Tag Archives: susan may warren

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

April Book Review 2018

4 May

As promised, April’s book reviews! I got a little excited while at the library one day and came home with a STACK of books of all different genres. It’s been fun bouncing around such different styles of writing these past few months. I have decided though, that I’ve got to stay away from the library for a few months at least to tackle my TBR list of books that I already own!

bkrvwsapril2018

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

Biblically Kosher: A Messianic Jewish Perspective on Kashrut by Aaron Eby – Learn why God calls meat and dairy to be separated, hidden additives that contaminate food and practical ways to eat kosher.

~This was an easy-to-read book on eating kosher. I learned so much from it and it brought up many discussions between my OH and I about the topic. Definitely worth the read if you’re at all curious about the topic!

My Foolish Heart  (Deep Haven #4) by Susan May Warren – Unknown to her town, Isadora Presley is the voice behind Miss Foolish Heart, the talk show host guiding callers through finding  true love. When it seems that she’s falling in love with a caller, her ratings soar. What she doesn’t know is the the caller lives right next door, in the form of Caleb Knight. He has come to Deep Haven to start over after paying a steep price in Iraq. All he wants is to land the high school football coaching job and then he’ll reveal his disability. But he doesn’t count on moving in next door to a beautiful young woman. Desperate, he calls in to Miss Foolish Heart for advice.

~ As I have come to expect from Warren, this was a unique story line with endearing characters. It did take me a little bit to get fully into it though, as I felt there was so much longing for the past that it put me off. After a while, that eased and I just fell in love with Caleb, Issy and supporting characters.

The Shadow of Your Smile (Deep Haven #5) by Susan May Warren –  Noelle and Eli’s marriage is on the verge of divorce when an accident wipes Noelle’s memory of their life together. Not their life together, including their children and the tragedy that tore them apart. As she slowly finds her footing in this strange life that she’s built for herself, will their secrets tear them apart again or give them a second chance?

~Ahh, this one. What a heart-breaker. I’m learning that I have a hard time reading novels where the characters are struggling in their marriage. Aside from that, it was interesting how Warren wove the family’s restoration together after so much tragedy and ill-spoken words.

The Cozy Life : Rediscover the Joy of Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg – Learn how to slow down and enjoy each moment in every aspect of your life in this small treasure trove of inspiration and practical advice.

~This was a nice, easy read about Hygge – disconnecting from the fast-paced society (logging off social media, stepping off the rat race) and creating a life that we can enjoy and feel safe and content in. There’s even a 30 day challenge to Hygge.

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard – Adam Dunne’s life is perfect. Until his girlfriend doesn’t return from Barcelona. Until he receives her passport and a note “I’m Sorry – S”. He starts searching for her and ends up connecting her to a cruise ship called the Celebrate. And finds that another woman disappeared from the ship a year ago in eerily similar circumstances. To find out what happened, he has to make difficult decisions, do impossible things – like outsmart a predator on what seems like the perfect hunting grounds.

~You. Guys. Thrillers aren’t normally my thing. Well, if I do read them, they are Christian, aka ‘toned down’. But I’ve been following Howard online for years (hopefully that didn’t make me sound like a stalker…) I got this from the library and couldn’t. Put. It. Down. I read it in less than three days – all 368 pages of it. There was some cussing in it so beware if you decide to read it. The plot was incredible though. I was pretty much blindsided by the ending. Brilliant. I am still thinking about it, weeks later. If you enjoy a good thriller that will wake you up at night because the Killer just might be lurking in your bedroom, pick this one up.

As You Wish: Inconceivable tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes – A first-person account of the making of the Cult Classic, this book is delightful. Elwes’ recounting of the whole process – from auditioning for the part of Wesley, to the 25th Reunion – will bring laughs, tears and add another level of enjoyment to watching Princess Bride

~Delightful. Absolutely Delightful. I am so glad I finally read this! If you’re a fan of Princess Bride, you have got to get your hands on a copy of this.

 

Currently Reading:

You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren

The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

How to be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Taken by Dee Henderson

Gifts of the Spirit by First Fruits of Zion

 

To Read:

Dear Theo: the Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh by Irving Stone

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

Whispers of the Moor series by Sarah Ladd

Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll

My Top-15 Favorite books 2016

16 Dec

 

As I was writing one day, I had a brilliant (coughcough) idea. Why not make a list of my top favorite books that I’ve read this year and share them with you all? Of course, that meant choosing only 15. Not an easy task I assure you. Especially since I read 54 books this year!

top15books2016

These are in no particular order because that’s just taking things a little too far.

  1. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
  2. Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi
  3. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
  4. Little Britches by Ralph Moody
  5. Maire by Linda Windsor
  6. An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan (and series)
  7. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  8. Tucker Mills Trilogy by Lori Wick
  9. Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  10. Happily Ever After by Susan May Warren
  11. Lord of the Ring series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  12. Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon
  13. Lights of the Veil by Patty Metzer
  14. Rocky Mountain Memories series by Lori Wick
  15. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle

Okay, so I might have cheated by choosing whole series’..But I couldn’t help it. And it’s my blog, so I can get away with it!

If you want to check out the books I’ve read this year on Goodreads and how I did with my year’s challenge, check it out here! I did want to read more health-focused books, as well as more biographies this year but I’ll have to move that goal on to next year’s reading goals. Overall, there were only a few books that I really didn’t enjoy. Either that means that I am getting better at picking books, or my standards have fallen… Let’s go with the first option, I like that one better.

Thanks for stopping by SGL and I hope you take the time to look around,

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas,

Laura

Series Review – Deep Haven

11 Apr

You know when you sit down to write a post and then you just do not like how it’s turning out? Sigh. That was me yesterday. So, I’m starting fresh and giving you a review on a series by Susan May Warren.

srsrvwsusanmaywarren

(random insert here, puppy Abby is learning the sad truth that if she plays in the water, she has to stay outside til she’s dry-ish. Her sad puppy eyes staring at me through the sliding door are awfully pathetic right now)

Yet again, this is a series that I have enjoyed for years – but just the other week I learned that this is only half of it! There are 3 more books just waiting for me to read! ahaha, such wonderful news this is!

I will admit that the first book is my favorite of the three. The first reason being simply because it involves a bookstore. Happy, contented sigh.

~Happily Ever After – Mona Reynold’s  dream of opening her own bookstore and coffee shop is about to come true. With the help of her friend and a handyman that leaves her breathless, she races to fix the old Victorian house up in time for opening day. But when disaster strikes, her faith gets shaken and she turns to her handyman for help. Both will learn of God’s forgiveness and overwhelming love – and that His plans for them are far better than any they had.

~Tying the Knot – Anne Lundstrom was an EMT in Minnapolis when her life got ripped apart. She escapes to quiet Deep Haven, eager to start over and forget the pain of her past. What she doesn’t expect, or want, is to spend the summer at Noah Standing-Bear’s camp for inner-city kids. She’s torn in two directions, wanting to run as fast as she can from the daily reminders of her past, and drawn in by Noah’s charm.

~The Perfect Match – Firefighting is a man’s job – is exactly the thinking that Ellie Karlson has been fighting for fifteen years. Fighting for respect and a chance to prove herself. So when she’s given the interim fire chief position for the small town of Deep Haven, she’s determined to lead the crew and whip them into shape. Soon it becomes apparent that there’s an arsonist in town and she wonders if she’s the cause. The one fire she can’t fight is the one that Pastor Dan Matthews has set in her heart, and she’s not entirely sure she wants to.

Each novel, I feel, focuses on a different attribute of God, which I always appreciate in a series. It makes me think past the story of these characters and into how I feel/believe. I can highly recommend these three novels!

Happy Reading,

Laura

Did I mention my OH got me THIS for my birthday?!?!?!

20160328_111726

March 2016 Book Review

30 Mar

Happy End of March and almost- April! You will forgive me if I keep this brief, I really want to get to working on my novel and my window to do so today is swiftly closing. What with the sunshine and the smell of spring in the air, I keep getting lured outside in the morning to pull the never-ending weeds instead of writing. . . .

I’m debating about starting to give my rating ( 1 to 5 stars ) for the books I review but I just cannot decide! What do you wonderful SGL readers think? Do you like having that quick-reference point or not??

mrch2016bkrvw

Love Finds You – in Pendleton Oregon – Melody Carlson – Sunny Westcott is used to the quiet reflections of the small university where she had been a teacher for years. Signing on as a model had never been in her plans. But finding a new job had proven difficult and she needed the money. Then her friend Aubrey drags her to Pendleton for the rodeo, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys the ranch, the small town and riding horses. Meeting a cowboy that sends her pulse racing helps as well. While she’s there, she does some digging into the lives of her ancestors that used to live on the reservation nearby.

 – So. This review is a little sad to write. I normally LOVE Carlson’s books but while this one was very cute and fun to read due to the fact that it is set in Oregon, (i love my Oregon!), it seemed a little rushed. Well, at least the romance part of it did. Which left me rather dissatisfied at the ending. Apparently Carlson has a whole series of ‘love finds you in’ but this is the only one i’ve read! Just might have to get to the library and give the others a shot.

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Edmund Dantes spends more than a decade in Chateau D’if. Finally escaping, he focuses on exacting revenge on those who sent him there.

– What the what. This Book! It is taking me longer to read than I thought it would – as it is I’m only halfway through, but Dumas is a brilliant writer. Having only seen the movie (with Jim Caviezel ) , I was a little concerned about it affecting my enjoyment of the book, but so far – I’m loving the story even more! 

You Can’t Go Home Again – Thomas Wolfe  – I got this as a birthday present this past weekend (thanks brother!) and have read the first few chapters and am enjoying it so far.  I’m not looking up the storyline/synopsis though, as I am kind of enjoying having NO clue what the book is about. =) You’ll just have to come back and read my review! 

The Deep Haven series by Susan May Warren – Set in Deep Haven, Minnesota, each book follows those eager to plant roots in this small, tourist town. With romance, faith and a touch of mystery, Warren delivers a delightful, easy to read series.

-I reviewed them here! they are a fun, faith filled series that I’ve enjoyed for years!

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. 

Image

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

A Musing Maverick

"What good amid these, O me, O life? - Answer: That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." - Walt Whitman

Elaine Howlin

Slow Living & Reading

See Jayne Run

Navigating with Chronic Illness in a Self Absorbed World

1WriteWay

I AM therefore I Write. Official site of Marie A Bailey, writer, knitter, and stray cat magnet.