Monday, September 30, 2013


This book was a winner!  From the beautiful cover, to the Preface at the beginning and the story all the way through to the end.  If you like Jane Austin and her work, as the author states, then you are going to love how this story is written.  I found myself smiling through most of this book and enjoyed myself tremendously.  The Bertram family, the author says, has its basis in real life.  This family is "witty, clever, fun-loving, and a godly Christian family".  I would love to meet them.

Captain Laurence is a man who thinks his destiny is to command a ship and chart his course without women in his life.  He did not count on meeting the Bertram family and especially Jasmine, the oldest of 4 daughters.  Jasmine is so much fun.  She has a quick wit about her and loves breaking free from tradition, shedding her shoes and her bonnet whenever she can.  She does not like being "pursued" by men, so her and Captain Laurence make a "pack" to just be good friends.  Jasmine has a love for the sea and to Laurence she is becoming the perfect partner for him, but he doesn't want to scare her away by "pursuing" her.  Their interaction is fun to read and I loved the whole family, especially Mr. Bertram, the father.  This book is suppose to be the beginning of a trilogy.  "The Captain's Treasure" is book two, and I can't wait to get started!  I am setting my sails for another fun adventure!

Friday, September 27, 2013

PEARL IN THE SAND by Tessa Afshar

Tessa Afshar did a great job of taking the Biblical account of Rahab and making her story come alive with possibilities.  I am not usually a big fan of reading novels based on Bible facts (the cover drew me to the story), but this author I felt did a great job of keeping her facts straight and making the people seem real and plausible.  I also liked what the author had to say at the beginning of her book.  She said, "The best way to study the Bible is not through a novel, but simply to read the original.  This story can in no way replace the transformative power that the reader will encounter in the Scriptures." l look forward to reading other stories by this author.

Rahab begins her life of prostitution early in life when her father, the one she loves and trusts, wants her to give herself to men for money.  This will scar Rahab for most of her life, leaving her with never wanting to trust any man again.  When the town of Jericho is defeated and Rahab and her family saved, Salmone, a leader of Judah, is given the task of teaching Rahab and her family the ways of Israel before they can join the camp.  Salmone at first wants nothing to do with this woman.  But God can do the impossible for both Rahab and Salmone.  The love the develops between these two characters was precious and very well written.

There were many "pearls" of truth I took away from this story. I highlighted many of them to remember.  Like Joshua realizing before an impossible battle that God wasn't on Israel's side, but God was beckoning Israel to be on His side.  Then there was the realization Rahab came to understand in her quest to know God.  She was new in her understanding but yet she understood the difference between performance and worship; of doing something willingly to the Lord which brings joy and doing something to satisfy "human expectations" that ends in pain and misery at times.  Rahab will taste the goodness of God, she will experience His love and mercy where it is undeserved and see His worth in His children who could never earn it.

A story that will be remembered long after I have read it.  To read this story in the Bible and other places where Rahab is mentioned go to Joshua 1-10, Ruth and Matthew 1:1-17.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


After reading all 7 books in this series I assumed I would be ready to "move on" from this story to something else.  BUT. . . I can honestly say I would love to read more of this family and their struggles to survive in the turbulent times of Russia during the beginning stages of WWI and the revolutionary takeover by the Bolsheviks and Lenin.  I am not a big history "buff" but the author does a great job of making history come alive as you read these stories.

In this last book, which picks up at the same scene book 6 left off at, you will be in Russia in 1917 where violence and "political upheaval" are everywhere.  The Tsar Nicholas and his family become prisoners and there is a "deadly game of chess" going on to see who can save or destroy the family first.  In all of this turmoil you will read of Anna Fedorcenko and her family and how they face the consequences of some of their choices in life.  Andrei and Yuri, the brothers, will both be helped through the journals of their beloved father who was killed on "Bloody Sunday".  I took away from these stories the importance of a Godly heritage and how much of an impact that can have on future generations as they look back and remember all they were taught and remember the life of their grandparents and parents.

The thread that held this family together was their faith.  To quote from the book, "A person's faith and their reasons for faith are not always simple to define.  God feels far away at times, sometimes He feels very close.  But I'm sure it's me that does the changing, not He.  And that's just it.  We are changing so much and, not surprisingly, our faith changes with us - but the object of that faith never changes and that is why I cannot give it up even when God feels far away.  He is still God, you see, and the fact of His mercy and love and redemption are always constant." (This was good advice Andrei was given by Talia).  It was this faith that will hold this family up during painful partings, death and imprisonments.  Does it all turn out good in the end?  Not for some.  But was it worth reading, absolutely!!  I strongly encourage anyone picking up book seven to go back to the beginning and read these books in the order they were written.  It will be well worth your time!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


This is book six in The Russians series and when I finished book five I wasn't sure the author could continue to hold my attention.  But I must say that I continue to enjoy learning more of the Russian history and growing to love the characters in this series.  This book deals mainly with Anna's two sons, Yuri and Andrei, as they try to figure out where they fit in since their father's tragic death on "Bloody Sunday".  Yuri is the oldest and finds himself drawn to the nobility side of his heritage.  Andrei, the youngest, seems to be siding with the Bolsheviks and their revolutionary ideas.  Then there is Talia, the young woman who grew up with the brothers and who will also have a part in driving the two brothers apart.  It truly is a story of love and war.  It is not a pretty time in Russia and not a lot of good will happen to these people who are struggling just to stay alive at times.  But the strength of this family is something you don't see very often in life.

This series continues to amaze me as I thought I would eventually lose interest in the story line.  But Judith Pella has done an excellent job of weaving a story that compels you to keep reading and see what happens next.  It is like reading the history of Russian in the early 1900's, but by putting people in the story that you have come to know and care about, you have a strong desire to keep reading and learning.  I will suggest that you read "A Word from the Author" at the beginning of this book, as she does deal with a very wicked man named Rasputin in this story and she explains her reasons for doing so.  I am now off to finish the series with the last book, "Passage Into Light".  (I sneaked a peek at the first chapter and it picks up immediately where book 6 left off!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

RIVALRY & ROMANCE in Mammoth Spring, AR by Regina Tittel

This is a short story which can easily be read in one sitting.  There are two other stories that deal with the Tolivar sisters in Mammoth Spring, AR.  (They are Whims & Wishes by Jamie Adams and Friends & Foes by Mildred Colvin.)

 Regina Tittel writes books "to uplift and encourage each individual while also entertaining them with a great story".   In all the stories I have read of hers so far, they all accomplish that goal.  I would have wished though that this story would not have been so short.  There was so much more about the characters I would have liked to learn.  I would have liked to enjoy the budding romance between Olivia and Frederick Sterling a  little bit longer and gotten to know the whole story behind the rivalry between the Culp Hotel and family and the Nettleton Hotel and family.  Don't get me wrong, the story was complete even though it was short, but left me wanting to know more.

Olivia and Frederick do not start off liking each other very well, but as they are thrown together at different times they begin to understand and  appreciate each other more and more.  Olivia has a real heart for people and wants to do more with her life than help run the family hotel.  Frederick will help her fulfill at least one of her dreams.  So sit back and enjoy life in Mammoth Spring in the year 1895.

This book was given to me for my reading pleasure and honest review by the author, Regina L. Tittel.  You can read more of her stories by going to


This was another good story that took you inside Russia in the early 1900's.  You will find Mariana, who is the daughter of a princess and a count, but who was raised as a peasant girl, trying to find her way in life.   She trains as a nurse and finds herself on the front lines in Manchuria caring for wounded soldiers.  She will renew her "friendship" relationship with American reporter Daniel Trent and together they will discover just how much they mean to each other.  Meanwhile, back in St. Petersburg you will see the revolutionary forces still at work, which will eventually lead to bloodshed and heartache.

 All the people you have come to love and appreciate will be back in this story and some of those you had hoped would never surface again, coming back to get revenge and kill.  Through it all though you will find that those who put their hope and trust in the Lord are those who can find love, hope and freedom even amid tragedy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


A lot will happen in book 4 of this series.  You will meet Daniel Trent, a young American journalist who is trying to find his way in the world and in the process will become a real friend to Marianna (who has been raised by Sergei and Anna as a peasant in Katyk but who is really a countess).  Then their is Count Dmitri Remizov who returns to Russia after 18 years in exile to claim Marianna, the daughter he left behind.  Sergei and Anna will find themselves leaving their hiding place in Katyk to help Marianna with her difficulties in St. Petersburg trying to fit in to her rightful place as a countess of Imperial Russia.  Anna will also be reunited with her brother Paul for a short time.  This is a story that continues to follow the Burenin and Fedorcenko families as they, with God's help, learn to survive amidst strife and upheaval during this time in Russian history.  These people are strong and able to endure a lot and have a deep and abiding love of their country, despite its corrupt nature.

This is a series that really needs to be read in order to fully grasp all that is going on.  YES, it is 7 books, but so far I have not tired of reading about these families and the Russian history behind each story.

Monday, September 2, 2013

TRAVAIL AND TRIUMPH by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella

This was a hard story to read because there was just not a lot of joy or happiness taking place in this story.  But sometimes life is very hard for people, especially the people in Russia during the time this story was written (1880-1182).  It is book three in this series and I am definitely hooked and wanting to know what is happening in the life of these people.  This story picks up with great anticipation with the marriage of Princess Katrina, the anticipation of their new baby and Prince Sergei's return.  But it is not a happily ever after story at all.  You have two families, the aristocrats (the Fedorcenko family) and the humble peasants (the Burenin family).  You have the uprising in St. Petersubrg, the frozen wasteland of Siberia and the humble home in Katyk.  You will see how God brings all things together in His timing.  Life will be hard in this story, but there is always hope and faith to see them through.  As the back of the book says, "Phillips and Pella weave a story that demonstrates how God's sovereignty extends over all human experience."