Sunday, August 31, 2014

THE SWISS COURIER by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

This was a gripping tale of loyalty, love and courage set in the days of WWII.  It is 1944 and the Gestapo is searching out enemies of the Third Reich after someone tried to kill Hitler.  A young lady, Gabi Mueller, who lives in Switzerland,  finds herself in harm's way as she tries to make a difference by being a courier and helping to get a German scientist out of the hands of Hitler before it is too late.

This could make a wonderful movie as I felt as I was watching one while I was reading.  It gives you the place, the time and the date at the beginning of each chapter and the descriptions and attention to details showed that these authors did their homework and even though some of the details were above my head, I still found it very interesting and full of suspense and intrigue.  I won't spoil the story, but will say I was taken by complete surprise near the ending of this story and must say I really liked the surprise.  If you like history and intrigue you won't be disappointed by "The Swiss Courier".

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MAID TO MATCH by Deeanne Gist

A well done story taking place at the Biltmore Estates; a place I have visited and been in awe of (and a place the author explains more about at the end of the book).  The author did a great job of taking you inside this estate and showing a true picture of the life of the servants that keep the place running so smoothly.  One of my favorite lines in this story, which was the thoughts of a man who felt he couldn't be free until he returned to his life in the mountains, instead of working where he didn't want to be: "Freedom didn't always equate with coming and going as he pleased.  Or to living out in the open. Or to doing whatever he wanted.  Sometimes, it was simply a matter of being free to laugh.  Free to help others.  Free to fulfill his calling."   Good job Deeanne Gist.

Tillie Reese has always been in awe of where she is employed and the riches of the Vanderbilts.  Her life's goal is to some day be the "lady's maid".  When that position looks like it could possibly be hers she works hard to do everything right.  The problem is one rule that the house has is that there is to be no romance going on down stairs where the servants live.  That wasn't a problem for Tillie until Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman, shows up to work at Biltmore.  Mack isn't exactly thrilled to be there, but the money is good and he needs it to get his sister out of the orphanage.  Mack finds himself being tutored by Tillie in proper servant etiquette, and they both find themselves drawn to each other; one fights the feelings and the other encourages them.  Then there is also the town orphanage and the cruel cover-up going on that both Mack and Tillie get involved in.  It is a story of realizing your dreams of what you thought you always wanted, might not be at all what will bring the most happiness and fulfillment in your life.  I enjoyed getting to know both Tillie and Mack and enjoyed seeing what went on behind the scenes at Biltmore.  Also great job on the cover of this book and on the title.  An enjoyable read that left me well satisfied as I finished the final pages. It was full of historical facts, with enjoyable characters that took you from lighthearted moments to some very sad and cruel times, but left me enjoying every minute of it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

IN THE MIDST OF LIONS by Sara Mitchell

If you like a good detective story (in this case though it is the Pinkertons) then you will not be disappointed when you read this book.  It is set in the 1890's in southern Georgia.  It is a story of a lust for power, which breeds corruption.  It may seem like you are in the midst of Southern charm and honor, but you will soon discover the fear and intrigue and danger that is all around you. The story kept you guessing as to who knew what and who did what as you, with the Pinkerton men, try to figure the solution to a "sinister plot" that is putting one young lady in some serious danger.

Elizabeth Granger is the lady in danger, even though she doesn't know it yet.  She is taking care of five small children for the wealthy Crump family.  But Elizabeth has her own secrets that she carries very close to her, even when an undercover Pinkerton man tries to help her and at the same time figure out if she is as innocent as she portrays.  It is a game of who knows what and who can you really trust.  A very well written story and the second in the "Shadowcatchers Series".  It can be easily read as a stand alone, but you will encounter characters from book one, "Trial of the Innocent", that you would know better if you had read these books in the order they were written.

Monday, August 18, 2014


This was a well told story that kept me interested until the very end.  It was not however, a light hearted romance.  Far from it.  This was about murder and the more "seedy" side of life.  You will go from Virginia, to New York and across the sea to England, chasing after the villains and trying to rescue those who are in trouble and don't even know it.  There is much evil in the world in the late 1800's and it did my heart good to see see the Pinkerton Agency step up and seek out the bad guys.

Eve Sheridan always had a suspicion about that man her sister married, Giles Dawson, and then took her off to England.  Her sister's letters sound like things are not going well in the marriage and then the letters stop.  Giles Dawson is not who he claims to be and Rebecca, the sister, is in way over her head.  Will Eve arrive in England in time to save her sister?

Pinkerton detective Alex MacKay has suspicions of his own and at first thinks Eve is a part of the evil schemes of two men they have been trying to gain enough evidence on to convict.  But Alex and Eve will have to learn to trust each other as they head to England to hopefully find her sister.  There are men though that want them dead so it is a "watch your back" situation at all times.

This was a thrilling, suspenseful drama with a tender love story that develops, but in no way takes over the intriguing story line.  As it says on the back cover of the book, "Will Eve's struggling faith to trust God despite all obstacles prove strong enough to prevail against the evil that surrounds her?"  You will find out how strong a woman Eve really is as she endures much in this story.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

THE CITY OF FIRE by Grace Livingston Hill

Although I am a BIG fan of Grace Livingston Hill, this wasn't one of my favorite stories.  It seemed a little slow  She had a good message in the story, as all of her stories do, but I just didn't get into the story line that much.

Marilyn Severn is the minister's daughter in Sabbath Valley and has just returned home from her years at college.  She grew up knowing and hanging out with Mark Carter from her town but when she returns she finds him cold and distant from her.  Mark will eventually become a prime suspect for a murder he did not commit and only one boy in town can prove his innocence, but he cannot be found.  Sometimes it takes desperate times in people's lives to show them the love of the heavenly Father, and the love of people in your life that you don't think you are worthy of.  A message of hope for the hopeless and of God working all things out for good because of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Monday, August 11, 2014

HAILEE by Penny Zeller

I am just going to borrow from other's reviews as they said it best:  Cindy Sproles, "This cozy-weekend read weaves a romance filled with all the elements of a winner - love, strife, joy and trust";  Amanda Cabot, "Engaging characters and heartfelt faith messages make Penny Zeller's "Hailee" a memorable conclusion to the Montana Skies trilogy".  I couldn't have said it better when it comes to describing this story and series.  It is a series I will keep on my shelf and recommend to others.

Hailee Annigan at a young age found herself stealing food on the streets of Cincinnati to keep her two younger brothers fed.  She will eventually get caught and sent to a home for orphaned children.  She is now 19 years old and finding herself heading to Montana to begin teaching at Pine Haven (a town you will become quite familiar with if you read books one and two in this series).  She has never given up trying to find her two brothers though and is ashamed of her past and so tries to keep it hidden when she begins this new adventure to Montana.

In Pine Haven you will find the former high society Boston gentleman, Maxwell Adams Jr., the new church pastor.  He is trying to make a difference in this small town and praying some day his parents will understand his calling to preach the gospel.  When these two young people meet you realize the attraction that is taking place.  It is not without its ups and downs though, but when they come to terms with their pasts they will face a wonderful future together.

Well done Penny Zeller.  A series that left me glad I visited Pine Haven, Montana and learned to appreciate the folks there and the faith they shared and the difference they made.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

KAYDIE by Penny Zeller

Another good story in this series.  I don't know which story I like better; this one, or the first in this series, "McKenzie".  I enjoyed both of them equally.  I highly recommend you read these stories in the order they were written because this story picks right up where "McKenzie" left off and there is a lot of background you would miss by just starting with "Kaydie".  This is another cozy read; where you sit back, cozy up on comfortable chair and just enjoy yourself as you relax and read.

Kaydie has been rescued from an abusive and scary outlaw of a husband when he is killed after trying to rob a bank.  She finds herself reunited with her sister, McKenzie, who is married to a rancher in Pine Haven, Montana.  There Kaydie learns to enjoy her Montana home and get ready for the baby she will soon be bringing into the world.  Kaydie has a hard time trusting her judgement when it comes to men though after her big mistake of marrying the wrong man, who she thought was a nice guy.

Ranch hand Jonah Dickenson has no desire to ever fall in love and marry, especially after being raised by a harsh father and having his mother run off and leave him as a child.  Marriage is just not something he is interested in.  So when Jonah tries to get Kaydie to trust him as a friend only, their friendship is good for both of them.  But the special part of being a friend to someone is that it can often lead to romance, and of course, that is what happens to Kaydie and Jonah.  But lets not get too comfortable because another friend Kaydie hasn't seen in years will come into the picture and try to win her heart also.  Now Kaydie must choose.

This was a story of learning to let go of your past, but learn from it, and of learning to love and trust someone again.  There is a strong family bond between these two sisters that I appreciated and also a strong emphasis upon trusting in the Lord and waiting on Him to direct ones path.  I liked how the author takes a break every now and then from the present, and has one of her characters remember the past and a certain situation that happened to them from the past.  It helped you get to know and understand the characters much better.  I look forward to story #3 in this series, "Hailee", next.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

McKENZIE by Penny Zeller

The author states in the back of her book that, "Her passion is to use the gift of the written word that God has given her to glorify Him and to benefit His kingdom".   I feel she did that well in this story.  This story takes place in the late 1800's and begins in Boston, but quickly travels to Pine Haven, in the Montana Territory.  I call this a "cozy book", because you just want to cozy up on a comfortable sofa and enjoy reading through this story until you reach the end.  Then you sigh with a feeling of contentment.

Zach Sawyer is a man any woman would be pleased to find and he is looking for a wife and someone to help him raise his 5 year old adopted son.  He is a "25 year old rancher in Montana Territory looking for possible matrimony.  Man of integrity with dark brown hair, blue eyes, and shy demeanor seeks a kind, educated, hardworking, Christian woman with good disposition with whom to share his life." (That is what his ad in the Boston papers said.)

McKenzie finds this listing in the paper and found it was just what she needed for her "rescue mission: money for the trip and a place to stay, as well as the help of a man in finding Kaydie."  (Kaydie is her sister who ran off and got married and found she had married a cruel man who was in trouble with the law.)

So McKenzie sets out to Montana and finds out how different it is from her opulent lifestyle in Boston.  She starts out as a little bit of a snob, but she will begin to change and adapt to the Montana ranch and the people who live there.  Zach if a very patient man, who has fallen in love with his mail-order bride and is just waiting for her to feel the same.  But McKenzie fights her feelings because she knows as soon as she finds her sister she is leaving.  But what McKenzie couldn't get away from was her attraction to Zach, his godly character, his wisdom and his compassion and love for her.

I enjoyed watching these two people get to know one another and fall in love.  It is a story that shows how a person can change and how God can make a difference when we wait upon Him and give Him time to work it all out for good.  This is the first book in the Montana Skies series and I look forward to reading book two next, "Kaydie".  I confess I have already started the story and it picks up right where "McKenzie" leaves off.  Sit back, get comfortable and enjoy Montana and the people of Pine Haven.