she has not been getting along with is missing and she has been called to identify a body that was pulled from the Seine, that is presumed to be her sister.  When she arrives at her sisters apartment and starts going through her sisters things she makes a startling discovery.  A message, written on a whiteboard in a code that the two sisters developed to talk to each other.  This message could only be meant for her and it said "Alive, Trust No One".  Shayna is excited that her sister is alive but now does not know who she can trust to help her.  She identifies the body as her sisters, even though she realizes it is not, so that she can keep the ruse going while she does her search.
  • Angela Darby, the wilder of the twins went to Paris to study and never returned home.  She loved Paris and was very involved in her life there.  She did not even return for her parents funerals, which became a sore spot between the twins. What was she studying and why did she disappear?  These are questions that Shayna needs to investigate.
  • Jean- Luc lives in the apartment above Angela's.  He introduces himself to Shayna as a representative of the embassy who is there to help her get accustomed to Paris. But can, Shayna trust  him or does he have something to do with Angela's disappearance.
  • Sebastian introduces himself as Angela's boyfriend, but Shayna has never heard of him before.  Of course, Angela has not told her many things the past few years.  At first she lets Seb show her around, but after seeing Angela's message she wonders.  Can she trust him?
  • Valentin- The Officer in charge of the case.  Is he someone Shayna can trust or should she take her sister's warning literally.
  • Chang-a neighbor of Angela's and the one person Shayna feels good about trusting.

Find the Book on Amazon

This book was one of the Amazon Prime's free books for March.  If you like a thrilling mystery that is a real page turner, and just a bit spooky in parts, you will love this book.




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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Reviewing Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas

Over the last couple of years I have found myself reading more and more personal development books and one that I read earlier this year is Lucky Bitch: A Guide for Exceptional Women to Create Outrageous Success by Denise Duffield-Thomas.

An easy to read, law of attraction style of personal development book

I had never heard of this book until it literally fell off the library shelf in front of me!   I took that to be a sign from the universe that this was the book I needed to read even though the author, Denise Duffield-Thomas made the title such a mouthful.   I'll just refer to Lucky Bitch: A Guide for Exceptional Women to Create Outrageous Success to Lucky Bitch for the rest of this review.

I loved this book, the author believes in the law of attraction and it is basically this that she talks about, she does so as though she were sitting down with a coffee (or cocktail) and talking to you as a friend.   I have found a number of law of attraction style books hard to read, but this one was so easy to read I finished it a lot quicker than I normally do.

I also have a copy of this book in my shopping cart ready to purchase when I do my next book order.

So, why do I like it and what makes it different to the hundreds of other law of attraction style of personal development books?


  • It's very easy to read, more of a chatty form of book than a stuffy one.
  • It has very actionable steps for you to take with lots of examples.


Denise and her husband actually won a competition to become honeymoon testers travelling the world for six months which is where the 'Lucky Bitch' comes from.   She shares the techniques she used to ensure that it wasn't luck as in chance that led them to winning, but the law of attraction.   She left nothing to chance and worked hard.

I loved the fact that she didn't make it seem woo-woo and that all you had to do was say your gratitudes every morning and daydream about what you want in your life.   Let's face it I know that's not actually what some books say, but it's the impression that you can be left with.

Denise breaks it all down in Lucky Bitch so that you know if you really want something then harnessing the law of attraction can be done by anyone, but it does entail working and believing it's possible.

I love utilizing my local library to get books to read, but when I discover one that I can easily devour and learn things from I go ahead and buy my own version and that is what I will be doing with this one.

The only thing I was worried about was as I was reading and not wanting to put it up I thought I really should be taking down notes.   I then decided that no, I would enjoy reading the book through and then I could re-read it with a notebook.   I made a wonderful discovery at the end of the book -

Personal Development Book Review of Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
A great find at the back of the book!


It's almost like she anticipated people devouring the books without taking notes and has a synopsis of tasks for you to do at the back, broken down by chapter.

Do You Enjoy Reading Personal Development Books?


Not everyone enjoys reading personal development books and I have to say that a few years ago the idea that they would be a regular part of my life is something I wouldn't have believed.   I used to think that they were good for some people, but not me LOL!

I actually read at least 10 pages a day out of a personal development book every morning now (this one I also read in the evening - the first time I had done that) and I have found them to be really good for my mental well being.

I am very intrigued to know how many readers also enjoy reading this style of books, I'm thinking there's quite a few considering how big the personal development section in the bookstore is.

Here's a couple of the personal development books I have reviewed here on Review This -

The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson


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Thursday, April 2, 2020

No Ordinary Dog - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
If I asked you what you were doing when you learned about the terror of the unfolding 9/11 disaster, I have no doubt that nearly 100% of you could provide, in great detail, your memory of that dark day.

Now, how about May 2, 2011—what can you tell me about that day?  Actually, I can't recall anything about it, but the author of No Ordinary Dog, Will Chesney, was there when the mastermind of September 11th, Osama Bin Laden, was finally brought to justice during one of the most incredible Navy SEAL operations of all time.

Due to the highly classified nature of the ultimate in top secret missions, only one operative's name was released at the time—Cairo—the extraordinary military dog present during the raid.  This is the story of Cairo and Will's journey to achieving their joint, and yet distinct, destinies.  Most of all, it is a poignant tribute to the life-changing power of the human-animal bond.

Chesney knew his destiny very early in life.  All he ever wanted to be was a Navy SEAL.  It was that, or nothing.  Likewise, Cairo, an exquisite Belgian Malinois, was bred, raised, and trained for an equally elite destiny.  Few animals ever make the cut when it comes to serving as a special ops war dog.  Cairo was among the rarest of the rare.

Though I had read books and seen movies about Navy SEALS, nothing ever really drove home the extreme sacrifices made by these rare individuals like No Ordinary Dog.  Reading Chesney's accounts of what he felt and experienced during his SEAL training made me wonder how anyone ever endured that rite of passage.  Likewise, despite reading dozens of books about the process of how service dogs are prepared for their work, this was a very different look into the becoming of a top-of-the-line military counterterrorism dog.  It was fascinating to learn about the motivations and methods that come together to create a weaponized canine capable of functioning at unbelievably complex levels.

Over the course of their tours of duty, there was plenty of action and many memorable moments in service to their country.  If you are like me, though, it will be their final mission that stands out.  When Will is seriously wounded by a grenade explosion, and suffers from the long-term impacts of PTSD and other equally debilitating injuries, it will take the unbreakable bond he shares with Cairo to get him through the greatest challenge of his life.

This is a book for anyone who loves dogs, enjoys military history, appreciates the sacrifices made by our human and canine military forces, or who finds inspiration in the incomparable connection between humans and their animals.  It is a book that will stay with you during this time when our nation is once again shaken to its very core just as it was on that September day so many years ago.

Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in return for my honest review.  This book will be released on April 21, 2020.  Available for pre-order today.







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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic-A Book Review

April 1st, is that day that many of us dread.  Will we be tricked or will we impose a trick on someone else?


Now because of the current climate within our communities and world in general, the joke seems to be on us all.  There will be no pranks to play on anyone, if you are being socially responsible and socially distant from others and I hope you truly are.

So instead of doing a whole write up on practical jokes and such, I decided to go in the exact opposite direction.

Instead of bemoaning my isolation, I decided to learn something new!

It's fitting that it also falls in line with one of my New Year's Resolutions.  I promised myself that I would read more and at the same time look at many different genres that I might not have done before.  To that end, I picked up a book that really was entertaining and informative in so many ways.

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic, caught my eye.

It is an autobiography of a young man who early in his life (age 5)  was diagnosed with Autism.  What made this book catch my eye is that one of my granddaughters has been diagnosed with this disorder as well.  I wanted to understand it better so that I could have some meaningful conversations with her, her parents, and her siblings as well.  

Michael McCreary is the young man at the center of this book. He is very open about his life, family and what it means to be autistic.  

Now let's be clear, this is not a clinician's book, it is the story of a young man, who with the help of his family and a diagnosis of autism, is trying to find his way in the world.   Michael is very blessed in that his level of autism is high functioning in the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) scale.  The things he does are not things that all autistic children will be able to do.  His parents learn how to integrate Michael's abilities with his inabilities.  This makes for a very adaptable world for Michael.  Not all autistic children are that "lucky".   There are so many different levels of autism and we just don't understand all of it.  We are making great progress, but there is still much that we don't understand.

Most of you will remember the movie Rain Man (starring Dustin Hoffman), that was my first real glimpse at autism.  His level of autism is called Savant.  Savants are another whole level of Autism.  Yet it is so much more complicated and varied than what was presented here.

There are so many different levels of Autism

As I mentioned earlier Rain Man (a Savant) had a level of autism that allowed him to understand numbers to the point of being able to figure out a date, and being able to know it was a Monday or Tuesday....you get the picture. But autism has many different levels and with those levels people have certain abilities or lack thereof. 

Autism is here and with our growing understanding of the condition, children that are diagnosed with this can look forward to a better understanding from both parents and the educational system.

Sensory overload is a common trait in autistic children.  They either have too much or not enough sensory responses.  They may be bothered by the feel of clothes on their bodies, noises that we generally are able to push into the background , are like bells and whistles going off in their minds.  So their reactions to these stimulii is completely different than ours would be.  I know my granddaughter always has one leg of her pants rolled up to her knee, she just cannot handle the cloth rubbing on her leg.  One of my nephews needs headphones to block out sounds that are overpowering to his mind.  These are just some small examples of what having an autistic child can look like.  There are many and "Autism" is a misnomer.  The true way to speak of this disorder is to call it the Autism Spectrum.  Spectrum, lets us understand that there are just so many levels of this disorder in the general population.

Reading This Book Has Helped

Michael in this book has made me see what it is that can undo an autistic persons demeanor.  I did not understand sensory overload at all.  But reading about it through his eyes, it made more sense to me.

Autistic children, at least high functioning autistic children, usually have a gift of some sort.  Michael's was being on stage and making people laugh.  He fed off of the reactions to his "story" and made sense of his time with those reactions.  It also helped a lot of people who did not understand Autism to take a second look at what that means.  

If you want to learn more..........

I really recommend this book.  It is light-hearted, optimistic, funny, and yet opens some doors and windows into a disorder that has many parents, grandparents and the general public wondering.  I found it to be entertaining as well as informative and that to me is a double bonus.

If you are interested or want to delve into an Autistic life a little further, this book would make a really good read.  I'm glad I stopped to pick it up and I'm sure you will be entertained and learn something new at the same time.  It really is a winner in my books.

If you want to learn more about Autism there are many websites devoted to the subject and I offer a few here:



Now just in case you were wondering....April 2nd is World Autism Day.....Happy April Fools Day!








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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Activities For Kids Reviewed

What to do with the kids home

Are you struggling to find activities for kids to do while they are out of school? Let me review some ideas I gave my daughter to help keep my granddaughter entertained that did not involve sitting in front of the television set. With the schools closed across the nation, you might be pretty tired of playing board games and need some fresh ideas.

activities for kids
Keep the kids entertained
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I was talking to my daughter the other day and she expressed her frustration over how to keep my granddaughter busy and entertained after she has completed her online studies for school. I'm guessing there are a whole lot of parents who are feeling the same way. My daughter said that she was so sick of the board games they had in the house and needed some ideas on other things to do. So here are a few ideas that I tossed out for consideration.

One of the things I tried to keep in mind as I offered some options was that the activities needed to involve things that didn't require going out to buy new things. For one thing, we are supposed to refrain from leaving our homes but more importantly a whole lot of parents aren't working right now and money is tight. 

A Few Ideas To Keep Your Kids Busy

I suggested that on some days, my granddaughter could do some crafty type things. She loves to create all kinds of things so, I suggested that she make some things with the supplies she already has. A card to send to my Dad (her Great-Grandfather) to help cheer up his spirits. Cards for elderly neighbors that could be left at their doors keeping social distancing in mind. Pictures for her wall and that sort of thing. 

Another activity that would take up a little time was to go on an exploration for some fun facts. Have your child think of something they would like to know more about. Perhaps they are fascinated with Giant Squids. Have them do a search for those interesting creatures and then check out some of the sites that come up. While they are looking those over, jot down some other things to look for on another day. Perhaps it could be areas where Giant Squids can be found. Make it something they have an interest in so that they find it fun.

As I write this we are in the season where a lot of Bald Eagle's eggs are hatching. I suggested that my daughter might find one of the many nest cams so that they could watch for a while each day to monitor the progress of those eaglets growing. It is an incredible sight to behold! 

If you are able to, let the kids go outside in your backyard to play for a while. It can be like recess at school without their friends. Toss a ball, kick a can, skip rope, play hopscotch...anything to get their little bodies in motion to expend some pent-up energy. 

Have a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. Hide some things around the house with clues to the next item and then let them spend some time finding the items. Another option is to make a list for them to find the items on the list. Once you have done this, another day can be spent with them hiding the items and you have to find them. 

Try to think of activities you did as a child and introduce them to your kids, who are just as bored as you are by the way. Some you will be able to do and others might just make you smile at the memory. 

If possible, let the kids have some face-time with their friends or perhaps a grandparent. I love those video chats! We did one with my Dad the other day and he was thrilled to be able to see my daughter's and granddaughter's faces. She even showed him her progress with learning to play the fiddle...he loved it!

Look for inspiration either online or in books. A good source of ideas would be an activity book that you might have laying around or can buy for just a small bit of money.




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Monday, March 16, 2020

Book Review: Chesapeake by James Michener

Until now, I had never read Michener. For some reason I had the pre-conceived notion that his stories would be long and boring. I am happy to announce that I was wrong. While Chesapeake by James Michener is indeed a long novel, it is far from boring. It is a captivating account of the families who settled the colonies and waterways of the eastern United States. And their ancestors in the Delmarva region over the next 400 years. 

Reviewing Chesapeake by James Michener


I was in the mood for a story that highlighted life in the outdoors. As I searched my local library's digital selections I chose Chesapeake with the thought that if I find it to be over-rated, under--whelming, and difficult to read, at least it was free. I was surprised that I was immediately hooked with the first character.

This story begins in 1583. Pentaquod, of the Susquehannock tribe, is a widower who has voiced an opinion against the plans of the tribal council. As a result, the family of his new love interest has refused to allow her to marry him. He is looked upon with suspicion by the members of his village. Pentaquod does not want to war with the northern tribe and he wants to continue to live in peace. Because he disagrees with the tribal council, he is increasingly an outcast. He flees the village for parts unknown downriver.

"It was toward morning of the third night, when he had had only two small fish to eat in three days, that he came to those falls which his people called Conowingo, and here he faced the test which would determine the success of his escape. When he approached the white and leaping water he intended to drag his canoe ashore and portage it a long distance downhill, but as he paddled away from the middle of the river to the safety of shore.... "

Pentaquod's journey south by canoe from the Susquehanna River to Chesapeake Bay were stories that seemed familiar. The water and wildlife descriptions are similar to what can be experienced by those of us who sit along the banks or kayak these waters.  

Pentaquod had never traveled as far as the open water of the bay. He chose an island on the eastern shore for his new home. There he is introduced to Blue Heron's, crabs, and the natural rhythms of life on the water. Later, he joins a part of the local tribe (later named the Choptank) and lives a long, mostly peaceful life living on the rivers and in the marshes of that area. Michener's descriptions of the flora and fauna make me feel as though I am sitting there, on the banks of the Choptank river. 

In 1606, Captain John Smith brings ships and crews to the New World with a plan to "conquer Virginia". He also brings Edmund Steed. The Steed family is one of the families we follow over the centuries.

In Chesapeake, the focus is on a 400 year saga of these families who settled the area. Each of the families intertwine with the others over the years. While the characters, and an island on which one of the main families settle, are fictional the issues are historical. We are reminded how the people in the first colony barely survives. We are reminded that many of the first settlers are fleeing religious persecution and how that continues in the New World. As time goes on, "letter brides", indentured servants, and slaves join the growing population. Public whippings - including that of a Quaker woman - are the norm of the day. I was reminded that settling this country was no easy task. And this was just the beginning.

James Michener paints a picture of the area and of the families whose ancestry intertwine over time from the 1500s to the late 1970s. I will think of them every time I sit along the banks of the local waterways or watch the water spilling from Conowingo Dam.




Related Link:

Not long after I began reading Chesapeake, BarbRad reviewed The World is My Home by James Michener. She explains that in this memoir he shares stories of his life, travels, interests, and writing. I've added this memoir to my reading list and look forward to learning more about the author who wrote the engrossing story I'm reading now.


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