Monday, July 23, 2018

Historical Fiction Book Review: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright


Book Description:
For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and Midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant facade. Yet her strange and sudden inheritance of a run-down trailer home--full of pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters--leaves her wholly unprepared for how truly dark and deadly those secrets may be.

A century earlier, Gossamer Grove is stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists. The chaos takes a murderous turn when Libby Sheffield, while working at her father's newspaper, receives an obituary for a reputable church deacon hours before his death. As she works with the deacon's son to solve the crime, it becomes clear that a reckoning has come to town--but it isn't until another obituary arrives at the paper that they realize the true depths of the danger they've waded into.

Two women, separated by a hundred years, must unravel the mysteries of their own town before it's too late and they lose their future--or their very souls.


My Review:
I've never read a book quite like The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. Moving between two centuries was fascinating but a bit difficult for me. However, the story is well written and interesting. Jaime Jo Wright's research into old-time tent revivals adds a mysterious and at times frightening aspect to the story. The twin revivalists, based on real people—provoke thought about how the approach of teaching Jesus matters and adds a dark note of suspense to an already mind bending story. I loved the part of the story where redemption steps into the lime light. Annalise's story made me want to turn the pages faster to see what happened next. The characters learn some hard lessons, but in the end..well I can't tell you that. You'll have to read for yourself. If you enjoy suspense and mystery mixed with history, you'll want to read The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House by way of NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Historical Fiction Book Review: A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden


Book Description:
As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city--but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team's techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.

While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.

My Review:
A Daring Venture is a fascinating story about scientist, Doctor Rosalind Werner and her struggle as a woman in an all male science field. She works to prove that her theories can save lives, even when her methods may be questionable. She's a strong character with a heart for saving people from water born disease. But who wants to listen to a petite lady when money and power are on the line. Nicholas Drake, charming and a little dangerous, climbed the ranks from plumber to a man who decides life and death decisions. But he has a soft spot for Rosalind. The back and forth of their relationship entertains. One of the things I like about this story is the light it brings to the conditions of living with contaminated water. Many countries still do. We can't take it for granted. Elizabeth Camden's research into the time period illuminates her wonderful writing. If you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend you read A Daring Venture. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Light of Hope

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Tim and I arrived at Marblehead, on Lake Erie, just in time to see the sunset and watch (my favorite ever) lighthouse signal a green light over the water. As I watched the waves lap, I tried to imagine navigating the lake in a seventeenth century schooner. Masts flapping in the wind, bobbing up and down in rhythm with the water sounds appealing, but no electricity and little privacy left me with no desire to sail the seas on an ancient vessel. But people did, many folks sailed the Great Lakes. When they neared land at night or in a storm they depended on the lighthouse to keep them from crashing into the shore. The glow of the Fresnel lens not only provided light, but safety, and comfort.

When Jesus proclaimed "I am the light of the world," the Pharisees questioned his integrity. They didn't understand that he'd come to bring grace and forgiveness to a troubled world. They didn't believe he was the hope God promised.

But I do. Jesus assures us whoever follows him will not walk in darkness. As I trust him, my path is illuminated by the hope Jesus offers. Like the lighthouse, he sheds light and gives warning even in the darkest night or the most tumultuous storm. He sheds the light that provides safety and peace. Yet unlike the lighthouse, Jesus hope doesn't sit on a majestic pinnacle. His light doesn't wait at the end of a tunnel. Instead, his radiance wraps itself around his followers. His light reflects on the heart as a constant companion, a steady ray of hope.
Jesus' light is with us—All.The.Time. Through loss, illness, frustration, indecision, depression, anxiety, stress. He never leaves. His light gives guidance and comfort. Open your heart to his light of hope.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Pitiful and Prayerful

Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Monday morning, back to work...

I took a couple of vacation days last week to hang out with my daughters, Hannah, Maggie, and Sara and their families. We played in the pool, watched grandsons play baseball, and enjoyed pedicures (thanks to Hannah.) Tim and I enjoyed a quiet Sunday. Then the dreaded Monday rolled around. Back to work and the daily grind. Ugh! After I dragged through my morning routine, I climbed in the Jeep, then headed to work. As I zipped along the familiar road, the pity party that danced in my head came to a screeching halt.

What was I thinking? Not what I should have been. My friend, Lori, faced an extensive surgery Monday morning. She found out she had cancer after a routine gall bladder surgery. And she could still find joy. Here I was acting pathetic because I had to go back to work. Shame on me. At that moment I realized my selfishness, and I prayed. First for forgiveness for being pitiful, then for Lori. I prayed hard because I want Lori to heal and be fully recovered from the cancer. She's a warrior for God who ministers in countless ways. Even through this tough time, she gives thanks to God.

Can you relate? Have you found yourself in the midst of a pity party, then realized how pathetic that is? We have so much to thank God for. My health isn't perfect, but I can get up and go to work. I get to spend time with my family and friends. I have people who love me. And so much more...
Today, I choose to thank God first thing in the morning.
There is a song on the radio right now that reminds me to be joy filled and grateful. 
Old Church Choir . Give it a listen!  



Friday, July 13, 2018

Historical Fiction Review: Minding the Light (Nantucket Legacy series) by: Suzanne Woods Fisher


Description:
"How could I have expected so much? How could I have given her so little in return?"

Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship's hold full of whale oil. But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything.

Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn't defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and "mind the Light," finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be--honorable, wise, faithful--she finds herself falling in love with him.
But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? 


My Review:
Minding the Light is one of the most interesting historical settings I've read. I found the history of the Quakers on Nantucket fascinating. As I read the story of Daphne and Ren and continued following the diary of Daphne's great-great-great grandmother, the smells and sounds of a whaling town came to life from Suzanne Woods Fisher's pen. I could picture every detail. The characters vivid personalities made for an intriguing story. I'm looking forward to reading book three, The Light Before Day. If you are a historical fiction fan, you'll love this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Two Defining Forces


Romans 3:22-26
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

I just finished reading a book based on a letter written during the American Revolution. In the story one of the main character, along with an army of men, went to war with his muzzle loader to acquire the freedom of all Americans. Since that time, we've had countless soldiers continue to fight for the freedom of America. I thank God for those who have given their lives, their time and their families to allow me to worship God.
I've read a saying that says something like this: "Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G. I. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom." -Author: Unknown
Jesus died to free me from the weight of sin in this world. He came to earth and took on the burden of any who believe in him. He gave his life. That's true freedom! The freedom to live in this world without the burden of sin. The freedom to live in this world and not of this world. The freedom to love God and love people. I thank the Lord for sending his son. To live in this world without Jesus would be hopeless. To live in this world with Jesus means to live with hope and joy. I love Jesus and thank him for his sacrifice!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Fiction Book Review: The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck


Description:
Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.
When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved 
Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.  

Set in stunning upcountry South Carolina, The Love Letter is a beautifully crafted story of the courage it takes to face down fear and chase after love, even in the darkest of times. And just maybe, all these generations later, love can come home in a way not even Hollywood could imagine.

My Review:
When I started reading The Love Letter, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a story of faith. It took me a bit to adjust to going between Hollywood and the Revolutionary War, but once I got the hang of it, the story unfolded beautifully. Chloe is an amazing character who struggles and faces obstacles; but relies on her faith to help her. And that's not the norm in the acting industry. Esther, also an amazing character for her time, carries the Esther/Hamilton story into unknown territory for that day. The parallel stories create an interesting journey and a superb ending. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hello, Black-eyed Susan!

Every year I look for the first black-eyed Susans of the the summer. I love to see them dance in the fields and along the roads. My favorite flower arrives just in time for my birthday. I believe they are God's way of reminding me he created me and he loves me. Today I discovered the first Susan bloom in my own flower bed. She smiled and said, "Hello! I'm here."