My favorite Halloween happened twenty-five years ago when after many hours of exhausting labor, I delivered my oldest daughter. As I cuddled my newly swaddled baby and marveled over her cherubic face, the nurses gathered around and suggested appropriate Halloween names. “How about Samantha?” one said. “How about Wendy?” said another. But I just smiled and said, “Her name is Laura.” Named after my best friend from college and a long line of Catherines in my maternal line, Laura grew up to be a beautiful young woman with a gentle and caring heart. The other day I was showing a friend my quilts, and we came to one that Laura and I had made together years ago. I choked up. We had worked hard on that simple blue and white quilt. After I sewed the blocks together and sandwiched the layers, we did all the quilting by hand. It will never win any awards for exact stitching or intricate design, but that quilt will always hold a special place in my heart. It reminds me of all the happy times I had with my children and how dear they are to me. Happy Birthday, Laura. Have a wonderful day.
book review, changes of the heart, Christian romance, Faking Grace, growth of character, humor, investigative reporting, Jack Prentiss, journalism, kindness, Love, Mazie Grace Stewart, motivations, newspaper, Tamara Leigh, women's fiction
Book Review: Faking Grace – by Tamara Leigh
Fleeing a botched attempt at investigative reporting, Mazie Grace Stewart moves to Nashville and applies for a job with a small newspaper, Steeple Side Christian Resources. But in order to get the job, Mazie must be an upstanding Christian. So Mazie buys the book, The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity, and determines to make a cameleon change, with hilarious results. Then her former boss promises Mazie that she will get her old job back if she can investigate and expose all the dirt on the people who work for Steeple Side. Just to make sure she follows through, her landlord, Tessie, is hired to watch her. At first Mazie thinks it will be easy, but as people treat her with kindness and slowly reveal their problems to her, Mazie finds herself deeply troubled. She cares about her coworkers, she is falling in love with the newspaper’s handsome editor, Jack Prentiss, and she’s starting to become a real believer. But she doesn’t dare confess what she is really doing or who she really is: this article is her last chance to make it big in the newspaper world. Mazie is telling so many lies she has to keep a list. And then her lonely, grumpy, Bible-toting Grandma comes to visit. Grandma sees right through all of Mazie’s machinations and challenges her to make a real, lasting change in her life. This book was hilarious and warm, with wonderful characters and insights into the human heart and the motivations behind why we do the things we do. I really enjoyed it.
backpacking, Becca Fitzpatrick, Black Ice, blizzards, Britt Pfeiffer, Calvin, cruelty, Drama, hiking, Jude, kidnapping, killers, Korbie, Love, Mason, motive, mountains, murder, murder mystery, observation, parenting, psychology, romance, romantic suspense, Shaun, spring break, stockholm syndrome, survival, Teton Mountains, torture, weather, wilderness survival training, Wyoming, YA
Book Review: Black Ice — Becca Fitzpatrick
Seventeen-year-old Britt and her best friend, Korbie, head into the Teton Mountains of Wyoming for spring break, looking forward to a fun-filled week of backpacking, lounging at her friend’s family cabin, and staying out of the way of Korbie’s brother, Calvin, who is also her ex-boyfriend. But when a blizzard strands them on a treacherous mountain road, the girls find themselves knocking on the door of a remote cabin. Inside are two fugitives, who soon take them hostage, and some disturbing evidence that one or both men might be a murderer, linked to a series of murders that occurred in the area. Britt is forced to guide the men through the mountains to safety in exchange for her life. Britt uses her wits, her training and research in backpacking and wilderness survival, her daydreams of Calvin, and a stolen map to stay alive and keep one step ahead of her captors. Against everything she knows, she finds herself falling for Mason, even though she doesn’t trust him. But nothing is as it seems, and as the days go by, Britt is in for some surprises.
Wow. I couldn’t stop reading this book. It was fast-paced, action-packed, and kept me guessing until the very end as I tried to figure out who was the real murderer. The clues are all there, but they are so masterfully woven in that you don’t see the truth. The characters felt real, and the details of the snowy, mountainous terrain put me right there with them. It was very well done. Great job, Becca!
book review, child care, child protective services, communication, Ellen Moore, forgiveness, Heather Gudenkauf, homeless, Jennifer Briard, laws, Little Mercies, loneliness, Love, mercy, mistakes, mothers, motivations, parenting, redemption, social work, trust, women's fiction
Book Review: Little Mercies – by Heather Gudenkauf
Ellen Moore is an experienced social worker who is dedicated to helping abused and neglected children. She is a devoted mother and wife, and life is good. But one terrible summer day, because of a miscommunication, her baby is left in her fatally hot car. Ellen is arrested for child endangerment, and her child’s life hangs in the balance. Now Ellen experiences the legal system from the other side, and everyone seems to have turned against her.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Briard is a ten year old girl who wanders from place to place with her alcoholic father. When her father is beaten up and then arrested, Jennifer flees. She gets off a bus alone in a strange town, with no idea what she is going to do. She is taken in by a loving but lonely woman who turns out to be Ellen Moore’s mother. But Jennifer doesn’t know if she can trust the woman’s kindness, and the last thing she wants is to have a social worker putting her into a foster home. But as Jennifer’s and Ellen’s lives converge, they may be able to help each other in unexpected ways.
This book was very tense, emotional, and suspenseful for me. The author did an excellent job of exploring the terrible mistakes people make and the consequences to children. It is also about the healing power of love and the little mercies that can come just when we need them most.
Appalachian mountains, beauty of nature, betrayal, book review, Choices of the Heart, feuding, history of early America, Laurie Alice Eakes, Love, midwife, music, peace, redemption, romance, Scottish heritage, teaching, traditions, trust, women's fiction, YA
Book Review: Choices of the Heart – by Laurie Alice Eakes
I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down. Esther Cherrett was trained as a midwife by her mother, and she is proud to follow in the family tradition. But then the worst happens, accusations fly, and scandal threatens to shame her family. Esther flees Seabourne and goes to the western mountains of Virginia to take a position as a teacher. There she hopes to find peace and anonymity. Instead she finds herself being courted by Zach and Griff, two friends who are trying to end the deadly feuding between their families and bring peace to the mountain. But as their feelings for Esther grow, so does their jealousy, and someone is determined to play the two men against each other and get the feud going again. Again and again Esther is pulled into the conflict, and she cannot look the other way or deny her calling when people from both sides are hurt. More and more, it seems that someone from her past has followed her here and is determined to wreck what small happiness she has gained.
This story is about love, trust, betrayal, redemption, and the search for peace. I loved the characters in this story. They were so real, with a tumultuous mixture of good and bad characteristics. Esther has a good and caring heart, and she is dedicated to healing, but she is also proud, impetuous, and filled with guilt. Until she can face her past and talk to someone about what really happened, she will never be able to find peace. Zach is fun-loving and romantic, determined to win Esther for himself just because he can. Griff yearns for peace for all the families on the mountain. He sees the larger picture and feels a responsibility to his people. He is willing to sacrifice his feelings for Esther in order to have peace and keep his friendship with Zach. But as his love for her grows, he cannot stay away from her. The other people in the story were also very real, filled with conflict. I was intrigued by the setting and the history of the people of the Appalachian mountains, whose roots go back to Scotland. These roots concern not only their bloodlines, but also their fierce independence, loyalty to family, and a deep love for music and the beauty found in nature. This book kept me up late into the night. It was very well written, and I enjoyed it very much.