Friday, January 31, 2014

Emma of Aurora

Title:  Emma of Aurora (The Complete Change & Cherish Trilogy)
Author:  Jane Kirkpatrick (www.jkbooks.com)
Pages:  1168
Year:  11/2013
Publisher:  Waterbrook Press
Let me start by saying that discovering this author was one of the greatest finds in recent memory for me.  Jane writes historical fiction with heart, adventure and gripping action.  Along with those qualities, the characters also reflect what a life of faith might have looked like for a small community of Bethelites who desire to be separate from the world.  In this particular trilogy, beginning with the first novel, A Clearing in the Wild, a young woman named Emma wants to strike outside the bounds of communal living in order to go with her new husband and other scouts as they seek new land that is father away from the “world”.  During her adventures she learns a lot about herself, marriage and traveling in uncharted territories.
The second book is titled, A Tendering in the Storm, continuing Emma’s story to the delight of those who love historical fiction.  Emma is now parenting alone, which is hard enough, but what makes it more difficult is that she longs to raise her children her way.  Again, Emma is striking out to live beyond the boundaries or to put it another way to stretch her wings.  Emma is a strong-willed woman, having discovered who she is and how to live without the support of her husband.
In the final installment of the trilogy, A Mending at the Edge, Emma has decisions to make in order to be able to live life that is not always at odds with her new husband or community.  As discomfort closes in, Emma seeks to locate others who find themselves in the same place of life, which opens up for her a purpose that she hadn’t perceived before.
Jane Kirkpatrick paints a story of a real live person in a historical setting who isn’t perfect, but as flawed as all other humans.  Emma was a flesh and blood woman who loved God and longed to live her life in a way that pleased God while discovering what her purpose in life was among other believers.  I think readers will appreciate the rich history of Emma and other characters, along with discovering a period of history.  Emma was just like all women who long to be available and of use to God, living her life serving others.  The other plus of this volume is being able to continue reading without waiting to locate the sequels as well as the author sharing with the audience from the start which characters were real and those who truly were fictitious.
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

With Autumn's Return



Title:  With Autumn’s Return (Westward Winds #3)
Author:  Amanda Cabot
Pages:  404
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Revell
This novel completes the Westward Winds Trilogy that began with Summer of Promise.  This story is also set in Cheyenne, Wyoming in the late 1880s.  Elizabeth Harding is the focus of this story.  Her two sisters, Abigail and Charlotte, were the subjects of the first two books in the series.
Elizabeth Harding has moved to Cheyenne to be near her two sisters.  She has graduated from medical school and decided to set up her practice in Cheyenne.  The only problem is she has no patients.  Old Doc Worland has been bad-mouthing her and Elizabeth thinks that maybe Cheyenne isn’t ready for a female doctor.  She had thought the city progressive as they gave women the right to vote for one thing.  As Elizabeth finally gains her first patient, she continues to face prejudice in her career.  Her office is next door to the local attorney, Jason Nordling, who is a handsome bachelor.  Does he share most of the city’s prejudice too?  Elizabeth could really use a friend as her sisters are both traveling and won’t be home for months.  Is this really what God has in store for her future?  Maybe she should go back East and set up her practice there.  She really felt this is where God had called her.  Was she wrong?
Jason Nordling has just successfully defended his first client in a criminal case and should be riding high.  However, as soon as the innocent verdict is read, his client admits his guilt.  Jason can’t understand how he could have been so deceived.  He walks home and stops to meet the new doctor in town, but isn’t ready to face the fact that the new doctor is a woman.  Soon Jason gets to know Elizabeth better and their friendship develops, but neither thinks it will lead to anything permanent.  Elizabeth knows with her profession it would take a special man to marry her and she has come to expect that will never happen.  Jason has a pre-formed idea about what kind of wife he wants and it isn’t Elizabeth.  As they continue to work together through various crises, their admiration for one another grows.
I enjoyed this story and was glad that Gwen and Harrison (from the second book in the series) had their own story brought to a happy ending of their own.  I also liked the character of Elizabeth.  She was feisty and wouldn’t back down from anyone.  She had faced a lot of challenges and she was not someone who gave up easily.  This story seemed to have more going on than book two in the series.  This was a great way to wind up the series.
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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Anita Higman's Novel: Home at Last



Title:  Home at Last
Author:  Anita Higman
Pages:  192
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Heartsong Presents
While it is true that this is a love story, it is also true that within the pages are deeper truths.  Olivia was orphaned and in a foster home that you would have to read about to believe.  She had always longed for a home, but even with her heartbreak home life it was there in the darkest of nights that God spoke to her.  Now, as an adult, she is learning to listen to him, talk to him and wait for His direction in her life.
Twenty years ago Noah left his home after losing his mother and after having a verbal battle with his father; now, he has returned.  His plan is to talk things out with his father in the hopes that reconciliation can be made between them.  Who he finds instead is what starts the journey of learning the meaning of love and home.
Like the characters in the story our past is a part of us, but it doesn’t have to define our present or future.  In God, we can find healing along with allowing Him to lead us through the tests and trials of life.  I loved that the characters were older in the story and not teenagers.  It brings forth the aspect of hope and a future that is different from the days of long ago.
In a few hours of time, you can read and enjoy the novel penned Anita Higman, and when you’re done, share the novel with someone else.  Perhaps consider giving a copy as a gift to someone close or the library for others to read.  This is a great story with a message that rings true in the heart of readers!
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Scraps of Evidence



Title:  Scraps of Evidence
Author:  Barbara Cameron
Pages:  240
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Abingdon
A day with good book, a warm blanket and a heart filled with thanks…what more can a woman desire?  While I am sure the list of what woman desire is endless and varied, here is one novel that can be read within a short amount of time and thoroughly enjoyed.  Many quilt stories have been published within the last year and more are planned for this year, too.  Some may think that tales that somehow involve quilts might get old, but the unique aspect is that each story is written by a different author with different plots.
Since high school, Tess has worked at becoming a detective because of a traumatic experience on her prom night.  Once she made the grade and was a detective, she now has to meet her new partner from Chicago.  Lance is a seasoned officer who begins to notice signs that might help solve some of the cold cases in the state of Florida.  Both Tess and Lance have been estranged from God because of their anger toward Him.  Now they are beginning to heal from their hearts wounds.  Will they ever learn to see God’s plan and His love for them again?
I love novels with suspense and mystery, throw in some detectives or lawyers and I am hooked!  Barbara Cameron writes a story that will bring enjoyment and thrills to readers’ hearts.  Seeing how the case began building along with the author showing through a couple of the characters that God still loves us even when we are angry at Him was a masterful touch.  I loved how she portrayed the ripple effect that happens when loved ones are taken from us.  Add to all that a touch of romance, along with some great food described and who can help but read the adventure!  Though I must say, I am not a fish eater J.
My rating is 4 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 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, January 26, 2014

Stranger Things by Erin Healy

Title:  Stranger Things
Author:  Erin Healy
Pages:  368
Year:  12/2013
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Erin Healy is one of the most fascinating novelists whose books I read and keep a watch out for her latest publications because she writes with such depth of heart.  In this book, she crafts a tale about human sex trafficking within the United States.  While the topic may cause a pause in some, let me share this with you; there is hope woven in the story.  The hope written is not a fairy tale one or without hardships.  Some of the characters even in the harsh environment along with the cruel treatment they receive find the reality of hope.
When a brother’s sister is abducted, he forsakes his own dreams and pursuits to enter into a dark world that hates the light.  Carrying only his sister’s picture and due to a lack of response from professionals, Chris begins a journey to find his sister.  Along the way he begins to understand that he can save more ensnared in the dark than just his sister.  With two college buddies, they start a not for profit organization.  I won’t reveal the name of it, but will share with you it came from Chris seeing what grows only in California after a wildfire.  Got your attention don’t I?
The story spreads from there to a world with mystery.  As the tale progresses, the twists and turns of the story will keep the audience turning pages for hours.  When the bullies subjecting women to slavery are confronted, some women begin to fight back with the hope they will be rescued.  The once enslaved become redeemed, renewed and encouraged to love again with the strength that comes from believing in one who gave his life so others could live.
Erin’s recent novel was very enjoyable and thrilling to read.  She has another book set to come out in the Fall of 2014 called Motherless.  Personally, I cannot wait to read it and share with you all so that you might read it and share the story with people you meet, family or friends.  The truth that one life can change many is very persistent throughout the story.  It serves as a reminder to all of us that we too can be conduits that God’s love flows through to reach others.  His love that draws them to Himself and redeems what sin has stolen and evil longs to keep others from seeing…hope.
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 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, January 25, 2014

A Miracle of Hope


Title:  A Miracle of Hope
Author:  Ruth Reid
Pages:  352
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
This novel totally engages the heart and mind from beginning till end.  The story unfolds with multiple plots all pointing to the mysterious ways of God.  Lindie is a young woman who finds herself pregnant and no longer wanted by any Amish man in her local community.  So her brother Eli arranges for a marriage to his best friend hundreds of miles away.  Through looks, words and actions, Lindie has been judged and all but shunned by family and friends, so her conclusion is that no man or God could ever want her again.
Hannah is an 8-year-old deaf girl who has experienced the untimely tragic death of her mother in an accident in which she also was severely injured.  While Hannah can read lips extremely well and uses sign language, there are times she retreats into a world where even her father cannot seem to reach her.  Josiah, her father, is willing to marry Lindie so that Hannah has a mother who can teach her what young girls need to know and hopefully keep Hannah from running away without telling anyone.  Josiah’s only desire is to give his name to Lindie, not his heart.  Through time, what each has kept secret may yet be uncovered in a way no one expects.
For me, this is the best of Ruth Reid’s writing thus far.  One thought as I read the story was how it takes courage to risk being shunned again to let anyone really be a friend when experience has cause deep hurt.  When people have been deeply hurt, to risk or open one’s heart and bare the soul takes courage along with a special recipient to hear and love that person instead of rejecting them again.  Another thought I had was how keeping secrets can accidently lead others to reach an incorrect conclusion that can cause the secret keeper further pain.
In the novel, when the characters come to the end of themselves after trying their own solutions to problems, they turn to the Lord.  I believe this a truth in life I have learned many times.  If I turn to Him first, before proceeding, He has kept me from making a bigger mess than what already exists.  The Lord is who we should turn to and not expect those in local fellowships to be something other than what they are, human.  It takes prayer, time and discernment to know who to open up to and confide in.  When the Lord shows you who He has sent to walk alongside you, be thankful and take one step at a time.  A Miracle of Hope shows that believing God is essential to living through the trials of life and bearing up under difficult seasons of life.
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 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, January 24, 2014

Dare to Love Again


Title:  Dare to Love Again (The Heart of San Francisco Book #2)
Author:  Julie Lessman
Pages:  416
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Revell
In Julie Lessman’s enjoyable Heart of San Francisco series, readers will be enthralled with the tension between some of the main characters.  Readers will also find themselves laughing at some of the remarks that pass between Allison McClare and a certain detective named Nick Barone.  Most of the story, along with the cast, is a continuation from book #1 in the series, Love at Any Cost; yet some of the cast is new which brings new dynamics plus a hint of some mystery.
What thrills me most is the way the friendships that begin between some of the cousins like Cassie and Allison deepen even more as their faith is tested.  The matriarch of the family, Clare, has her lifelong dream fulfilled when a school that borders on the farthest street of the Barbary Coast is opened to teach and reach girls of all ages.  There is an orphanage that is run by an older lady with a faith that is stalwart.  She has no qualms about confronting a certain young man who is renting a room about the state of his faith at the moment and what is the reasoning behind it.
Within the blooming romance of a teacher at the school and a reluctant handyman, there lies a little 6-year-old girl whose innocence will cause sudden outbursts of laughter when reading her understanding of certain words.  It didn’t take me long to read the book because of the humor, romance, faith and trust.  Trust is a word Clare would love to attach to a man named Logan, but can she after all the times he has broken her heart?
Mrs. Lessman has penned a tale based in the early 1900s in the heart of San Francisco that many will find a pure joy to read.  I know the cover of the first book isn’t what captured my interest as much as the description of the story within the pages.  Here, in book number two, the novel goes even deeper into the lives of the characters and shows us sometimes how hard it is to trust God, especially when we are hurting or angry.
I personally cannot wait for book three of the series to be released to see how the author may bring conclusion to the ongoing drama.  So, grab both novels and be prepared to be entertained and perhaps busting out in laughter as the fiction unfolds.  I know I had a blast reading both and I am sure you will too!
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 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

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd



Title:  Hunting Shadows (An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery)
Author:  Charles Todd
Pages:  330
Year:  2014
Publisher:  William Morrow
This is a great British mystery!  I haven’t read any of this author’s Inspector Rutledge mysteries before, but I’m sure going to be reading them now!  This book in the series is set shortly after World War I has ended in 1920.  This story takes place mostly in the Fens, an area of Great Britain sparsely populated at that time and consisting of waterways, drainage ditches and windmills.
Inspector Ian Rutledge works for Scotland Yard and is called in to investigate the deaths of two men gunned down by a sniper.  While investigating these crimes, another man is shot, but not killed by the same sniper.  What do these two men have in common that would cause someone to kill them?  Ian must discover where and how and if their paths ever crossed to discover the killer’s identity and motive.  His clues lead him to suspect the killer must be a former soldier.  Does the soldier still think he is fighting in the war or is he using the skills he received courtesy of army training to settle a personal vendetta?
Inspector Rutledge does have a “Watson” so to speak to assist him in his crime solving.  His name is Hamish and he exists in the inspector’s mind.  Hamish was a real person, a soldier in the war under the inspector’s command, who was killed in action.  Not having read prior books in the series, the manner of Hamish’s death and the inspector’s role or lack thereof of in Hamish’s death might have been dealt with in a prior storyline.  The inspector has a lot of guilt regarding Hamish’s death and must deal almost daily with what we would call today post-traumatic stress disorder.  He has flashbacks of the war that leave him emotionally and physically drained.  He has contemplated suicide and keeps his service revolver oiled and ready to use for that purpose.  However, he lives day-to-day and continues to do his job.  This brought home to me how war can continue to be fought long after the treaties have been signed.
I thought this was an excellent book.  There was some swearing sprinkled toward the beginning of the story, but I didn’t think it detracted or distracted from the plot.  I am a fan of British mysteries and am so happy I’ve found a new series to read.  I liked the complexity of Rutledge’s character and how his mind worked to solve the crime and see justice served.  I would recommend this book.  Be on the lookout here for more reviews of this series in the future.  If you like mysteries, this one is definitely one you won’t want to pass up.
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