The Stone by Michael Carter ~ Review ~

The Stone by Michael Carter

The Stone

Folk tales, fables, and parables are a form of literature where a short story creates a visual image the listeners/readers can easily relate to. Once interest has been gained, the tale then delivers a message with a purpose. Aesop’s fables, for example, nearly always have a message about human nature and character. Who among us doesn’t know the fable of the tortoise and the hare? What’s the lesson? Slow and steady wins the race. These fables are enjoyed by children and adults alike; their messages tend to lodge in our minds long term.

The Stone is a story that fits into this category of literature. It is similar to a folk tale that appeals to both children and adults. It begins as an exchange between son and father. The young boy loves the stories his father tells, so he is delighted when his father launches into the tale of the stumbling stone.

Word_endures_forever

The author enhances the storytelling aspect by visually engaging illustrations done mostly in watercolor. They convey an earthy atmosphere, appropriate to a carpenter’s workshop. Cultural atmosphere is further promoted by framing the illustrations on some of the pages in Hebrew verse. The final pages of the book contain English translation of the verses from the Old Testament which provides a historical as well as cultural background for the story of the stone. The result is a visually stunning picture book I would be delighted to have on my bookshelves to read to my grandchildren some day. It’s a pleasure to read.

The marriage of story and illustration is seamless and winsome. The author/illustrator transforms the Hebrew written language into visual art which aids the message in the story. It becomes indelibly stamped in our minds as an instant classic.

I highly recommend this colorful book to anyone who enjoys timeless classic tales encased in visually appealing illustrated books.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Story Cartel on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Moore Family Films

click here for Emergen-C information

A Beauty So Rare ~ Book Launch ~

Beauty so rare week 1 pictureHi, readers! I have joined a book promotional launch team to help the promotion of the book, A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander, scheduled to come out in April, 2014. This is week one of that promotional and I have three goodies for you!

A beauty so rare

Moore Family Films

Fearless by Mike Dellosso ~ A Review ~

Fearless by Mike Dellosso

“Suddenly he felt a presence there with him and opened his eyes. A face materialized out of the smoke, hovered over him. Small, soft, white…the face of an angel. Blue eyes that seemed to glow from their own light. Hair the color of flax and pulled back off her face. A girl. A young girl, just a child. She smiled at him and placed her hand on his chest. Her smile was sweet and innocent, the smile of a child who’s never known the worst of this world. Oddly, in the midst of such chaos, such hellfire, she showed no signs of fear.”

Fearless
From the very first paragraph, Fearless starts out in a sprint and doesn’t slacken pace for the entire book. With elements of the paranormal, suspense, mystery, and intrigue, the action keeps the reader guessing every step of the way. Once I started reading, I found it difficult to put the book down.

First a fire, then the mysterious appearance of a little girl out of the blue. Her name is Louisa, but she can’t remember her last name, who she is or where she is from, but her appearance saved Jake from the fire. While investigation to find her family draws a blank, the police chief places Louisa with Jim and Amy, foster parents who are still grieving the loss of their own unborn daughter. Her presence brings mixed reactions from the couple. Amy has reservations, but Jim wants the diversion.

A serial killer is loose in the little village of Virginia Mills. There seems to be no motive, no evidence or clues, and no reason to the killings. Alicia was in a dead end relationship and lying to herself that her boyfriend loves her. She wants to end it all, until the day she talks with Louisa, the little girl who saved Jake’s life. One touch from her hand and Alicia feels renewed.

Jim takes Louisa around town hoping that something will help trigger some memories, giving them some clues to her identity. One of the stops is the elementary school playground where the children from the school are playing. She seems to blend in and fit well. When she spots a girl in a wheelchair, she stops to talk with her. Jim doesn’t take much notice until he sees the wheelchair bound girl actually get up and take a few tentative steps. Louisa said all she did was pray for the girl.

God hears our prayers

Nearby on a remote farm, an older couple lives contentedly until a man disturbs their peace and takes them captive in their own home. He talks of a purpose but none of it makes sense to them. He builds a cage down in the basement and locks them up like animals until he done doing…what?

These seemingly unrelated events overlap with a few common threads between them, but are so obscure they keep the reader puzzling over them until the final chapters begin to coalesce.

What I find unique about this book and the events unfolding before us is the way the author creates an atmosphere of unease. The reader is kept off kilter first by the eerie awareness Louisa seems to possess whenever she comes in contact with people. She seems to look into their very souls and discerns what others either can’t or won’t understand. Her faith in God is simple and pure, and seems to put others off. Like the old black and white television mysteries of the 1940’s where most of the suspense is in the imaginations and anticipations of the viewers, people read into it mystique and almost diabolical intent that’s simply not there.

Secondly, the author takes a different tack and relates the operations of the serial killer from the point of view of the killer himself. The reader becomes privy to his distorted reasoning and preparations. The darkness surrounding him becomes part of the eerie atmosphere of the entire book. It was one of the reasons why I found the book so hard to put down even when I really needed to.

I found some of the descriptions of the killings disturbing. I’m not so sure I can justify the detail, although the details do serve as a clue to the identity of the killer, which is kept a secret until the very end. If you find that type of violence uncomfortable, then I do not recommend this book for you. However, overall, the writing style is exceptional, fast paced, and alluring. He makes the combination of paranormal, suspense and mystery work through excellent storytelling. I am curious to see if other books he writes are as compelling as this one is.

He careth for you

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Booketeria on behalf of Charisma Media and Charisma House Book Group/Realms. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Moore Family Films

click here for Emergen-C information

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber ~ Review ~

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

Blossom Street Brides

One of my favorite writers from the past few decades is Debbie Macomber. Even though her stories are not Christian in nature, by far most of them are good clean reads. Two of her books featuring Mrs. Miracle have been made into movies and play at least annually around Christmas on the Hallmark Channel. Another group of cheery books she’s written involve a trio of angels, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. Their antics are absolutely rib tickling. One of the reasons I love her books is that she has a talent in developing character-centered tales while creating a unique sense of community. Blossom Street is one such series that I have enjoyed since 2004 when the first book of the series hit the shelves. I was delighted when she recently published #11, the Blossom Street Brides, and even more so when NetGalley released it for reviews.

If you are uncertain what the other books in the series are, here is a chronological list of the Blossom Street books:

1. The Shop on Blossom Street [May, 2004]
2. A Good Yarn [May, 2005]
2.5 What Amanda Wants (a novella) [October, 2005]
3. Susannah’s Garden [May, 2006]
4. Back on Blossom Street [May, 2007]
5. Christmas Letters [November, 2007]
6. Twenty Wishes [May, 2008]
7. Summer on Blossom Street [May, 2009]
8. Hannah’s List [May, 2010]
9. A Turn in the Road [May, 2011]
10. Starting Now [April, 2013]
11. Blossom Street Brides [March, 2014]

In this 10th book in the Blossom Street series (11th if you count the Christmas story on Blossom Street), three families intertwine and connect with each other as they face the trials and triumphs in their varying stages of life. Lauren, in her early thirties feels her inner time clock ticking down. She wants a home and family of her own, while Todd is still dealing with his career mobility. He neglects growing their relationship, so when she hears her younger sister has finally gotten pregnant, Lauren takes the plunge and breaks it off with him. Who would guess that so soon after, she would meet the love of her life? Is her new whirlwind romance interest the One? And can anything serious come from a man named Rooster?

While Lydia’s mom is in the throes of dementia, her adopted daughter Casey begins to experience horrific nightmares; Lydia and Brad are at a loss to know how to help her. She won’t talk about the dreams. In the meantime, Lydia’s business on Blossom Street, A Good Yarn, is suffering from the financial downturn. But a mystery knitting project has begun showing up in bus stops, parks, bowling alleys, and other places all around Seattle with her store’s tags on the yarn. The instructions say: “Knit me” and the knitters are further instructed to return the finished projects to her store where they will be collected and given to a charity for the homeless. Lydia has no idea who started this trend, but it has garnered attention from the press.

yarn photo: Yarn yarn.png

Bethanne, a friend of Lydia’s, is now married to Max and the owner of a successful party planning business. The problem is that his business is in California while hers is in Seattle. They have been married a year and still haven’t decided who should move. They need to decide soon, because the separation is placing a strain on their relationship. In addition, Bethanne’s former spouse, Grant, is trying to interfere by placing their daughter Annie between them. When tension increases, their daughter quits her job in support of her birth father and Bethanne is heartbroken.

learn_from_lifeLauren’s best friend’s daughter is in college, when she calls her mother with the news she is pregnant. Elise freaks out and nearly ruins her close relationship with her daughter. Lauren then finds she must deal with her own floundering relationships with two men while trying to counsel her best friend. At one point, Elise interferes with Lauren’s love life to the point they nearly end their long time friendship.

Once again, Debbie Macomber creates a neighborhood with members who are vividly alive and dynamic. They have the same types of doubts and fears, trials and victories as we have. It isn’t difficult to find ourselves identifying with some of the members in this community because they are either like us or someone we know. As a result, we feel part of this small community. The pace is moderate, the suspense is light, the friendships are pleasant. If you enjoy character-driven plots and love being part of a small neighborhood, I think you will enjoy this book and series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Blossom Street brides trailer

Debbie Macomber’s website

Moore Family Films

click here for Emergen-C information

Tide and Tempest (Edge of Freedom Book 3) by Elizabeth Ludwig ~ Review ~

Tide and Tempest (Edge of Freedom Book 3) by Elizabeth Ludwig

Tide and Tempest

Tide and Tempest is the third book in the Edge of Freedom series. Book 1, No Safe Harbor, is about Cara Hamilton and Rourke Walsh and takes place mostly in America. Book 2, Dark Road Home, is about Ana Kavanagh and Eoghan Hamilton, Cara’s brother. His desire was to join the Fenians organized in New York City.The three books share the time frame from the late 19th century and roots in Ireland. The presence of an underground revolutionary movement–a group called the Fenians–adds historical context, an element of danger, and suspense.

While there is mention of the above named characters of the first two books in the Tide and Tempest, the individual stories are only loosely associated with each other. I have not read the first two books of the series, but the third book seems to be able to stand alone very well.

For the back story, Tillie McGrath traveled overseas from Ireland with her fiance Braedon, who was a secret member of the Fenians. Unfortunately, Braedon didn’t survive the voyage and once Tillie arrived in the city, she had been forced to fend for herself. She found lodging at Amelia Matheson’s boardinghouse and work with a milliner making hats. In her spare time, she worked at a local church’s homeless shelter. Some of her hard work was a means to work off a guilty conscience for a secret she never divulged to her friends in America.

At the opening of this tale, it is two years after her arrival in America and Captain Keondric Morgan, of the ship she crossed over, had come to pay her a visit. Unfortunately it wasn’t a social call. Captain Morgan had just discovered that the death of Tillie’s fiance was not due to illness but a planned murder. Captain Morgan was determined to find the reason because not only had Braedon perished, but someone had killed the ship’s doctor and a shipmate, Donal, as well. What if Tillie’s life was also in danger by association?

In a sprint against time, the Captain and his brother Cass set out to protect Tillie’s life just in time to prevent her death in several bizarre “accidents.” Their intense investigations only led to more and more questions, until Tillie admitted that when she had visited her fiance in his final moments he had given her a ring with instructions to take it to a member of the Fenians and ask for help. The key to solving the mystery of the murders was in the finely crafted ring.

Perfect_peace

Before I read this book, I had never heard of the Fenians before. So I looked up their history and found it fascinating. I enjoy learning something new in historical fiction pieces like this. Another thing I enjoyed about the book is the way the author developed the relationship between Cass Morgan and his brother Keondric Morgan. As they faced the challenges of keeping Tillie McGrath safe and solving the mystery of the ring, their relationship grew as they gained respect for each other. Keondric realized his little brother was becoming a responsible man in his own right.

I also loved how the author created a slow burning relationship between Tillie and Keondric fraught with uncertainties. Theirs was a complex relationship, and the author fully develops moments of attraction and conflict between them. Eventually, the depth of feeling he has for her is demonstrated in a more powerful way than anything he could have said. Between the nail biting suspenseful moments and the tentative romance developing in the main characters, the author takes the reader for quite an emotional roller coaster ride, especially toward the end of the book. If you enjoy historical romantic suspense novels, then you will enjoy this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Elizabeth Ludwig’s Book Site

excerpt of book

Moore Family Films

click here for Emergen-C information

The Quilted Heart: Three Novellas in One by Mona Hodgson ~ Review ~

The Quilted Heart: Three Novellas in One by Mona Hodgson

The Quilted Heart

Mona Hodgson writes a heartwarming tale where community means giving each other a helping hand when needed. The setting for this book is a small town in Missouri just a few months after the end of the Civil War. Nearly every family in the area was touched by the war in some way. Some had lost family members; some had family return either wounded physically or emotionally.

Dandelions on the Wind

Maren Jensen had been a mail order bride, traveling from Denmark, who had been rejected once she arrived in America. Her eyesight was failing. The kindly Dry Goods and Grocery store owner directed her to Mrs. Brantenberg, a widow who owned a farm and was rearing a granddaughter on her own after the death of her daughter. Maren, Gabi, and the widow settled down into a contented little family unit until one day Gabi’s father returned from the war. The first novella of The Quilted Heart trilogy is Maren and Wooly’s story.

Corporal Quaid McFarland was one of the fortunate sons who returned whole. He was happy to be back, working in the family’s business, hauling freight. He had served in the same regiment as Rutherford Wainwright, known to his friends as Wooly. On the harvest day at the Brantenberg’s farm, Wooly introduced Quaid to his fiance, Maren. Much of the local community had turned out to help with the widow’s harvest including a former schoolmate whom Quaid remembered–Emilie Heinrich. Book two of the Quilted Heart trilogy is Quaid and Emilie’s story.

Bending Toward the Sun

These novellas weave in the life stories of other members of the quilting group which met every Thursday, hosted by Mrs. Brantenberg in her home. The club was the social event for women in the area to get together and share news and gossip. It also doubled as a Bible study where hearts that were raw and bruised found solace in the widow’s kindness and spiritual wisdom. The members supported and prayed for one another.

Recently, Caroline Milburn had started coming to Mrs. Brantenberg’s quilting circle. She shared with the group that she hadn’t heard news of her husband serving in the army in several months. The strain of not knowing whether he had perished or was alive was telling on her. Each week they encouraged and prayed for her. But bitterness sharpened her tongue. She would often embarrass her sister by her curt mannerisms. Another friend of Mrs. Brantenberg’s family, Gerrit Cowlishaw, knew the right people to contact, and he obtained news of her husband. Caroline was a widow. This third novella of The Quilted Heart Trilogy is Caroline’s story.
Ripples Along the Shore

Besides being a collection of charming romances, this book showcases the author’s skill in creating a feeling of community and closeness. I found it easy to care for its members. The relationships were warm, realistic, and sometimes poignant. I could easily imagine them as friends. If you enjoy a cozy read where friendship is a central theme, then I believe you will enjoy this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Blogging for Books on behalf of Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Author’s website

for more information about the book
Read Chapter 1

Author’s bio

Author’s Facebook page

Moore Family Films

click here for Emergen-C information

A May Bride: A Year of Weddings Novella by Meg Moseley ~ A Review ~

A May Bride: A Year of Weddings Novella by Meg Moseley

[This book will be released on April 22, 2014]

A May Bride

Relationships. They are complex and as multi-layered as onions. Think of a mother/daughter relationship. It is rarely simple cause and effect, one-on-one. It can be influenced by a mother’s experiences of the past including heartbreak from a former spouse, the daughter’s father. The mother’s past intrudes on the daughter’s present.

Think of sister to sister relationships. Their parents’ past also intrudes on their inter-dependency as sisters. One may need security; one may provide security. They may not even realize these dynamics until they are much older and a step removed from the family circle. One broken relationship (the mother’s): two entirely different responses to the fallout.

Enter the younger sister’s boyfriend who plans to marry her, and the complexity moves up a notch. Then the elder sister meets a guy and falls in love. More layers of the onion are revealed. Paranoid mama reacts differently to boyfriend #2 than to boyfriend #1. Second boyfriend has no idea why because the reason is several layers removed from the present. Is the girlfriend tied too tightly to her mama’s apron strings? How will their relationship survive?

Mama meant well in her efforts to keep her two daughters grounded in reality rather than get caught up in fairy tales about happily ever after, but her mother hen ways sometimes created more problems than they solved. In spite of Ellie’s independent nature, her mama’s cautiousness eventually threatens to cast doubts in Ellie’s mind during the normal ebb and flow of her budding romance with Gray.

believe.jpg

In spite of the complications of the above relationship woes, Meg Moseley has written a light-hearted, fun to read novella that will make you alternately laugh and sigh over the sweet nature of Ellie Martin’s and Gray Whitby’s courtship. It is a great feel good short read. I quickly grew to love Ellie’s streak of independence, her tendency toward guerrilla gardening to ease the stresses of the day, and Gray’s city cowboy bent.

If you enjoy a good clean romance without the looming tones of darkness so prevalent in today’s literature, then you will enjoy this book. The author has achieved just the right balance between levity and thought provoking moments that arise when characters need to delve deeply within themselves to draw on resources they didn’t realize they had until a crisis is met and dealt with.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Zondervan Fiction. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

Moore Family Films

click here for Emergen-C information