Monday, July 21, 2014

It Had to Be You but Susan May Warren

It Had To Be You

By: Susan May Warren

Genre: Christian Romantic Fiction

Eden Christianson is an obit reporter in Minnesota.  She also is her brother, Owen’s, biggest cheerleader.  Owen has just signed a contract with a big league hockey team.  Eden believes it is her job to take care of him and keep him out of trouble as he navigates the waters of the big league.

Problem #1: Owen doesn’t want Eden’s help unless it involves his laundry or cleaning his new apartment.  Problem #2:  Eden needs help from the team captain, Jace, to keep her brother in line.  Problem #3:  Eden doesn’t like the team captain because he comes with baggage and a bad reputation and he seems unwilling to help.

Through a series of events Eden and Jace find themselves on the same team.  They forge a tentative friendship in order to protect Owen and to help solve a mystery.  Will the friendship turn into something more? 

Throughout the story Eden struggles to find her identity as a child of God.  She believes that her worth comes from who her brother is or isn’t.   She feels like she ought to be writing bigger, better stories but she can’t seem to get out of the obit department.  Her life and her dreams seem to be hitting a brick wall.

I really like Susan May Warren books and this one doesn’t disappoint.  This may be the first book this summer that I couldn’t put down. 

Happy Reading! J

A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mystery) by Todd Charles

A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries)

By: Charles Todd

Genre: Historical Mystery

Bess Crawford is a nurse serving for England during WWII.  While taking care of the soldiers, some who are dying, Bess would write letters home to their loved ones.  Arthur Graham lay dying and asked Bess to take his final message home to his loved ones.  He didn’t want to write a letter he wanted Bess to deliver the message in person.   The message: I lied. I did it for mother’s sake.

Bess finds herself home on leave and decides to visit Arthur’s family.  However, once there, Bess finds herself in a bit of a mess.  After delivering the message the family dismisses it.  No one seems to care that Arthur desired for something to be set right.  Bess is sure there is more going on.  Bess begins to ask questions.

People in the town of Owlhurst seem to turn up dead and the Graham family is somehow involved.  Then, after caring for Peregrine, Arthur’s older brother, he escapes from the local insane asylum imploring Bess to help him prove he is innocent of a 14 year old murder.  Could this murder have something to do with Arthur's message?  Bess find herself digging into this family that seems so ordinary on the outside but clearly has some serious flaws.  Someone does not want her poking around.

Bess is down to earth, smart, and caring.  She desires to see justice served.  I enjoyed getting to know her and found myself liking her.  The author introduces several characters throughout the story.  He does a good job of explaining them and their importance to the plot. 
I was sad to see this story end.  However, there are 5 more books in this series.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Forevermore - Cathy Marie Hakes


By: Cathy Marie Hake

Genre:  Historical Romance

                This story is about Hope.  Hope is a young lady who travels from farm to farm looking for people that the Lord wants her to help.  She seems to be wise beyond her years and relies firmly on the Lord’s leading.  They only things she owns are her donkey (who wears a hat) and a Sunday dress.

                She ends up at the farm of a German widower (there are many unexplained German words in this book). He has a sister who is pregnant and hiding from an abusive husband; a young child who is afraid of the dark after falling down a well; and a farm hand who is in love with the sister.  Hope is sure that God wants her to save this family. 

                Hope loves to use clichés and Bible verses while working around the farm.  The problem is that she often twists them.  However, her way of twisting them usually makes more sense.  Hope is also illiterate and doesn’t seem to mind that she is twisting them.  At some point the author mentions that Hope is only 24 years old but with all her cliché quoting and odd habits I kept thinking of her as a granny type character.  I never really connected with the character.

                She encounters this family at the harvest time.  Hope steps in to help this German clan fix up meals to serve their neighbors and day laborers as they bring in the harvest.  Jacob, the German widower is worried that all this work will not be good for his pregnant sister.   Hope seems to be the equivalent of a 21st century superwoman.  She can cook, clean, dispense wisdom, and take care of laundry chores all on very little sleep.  She spends most evenings awake talking to God.  There is never a complaint from this characters lips.  I honestly did not find her to be a believable character at all.

                Now, you can’t have a good Christian historical romance without a widower who is unwilling to give up his first love.  Jacob is kind and thoughtful to all those around him and he soon finds himself smitten with Hope.  The problem is he loves his now deceased wife too much through three-fourths of the story and then one day in the barn decides he loves Hope.

                This was a quick read and even a little funny in spots. However, I would not classify this as a book that I couldn’t put down.  However, if you are a lover of this type of story you would probably really enjoy it!

Isle Royal - John Hamilton

Isle Royale

By: John Hamilton

Genre:  Thriller

                This story is billed as a young adult fiction.  I think it is billed that way because 2 of the main characters are teens and have most of the action in the story.  There are several supporting characters and they are adults.  However, it kept my attention and I enjoyed it.  I was surprised to see it characterized on Amazon as young adult fiction.

                The book drew my attention because it is set on Isle Royal which is on the northern part of Lake Superior here in my home state of Michigan.  It started out slow and if I am honest rather dry.  There is a lot of description of the landscape and lakescape at the beginning of the book.  Once the characters were introduced things started moving along nicely.  The time period is the 1920s.  Some of the wording and slang was fun to read from that era.

                The story takes place on Isle Royal at the Wolf Point Lighthouse.  It is centered around the lighthouse keeper and his family.   The family is preparing to finally leave Isle Royal for the winter months.  However, the Lady, as Lake Superior is referred to in the story, has one more storm to throw at them.  As the lighthouse keeper prepares the lamp for the night a mysterious visitor appears at the lighthouse and gives him money in return for a favor.  The lighthouse keeper’s son sees the transaction between his father and the stranger not understanding what is happening.  He is rather indignant that his father would accept the cash.

                The stranger turns out to be a friend turned enemy from the lighthouse keepers past.  This man is a rum runner and is seeking to use the island as a meeting spot for his illegal activities.  He also has plans for the lighthouse keeper’s wife, who happens to be his long lost love.  Ian, the lighthouse keeper’s son and his friend Sally are caught in the middle.  Together, they must find a way to save the day.  They spend the better part of the book trying to thwart the bad guy.  They also encounter “ghosts” whom they believe inhabit the island.

                It was a quick read.  The author tied  up everything with a neat little bow at the end of the story.  It left me satisfied and happy with the conclusion.


Monday, June 16, 2014

I've Got You Under My Skin - Mary Higgins Clark

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

By:  Mary Higgins Clark

Genre:  Murder/Mystery

                LOVE THIS AUTHOR!  I also loved this book.  I think I have read all her books and have loved all of them.  She writes in a way that leaves you hanging until the last chapter.  I do not think I have ever figured out any of her books.  I am usually surprised by the ending.

                In I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Mary Higgins Clark actually writes about 2 murders while intertwining the lives  characters from each murder together.  The book opens with the murder of a 20 something doctor who is at the park with his son.  The murderer runs away while promising to come back and kill the son and mother.

                Laurie, the wife of the slain doctor, is a TV producer.  She is working on a new series that highlights old unsolved murders.  She decides to highlight the “Graduation Gala Murder”.  There are 5 suspects in this 20 year old murder but no one was ever charged.  The suspects have not seen each other since 4 months after the murder.  Are you wondering what the murder of Laurie’s husband has to do with a 20 year old murder?  I hope so!

                To tell you more would give away the story.  Mary Higgins Clark masterfully tells the tale of both murders.  Each chapter is from a different character’s point of view.

                This is a newer book so you may have to get on a waiting list for it at the library.  However, it is well worth the wait!

                Happy Reading! J

Friday, June 13, 2014

Finding Sarah - Terry Odell

Finding Sarah

By:  Terry Odell

Genre – Romantic/Mystery/Fiction

                Sarah is the proprietor of a small artsy sort of store.  Her husband died 18 months earlier.  She thinks it was an accident.  The police and insurance company say it was suicide and won't release the insurance money.  Now, 18 months later, Sarah’s shop is struggling and Sarah is hurting.  Enter her sister-law who wants her sell her shop and is bossy and demanding.  Then, there is her friend Chris.  He just wants to help Sarah by giving her money to keep the shop running.  
              Then, strange things begin to happen in the shop.  Randy, the local detective, is assigned to the case.  Randy and Sarah work together to follow the clues while also falling in love.  It seems they follow many clues but keep coming up empty handed.  All clues seem to lead to a dead end.

                Can Randy and Sarah unravel the mystery before Sarah loses the shop or is there something more sinister going on?
                This was a quick read and although I mostly had it figured out, I did not see the twist coming at the end.

                Just as a disclaimer:  This is not a Christian book and contains language and sensual scenes.

Happy Reading! J

Bridge To Haven - Francine Rivers

It has been a while since I blogged about the books that I read.  I have had several people asking me for book recommendations so I thought I would start blogging again.

My plan is to read about 20 books this summer.  I will attempt (can't promise) to blog about each one and let you know what I thought.

Here is the first one!

Bridge to Haven
By: Francine Rivers

Genre:   Christian Fiction
                I LOVE this author. There are very few of her books that I have not truly enjoyed.  This one is excellent.
                Abra, the main character, is born under a bridge in the little town of Haven.  She is left there by her mother.  Pastor Zeke, while on his daily prayer walk, finds her.  Pastor Zeke and his wife Marianne take the baby in and caller her “Abra”.  There are many wonderful people who pour into Abra’s life as she grows up.
                However, Abra’s life is not an easy one, or so she believes.  She finds herself making choices that will affect her life for many years.  As with many of us, Abra cannot get past her own pride in order to make better choices.  The story is filled with pictures and messages of God's grace and forgiveness.
                I can’t tell you more without giving away the book.  I will tell you that the ending came as a bit of surprise J  I hope that entices you to search it out and read it!

Happy Reading!!!