Friday, August 27, 2010

Stardust on my Pillow

Book:  Stardust on my Pillow
Author:  Patsy Clairmont
194 pages

From "Boxed In', the story of a woman making a starling discovery about a distant aunt she never really knee, to "Cloistered", the tale of a severely phobic woman being gently wooed back into life, popular speaker & writer Patsy Clairmont has crafted a beautiful & impressive first collection of short fiction.

Through the fourteen tales featured, Patsy sensitively explores the themes of compassion & kindness, holiness & hope, whole providing beautifully written inspiration for all of us who desire to spread a little stardust of our own

First Line:  Every afternoon at three o'clock, Papaw sat under the weeping willow tree in his front yard & played the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo- on his harmonica"

Coming out of the Women of Faith weekend & once again being reminded how much I loved Patsy Clairmont, it was a surprise to find this book on my shelf as one I never read.... its an older book...published in 2000 ... but so glad I've had it sitting there waiting on me.

Patsy is just a wonderful writer that you can tell her speaking translates so well to paper.  This book is the perfect book to leave next to a nightstand too.  It has 14 tales that are all so quick to read but each one has a story that found me usually making a sigh, or a "Ahhh" noise, or even a giggle...

Stardust on my Pillow should be on a nightstand so you can lay your head down after reading a tale & "look into the windows of Heaven" ...

My rating:  4 skeins

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Heart Mender

Book:  The Heart Mender
Author:  Andy Andrews
235 pages

While digging up a withering wax myrtle tree behind his waterfront home on the Gulf Coast, author Andy Andrews unearths a rusted metal container filled with Nazi artifacts & begins an intriguing investigation that unlocks an unspoken past that took place in his backyard.... literally...

In the summer of 1942, as the country gears up for a full scale commitment to WWII, German subs are dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico to sink US vessels carrying goods & fuel for the war.  While taking a late-night walk along the coastline, Helen Mason - recently widowed by the realities of war - discoveres the near lifeless body of a German sailor.  Enraged at the site of Josef Landermann's uniform, Helen is prepared to leave the lieutenant to die when an unsual phrase, faintly uttered, changes her mind.

Set in a period simmering with anger & suspicion, this book offers the very real chronicle of a small town preparing itself for the worst the world has to offer.  As cargo from torpedoed ships begin to wash up on the beach, Josef & Helem must reconcile their pasts in order to creat a future.
First Line:  It is early summer as I sit at my desk & finally begin the process of sorting what I know to be true from what I merely suspect.

I couldnt write this review fast enough to say how much I loved this book!!!!!

First, let me say, Andy Andrews is fast becoming one of my favorite authors!  With "The Noticer" & "The Time Traveler's Gift" as my favorite books as well, I thought this has to be a shoe-in...

But then I saw this book contained a lot of information about WWII & submaries & torpedos & talks of Germans & Nazi's & I thought, this isnt going to be for me.  I'm not a "war" kinda reader...

I was so wrong...

With the writing & the pictures just in the first few pages, I was hooked into this story. 

A story that Mr. Andrews makes note is a true story - which is amazing in itself.  That there were German subs in US territory destroying US vessels... how is this something that we do not see in history books?

I put on my Facebook/Twitter that this book reminds me of a"The Notebook" - but it did hold a love story in the midst of a time of war.. to hear the story of the relationship between Helen & Josef...I was involved knowing every detail of their meeting & their life.  And to think that this is all true just pushed it over the top for me as being an amazing read that has just crept up in my list of favorite books...

Here is a sample of the writing as well:

(Talking about how some of the men on German ships werent fans of Hilter)
"The Kriegsmarine had a lot of Germans... not so many Nazi's"
Noting my confusion, the old man said, "You see a difference between Americans and the Ku Klux Klan, dont you?"
I nodded.
"Well, there you go"

(On Helen & Josef's growing relationship)
Later, the German soldier & the American widow walked the beach, not exactly together, but at the same time.  Not yet truly friends, at least they were no longer enemies.

(On the repeated lesson on "forgiveness")
We are products of our past, but we do not have to be prisoners of it.

The writing in this book is wonderful... real & understandable... gripping...

I love that Mr. Andrews dug into this story to find that people in this world have the most amazing adventures of all...

Last Line:  No one will ever believe a word of it.

My Rating:  5 skeins

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Just Take my Heart

Book:  Just Take my Heart
Author:  Mary Higgins Clark
322 Pages

Natalie Raines, one of Broadway's brightest stars, accidentally discovers who killed her former roommate & sets in motion a series of shocking events that puts more than one life in extreme peril.

While Natalie & her roommate, Jamie Evans, were both struggling young actresses, Jamie had been involved with a mysterious married man to whom she referred only by nickname.  Natalie comes face to face with him years later & inadvertently addresses him by his nickname Jamie had used.  A few days later, Natalie is found in her home dying from a gunshot wound.

Immediately, the police suspect Natalie's theatrical agent & soon to be ex-husband, Gregg Aldrich.  No charges wre brought against him until 2 yrs later, when Jimmy Easton, a career criminal, suddenly comes forward to claim Aldrich had tried to hire him to kill his wife.

The case is a plum assignment for Emily Wallace, an attractive 32 yr old assistant prosecutor.  As she spends increasingly long hours preparing for the trial, a seeminly well-meaning neighbor offers to take care of her dog in her absence.  Unaware of his violent past, she gives him a key to her home...
Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favorite authors... always keeps me guessing & this was no different.  My "cheat card" had so many names on it & lines drawn to one person or another, it was crazy... but I STILL didnt figure out the WHOLE ending... why I love Mrs. Clark!

I loved the character of Emily Wallace & the strong woman character she was.  Not afraid to follow her heart & investigate on her own, standing up to people when she was sure of what she believed. 

Loved the character of Gregg Aldrich as well...

There are two different stories that seem to be going on as well, with the neighbor that is the creepiest character I've read in awhile & the trial that is going on... wondered how they would tie in together, but those final chapters indeed bring the stories together...

I always love the quick chapters as well in MHC's books... its almost when you think, I gotta find out what happened, its enough to read without having to invest a lot of time in the next chapter... which in the end, makes you read more!!!

A great mystery....

My rating:  3 skeins... it was good - wasnt great... not disappointed I read it, but not changing my world... so an average score...

Last Line of the book:  I really am, Emily thought when she was alone again.  I'm ready now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Captured by Grace

(This book was provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an unbiased review)
Book:  Captured by Grace
Author:  Dr. David Jeremiah
207 pages

Until you have been broken beyond belief & need a miracle for your soul...
Until you have betrayed a loved one & cannot bring him back...
Until you have befriended eveyr darkness & are desperate for the light...
That's when God's relentless, amazing, very personalized grace finds you.
It reached a slave trader onboard a ship raiding Africa's coast in March 1748.  He later gave the world its most beloved hymn.
It struck the Christian church's most treacherous enemy on a Damasuc road in AD 45 & he became the gospel's greatest messenger.
And it can free you too... of any shameful memory, open wound, unthinking mistake, or willfull choice.

I love any book that talks about grace...

And this book surprised me.  It wasnt what I expected.  I thought it would be more of a "Self Help" kinda book... which it was - but BETTER.  I'm not a self-help kinda gal - those books bore me.  But this book had back stories on John Newton & the Apostle Paul that was just so interesting.  Two men from different times... but the same grace... the same grace that hits us & makes their stories make sense to us in our lives today.

I especially loved this book because it broke things down... like the verses from Amazing Grace... line by line & gave an example, or a story, or just "real talk"...

They also would do that with verses in the Bible - & a big part of it came from Romans - which is my favorite book of the Bible... so this was just awesome for me.

I sat with my highlighter, marking up all the things that stood out to me.  I always love looking back & seeing what I marked - so many good things... here are just a few examples:

*It (Grace) is the gift unsought, unmerited, unlimited.  For no matter what we have done, no matter the depth of our transgression, the darkness of our hearts - grace overrules them all.

*If we edit the sin out of our awareness, then grace no longer has any beauty or power for us.  In due time, we wonder why we need a Savior at all.

*Is there any such thing as an "unanswered prayer"?  Or would it be wiser to call them "unwanted answers"?

*It's as if God is saying to us - "I wont give you what you want, but I'll give you what you need.  If I took away the trail, you would grow no stronger - in face, you would be just a little weaker & more helpless, like a pampered child.  But if I allow the trial & help you endure it, you will be stronger, wiser & more useful to Me."

Oh mercy - I coulda highlighted the whole book really... such good stuff in there.  And an easy read.  Its broke down in sections that are quick & have you wanting to just keep reading.

I'm so thankful for this book... this will be one I go back & will read over & over again in the future...

My rating:  4 skeins

Friday, August 6, 2010

After River

Book:  After River
Author: Donna Milner
342 pages

At 15, Natalie Ward believes her life is perfect.  Growing up on a diary farm in the mountains of British Columbia less than 2 miles from the American border, she knows little of the outside world. But she knows family.  A family so close & loving that they are the envy of the nearby town of Atwood.  Friend, neighbors, young & old alike, show up regularly on their farmhouse porch - all willing to share in the never-ending daily chores in exchange for a place at the Warm family table.

Natalie chereishes her position as the only daughter to Nettie & Gus Ward.  She adores her three brothers, especially the eldest, Boyer, whom she idolizes with a childlike worship.  Like her mother, Natalie believes their lives are blessed, as rich & as sweet as the fresh milk that is their livelihood.

Everything changes one hot July afternoon in 1966 when a long-haired stranger walks up the winding dirt road to their door.  The arrival of this soft-spoken American, a Vietnam War resister, will test the morals & beliefs of the Warm family & their close-knit community.  The catastrophic events that are set in motion will leave relationships shattered & Natalie seperated from the family she loves in ways she could never have imagined.

35 years later, Natalie receives a late night phone call from her now-estranged brother, Boyer.  Their mother is dying.  Torn between the love of her mother & the fear of the past, Natalie returns to the town she has spent her entire adult life avoiding.  As she travels back to her childhood home, she steels herself against the bittersweet memories of taht summer day in 1966 & the tragedy that followed.  But before Natalie can find redemption, she must confront the secrets & horrors of a past she has desperately tried to forget.

First words out of my mouth about this book - LOVED IT!  I was so wrapped up in this story!!!!!!

I dont think I have ever read a book with so much tragedy & life experiences & consequences & surprises as this book.  And it was all believable - something you can imagine could actually happen to someone, a family, as well...

I dont want to give anything away because every bit of it was a surprise to me - & I think that's what made it so amazing to me.  I mean, more then once, I gasped in parts - I was shocked in parts - I teared up at parts - my heart broke in so many parts...

I feel like I know this family... that I fell in love with River myself... & I wanted a brother like Boyer... & I wanted to live on this dairy farm & know Nettie & Gus... & laugh with the brothers who never seperated, Carl & Morgan....& that I could relate so deeply with Natalie & the things she struggled with.

This story shows how powerful silence is in a family... how secrets & shame & guilt can effect someone ... effect a family.

I truly loved this book

My rating:  5 skeins