Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada’s House Trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall ~ Review

Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada’s House Trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall

Hope Crossing pic

This is the trilogy, Ada’s House, that includes three full-length novels: The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace. I have already written reviews of each book separately, so this book review is only about a few things about the bound trilogy.

Review for Book One

Review for Book Two

Review for Book Three

When it comes to binding three full length books into one volume, I feel a little ambivalent. On one hand, it’s convenient to have all three books in one volume. No searching, no hunting for a missing book. I like the convenience. On the other hand, it makes for a large, heavy book to hold up to read. Since I have carpal tunnel in one hand, it was uncomfortable if sitting up in a comfortable chair. It was not a problem sitting at a table. What I was given was a soft bound book, but it was still heavy. However, eventually, the spine broke and the book split in half. My given preference would be to have three separate volumes.

For an overview: The story begins with someone living outside the Amish communities that eventually come into focus for these books. We follow Cara’s story all throughout the three books. In a great twist of events, she discovers she was supposed to grow up in the Amish community of Dry Lake with her relatives. But instead, she ended up in foster care. She falls in love with Ephraim, makes friends in the community, and over the course of the three books struggles with personal issues to join the Old Order Amish community whole-heartedly to marry him.

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All the books are beautifully written, filled with people I came to care for, and full of great dynamic characterization. I cared for the people in these stories. I disliked the villains, felt fear with the ones in pain, triumphant with overcomers, and rejoiced with the marriages of friends. It was nearly like taking a journey with close companions. I would heartily recommend this trilogy. Just choose buying the three books separately and forgo the huge book of all three bound together.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing). I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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12 Saturdays by F.P. Lione ~ Review

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12 Saturdays by F.P. Lione

Twelve Saturdays is like an “everything” bagel; it has a little bit of everything in it. The setting is New York City: Staten Island and Manhattan. It has a little bit of suspense and tension with a few bad guys thrown in. There’s fun humor and a few giggles. Some romance, some psychology, some tragedy, some adventure, and lots of relationship dynamics. All this is blended very well into an unforgettable storyline.

The premise is about family relationships. Jenna had been out on a date when she learned that her father was in the hospital. By the time she got there, it was too late, and she was overcome by so many regrets. She had not known he had a brain tumor. Then she learned that her father had some rather odd requests for her after his death. And that’s the beginning of an unforgettable series of 12 Saturdays.

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I enjoyed reading this book so much. There were moments of levity which balanced out the revelatory nature of the story. The one driving character, Jenna, was a real, living, breathing person to me. I found myself relating to her on so many levels. The more her background was revealed, the more her life spoke to me.

One element of the book I really enjoyed was the “girl power” feel of Jenna’s friendships. The best of the humor as well as the best of her strength came from these close ties. There were also a few twists and turns as the book progressed that kept me turning the pages.

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Finally, this is a faith-based story. Jenna wasn’t exactly the picture perfect Christian; she was a work in progress, just as we are. I took comfort in the growth in her character shown to us through her trials and triumphs. At a crucial point in the story, she knows where she belongs. I felt a great deal of satisfaction in this conclusion.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing 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.”

 

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Love Finds Faith: The Homeward Journey Book 2 by Martha Rogers ~ Review ~

Love Finds Faith: The Homeward Journey Book 2 by Martha Rogers

Love Finds Faith

Love Finds Faith is the second novel in the Homeward Journey series, in which a family in the post Civil War years is featured. Book one is Manfred and Sallie’s story. You can find my review for that book here. Love Finds Faith is about Sallie’s younger sister, Hannah, who has come to the frontier town of Stoney Creek, Texas to assist as a nurse in her brother-in-law’s medical practice. Both books can be read independently of each other. The third book in the series will be released in the Fall of 2014.

Hannah Dyer was a talented, caring young woman who had grown up in proper Mississippi society. Her one challenge to living the life of her dreams, one with a family of her own, was a physical disfigurement. One of her legs was shorter than the other. To keep from being thrown off balance as she walked, she needed to wear a special elevated shoe which was unfortunately heavy and awkward. Yet Hannah’s faith in God was strong and she was not afraid to lean on Him for strength and wisdom. She had decided years ago to accept the fate of remaining single and prepared to support herself by studying to become a nurse. The story opens at her arrival in Stoney Creek by train.

Arriving on the same train in the same town was Micah Gordon, returning home after a five year absence. His was not the joyous homecoming you would expect. He had left his parents’ ranch under a cloud, angry at the world, at his brother Levi, his father, and at God. While he wasn’t the same reckless, brash young man he was when he’d left, he was still angry at God, if he even believed there was one at all. Circumstances seemed to reinforce this lack of faith when things started to go all wrong at the ranch.

be strong let your heart take courage

Levi wouldn’t speak to him the moment he walked into the door. Micah argued with his Pa over his responsibilities at the ranch. When perusing the financial ledgers in his father’s office one day, he realized the ranch was barely solvent. Drought and losses had taken their toll on the herd. They were in debt to the bank. Costly mistakes had been made. When he offered to help with the financial end, his father stubbornly refused to talk about the problems. And he noticed his father’s health was failing. A sense of boreboding hit him. All of this was hurting his mother and sisters.

Barely a month after his arrival, Micah’s father was fatally shot during a bank robbery. The entire ranch’s fortunes were turned on its head. Levi had gone to live and work at a neighbor’s ranch, leaving Micah in charge of the home spread; he was not handling it very well.

The author, Martha Rogers, has written a flowing historical fiction that’s filled with the angst of family conflict fueled by gnawing human stubbornness, pride, sibling jealousy, self-centeredness, faulty perceptions and misunderstandings, overly zealous self-reliance, and vanity. As I grew to care about many of these family members amidst daily conflicts, I despaired they would ever reach resolution.

Underlying all the drama was Hannah’s steadfast faith in the Lord. As she was making friends in her new community, it became clear to her sister that Hannah had become attracted to Micah when they had met at the train station. In spite of their warnings against developing feelings for him, together the Whitefield family watched his family’s pain first through the brothers’ estrangement and then in Mr. Gordon’s death and prayed for them. But Hannah wanted to do more.

God puts things togeher

The author skillfully contrasts Hannah’s peaceful, quiet and calm demeanor with Micah’s impatient, obstinate and self-centered behavior. It didn’t seem even possible the two could ever become a couple in spite of Hannah’s yearnings. It was this interesting type of suspense that kept me on the edge, waiting for some kind of resolution, right up to the final pages of the book. For this reason, I enjoyed this second book of the series even more than the first book. There was a good balance of character development and action to keep the story line moving along briskly.

My only disagreement about the way this book was written is that, to me, the Gordon family’s emotional trauma took up a disproportionate amount of book space compared to the other elements of the story including the romance between Micah and Hannah. It seemed a bit too drawn out. The budding romance was insufficiently developed and ended too quickly in my opinion. In that light, the overall atmosphere of the book felt more like a historical fiction piece than a historical romance.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Booketeria on behalf of Charisma Media/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.”

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The Button Legacy by Ginger Marcinkowski – A Review

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The Button Legacy by Ginger Marcinkowski

“When the weather was bad and we couldn’t work, Mother would make a batch of chocolate walnut cookies and we’d all gather ’round that old box. Every time Mother pulled a button out, she’d have a story to go along with it. Dad said the button box contained a secret, but I never found it.” [told by young John early in his marriage to Ellen]

This story focuses on an item that in and of itself was not very remarkable. At first glance, it was only a brass colored metal box with a squeaky hinge. Inside were just buttons. Today, we don’t think about saving buttons, because plastic has made this item disposable and ordinary. But in the early 20th century, and hundreds of years earlier when buttons were works of craftsmanship, they were necessary, expensive and saved for future use. As far as legacies go, buttons don’t rate very high on the scale, but in John Polk’s family, the buttons had memories associated with them. Memories, even sad or tragic ones, are potent stories. In John’s family storytellers wove vibrant tales worth retelling because of the life lessons they carried. They moved the legacy forward from one generation to the next.

John’s great grandmother handed down this button box to his grandmother, who handed it down to his mother, who handed it down him (he had no sisters). While he didn’t appreciate the significance of this inheritance at the time, his new wife did. She began adding buttons (and memorable stories) to the box long before he learned to love the tradition himself. Some of the stories were told to his two daughters. But the true legacy wasn’t just the reminiscences of the “good old days.” It was in the intangible element found in those stories.

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When John’s girls had children of their own, he continued to collect buttons and tell stories from the special box when his grandchildren visited. He hoped the lessons learned would stay with them the rest of their lives. But more importantly, he prayed for his girls, and he prayed for his grandchildren and their children. When he passed away, the box was given to his daughter Carol. In time her sister Moreen visited, and when she reached into the box and pulled out a button late one night, she finally understood the desire in her father’s heart that he tried so hard to impress on her through those family stories. Even after his death his legacy, tucked in among the buttons and tales became important to her. Before she died, she asked her sister to give the box to her rebellious daughter, Emily. Would the legacy continue?

Reading this book was like experiencing warm honey on a freshly baked biscuit hot out of the oven. I loved this short story! It is a work of fiction but had special meaning for me since I had a grandmother with a button collection I used to play with as a little girl. My grandparents had a pantry/closet in the big kitchen where they kept theirs. It wasn’t in a box, it was a large jar of buttons. On rainy days when I was little, my grandmother allowed me to take down the container and play with the buttons.

Cross Focused Reviews

Cross Focused Reviews

Unlike today’s buttons–the usual plastic round buttons–these buttons came in all shapes and sizes and materials. I remember some very heavy coat buttons, metal buttons, pearl-like buttons, ones that looked like jewels, oval ones and square ones, wood buttons, some were covered in fabric, some belonged to furniture, and every other type you could possibly imagine. They didn’t always come with a story, but often taking out the buttons triggered some memories of family members I would never have heard about if it weren’t for these reminders. I think I came about my love of history through those interesting family stories.

What good stories like these encourage are bridges among the different generations within a family. All families need connectedness to help us gain a sense of belonging, our roots, where we come from. Sometimes we don’t see the necessity of that connectedness until we are older. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have. Perhaps it will stir up some memories of your own to share with your family.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.