Monday, October 31, 2022

Historical Fiction/split-time Review: Free to Love by Bettie Boswell

What It’s About:

This is a prequel to Bettie’s book, ON CUE

As Ginny writes her musical, inspiration comes from journal entries, letters and poems, telling the story of a mistress and her maid, bound together by slavery and blood, journeying toward freedom and love.

Early and Missy Hollings, her mistress, have always been together. Missy keeps a journal of the dangers both young women face while living with her nefarious stepbrother. Her father seems oblivious to their safety until the stepbrother's threatening advances increase. When Missy's father realizes both young women are in danger, he allows them to leave on a journey north with an aunt. He also reveals the shameful secret behind the young women's true relationship. The aunt insists that George, another slave, must be part of their journey, to keep Early safe. When Missy's family forces Early into marriage with George, will their relationship be forever changed?

They encounter dangers and help on their journey north. Will Early and George's forced marriage survive the dangers along the way when their path separates them from Missy?

My Thoughts:
I read On Cue and enjoyed the story, so I wanted to check out this prequel. I love this story of these two strong women as they navigate the horrors of slavery in the south. Early and Missy grew up like sisters, but as adults they face trials that may break them apart. Boswell does a beautiful job showing the turmoil and dedication these two share through decisions they must make. One of my favorite characters is their aunt who takes them north to find freedom and the promise of a new life. Throughout the story, Ginny, from On Cue, reflects on the journal and other ephemera she finds as she writes her musical. If you enjoy stories set in the south, historical accounts of that time period, or simply a great story, you’ll want to read Free to Love. I purchased a copy from Amazon. Opinions are my own.

My review for On Cue

Saturday, October 29, 2022

What Do You Fear?

Psalm 33:18-22

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

Our Golden, Rosie, shakes when she hears loud noise.

Monday morning, we awoke to a crew of roofers ripping off the shingles on the building next door. When I tried to take Rosie out to do her business, she trotted to the edge of the grass, squatted, then ran back inside. She refused to take her walk. Thankfully, Tim drove her to a safe place, and she was happy.

Like Rosie, I fear certain thingsfailure in my writing, making a mistake and hurting another person, letting someone down, and worst of allspiders. Yes, those creepy, crawly creatures freak me out. But seriously, fear is real. We all fear something.

In the Psalm we are called to fear the Lord. Not the fear that causes me to hide, or curl up in a ball, or throw my shoe at an eight-legged creature, but a fear of reverence. Healthy fear of God involves, adoration, devotion, respect, wonder, and worship. As a young Christian, the thought of being afraid of God confused me. Why fear someone who loves you? After becoming a parent I understood much better. Although I don’t think my girls ever truly feared me, they had a healthy respect for me and understood the parameters I set.

God watches over his children, and He loves like no other. Even as I hold a healthy fear for my creator, I also trust Him completely and hope in Him wholly.

Fear the Lord with joy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Plot Twist

Change can be hard. 

Yet, when the seasons shift, I enjoy the beauty. 
Autumn has been especially lovely this year--
the leaves vibrant and the weather glorious.

Change can be beautiful. 
I'm trusting God when life takes twists and turns, 
for He knows my future and my needs.

Like a novel--I can say, "Plot twist!" and keep moving forward.




 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Contemporary Book Review: The Book of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer

What's the Story:

A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family's legacy…and her future.

Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past, learning never to stay anywhere too long and never to allow anyone control over her life again. Coming to Wanishin Falls in search of her family's history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope's last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.


Only, the bookshop is in shambles, and the elderly owner is in the beginning stages of dementia and can’t remember where the books lie. To find the last links to the loved ones she's lost, Hope must stay and accept help from the townsfolk to locate the treasured volumes. Each secret she uncovers brings her closer to understanding where she came from. But the longer she stays in the quaint town, the more people find their way into the cracks in her heart. And letting them in may be the greatest risk of all…

My Thoughts:

Hope’s story took my breath away. Set in a small town, we often think of the charm, the shops, the quirky characters, but something seldom revealed is the underside this author captured; the one where grudges are held and gossip is shared. Ronan’s family has caught the brunt of the rumors for years and paid the price. When Hope comes to town to search for the treasured books her mother left her, with plans to leave as quickly as she came, she discovers something she’s been missing for years, the possibility, if somewhat shaky, to put down roots. With Ronan’s lack of self-confidence and Hope’s fragile emotions, the two search with the help of friends for a treasure which may not exist and discover... well, you’ll need to read the book. The characters Rushmeyer created will stick with me for a long time. If you love stories with literary references, faith and hope, incredibly deep characters, and the prospect of love, you’ll want to read The Bookshop of Secrets. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Do Good Work

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Genesis 6:6-8
The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

As a crafter, artist, and writer, I picture God’s hands creating each person with a purpose.

Can you imagine being called by God to build an enormous boat because torrential rain is about to flood the earth and kill off all the sin-filled people? On top of that, fill this ginormous ark with animals who will be hungry, thirsty, and smelly. And you and your family of eight will be the only people to survive.

True story. God called Noah to build an ark because God looked at the world and saw so much evil, that He chose to start over. The only man for the job was Noah because he was faithful, and he was created for this purpose.

My friends, Bev, Krista and I went to visit the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. The Ark is a replica of Noah’s ark built according to the dimensions in the Bible with the folks who created it using an artistic license on the internal structure.

As we walked up and down the three-story boat, along the ramps, I pictured Noah and his family caring for the animals. The feeding and cleanup were enough to overwhelm me. Which got me to thinking about tasks God has called me to do. Was I as willing as Noah to trust God and move forward? I’d like to think so, but at times, I’ve hesitated. When God called me to write novelsI thought there is no way I can do that. Yet I have because I chose to be obedient to God’s calling.

I’m thankful for Noah’s example of obedience and faith. From him and his family, I’ve learned to trust God and His wisdom and obey his calling in my life. It’s not easy, but I know God has created me as His handiwork to do good works.

What is God calling you to do?

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Staying Humble

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. -Colossians 3:12

Some days I learn a lesson by making a mistake. 
Last week on Wednesday, I posted a painting of a beautiful goldfinch, 
which I mistakenly posted as my mom's painting.
My daughter Maggie reminded me she had painted that beautiful bird. 

So this week, I humble myself as I post the lovely house finch my mom painted.

I find as I get older, I still have much to learn, 
mistakes to make, and humbleness to experience.

That's okay, because I want God to keep teaching me in my humility.



 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Let Things Go

 Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

"The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go."

Autumn has arrived in a glorious hue of magnificent color this year. I can’t remember a recent fall as beautiful as the one we are experiencing now in southern Ohio. From the photos I’ve seen on Facebook, the rest of the country is gorgeous, as well.

My daughter and I took a drive to see the trees in Kentucky. She pointed out one on her street in an amazing shade of magenta. Surrounded by oranges and golds, the tree stood out as a true beauty. All of these trees in all of their glory are preparing to shed their leaves and rest for a season. I’m glad they are giving us a show before they go.

And go they will. One day in a few weeks we’ll wake up to bare branches where glorious beauty once waved. The thing is, the trees are okay with it. It’s their process. Every year they let their leaves drop and prepare for a season of dormancy. That doesn’t mean they go to sleep, instead they prepare for spring by reducing water loss in the branches and trunk.

They let go in order to protect themselves from being depleted of the what they need to continue to grow in the coming spring.

Letting go of past sins is hard, especially when guilt and shame tighten their grip on the heart. Part of having freedom in Christ is to let go of the past and the sin and trust in God’s grace. Jesus is my salvation, my cleansing, and my rock. I’ve sought forgiveness and in His graciousness, He’s given.

Like the deciduous trees who drop their leaves in the fall and sustain themselves by preparing for the next phase, I want to let go of the past and store up my trust in Jesus and His grace. It is lovely to let go and find rest in God.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Cozy Mystery Review: Mabel Goes to the Dogs (Mysteries of Medicine Spring Book 2) by Susan Kimmel Wright

What it's about:
Mabel plans to bring the thrills of volunteering to the masses—if she doesn’t go to the dogs first.

When Mabel finds herself sharing a thicket with a dead body while volunteering with canine search-&-rescue, her life has clearly—once again—gone to the dogs!

After her losing her job at age forty-nine, Mabel thought she’d turned things around. Now she’s doing good by volunteering, and surely, she’ll soon be a successful author, writing about her experiences. After solving two notorious decades-old cold cases while serving as a historical society volunteer, she’s already getting invitations to appear on TV.

Her new assignment couldn’t be simpler. All she has to do is hide in the woods and let Millie the search dog practice finding her. But to her horror, Millie finds more than Mabel—there’s a dead body hiding in the same patch of brush. To make things worse, Mabel’s maybe-boyfriend, suspended PI John Bigelow, has a dark history with the victim.

While struggling with maid-of-honor duties for best friend Lisa, a string of disasters created by handyman Acey, and a disagreeable new neighbor, can Mabel solve another murder in time to save John’s detective license—if not his neck?

My Thoughts:
I've enjoyed Wright's series featuring Mabel. She's a lovable forty-something woman who is trying her best to stay out of trouble while stepping into the middle of it. This time around, she's volunteered to help the folks who train canine-&-rescue search dogs. While she's hiding in the woods, the dogs find her and a dead body. Mabel's boyfriend, John, may be connected to the victim. What can any good girlfriend do, but try to help him out of hot water. Of course, best friend Lisa jumps in to try and help her best friend. Mabel's stories are filled with quirky characters and precious pets. If you enjoy cozies, I think you'll like Mabel Goes to the Dogs. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Always Find a Song

 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, 
O Most High. -Psalm 9:2

During the time we were cloistered in our homes due to COVID, the goldfinches and house finches kept us company, outside our window.
I heard them sing every morning. 
They had no idea our world had turned upside down.

I'm thankful for those little birds and their songs. 
They taught me to keep singing. 

My daughter painted this beautiful picture of the goldfinch, 
and it's a wonderful reminder to me to rejoice and be glad. 









Sunday, October 9, 2022

Artisan Fair at The Artful Gathering

I'll be signing books at the Artful Gathering's Artisan Fair in New Richmond, OH 411 Walnut St. October 29.
I'd love to see you there. I'll be sharing a table with some lovely, young entrepreneurs. Come see us!



 

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Historical Fiction Review: The Secrets of Emberwild by Stephania H. McGee

What it’s About:
A gifted trainer in a time women are not allowed to race, Nora Fenton prefers horses to men. They're easier to handle, they're more reliable, and they never tell her what to do. After her father's passing, Nora is determined to save her struggling horse farm, starting with entering her prize colt into the harness races at the 1905 Mississippi Fair. If she wins, she may have a chance at independence. But when a stranger arrives and starts asking disconcerting questions, she suspects he may have other motives than unseating her in the training job that is rightfully hers.

Silas Cavallero will do whatever it takes to solve the mystery of his father's death--even if it means training an unwieldy colt for Nora, who wants nothing more than to see him gone. But when mysterious accidents threaten their safety and circumstances shrouded in secrets begin unlocking clues to his past, Silas will have to decide if the truth is worth risking ruining everything for the feisty woman he's come to admire.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed reading this well-written and thought-out story. Nora is a woman before her time, living in the early 1900s when arranged marriages kept families prosperous and women in the home. Instead of marriage, Nora has her heart set on training horses and running the family farm. Silas, a man who loved and lost his parents is out to find out what happened when his dad died. Nora’s Uncle Amos is determined to fight against them both. The story has mystery, romance, secrets, and an amazing horse. The Secrets of Emberwild will take you on an adventure into the early days of horse racing. I’m a fan of Heartland, so this book was a great read for me. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Show Them Love in Action

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Someone is always watching.

One thing I know about children: They pay attention and listen, especially when we may not want them to. In other words, children mimic their parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else they spend time with.

In September, I attended Grandparents’ Day at my granddaughter’s school. We convened in the gym at tables covered with brown craft paper and set up with cups of crayons. The staff served muffins, cookies, and punch and welcomed us with smiles. My granddaughter Ella Cate loves to draw, so this was the perfect set-up for us. We spent time together drawing dogs and cats and chatting about school. I loved sitting with her and sharing this special time.

At a gathering with children, I’m reminded of the many lives being formed and influenced by adults. I can’t help but wonder what they see and hear. As a child, I wanted to be like my second-grade teacher, Miss Mercer. I only had her for six weeks of second grade because we moved into her school district late in the year. She was a gentle, kind teacher who took extra time to catch me up on phonics. I loved and admired her and still remember her sweet personality.

As a believer and follower of Jesus, I’m aware of the traits God wants me to show others. I am particularly alert to how I influence children. I don’t always get it right, but I try to be a good example to my grandkids, the children I help in my daughter’s class once a week, and any other kids I am fortunate enough to interact with. I’m not just talking about the little ones, I’m talking teens and tweens, too.

As adults, we have a responsibility to show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to the kids who depend on us to teach them well. When children see love in action, they are more likely to show it too.

Jesus loved the children. He talked with them and showed them love. Let’s do the same.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Guard Your Heart

When the heart hurts, we hurt all over. 
The very life blood that flows through us pumps through the heart.

When I read this verse, I'm reminded to protect and seek protection for the most vulnerable part of me.

If I allow my heart to harden or be bogged down with doubt or hate, 
the love I have for people diminishes.

God has called me to love Him and love people.

Lord keep my heart spiritually healthy so your love flows freely from it.



 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Romantic Suspense Review: Body of Evidence (Tripple Threat series, book 3) by Irene Hannon

What it’s About:
Forensic pathologist Grace Reilly has seen her share of unusual deaths in rural Missouri. But when she begins to notice a curious pattern in autopsies of elderly residents whose demise appears to be natural, she takes her concerns to Sheriff Nate Cox.

Nate is skeptical about the link Grace is seeing between the deaths--and her suspicions of foul play. But her persistence is compelling. Once she finally convinces him her theory is credible and they join forces to investigate, danger follows. Because exposing the truth could destroy several lives--including Grace's.

Queen of inspirational romantic suspense Irene Hannon closes out her bestselling Triple Threat series with this gripping tale of secrets revealed and romance sparked.

My Thoughts:
Irene Hannon has written another excellent suspense as she’s tied up her Tripple Threat series. In Body of Evidence, youngest sister, Grace, has come across the suspicious deaths of elderly people, and she’s determined to find out the truth. Sheriff Cox is a kind-hearted and loyal officer, new to the job. I love the sparks that fly between the two and the dynamic of Grace and her two sisters. Warning: Grace is a forensic pathologist and there are autopsies described, which are important to the story. As in any suspense, I’m trying to figure out who is behind the threats. Hannon writes so well I didn’t figure it out until the end. If you enjoy romantic suspense, you won’t want to miss this one or books one and two in the Tripple Threat series
. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Anxiety and a Pair of Jeans

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Shopping for jeans raises my anxiety.

After a hot summer, I’m ready for the cool air of autumn. With the change in temperature comes the need for new jeans, part of my standard retirement uniform. I’ve worn out the ones I bought a few years ago, so I gathered my courage (because I need that to try on pants) and went to the store where I bought my last pair. The bins and racks oozed with denim, but every pair I looked at either had pre-ripped holes (I’m too old for those) or buttons instead of a zipper, again, too old. No classic jeans existed. As my anxiety rose and my frustration with it, my daughter, who came to the store separate from me, saw me and creeped up on me and scared the beejeebers out of me (of course we laughed about itlater.)

The whole shopping experience made my anxiety go through the ceiling. I vowed to wear my thread-bare jeans and forget shopping. Then Kohl’s dinged my inbox with a 40% off coupon. Could I try one more time? Yes, I did, and I came home with a pair of classic “mom” jeans and a cute Peanuts t-shirt. I’m thankful that despite my anxiety, I tried one more time.

I laugh now about the ridiculousness of trying to find a pair of jeans, but the anxiety I’ve dealt with throughout my life isn’t funny. The truth is, being anxious leaves me exhausted. I’m so thankful Paul addresses it in these verses. God understands. He reminds us to stop and pray, ponder on thankfulness, and He’ll pour peace into our hearts and minds. Without doubt, I know this to be true.

Full disclosure: I have a medical issue that causes anxiety and with the help of medicine, I am much better. But I also know that without God, I’d be in a heap of trouble. My go to is prayer, always. I’m so grateful I can talk to God about everything, including a frustrating shopping trip. Philippians 4:6-7 is one of the verses I cling toto get me through life.

Pray first, always.

Cozy Mystery Review: Dog Days of Summer, book 2 Gone to the Dogs series by Kathleen Y’Barbo

What the story is about:
Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

My Thoughts:
I enjoy cozy mysteries, and this series has been a treat. Trina Potter wants to help her niece get her rescue business up and running, but in the meantime, someone is sabotaging Second Chance Ranch before they even get set up. I like the idea of dog rescue and love the pups in this delightful mystery. There is a thread of romance, but the kennel and the mystery take the limelight. If you enjoy cozies, give Dog Days of Summer a read and make sure to read book 1, Off the Chain. Book 3, Barking Up the Wrong Tree will be available January, 2023. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.