Oct 24, 2014

Book Review: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

Back Cover: Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.

My Review: This book provides an interesting mix of mathematics, music, and basketball at the start of the 1900s. The thing I enjoyed most about this story is how the main character, Lula, had to come to understand what she wanted for her life, not just what other people want for her life. Lula is so afraid of becoming the person she's been teased about - the flakey girl who flits from activity to activity without finishing anything she started. But she's bound to disappoint someone when her father's dream for her to become the first woman PhD in Oklahoma collides with her siblings' desire for her to help care for her sister's family after the brother-in-law dies unexpectedly. As Lula works to care for others, she is able to hear the promptings of her own heart.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to readers of historical romance.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Oct 16, 2014

Book Review: The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

About: You can picture the perfect marriage in your mind, but re-creating it in reality doesn’t come easy. Trusted counselor and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman reasons that the most sought-after ingredient in any marriage is true oneness. In The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, he presents expert wisdom and common sense methods to establishing true unity on emotional and practical levels in marriage. Discover the wit and insight that makes his worldwide presentations and marriage conferences so popular. Are you trying to change your spouse? Do you know what it means to really love someone? Do you feel ignored or even alone in your effort to improve your marriage? Dr. Chapman has answers and action steps on topics from expressing your emotions to managing your money, all in a format that will have you and your spouse talking and learning with every page.

My Review: I am a firm believer in taking time to read books about marriage. While my husband and I have a healthy relationship, I know the only way to keep it that way is to be actively working to improve what we have. The Marriage You've Always Wanted pointed out many of the things other marriage books focus on, but Chapman's writing style is easy to read. I like the "your turn" homework sections at the end of each chapter. The questions found there are great springboards for discussion and thought. Marriage is hard work, but it's rewarding work. The Marriage You've Always Wanted is a book for every married couple. Don't wait until your marriage is falling apart to do something to keep it together. Start now.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to every married couple whether you've been married a week or several decades.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Moody Publishers.

Sep 29, 2014

Book Review: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Back Cover: Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

My Review: I love the Wilde sisters! The antics of these three women are a hoot. Tried and True is the story of Kylie Wilde, the youngest of the three girls. Like her sisters, she pretends to be a man to claim her homesteader exemption for her service in the Civil War. Kylie is such a fun character to read about. She's the girlies of the sisters and I can't help but wonder how she survived her time during the war. The poor girl starts the story almost killing herself trying to fix her roof and her adventures just compound from there. This novel is a humorous and delightful read. I can't wait to read the next books in this series. From what I've learned of Kylie's sisters, I know I'll enjoy their stories as much as I did hers.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction set in the West.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Aug 29, 2014

Book Review: Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard

Back Cover: Kate's not sure how deep this deception goes--but she'll do whatever it takes to find out.

Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money and can't believe that it came from her sweet elderly neighbor. Or that it has landed her in the middle of another of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and one that strikes too close to home for comfort.

As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But then will it be too late for her and Tom?

My Review: Blind Trust is the second book in the Port Aster series and, in my opinion, does not stand alone. This book leaves some major questions unanswered, obviously in anticipation of the next book in the series. The novel is full of danger, intrigue, and twists. Without giving away spoilers, I have to admit being frustrated and disappointed in the characters and their choices at times.  This book read more like a romantic suspense than a mystery. And who knew nutmeg could be so dangerous?

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to those who have read the first book in the Port Aster series.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.