Laura H. (lollipops) - Reviews

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The 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths Your Daughter Needs to Know to Date Smart, Avoid Disaster, and Protect Her Future
Review Date: 10/19/2016

THE 10 MYTHS OF TEEN DATING is a book I wish my parents would've read when I was a teen. I made so many mistakes in dating it isn't even funny. He "loves" me, but he "loves" her and is dating both of us. Verbally abusive. Controlling. Oh, and the dating cycle, breaking up and getting back together, over and over and over.

I am having both of my teen daughters read this book with me and we are discussing it. I think this is invaluable information and I will keep it for my tween daughter to read someday.

Invaluable resource that will be invaluable to mom's, dad's and teens. Well-written and informative, not preachy. A book to read and reread. Very relevant.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom
Review Date: 10/19/2016

40 DAYS TO A JOYFUL MOTHERHOOD is a coloring book devotional. To be honest, I'm not sure how you are supposed to be able to work with these. I can't color and read at the same time, but maybe you color while you pray, or color while you think about the short devotion you read.

This includes a verse, a short devotion relating to motherhood, childbirth, expectations, healing, and more, then a short prayer. There are also a few pages for you to write on, recording your blessings, etc, and a few random "articles" related to motherhood, taking time for oneself, etc. that are not tied into devotions or days.

This might be good for a new mom or as a shower gift for a mom-to-be.

Abiding Darkness (Black or White Chronicles, Bk 1)
Abiding Darkness (Black or White Chronicles, Bk 1)
Author: John Aubrey Anderson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
Review Date: 2/20/2007

Mississippi cotton country in 1945 seems peacefulat least until turmoil comes causing good and evil to go to war. Missy and Bobby Parker are white children from a well-to-do family and Junior Washington, a black friend, are caught in the epicenter of the battle.

Afterwards, Missy begins a mission that fuels the fires of aggression in the evil left in the area. The war destroys the lives of those around Missy, affecting her family and the community. The lives of both the Washington and the Parker families are now bound by spiritual warfare.

As Missy struggles to find the strength to endure the onslaught she must somehow gain the help of supernatural guardians and the love of both families. Will Missy be able to find the truth in the plot against heror will she die trying?

ABIDING DARKNESS is book one in The Black or White Chronicles by debut author John Aubrey Anderson. Its a powerfully written book, tightly written, with gripping action and page-turning events. Even if you are not a fan of spiritual warfare type books you will be caught up into the story and even scared but you will be unable to put this book down and the events will stay with you for a long time to come.

Missy, Bobby and Junior are all well-developed characters and will gain your sympathies from the beginning. Set in the deep south, the reader will be able to escape the pressures of day-to-day life to engage in a completely different warone that is all around us, but mostly unseen. Dont miss ABIDING DARKNESS. It is truly unforgettable. Reading guide questions are included at the rear of the book. $19.99 hardcover. 339 pages.

All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
Author: Nancy Guthrie
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 10/19/2016

ALL IS BRIGHT is a devotional journey to color your way to Christmas. This devotion/coloring book is set up a little different. There isn't a verse at the top, nor a prayer at the bottom. Instead, it is all straight-devotional. Read and reflect on the story of the birth of our Savior in a way you probably never have before.

I know my family will use this devotional as we prepare for the upcoming holiday season. It will be a great use in our family devotions each day, and coloring the pictures will be a fun activity for the family to have sitting out on the coffee table with a set of coloring pictures for anyone to color the picture as they have time or inspiration. It will be a sure keepsake for Christmases to come.

If you are looking for a Christmas devotional, or one to give to a friend, to get your mind on the upcoming holiday season and not on material things, then take a look at ALL IS BRIGHT. Great for shut-ins, nursing homes, parents, grandparents, couples, singles, and as gifts.

Almost Amish
Almost Amish
Author: Kathryn Cushman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 9/26/2016

At first I wasn't sure what I'd think about ALMOST AMISH. Reality TV shows, English living as Amish (dressed in pioneer closets?) and women's fiction.... Not a genre I'm a huge fan of, though I do read some. But this book - ALMOST AMISH grabbed me from the first page. I totally got Julie. Not perfect. Real. Gifted with organizing, but not cleaning. Gifted with seeing people, but not baking for school functions. And running ragged with all her and her children's and her husband's activities... Crazy. She needed a breather, and when her sister-in-law, Susan accepted a reality TV show position (for a needed boost with her career) she jumped at the chance to get away.

But the situation is far from perfect. They take out the propane stove and put in a wood stove -- which neither woman had even seen one before, much less baked/cooked with one. The producers "greeked' labels, meaning they didn't know what ingredients were what in some cases, and well, there were NO privacy. Julie found herself going to bat over and over for her children and Susan because Susan wouldn't stand up for herself (afraid to risk her career plans) and the producers were running alll over them. . .

Add a "handyman", a potential romance and lots of heart and realism and you have ALMOST AMISH.

This was a beautifully written story that I totally LOVED. I have made decisions to slow our family life down as I grew older -- getting rid of TV, baking most meals from scratch, not eating out, and spending time together as a family. We have a reputation of being "The Waltons" around here - actually eating at the table as a family. . . etc. I am not good at gardening, (Julie was) and not good at sewing (Julie was) but otherwise I totally related to her. GREAT story. I haven't read much (if anything else) by this author, but I will look up more, based on this book.

Amish Christmas at North Star: Guiding Star / Mourning Star / In the Stars / Star of Grace
Review Date: 1/1/2017

Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert
Curiosity gets the best of Englischer Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world?

My thoughts: This was a very sweet romance. I loved Chase. He was a dear, kind, considerate, and smart. Elle was a dear, and as much as she and her adoptive mother imagined where she came from she had never guessed the truth. Beautiful story. Unfinished- but maybe it will be wrapped up at the end of the book...

Mourning Star by Amanda Flower
Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents' fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac. Who is guilty? Isaac's handsome great nephew Jesse, an angry Englischer, or someone else?

My thoughts: This is the first story I ever read by Ms. Flower's. It is a cozy mystery, where Eden and her friend Gina investigates a murder of an Amish man - the story was good. Not what I expected, but very good. I suspected who-dun-it, but hadn't made the connection between suspect to yeah, "he" did it by the time the story ended so it was a bit of surprise to me.

In the Stars by Cindy Woodsmall
Heartbroken Kore Detweiler avoids North Star after Savilla Beiler rejects his love. But when he is unexpectedly called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

My thoughts: It was interesting reading Kore and Savilla's story. While a romance it took some cunexpected twists and a lot of anger for these characters to find themselves. I did skim this story a lot, but enjoyed getting reacquainted with characters from another one of Ms. Woodsmall's books.

Star of Grace by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark
Andy Danner left North Star to join a new Amish settlement in Mississippi. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in a reclusive widower's life.

My thoughts: This was my favorite story in the collection. I loved Sam and how dedicated he was to t he family and people he loved and how determined he was to reach his goals. And how unselfishly he gave when the need arose. A very sweet story, the best one in this collection. Loved it.

My thoughts: First, the disclaimer. "I was bought this book. All opinions are my own." That done, I enjoyed this collection of four Amish stories centered around one birthing center and four babies born the same day, twenty-five years prior. I liked find out how all those babies turned out -- and the first story's strings that were left untied were neatly tied and trimmed by the end of the book.

The Amish Christmas Kitchen
The Amish Christmas Kitchen
Author: Kelly Long
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/17/2016

Newly married, Clara Mast and Daniel Kauffman have little to give but love during their first Christmas season together. But generous hearts are always willing to be creative in this "Gift of the Magi" inspired story.
This story is a lot more graphic and based more on pure sexual desire than most Amish novels. It is definitely beyond edgy in an uncomfortable for most Christian romance readers way. There is no real faith message, the story is based on promises Dan made to a dying friend and the blurb above is NOT at all accurate. They are NOT married in the book, and are having a cookie bake-off as Dan unlike most Amish men is extremely talented in the kitchen. Add Clara's pet goat and there are some humorous moments. I used to love Ms. Long's stories before she left the CBA but while still well written, this is not for women who want to avoid "fictional porn."

When shy Katie Rose Gingerich's dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth--or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .
I LOVE Ms. Beckstrand's Amish books. She mixes humor with romance like none other. I absolutely love Titus's grandparents and was glad to revisit them. Add a new tradition of Christmas goats, a blundering smitten hero and an insecure and shy heroine, it is beautiful. I also liked the way the grandparents manipulated the situation to get Titus there and then sat back and let the real "beau" blunder his way out of the picture while Titus becomes increasingly endearing and sweet. Totally loved this book.

A charity auction, an unexpected friendship, and a stubborn spirit combine in an unusual courtship. But for Emma and Jonathan, overcoming obstacles is just one of the lessons to be learned about special blessings this holiday season.
This is the first book I've read by this author. It's set in Arthur Illinois, and area I've been in multiple times. I toured my first Amish home in this town and was a lot surprised by all the clutter in it. (It makes my house look sparse in comparison!)

I skimmed this story a lot. It was very clean, and well written, it just didn't draw me in and make me care. Emma is pushy in a non-intrusive sort of way, another words, you don't think such a mild woman would be so insistent. I didn't like Jonathon at first either and while the two talked I didn't see any attraction between them. A complete 180 from the first book in this collection!

An Amish Family Christmas (Charmed Amish Life, Bk 4)
An Amish Family Christmas (Charmed Amish Life, Bk 4)
Author: Shelley Shepard Gray
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
Review Date: 10/22/2016

First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, I'm not even really sure what to say about this one. Levi is about the sweetest male character, and Lukas and Rebecca where much nicer in this book. There are also other characters from the previous book (Tess and the police officer, among others) who make appearances.

Julia was an abused girlfriend, I'm tempted to write wife, because she lied about being a widow in the book, so that is cemented in my mind. She had a child out of wedlock and in an effort to protect her child, she ran. Understandable. She was hesitant to trust anybody, also understandable, and as a result, kept me distant as a reader. Also as a result, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I have the others in this series. There really wasn't much in it Christmassy either, that was kind of tossed in there as an after thought.

Not Ms. Gray's best book, but not bad either. This was the 4th book in The Charmed Amish Life series, but it does stand alone. The other books are: A Son's Vow, A Daughter's Dream, A Daughter's Wish, and this one AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS.

Amish Weddings (Neighbors of Lancaster County, Bk 3)
Amish Weddings (Neighbors of Lancaster County, Bk 3)
Author: Leslie Gould
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/30/2017

First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, AMISH WEDDINGS is the third book in Ms. Gould's series, but it easily stands alone. However, if you are participating in the read the series contests, the books are Amish Promises and Amish Sweethearts.

The females in the Lehman family are definitely attracted to the same sort of men. Military, (though what's not to like) and at the same time, strong, silent types of Amish men when the sisters both date the same man. But when an Amish / Englisch relationship goes south with Rose, who is there to pick up the pieces? And when a buggy accident confirms Lila's worst fears, with her fiance stick with her?

I couldn't really relate to the characters in this book. I guess I'm rather sick of Lila and her husband to be (I think they've been in both prior books). And Reuben seemed rather flat in this book and the prior one. Maybe I shouldn't have requested this book, but I didn't realize that Lila would carry the weight of this story. And Rose is so flighty, even her family realizes it and ask her to help with fear and trembling. And who is truly at fault with the buggy accident? Will Lila's fiance get his way and sue... or will he honor Lila's time-honored way of absorbing the blame and the cost?

If you like Amish world intermingling with Englisch world then AMISH WEDDINGS is a book you might enjoy. Ms. Gould has certainly done her research on Amish weddings, so they seem more realistic than a lot of Amish authors get them.

The Angel of Forest Hill: An Amish Christmas Romance
The Angel of Forest Hill: An Amish Christmas Romance
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/1/2017

My thoughts: First, the disclaimer. "I bought my own copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, I greatly enjoyed reading THE ANGEL OF FOREST HILL and getting to know Rose and Joel. I hurt for them as Rose dealt with impossible situations, a husband, numb with grief, the deceased wife's mother intent on destroying her life, her mother who listed everything she'd ever done wrong and called her worthless. I hoped Rose would find love and thrive in this story.

In some ways, the insecure Rose changed. She became strong and had thorns. But then something would set her back and she'd flounder. It was an adventure watching her take one step forward and two steps back, sometimes on the same day.

A good Christmas novella.

Arms of Deliverance (World War II Liberator, Bk 4)
Arms of Deliverance (World War II Liberator, Bk 4)
Author: Tricia Goyer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/18/2007

Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Moody Publishers
July 2006
ISBN: 978-0-8024-1556-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical/World War II

Katrina is blond, blue eyed, and favored by a Nazi officer. She has papers to prove that she is a real, true-blooded Aryan, but she's not. She is a Czech Jew and she is separated from her family when they are on the way to a concentration camp. Now she's impregnated by her Nazi boy-friend. He's convinced of her genetic purity and sends her to live at Lebensborn homeâa Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.

Rival American reporters, Lee and Mary, land the assignment of the lifetimeâthe frontlines of war-torn Europe. Lee is able to go because of who she knows, while Mary is America's sweetheart and they want her heart telling the war stories as they are. Lee is able to join troops heading to Normandy, and Mary is able to fly on a B-17 bombing Berlin. Will Lee and Mary make it through their experiences alive? Or will they be changed forever by the experience?

One of my favorite times in American history is the World War II era. I love reading stories set during that time, especially when the writers take the time to research as detailed as Ms. Goyer does. With her research and realistic touches, her novels come to life and I am there with the characters, flying in a bullet battered B-17, stepping over dead bodies on the Normandy beach, bouncing in an ambulance between field hospitals while the enemy shoots, and even fearing for the safety of an unborn child.

The characters in the story become real, the secondary characters enhance the story, and the setting is such an important piece that the book couldn't be written without it. In the middle when some stories start dragging, ARMS OF DELIVERANCE actually starts picking up. At that point, I couldn't put the book down. I had to find out what would happen to Katrina, to Mary, to Lee, and to American pilot, Eddie. I cared for them and wanted to see them make it through their various assignments safely.

Fans of World War II fiction will not want to miss ARMS OF DELIVERANCE. Tricia Goyer is truly a talented author and will put you into the story and lives of these characters. Don't miss ARMS OF DELIVERANCE. Ideal for homeschooling families. $12.99. 313 pages.

Laura V. Hilton

Baa! Oink! Moo! God Made the Animals
Baa! Oink! Moo! God Made the Animals
Author: Rhonda Gowler Greene
Book Type: Board book
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/11/2017

First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, Baa! Oink! Moo! God Made the Animals is a cute board books for little ones. The little boy asks a well-worded question and mom responds back with each one "God made the animals." The pictures are very well done, and engaging and this will be sure to hold the squirmiest child's interest as they read about the different animals and the different sounds they make and some of the things they do. Pick up a copy of this book for your favorite baby and toddler. A really cute book.

Because You're Mine
Because You're Mine
Author: Colleen Coble
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/23/2017

First, the disclaimer. "I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own." That done, websites say this is a reprint but I can't find any mention of when it was originally published or under what title. It reads like a much earlier Colleen Coble novel, not her more recent, stellar ones. This one was creepy, creepy, creepy. (shudder)

Alanna's husband is barely in the grave when despite warnings from her friends, she marries her band manager to keep her former in-laws from kidnapping her not-yet-born baby. It gets creeper as the new husband lives in a "haunted" mansion, has family members living with him she never even knew existed, and seems to have a fascination with redheads and alligators. Not necessarily in that order.

Jesse is her first husband's best friend and when a failed "suicide/murder" attempt goes south, leaving one dead and the other alive, Jesse finds himself trying to piece together a life he doesn't remember. Why no one does DNA testing, I don't know (written prior to it?) but he finds him having never before talents of his best friend and a despicable life that had gotten him fired multiple times in the past.

While creepy and not as stellar written, BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE is still addicting and I had to find out what happens next. We *know * all is not as it seems, and due to my knowledge of formula and the genre I *knew* who the bad *guy* was and what *really happened* as well as a few other things. But I won't give any spoilers away. there is no faith message

Mystery novels might enjoy this reprinted work by Colleen Coble.

Beyond Groundhogs and Gobblers: Putting Meaning Back into Your Holiday Celebrations
Review Date: 3/19/2007

Useful for homeschool families - or those who want to make more of the holidays than just appears on the surface. Cyndy goes into the history of each holiday and gives additional tips to help celebrate them. An excellent resource.

Review Date: 11/8/2016

Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all--the devoted heart of a godly man?
1-Requilted With Love by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1889...North of Lansing, Michigan....Sarah Richmond is hopeful of winning a Blue Ribbon as she enters her quilt in the Michigan State Fair and knows exactly what she will do with the winnings--donating it for a chance at getting better medical care in her home town. Grant is a balloonist - dangerous work - and developing an engine to hopefully make them more steerable. He is more than willing to look after the lovely Miss Sarah and protect her from all the leering jerks at the fair, and also protect her from knowing the truth about his occupation. But what will happen when she discovers the truth? Will she be brave enough to face her fears? And will she win the blue ribbon (and prize money) for her quilt? Will Grant earn enough money selling balloon ride tickets to pay his bills?

My thoughts: Requilted with Love is a cute story set around a quilt that took five years to make... I was a bit confused why she'd want to donate money to a facility that provided such shoddy care, I'd be more wanting to fire everyone and hire competent workers, but it was explained later in the book. Miss Sarah is still a much nicer person than me though in regards to that. She has the gift of mercy and service and is quick to step in. Grant is a dear hero, kind and considerate, though not weak, even when he gives in. I enjoyed getting to know both these characters. Enjoyed the historical information in the author's notes, and that a mutual friend of both Ms. Pagel and I shared was honored by having a character named after her.

2-Seven Medals and a Bride by Angela Breidenbach
Fair in 1893...Bettina is a Chicago native with a degree in botany and she's interested in making contacts. Luke is a mine owner from Montana and all the ladies with him from Montana are searching for a bride for him. Bettina is their first choice. But she isn't even remotely interested in a miner. What is a man and matchmakers to do?

My thoughts: This is a fun story that had some laugh-out-loud moments. I loved this story, and couldn't read it fast enough. It was fun reading about the world fair in Chicago and Luke's efforts to find Bettina after meeting her on the ferry.

3-A Taste of Honey by Darlene Franklin
Spruce Hill, Vermont 1896...Edith Grace harvests honey from the bee hives in the meadow between her property and her neighbor, Mr. Oscar. She is experimenting with the honey in different recipes to come up with the perfect recipe hoping to win a blue ribbon at the upcoming state fair. However, Mr. Oscar's son, Grant has other ideas and they don't include Edith using "his" honey. He wants to plow the land under and use it for crops. Will they come up with a workable compromise?

My thoughts: This story was really cute and fast paced. I enjoyed getting to know Edie and Grant and their different personalities. I loved how things had been worked out between previous generations--and I won't say how so I won't give things away. This story held my interest all the way through and I had to keep reading once I started it. Parts seemed a little contrived, but it needed that to be able to work things out in fifty pages. A really good story. .

4-Altered Hearts by Gina Welborn
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 1908 county fair...Reba has dreams of making beautiful hats and selling them in the city--where she wants to live. Levi loves horticulture, but has a sensible head and is committed to family. Reba is prepared to throw her family over to reach her dreams.

My thoughts: I love hats and always have. Remember going with my mom to a hat shop in St. Louis, though when I was a young girl hats weren't as showy as the ones in this story. I admired Reba for following her dream but wish she wouldn't have crushed so many people in the process. Levi -- I get him. He's like my dad and my oldest son, slow to act but putting a lot of thought into their actions before they decide. I really liked this story...

5-Better with Butter by Jennifer AlLee
Fallon, Nevada 1916... Ella and her father run a dairy and Ella's boyfriend Max used to work there but he sold over to a margarine company. When they meet each other at the fair, sparks fly, especially when new-fangled meets old-fashioned. Will they find common ground?

My thoughts: A cute story. I liked it, I liked Max - and Ella, but I do not like margarine (but will admit it is easier to spread than butter) and I hated that that product threatened the dairy industry so badly. The story ended without closure which really annoyed me and left me confused. But up until then it was really good. .

6-Driven to Distraction by Becca Whitham
Western Washington Fair Puyallup Valley, Washington 1918...Tragedy struck both Jolene Caplan and Robert Montgomery's families a year earlier resulting in anger, bitterness and unforgiveness between the two families. But Robert is back from War and Jolene is being pressured to accept a proposal from a Frenchman. Will happen when Robert and Jolene meet again?

My thoughts: I'll be honest. Auto racing is not my cup of tea. I don't relate to a woman at home in an oil pit. Just me there. And the hatred and anger and fighting -- and Jolene's personality and ... well, this is not my favorite story. It was well-written. And this is all just me. I know other women will disagree. Just as real life auto races give me a headache and make me feel sick, this story did the same. Probably all psychological. And Jolene tends to be very rash and react without thinking...

7-First Comes Pie by Niki Turner
Colorado 1920...Rifle's Apple Pie Days annual festival is coming and Lorelei Boyd plans on entering a contest-winning pie to save her family's sugar beet farm from ruin. Emmett Dewey caught her "stealing" apples but is attracted to the sweet pie-baker. But he hasn't time for a relationship -- he needs to fix up the property and sell it for a profit. Cute Miss Boyd isn't enough to make him stick around -- or is she?

My thoughts: This was a sweet story. Lorelei was a true heroine, kind, gentle and loving, and Emmett a hero- though a bit blundering. I loved the sparks between them, and how Lorelei had the gift of mercy and a servant-ness to her so willing to go out of her way to help others. Lorelei is also really creative and that was fun. I loved this story and it ended with a happy sigh.

8-Front Page Love by Tiffany Amber Stockton
Douglas, Wyoming state fair...Paige Callhan arranges items to be judged in the Agriculture Hall. Paige meets Andrew Lawrence, a reporter from the Denver Post covering important aspects of the fair and sparks fly.

My thoughts; This is a slower moving story, but I enjoyed getting to know Paige and Andy. It was fun the way they "met" the second time. Both main characters were very sweet and kind, and it was a lovely moment when Paige is surprised at the ribbon ceremony. I thought at first her boss didn't like her, but that didn't seem to be the case at the end. Good read.

9-Competing Hearts by Cynthia Hickey
1930 Arkansas...Annie Mae Thompkins enters a quilt and her childhood friend Jonathan Mercer enters his pig. Things don't go as planned....

My thoughts: This book wasn't as out-of-control as most of Ms. Hickey's stories I've read. This one almost seemed calm and quiet compared to her usual style. It didn't like the main characters very well and they weren't as fleshed out as other stories, Not one of the best stories in the book, but I did appreciate that it wasn't as over-the-top as I've come to expect from her.

Over-all thoughts: A good collection with a wide assortment of really top-notch stories. I like these collections and am glad Barbour is doing them. Great cover, too. 4.16 stars for the collection.

The Brushstroke Legacy
The Brushstroke Legacy
Author: Lauraine Snelling
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/23/2007
Helpful Score: 4

Ragni Clausons life seems to be falling apart. Someone is sabotaging her projects at work. Her boyfriend, whos afraid of committing to a relationship, has just announced his engagementto someone else. Her father needs around the clock care. And now, her great-grandmothers cabin is demanding attentionand Ragnis mother insists that she make the trip. Ragni had planned a trip to the spa instead, but she agrees to her mothers demands and heads to North Dakota, her rebellious teen-age niece, Erika, with her.

The cabin is in worse shape than Ragni remembers from her childhood. The privy is barely standing, and rats have taken residence in all the buildings. As Erika and Ragni clean, the begin to learn about their ancestor, and what they have in common. Will Ragnis great-great grandmothers past hold the secret to Ragnis future?

THE BRUSHSTROKE LEGACY is an interesting mix of historical and contemporary fiction. Both Ragnis story and her great-great grandmothers stories are told, and both are well-written and engaging. Ragni is real, and her niece is a loveable, if impossible, teenager, trying to find herself. The faith message is not intrusive.

THE BRUSHSTROKE LEGACY is a winner for both fans of contemporary fiction and historical fiction. A family saga, it is sure to delight Snellings fans. Dont miss THE BRUSHSTROKE LEGACY

The buckwheat (Tales of Hans Christian Andersen)
The buckwheat (Tales of Hans Christian Andersen)
Author: H. C Andersen
Book Type: Unknown Binding
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 2/26/2007

The buckwheat considers itself superior to its companions. It boasts of its beauty and mocks the humility of the willow tree. It ignores the warnings of the flowers when the thunderstorm approaches. Study guide at the end of the book. Real cute

Calculated Vendetta (Love Inspired Suspense, No 605) (Larger Print)
Calculated Vendetta (Love Inspired Suspense, No 605) (Larger Print)
Author: Jodie Bailey
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/1/2017

CALCULATED VENDETTA is the second book by Ms. Bailey that I read and I enjoyed it, though I think I should've read the back cover blurb before I started the book because it took me the longest time to figure out what Casey did for a living (journalism was a given, but how did it tie into the military) and how she was so involved with all these military types.

The attacks did seem random, but I've been around Love Inspired Suspense long enough to know there is no such thing as random. They are planned down to a science and it will all pan out in the end. Who-dun-it, why, how, when, what for, you know the basic five questions that must be answered.

I liked Casey and Travis and felt for these characters. If you are looking for a good suspense to read, don't miss CALCULATED VENDETTA. Available at your favorite retailers online.

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.

The Calling of Jujubee Forthright
The Calling of Jujubee Forthright
Author: Scott Phillip Stewart
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 2/20/2007

When a mysterious glowing lawn gnome shows up at an auction run by auctioneer Jujubee Forthright, the fun begins. Jujubee is charged by God to go out and be right, so Jujubee embarks on a mythic journey with some misfit companions. They go to an island off the Georgia coast where 300-pound Jujubee leads them in a revival meeting.

These misfits are the least of the brethren, the sinners, the poor, the lonely and downtrodden, will answer an Alter call. Interestingly, at the same time the higher esteemed faculties of two local institutions are holding retreats at the same time, and they begin to clash.

As the revival gains fire, a hurricane threatens to hit the island. Will those staying on the island be able to stay the sameor will they return to their lives changed?

THE CALLING OF JUJUBEE FORTHRIGHT is a seriously funny, yet provocative tale. This is the first book Ive read by Scott Phillip Steward, but Im sure it wont be the last. THE CALLING OF JUJUBEE FORTHRIGHT is a modern-day retelling of the biblical Parable of the Pharisee and the Sinner, set in Georgia.

Written in first person, the reader is still able to get into the hearts of the characters and are able to enjoy the story. There are several laugh out loud moments in the book. Pick up a copy of THE CALLING OF JUJUBEE FORTHRIGHT for a fun book which packs a punch. $12.99. 247 pages.

The Christmas Angel Project
The Christmas Angel Project
Author: Melody Carlson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 9/25/2016

THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL PROJECT is Ms. Carlson's newest Christmas novella. I look forward to reading these every year, and this one, THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL PROJECT, was one of her best.

The idea of the four ladies becoming Earth Angels after the death of their best friend was unique.

Grace is married, but her marriage is struggling. Her children are flunking out of college, her husband is a slob, she wants her house showcase ready and he wants it lived in. When offered a chance to decorate Habitat homes for Christmas she jumped at the chance, not realizing that she'd have to supply the furniture and decorations herself. Financially, she can't afford that, but she decides to trust God for the details.

Louise is mourning two losses, both her husband and now her best friend. She is an artist and decides to be an artist therapy instructor, getting people, through art, to talk about their losses. An unique idea I love.

Cassidy is a part time vet. She discovers her angel mission when she learns a lot of pets belonging to people on fixed incomes don't get medical care. She pays for the care of one cat herself, and discovers a whole opportunity. However, her boss wants nothing to do with it and threatens to fire her. Answers come in unexpected ways for Cassidy.

Belinda is a bitter divorced lady who owns a swanky second hand store. She is offered the opportunity to volunteer as a fashion adviser for middle school girls. She discovers she has amazing opportunities there, both as a volunteer hairstylist, a makeup artist, and a body type fashion adviser. Plus a hot middle school principal is a plus.

These four ladies, all best friends to the deceased, connect with each other. I loved all four of the individual stories, and not sure who I connected with the most. Maybe there's a part of me that is a portion of all of these ladies. I'm married with a few children not living up to their potential. I am mourning the loss of very dear family members. I understand fixed income retirees. And I can find amazing clothes for the family at thrift stores though none of them offer the services Belinda does!

If you love Christmas stories you will want to read THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL PROJECT. Maybe it will inspire you to find your unique, God-given gift, and use it to bless others. For Melody Carlson, it's writing heartwarming Christmas stories. Don't miss this novella -- a great gift for yourself, the church or city library, and a friend.

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