Monday, April 29, 2013

It Happened at the Fair




Title:  It Happened at the Fair
Author:  Deeanne Gist
Pages:  393
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Howard
                It Happened at the Fair is Deeanne Gist’s latest historical romance.  The story is set amidst the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  I have read all of this author’s prior historical romance stories and found them to be good, entertaining stories.  This one doesn’t disappoint either.
                Cullen McNamara has a secret only his parents know…he’s going deaf.  He has worked on his father’s farm, but has allergies that make the work almost unbearable.  He has a passion for inventing things, but doesn’t think he can make a living at it.  He is prepared to be a miserable farmer, but doesn’t think he has a choice.  Unbeknownst to him, his father sends away to the Chicago World’s Fair to obtain the site for an exhibition of one of Cullen’s inventions.  At first, Cullen refuses to go.  He soon learns that his father has already paid a lot of money toward accommodations and shipping costs that can’t be refunded, so Cullen reluctantly agrees to go.  He will be gone for six months.  His girl, Wanda, wants to set a wedding date before he leaves, but Cullen wants to wait.  They part after arguing, and he leaves for Chicago.  Cullen has failed trying out his invention before.  Now, his father has amassed a great deal of debt to send him to the fair and he must make some sales or the farm will be lost.  The only problem is that he is in the building designated for machinery and has a hard time hearing potential customers’ questions.  He has heard about the school for the deaf at the fair and hopes to be tutored to lip-read quickly.  He realizes Della is “the one”, but what is he going to do about Wanda?
                Adelaide, or Della as everyone calls her, Wentworth is a teacher of deaf students.  She has been trained in lip-reading and teaches this skill to her students.  Cullen needs that skill and quickly.  He pleads his case to her and she agrees to tutor him after her teaching job is over and while he acts as her escort to the various exhibits.  Della has been warned by her father to be on the look-out for dishonest men who will take advantage of her.  When she thinks she has discovered Cullen hasn’t been telling her the truth, she is crushed.  She has fallen in love with him over the course of their months of tutoring, sight-seeing, and sharing of their lives with one another.  
                The descriptive words used to describe the displays and exhibits at the fair were great.  The architecture, both on the inside and on the outside of the building must have been spectacular.  The size and details of each exhibit are mind-boggling.  This is an easy to read story with grief, deception, and forgiveness to name a few emotions.  There are also actual pictures or artists’ renditions from the fair included at the beginning of almost every chapter to give the reader an idea of what some things actually looked like.  The research and plethora of information that had to be sorted through by the author must have been a daunting task, but the end result of this story is worth it.
                My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

: Poison (Bloodline Trilogy #2)




Title:  Poison (Bloodline Trilogy #2)
Author:  Jordyn Redwood
Pages:  310
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Kregel
                Hold on to your seat!  This novel will have you on the edge of it from beginning to end.  Poison follows Proof in the Bloodline Trilogy.  Before reading this second book, I recommend that the first book in the series be read.  There are too many references and characters from the first book that are in the second book and the reader might get lost or miss exactly what is going on.
                Lee Watson is the head of a SWAT team unit.  His unit had been called out to the scene of a hostage situation in Proof.  During this crisis, he comes to know Keelyn Blake, one of the hostages.  After the crisis, he and Keelyn form a friendship that eventually turns to love and the two are now engaged.  Lee is hiding something, but won’t confide in Keelyn.  He fears losing her love if she finds out.  Lee is now investigating a sighting of Lucent, a character from the past, who Lee had thought was just a hallucination of Keelyn’s step-father.  Is he a real person?  When Lucent appears, people who were involved in the hostage situation begin dying.  What is the strange mark on their skin?  Lee’s drug-addicted brother also arrives on the scene to create another problem for Lee.  Lee begins his investigation and uncovers a lot more than he bargained for.  Lee is known for carrying a Bible around, but does he really put what he reads into practice?
                Keelyn Blake has started her own consulting business, is a Christian and engaged to be married.  Then, her past returns to haunt her.  She suddenly is in the position of being a mother to her niece, her engagement is on rocky footing and someone is out to kill her and her niece.  She knows Lee is hiding something from her.  Can she be in a relationship where there isn’t complete honesty?  Where is her step-sister, Raven, and why has she given up her daughter?  Who could possibly want to kill her?  Keelyn staunchly defends her step-sister and refuses to believe she is capable of hurting someone.  Raven was severely affected by the hostage crisis several years ago and has been under the treatment of a psychiatrist.  However, she appeared to be getting worse before she disappeared.  Keelyn hasn’t seen or heard from her in over two years.  Can Keelyn continue to trust God in the direst situations?
                This is an excellent story!  Be ready to read it from cover to cover in one sitting…it is that good!  The characters have depth and realism.  They are strong and have grit.  Some also have compassion, love, faith and gentleness.  Others have deceit, hatred, shame and guilt.  The action is thrilling and the plot intricate.  This book is definitely on my “keeper” shelf.  I’m anxiously awaiting the third book in the series is titled, Peril, and I’ll be one of the first to get the book.  I highly recommend this series.
My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Message on the Quilt



Title:  The Message on the Quilt
Author:  Stephanie Grace Whitson
Pages:  320
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Barbour
                The Message of the Quilt is a novel that encompasses an era where times are changing quicker than people’s hearts and attitudes.  Characters reflect the questions many have of love, faith and redemption based upon the truth of God as well as the truth about man.  What does this mean?  Well, for Emilie Jane it means following her heart’s desire to become a writer in a time when such an idea isn’t well received.  For Noah Shaw, it is learning that his heritage isn’t what is going to determine his future, but who he is on the inside.  For an aging actress, she is learning that no matter how much theatrics one puts forth there are some who see clean through the fa├žade to the truth of her soul.
                A quilt carried by a man made by his mother is meant to tell him more than her stories ever could about her life, son and God.  One thread in the tapestry of the story is if love could stand through separation, then the truth the past had enfolded for years until recently.  Another thread I noticed is the beauty of learning to live without a loved one doesn’t mean that person is forgotten, but because of the Lord we don’t mourn like those without God.  If we have given our hearts to the Lord and recognize that His sacrifice reconciles us to Him, we can face hardships in His strength.
                Passing on stories and memories is really important, especially to those who are left behind.  Learning to share the truth about God is a real bright star in the novel.  I liked how the author has older characters take time to gather their mementoes to prepare to write a memoir for others to read long after they are gone.  Stories, we just have a hankering for more of them don’t we?  They speak to us wherever we are on life’s journey and when we share them with others, they become even more precious.  Here on these pages you will read stories within a story.
                Grab The Book, The Bible, and let Him speak to the depth of your heart and soul.  Afterwards, grab a novel and enjoy reading fiction for the gift that it is; just remember it is fiction.  It is good to give our minds and emotions a rest, even an escape during anytime of the day.
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Terri (Women of the Valley Book #2)



Title:  Terri (Women of the Valley Book #2)
Author:  Sharon Srock
Pages:  304 (Printed to be released May 22nd 2013)
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Harborlight Books
                Sometimes you never know what a novel is about whether you’re looking at the cover or reading the synopsis on the back.  Perhaps, like me, you even see what other novels the authors has written or perhaps even co-authored.  Here, when I read about this novel, I was curious as I had never read anything by the author.  The synopsis wasn’t helpful in discovering the answer either.  So, I took a leap thinking that the worst that could happen was I wouldn’t care for the story.  I am so thrilled to say this novel was a very heart-touching story from many sides.
                First, let me tell you this is the second book in this series, and I didn’t read the first one.  There are readers who like to read the authors series in order whether they are stand alone stories or uniquely knitted together stand-alone stories.  Since I didn’t read the first one, I can’t tell you whether this one is knitted to the first novel.  What I can share with you is the wonderful fictional story of how God takes lives that look hopeless, lost, alone and afraid, and redeeming them.
                Terri, the lead female character, is an only child and has lived on her own since her parents deaths a couple of years before.  Being a dedicated Christian helps her to depend on Him to bring the right husband into her life in His timing.  She was cautious in her life as she didn’t want to miss God’s best for her.  Terri uses the inheritance money she receives to start a daycare.  Now, she wants to become a foster parent while waiting for her greatest desire to be fulfilled.
                Steve is the lead male character.  He reflects the life of a man who was lost but now is found.  He knows his past while trusting God for his future.  He has daughters who have been in foster care while he cleaned up his act since his wife died.  When his family is reunited, he makes seeking God his first priority as well as providing for his daughters.
                Sean and Ellie are very young with the stress of trying to make ends meet as one disappointment after another makes the road ahead seem bleak.  Plus, they have a daughter who was 3 years old when she had to be taken from them until they got their marriage and home life in order.
                I didn’t think I would enjoy the story as much as I did.  The truth of God taking our brokenness and making something new is a truth that still rocks my world every day.  As I read this, I kept thinking of the multitude of kids I worked with in the group homes many years ago, wondering if they had their lives in God’s hands; I sure hope so.  We may not always see how God is going to work something out or what He is doing, but we sure can rest in the truth that He is faithful, wanting more for us than we usually want for ourselves.
                My rating for the books is 4-½ stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book for www.bookfun.org.
The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Friday, April 26, 2013

When Morning Glory Blooms



Title:  When the Morning Glory Blooms
Author:  Cynthia Ruchti
Pages:  352
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
                Collins English Dictionary 2009 defines discovery as “the act, process, or an instance of discovering”.  Here is a word that describes discovery as something that entails participation on our part.  Simply not moving might cause the act or process to be missed even in the smallest details of everyday living.  As a reader, discovering is part of every book I am privileged to be able to open up.  The real joy comes in discovering what is between the covers as well as what picture the words paint in my mind as I read.  Sometimes in the daily grind of life or the rush from one appointment to another, we miss the pure pleasure of discovering.
                As I started to read When the Morning Glory Blooms, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  While I appreciate the beauty of God’s creation, I don’t plant a lot of flowers at all mostly because I am allergic to them or to the bees they tend to draw.  After enjoying this novel however, Morning Glories will probably be grabbing my attention a lot more!  Why?  I will remember the hope they bring each spring and the novel about them.
                In using flashback and current dating, the tale unfolds to speak of hearts redeemed, hope restored, and grace found.  The women in the story are reflections in one way or another of women all over the world.  The themes are wrapped around the lives of unwed teenagers, and a woman who dares to believe the Lord, resulting in lives changed forever.  Just so you know it isn’t all happy endings, which is also a reflection of real life because of choices made and their repercussions felt for years.  Friends who were close at one time, can have a life-changing event affect their friendship.  One unwed teen longs to know if the man she loves also loves her, but he is fighting in a war.  Will she ever know whether he loves her or not?
                Another aspect to the tale is unemployment and the changes it brings to another generation, as well as the loss of a son to the Iraq War.  Parents are sometimes blindsided by the choice their children make, and wait to see if their daughters will respond to wisdom given.  Teenage pregnancy is a hard topic to write about in a novel, at least it would be for me.  However, Cynthia Ruchti does a masterful job pointing out the choices before all parties and possible outcomes when the decisions are made.
                I read the novel in its entirety in one day; I simply was enthralled with the truths of God’s love, grace and redemption woven in the characters.  It was interesting to see how the author showed that sometimes the right choice isn’t always the easiest whether the character raises her child or gives it up for adoption.  Just like flowers in the winter, which appear dead at that time, have new life come from the seeds planted as the weather changes.  Hope springs eternal because God gives us eternal hope!
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457