Tag Archives: christian suspense novels

Book Reviews May 2020

28 May

Sadly, my quest to find a book that just sucks me into its world is still continuing. Well, let me clarify, The Horse and His Boy, Virginia and House at the End of the Moor did the job admirably well, it’s been ever since then that I’m still struggling. (and, transparency here, I adored the book by Griep and had intended to do a separate post but as I loaned the book to my mom before I took pics, I decided to just add it here). I’m enjoying the two classics that I’m reading right now but both are better at little spurts of reading, and I’m really only slogging through one because I REALLY want to have read all of it at least once. Which, this isn’t something I do, normally… Anyhow, that’s a very long and probably confusing introduction!

Virginia: Four Inspiring Stories of Valor, Virtue and Victory by Cathy Marie Hake – In these four short stories, follow a family from the turn of the century to the end of World War I as they battle loss and love, faith and prejudice.

~Now, if you’ve been around SGL for a while, you know that I’m not a big fan of short stories, but as these were all written by Hake, they ended up feeling kind of like a whole novel. (not really b/c they ARE about different people). But I couldn’t even really peg which one was my favorite, each was unique and pull-you-in. Definitely recommend this!

The Prarie Legacy Series by Janette Oke – Follow Clark and Marty’s granddaughter, Virginia, through her teens on up through her adult years. As she struggles to fit in with her friends in school, falling in love, learning sacrifice and faith and then onto marriage, children and the inevitable heartache that accompanies life. Her faith and family bolster her through them, growing her into a woman of strength and godliness.

– I don’t think I’d ever read this series before! I fully expected to recognize it, once I got into it but that never happened! (I’m such a fan of Oke’s that I’m surprised when I run across a book I’ve not read of hers). This series was similar to her Love Comes Softly series but as it is based on their granddaughter, it helps it feel like a continuation. There were aspects of the book that hit so close to home that I had a hard time reading, but that’s what I appreciate about Oke’s books is that she writes what real life looks like – to a point anyway. If you’re looking for a sweet series that teaches life and faith lessons throughout, this is the one to reach for.

Tis Herself by Maureen O’Hara – In a straight-forward tone, the famed beauty and actress talks about her life from girlhood in Ireland to becoming a star in Hollywood. The men that formed her career and tried to destroy it; a disastrous marriage; birth of her daughter; lifelong friendship with ‘Duke’ and so much more. She doesn’t simper away from her mistakes, rather owns up to them and moves on. As so many of her roles in movies, she was a fiesty, strong red-head who fought for what she wanted.

It’s always a little scary starting a book about a favorite actress, so this book sat on my shelf for about a year until I picked it up. I’m glad I read it even though it was a sad story, if you know anything about O’Hara’s life, you know that she had Trials. But the way she writes (this is an autobiography after all) and the things she shares – like her long friendship with John Wayne – keeps you engaged and interested. It was fun getting to read about how Hollywood used to be, and the making of some of her movies that I enjoy. If you’re a fan of her movies and don’t mind reading about heartaches and laughter, give this a try.

The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis – When young Shasta talks about running away, he’s startled to realize the horse that he’s confided in can Talk. And not only talk, but wants to run away as well! With warhorse Bree helping him, Shasta sets off toward Narnia. Their travels include great adventures and require both of them to move past fear and prejudice.

~In reading other reviews of this book, a big theme of them was ‘racist’ and ‘prejudice’ but I never thought that the whole time I read it. Yes, the Calormen are the slave-owners and terrible people but, I never associated that with Lewis saying all dark-skinned people are such. That aside, this is one of my absolute favorites of the Narnia books. Perhaps it’s because a horse is one of the main characters? For whatever reason, I really truly love reading this. The lessons on Not judging people by what they look like are true for every generation (which is why I probably never have thought of it as racist…) and the truths that Aslan imparts are so so good.

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep – When a powerful politician threatens to ruin opera singer Maggie Lee’s life, she runs away and lives in anonymity on the edges of the moor. While life is lonely, she knows she’s safe. Until one day, she finds a wounded man and takes him in to care for him. But this man isn’t who he seems to be either. Escaped convict, Oliver Ward, is out to set the wrongs in his past right – little does he expect to find the same jewels that got him convicted in the very house that he’s now staying in. Both Oliver and Maggie decide to try and set things right by returning the jewels, clearing his name and, in the midst of all that, keeping Maggie’s identity a secret.

– I got this as a birthday present and LOVED it. I’d never read anything by Griep before but I do want to give some of her other books a try now! The twists and turns in this mystery were good- so much so that I had a hard time putting it down once I’d picked it up! As well as one time that I got so worried about what was going to happen to Maggie that I Couldn’t pick it up for a day or so – ha! I just loved Oliver as he tries to get his life back and yet is eaten up so with hatred and revenge. So superficial but you’ve got to check out the Cover! It’s simply lovely. But really, just get this book, you won’t regret it! This became a Top Favorite for 2020

Montana Marshalls series by Susan May Warren – Follow the Marshall siblings as each have to face their fears and doubts along the way as they have to choose between who they think they are and who they want to be. Love comes calling for each of them- Knox, Tate, Wyatt, Ford and Ruby Jane- but will they be able to survive long enough to reach for it?

I won this series as ebooks as a giveaway and was quite excited as I’ve enjoyed most of Warren’s novels. I enjoy series that focuses on siblings (looking at you, The O’Malley Series), so eagerly started Knox (book 1). I’ve made it through most of the books but am really struggling to finish this series. Which makes me sad. I’ve enjoyed the adventure aspect of each one, and have found some favorites among the main and side characters. I’ll try to be brief on why this series hasn’t hit it off with me: Warren’s style seems to have changed and it’s a little too… millenial (?) for me; there’s more intense kissing than I think is necessary – especially when the people barely know each other/aren’t married; lack of remorse for intimacy out of wedlock for one couple. Now, that last one might change as I’ve not finished the book. All in all, I’m not sure I’ll finish the series, if I do, I might skip forward (something else completely unheard of for me).

Currently Reading:

Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard

To-Read:

Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

the next Narnia book

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

the next Wheel of Time book (I have to figure out which one I’m on!)

Did you find any books to add to your To-Read pile? I’d love to know which ones! And if you have read any of the ones that I wasn’t that crazy about, did you love them? Share that too!!

~Laura

Series Review – Heart of India

17 Jan

I have loved this series for at least 15 years. Written by Linda Chaikin, it is full of mystery, intrigue, romance, history, etc etc. Set in India, it follows Coral Kendall and Captain Jace Buckley. I’ll go into more detail under each book title but what I enjoy so much is that, even if it is only a novel, you learn some history about the upheaval of India, and the mission work that went on there. After finishing it this last time, I decided I really want to read some biographies on the missionaries, including William Carey.

srsrvwheartofindia

 

What’s fun is that as I’ve read them over the years I’ve been able to pick up something different each time. When I was younger, I really only could identify with some of what she goes through, but now…. to put it as a friend does ‘the books grow with you’.

As for who it would be appropriate for, I’m guessing I started reading it around 15 years old. It has no language or sexual overtures in it. But there are battles and intrigues going on so I don’t know how much younger it would be appropriate. As usual, that’s up to you!

Silk – Coral Kendall does the only thing she can do while her dear friend is dying, she promises to care for the newborn baby. In doing so, she breaks caste – she is a silk heiress and the baby is an Untouchable.  She quickly falls in love with Gem and teaches him about God as he grows older. But when he is kidnapped, her strength is tested and her faith that he is still alive is the only thing that will get her through. She enlists the aid of a sea captain to find her son.

Under Eastern Stars – Coral’s decision to start a school for the children on the plantation only aggravates an already volatile situation. India is increasingly more dangerous as hatred for the English is used by those hungry for power. Coral’s Uncle, Hugo Roxbury is determined to stop her plans of a school. Two very different men are filling her heart – the sea captain, Jace Buckley, and Dr. Ethan Boswell, the man who has professed his love.

Kingscote – With Buckley’s promise to bring her son Gem home by Christmas, Coral sets out to start her school for the Untouchables. Ethan has committed himself to helping her. Danger soon rears its ugly head, this time on Kingscote in the form of ashes of the Hindi scriptures that William Carey gave her. Jace searches for Gem but the world of intrigue are dangerous and he starts wondering if he will ever get back to Kingscote to claim Coral as his own.

~I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are new pages to check out! The Book List will have all the books I’ve reviewed in one convenient place! It will take a while to get that done though, so bear with me. The Chronic Pain and My Writing pages are still waiting for content but don’t forget to come back and check them out. Thanks for stopping by SGL,

Have any favorite series you want to share with me?

~Laura

Book Review- May!

29 May

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ” – Chinese Proverb

How crazy everything has been! I am sorry  that this is the first post this week, but as it was a holiday earlier in the week, I’m sure you’ll forgive me. 

Right now my hands smell like lavendar thanks to the fabric softener that I just threw together… We will see how much I like it once the clothes have dried from waving in the wind.(I have a goal of hanging more laundry out to save money by not using the dryer as much but I abhor stiff clothes and towels.) I’ll let you know – and share with you what all I did to make it if it ends up being worth it! ha. 

Next for today is to clean the kitchen – how does it get dirty so fast? – and then make some strawberry jam. Yum! 

I think this past month I have read more than any other month this year! I love it.  There’s only a few books this time around that I’m not too excited about, but most of them have hearts or exclamation points next to them (that’s how I mark their rank to me. heart = love. ! = great etc…)  Now on to the list :

True Valor (book 2) by Dee Henderson – Part of the the Uncommon Heroes series. Gracie is a pilot in the Navy and Bruce is an Air Force Pararescue man. While they both are deployed, they write love letters until one day Gracie is shot down behind enemy lines. Bruce is part of the team that their only goal is to get her out alive. Henderson once again draws you into the military world with fantastic characters and descriptions.I also love the integral role that faith plays in the characters’ lives.  For the description of the first novel, click here- https://thestartofagoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/book-review-april/

True Honor (book 3) by Dee Henderson – last book of the Uncommon Heroes series. I think this is my favorite of the three. It is intense as its’ storyline deals with the September 11th attacks. Darcy St. James is a CIA officer gathering intelligence on the men profiting from the attacks. Sam “Cougar” Houston is a Navy Seal whose team gets deployed based on the information Darcy gathers. During this war, their romance flourishes. But then they find out that Darcy’s name is high on the terrorists’ hit list. I adore Darcy. She’s tough, gives her all and yet is overwhelmed and exhausted of keeping it all together. 

The Heartache No One Sees by Sheila Walsh – I must admit, I don’t think I’ve made it even halfway through this bible study book. It is good, but it isn’t turning out to be quite what I wanted. It is interesting learning more about Sheila Walsh – as she has her personal story in each chapter. This book is to help women with broken hearts from their past learn to accept Christ’s healing and acceptance. It is very well written, my disappointment with it has nothing to do with the actual book. Like I said, it’s more that I was searching for something else. 

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Take Hold by Ariel and D’vorah Berkowitz – This is off my OH’s bookshelf. And I have not picked it up as much as I want to. This book teaches about the unity and equality between Jewish believers and non- Jewish believers through Messiah;  the inheritance of non -Jewish believers through the covenants of Israel. As the back cover states “What is your relationship to the Land, the People and the Scriptures of Israel?”  

In Sheep’s Clothing by Susan May Warren – Gracie Benson is on the run – from the man who murdered her best friends. The man trying to keep her alive, an FSB agent, is haunted by mistakes of the past, and intent on catching the man who ruined his father’s life. What Gracie doesn’t know is that she carries a medical secret that in the right hands, could save millions. Outwitting the Russian old guard with a small group of friends is the only way to save Gracie’s life. ACK! I love love love this book. This romantic suspense, has everything you want in a novel! 

The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman – This is a modern retelling of the Brother’s Grimm fairytale, Snow White and Rose Red. I must admit that I forgot how much I enjoy this book! Bear, a rough and mysterious young man shows up on Blanche and Roses’ doorstep. While the sisters’ opinions on him are opposite, he becomes their closest friend in New York City. But Blanche’s fear that he was putting her family in danger, become horribly real and they must fight for their lives. (!!!) This book is a must read! I got this years ago from a dear friend and it has become a yearly read for me. 

Black As Night by Regina Doman – This is also a modern retelling of a fairy tale. This time it is Snow White.  She handles this one as well as the last book. I am halfway through it right now – and don’t remember too much about it which makes it more fun to read!  A runaway girl named Nora is found in the vestibule by seven friars who work with the homeless. While they offer her a place of safety, Bear searches for his missing girlfriend, Blanche. This suspenseful story brings back the characters from the Shadow of the Bear book with a whole lot more background on them. (plus I just found out there’s another book to this retelling ‘series’! i’m so excited to find it!!!) 

The Belly Off Diet by Jeff Csatari – I got this book from the library to try out some new recipes. It’s actually from Men’s Health, and is interesting reading. It’s got a quick-start 7 day program – recipes, workouts, etc – that is proven and says that you will see results within days. The exercises don’t require a gym (always a plus!) and the meal plan isn’t one that leaves you full at the end of each day. It’s full of REAL food – spaghetti, chicken wings, pizza, taco salad, etc. I’ve tried several already and plan on keeping them in my ‘repetoire’! For anyone looking to lose that stubborn stomach weight but hate the gnawing on your insides because the portion sizes are too small – check this book out! 

 

I already have a list of books to read this coming month – some from the library, some from my own shelf! Including – but not limited to – Finding Betty Crocker, A Tiger in the Kitchen, Fast, Fresh and Green, A Beauty so Rare and finishing Take Hold. I do want to read the Anne of Green Gables series, but not sure when I’ll start that! 

Happy reading friend and I’ll talk with you next week! 

~Laura

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