Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

Synopsis: "Stepping from a battered coach on a rainy April eve, newly widowed Elisabeth Kerr must begin again, without husband or title, property or fortune. She is unafraid of work and gifted with a needle, but how will she stitch together the tattered remnants of her life? And who will mend her heart, torn asunder by betrayal and deception?
Elisabeth has not come to Selkirk alone. Her mother-in-law, Marjory Kerr, is a woman undone, having buried her husband, her sons, and any promise of grandchildren. Dependent upon a distant cousin with meager resources, Marjory dreads the future almost as much as she regrets the past. Yet joy still comes knocking, and hope is often found in unexpected places.
Then a worthy hero steps forward, rekindling a spark of hope. Will he risk his reputation to defend two women labeled as traitors to the Crown? Or will a wealthy beauty, untainted by scandal, capture his affections?"

"Mine is the Night," is the sequel to "Here Burns My Candle." I enjoyed this sequel much more than the first book. The book took about 100 pages to really draw me in but was enjoyable after that. I didn't love it but it held my attention. Elisabeth was too perfect of a character to be completely believable. Marjory, Elisabeth's mother-in-law, has a complete change of heart and character that is also a tad implausible. Once the romance began I was able to overlook these character flaws (or their lack). Better than some, not as good as others.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake

Synopsis: "Todd Valmer should have known better. A farmer who's been through several disasters, he travels to Virginia to fetch his widowed mother to cook and help him around his Texas farm... or that was the plan until she keels over on the train and they get kicked off. Maggie Rose barters for a living and also makes soaps, lotions, and perfumes with a special rose recipe passed down from mother to daughter for generations. She hasn't wanted to marry... until that handsome Texan shows up. Her heart skips a beat, and when he proposes, a hasty marriage follows.

What ensues, however, is a clash of culture and a battle of wills--and it's clear they both mistook instant attraction and infatuation for love. As their marriage loses its sparkle and fills with disillusionment, Todd and Maggie must determine what is worth fighting for. He dreams of a farm. Maggie wants to fulfill the family tradition with her rose perfumes. Todd's mother, however, has entirely different plans for her son that do not include Maggie. In light of their hasty marriage and mistaken dreams, is there any hope of recapturing their love and building a future together?"

I read "Serendipity," a few months ago and have been meaning to write a review on it. I have read many of Hake's books but I liked this one the best. The whirlwind romance and quick marriage was not all sunshine and roses which made it more believable. The characters had many faults and disagreements which made them stronger characters. I couldn't believe how irritating the mother in-law was!! This is a good addition to Christian historical fiction.

Masquerade by Nancy Moser

"Masquerade," was an engrossing read. At first I didn't like the main character, Lottie, because of her immaturity and constant whining. But the book soon drew me in and I came to really enjoy both the characters of Lottie and Dora. I was happy to see where their journeys took them. One of the things I didn't like was the romance. For both Lottie and Dora their romances seemed a tad far-fetched and too fast to be meaningful relationships. Also, Beatrice and Mrs. Tremaine's characters were constantly changing. One minute Beatrice was hostile and the next she was quiet and sensitive. Mrs. Tremaine was haughty one minute and understanding the next. Other than those things, it was a well-written historical novel. I was given this copy by Bethany House Publishers free for review.

Here is the book trailer from YouTube:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

The following is a list of my all-time favorite books. After number one, the list is in no particular order. YOU.MUST.READ.THEM.ALL.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
2. Black Cross by Greg Iles
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
5. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera
6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
7. Worth Dying For by Lee Child
8. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
9. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
12. While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
13. Eve's Daughters by Lynn Austin
14. All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
15. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
16. The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
17. Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz
18. The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
19. Wish You Well by David Baldacci
20. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell
21. The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
22. The Shiloh Legacy Series, the Zion Covenant Series, and the Zion Chronicles by Bodie Thoene
23. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
24. The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
25. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini
26. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
27. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
28. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth
29. The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss
30. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
31. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
32. The Oath by Frank Peretti
33. The Visitation by Frank Peretti
34. Though None Go With Me by Jerry Jenkins
35. Riven by Jerry Jenkins
36. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
37. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
38. Go Down to Silence by G. K. Belliveau
39. The Princess by Lori Wick
40. The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke
41. The Refiner's Fire Series by Lynn Austin
42. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
43. And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers

Black Cross by Greg Iles

This evening I finished re-reading "Black Cross." In the three years since I last read it I forgot how amazing it is. Historical fiction is my genre of choice and I have read many books about World War II. This novel surpasses them all.

During the war, Germany developed two poison gases, Sarin and Soman, which remain the most lethal gases on the planet to this day. By the end of the war, Hitler knew the Allied troops were closing in but neither Soman or Sarin were used. Why wouldn't a confirmed madman use these gases when backed into a corner, and with a certainty of losing the war otherwise? "Black Cross" seeks to answer this question.

At the start of the novel, Winston Churchill and others under his command had just learned of Germany's possession of Sarin and Soman. However, the Allies had no defense against those gases, and no chemical weapons of their own that match the lethality of Sarin or Soman.

The two main characters, Jonas Stern and Mark McDonell could not have been more different. Jonas was a German Jew who escaped Nazi Germany and fought against the British in Palestine. Mark McDonell was a chemist and medical doctor from Georgia, experimenting with lethal gases in Oxford, England. These two men were brought together on a mission to tip the scales in the Allies' favor.

Even when reading it for the second time, I could not put this book down! The descriptions of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, the willingness of many characters to risk their lives for the sake of a cause greater than themselves, and the well-developed characters made it one of the best books I have ever read. Almost six hundred pages kept my attention until the edge-of-my-seat ending.

Here is the first chapter from