Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Here Burns My Candle - Liz Curtis Higgs

This is the first in a series of books set in Scotland and based on the story of Ruth.  "Here Burns My Candle" integrates tons of Scottish history while setting up the basic elements of the story of Ruth, as told in the Bible.  The characters and setting has all changed to accommodate the fictional, compelling storyline.  Because of this, I enjoyed the book as a source of entertainment and considered the resemblance to the Book of Ruth an added bonus.
The book was engaging and kept my attention, and I am looking forward to reading the entire series.  My only critique is that the emotions of the main character may not have been written strongly enough. For example, Elisabeth Kerr, the main character, suspects that her husband is unfaithful.  When that suspicion is confirmed, her heartache is described.  This is perhaps the only area of the book that I felt was a bit on the weak side. That said, this area may have been lightened a bit by the author in order not to allow the book to take a depressing turn.  The rest of the book was very descriptive in every way.  All in all, it was an excellent book, very good attention to detail -- especially as it pertains to dialogue -- and I am very much looking forward to the next one.
In accordance with the regulations of the FTC, I would like to add that this book was a free gift to me from the publisher in return for my objective review.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Courting Morrow Little - Laura Frantz

This picture of Kentucke in the late 1700's presents life during the time when there were fewer states, and areas were known only according to the Indian tribe that occupied it.  The sweet romance was unique and breathtaking; there was nothing cookie-cutter about it.  As to historical accuracy, the author used exquisite detail!  The pages were rent with Indian raids, treachery, and gave a realistic picture of the risk of living in the unsettled area of the Midwest.  Occurrences such as children being captured and taken to live as Indians were included.  Names like d'Etroit, Ohio, Kentucke, and many other names originating from tribes and Indian villages came to life.  The book drew mainly from the background and language of the Shawnee and used many Shawnee words such as "kinnikinik.”
Normally I don't consider myself an Indian history buff, but now I find myself Googling "maps of Indian territories."  It is a pleasant surprise that there are about 200 people remaining in the United States who speak the Shawnee language.  I learned so much -- but only by accident -- because the story itself was so moving that I couldn't put this book down.  The author kept the storyline real, so you'll definitely be kept on your toes.  I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to avoid books that take you straight from point A to point B.  This one twists and turns with laughter, joy, and sadness and ends at just the right spot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Always the Baker Never the Bride - Sandra D. Bricker

Sandra D. Bricker brings us a sweet (pun intended) romance between a cake decorator and hotelier.  The author hit the bulls eye with the setting; I loved learning about the business of running a wedding hotel and cake decorating operation.  One thing that sets this apart from most other books (AHEM, but bears an uncanny resemblance to Sandra Byrd's "Let Them Eat Cake" which was released almost exactly 3 years prior) is the recipes inserted throughout the book.  My favorite, the Cashew Fudge Brownie recipe, is on my radar for this week's dessert choice.  In addition, there are tips on wedding planning, statistics, and (fictional) newspaper article inserts.  For ladies who wish fiction books had pictures, this is the next best thing! 
Some questions for discussion are in the back of the book.  That said, I didn't feel that it was jam-packed with edifying spirituality.  Take heed - this is not a criticism.  The book is fun and completely G-rated.  Not every book needs leave us with deep spiritual revelations. 
This particular choice makes for a relaxing evening because it is fun, easy reading.  The issues presented between the couple are realistic, which I appreciated.  This light-hearted, savvy romance tends to lack a little heat -- even by Christian fiction standards, but super hip conversation more than makes up for it. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Regret Free Parenting - Catherine Hickem, LCSW

"Regret Free Parenting" is geared toward moms.  It provides direction on thinking through and deliberately overcoming specific issues.  The author calls this "intentional parenting.”  Instruction is provided for the following concepts: insecurity of children and moms, past hurts that currently affect the parenting style, defining the boundaries of a parent so that we don't wander too far into "friend" territory, the correct balance between your children's respect and happiness, and the dangers of using control as a parenting style.
My critiques are that future books be written in a simpler style (6th grade level would be ideal), and concepts be communicated in a more conversational approach.  There were a few times that it got a bit tedious to read, and I needed to take a break from my "counseling session."  With those criticisms out of the way, the information in the book was solid. The author didn't skimp on encouragement, and focused mainly on examples and instructions for specific issues.  Catherine Hickem doesn't mince words or tippy-toe around a solution.  You will be able to find clear, precise instruction here.  If this book addresses a need you have, then it also proposes the solution.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations.