Mom's Shelf

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Currently Reading...

Mary (Shannon McNear)
Immerse yourself in the “what if” questions related to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. What if an English boy and a native girl met in the wilderness? The push-and-pull between two very different worlds begins as one seeks simple friendship and the other struggles to trust. And can it—dare they—allow it to be more?  Sparks fly between Mushaniq, free-spirited daughter of Manteo, and Georgie Howe, whose father was brutally murdered by undiscovered native warriors before they’d been on Roanoac Island a full week. As Georgie struggles to make sense of his life and to accept that not all they call “savage” are guilty of his father’s death, Mushaniq grapples with her own questions about who Manteo has become. As tentative friendship becomes more, forged in the fire of calamity and attack upon their community, both must decide whether the One True God is indeed who He claims to be and whether He is worthy of their trust.

This series has overdelivered with every single book! As someone who loves both history and the Outer Banks, I was intrigued by the premise of these historically-based stories of women from early America. In Mary, we learn much more about the Croatoan people and their customs, as well as how the English are integrating with them. It's a most fascinating depiction of our nation's first interracial couples and the murkiness that came along with them. The author does a fantastic job of weaving obscure historic facts with speculation to create a riveting read!

A Quilt for Christmas (Melody Carlson)
Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that's not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one--until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera's help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request--a Christmas quilt for Mama.  Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all--and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

I struggled with the last couple of Christmas books, but this year's addition from Melody Carlson is a home run!  She tugs at all the right heart strings and brings the spirit of the holiday front and center.  Much like a beautiful quilt can be created from bits and pieces, scraps of left-behind projects, this book takes people who are like those scraps and pieces them together to make a beautifully-quilted community in time for Christmas.

Mothering By the Book (Jennifer Pepito)
As a mom, you want to nurture a strong family, but fear steals your joy. Sometimes you wonder if you're failing your children or whether you're cut out for this. Beloved writer and mom of seven Jennifer Pepito understands. She was intent on loving her children well, but fear and worry pushed her around. Ultimately, she found her joy in a most surprising place: the pages of classic literature she was reading aloud to her children every day. These stories helped her reclaim the wonder of childhood for herself and her children. In Mothering by the Book, Jennifer takes you on a fascinating, whimsical journey that will bring freedom and fun to your parenting--one great book at a time.

As a self-professed bibliophile, I love how this book focuses on a specific literary character with each chapter.  The author speaks of them as though she is speaking of a friend, pointing out the goods and the bads, with love, and she writes as though you're having a conversation through the pages with her.  For any mother who appreciates faith (not necessarily just Christianity), this book will bolster your spirits and help you stop fighting those demons that creep up on you, making you question your abilities.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses....which character are you?

Military leaders throughout history have used the strategy of deception to win wars--and Satan is a master strategist. He and his forces have enveloped the world in an unprecedented age of mass media disinformation, government psychological operations, social media censorship and other sophisticated mind-control techniques. In this eye-opening book, military and religious expert Colonel David J. Giammona and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Troy Anderson equip you to recognize--and resist--the propaganda and deceptive ideologies infiltrating the Church and society. The last days are coming. And if we don't know how to fight the enemy's pervasive lies, we will be swept away by them. Here are the powerful military and spiritual tactics you need to stand against the devil's rampant deceptions and be a light to a world in darkness.

Broken into sections on spiritual deception, personal deception, and deception in the world around us, this book draws from both main stream media and scriptural references to pull back the curtain on what is going on in our nation and our world today.  What we're experiencing are the results of a long game, a manipulation of the people through long-term deception that is showing the fruits of its labors.  Giamonna uses real-world examples from his deployments and contemporary news, then at the end of each chapter provides an action list of things to focus on so you can break free from this deception.  Whether you are a confirmed Christian or just believe in something bigger than yourself, this is a must-read for anyone concerned about the direction our world is taking.

The Last Way Home (Liz Johnson)
When Eli Ross left Prince Edward Island to join the NHL, he left a broken family behind. More than a decade later, he's broke and headed home to an uncertain welcome. He wants to make things right with the family he wronged, but his mom's business partner isn't making it easy. To top it off, the coaching job he's accepted turns out to be far more difficult than he anticipated.  For years, Violet Donaghy has put everything she had into making Eli's mom's ceramics shop a success, and she's not eager to forgive the man who hurt the family that's taken her in as one of their own. But when the kiln at the shop starts a fire that nearly destroys the studio, she'll need all the help she can get to save the business and their summer income.  Can these two strong-willed people come together to mend the broken pieces of the Ross family? Or will the ghosts of the past continue to haunt them?

This next installment of the Prince Edward Island series took me a bit to get into.  We have Eli and Violet, both who are very very broken, each in their own way.  The past has finally caught up to them, and while they were instrumental in creating their own present, each was also influenced by their emotions, their love, and people who took advantage of that love, so it's not entirely of their own making.  The question is, can they work together to heal the past and move to a better future like broken shards of pottery that can be remade into a beautiful mosaic?
Aidyn Kelley is talented, ambitious, and ready for a more serious assignment than the fluff pieces she's been getting as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. In her eagerness, she pushes too hard, earning herself the menial task of writing an obituary for an unremarkable woman who's just entered hospice care.  But there's more to Clara Kip than meets the eye. The spirited septuagenarian may be dying, but she's not quite ready to cash it in yet. Never one to shy away from an assignment herself, she can see that God brought the young reporter into her life for a reason. And if it's a story Aidyn Kelley wants, that's just what Mrs. Kip will give her--but she's going to have to work for it.

Clara Kip has lived what she believes is an uneventful life.  She suffered much loss at an early age, never did the things she really wanted to do, and doesn't believe she's really made that much of a difference.  Aidyn is a budding reporter trying to find her niche and carve out a name who finds herself stuck writing an obit for a woman who isn't dead yet.  Together, the two help each other comes to grips with the past, present, and future, and find grace and healing.  Clara learns just how far her love was able to reach, and Aidyn learns to find her voice.  This is a sweet story of a unique friendship, but also includes a lot of lesser-known history from the refugees of the 70s and 80s.

Heart of the Mountains (Pepper Basham)
To escape marriage, Cora Taylor runs away from her home in England to join her brother in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but not even her time as a nurse in the Great War prepares her for the hard landscape and even harder lives of the mountain people. With the help of Jeb McAdams, a quiet woodcarver, who carries his own battle scars, she fashions a place for herself among these unique people. But the past refuses to let go, and with dangers from within and without, can hearts bruised by war find healing within the wilds of the mountains?

Set just after WWI, up in the Appalachian hills, this is a story of faith, redemption, and a hardscrabble way of life. Both Jeb and Cora have had difficult experiences with the war, and are facing down their demons and troubles in its aftermath, but they never imagine they'd end up together. This is one of my favorite settings, as it reminds me of visiting my grandparents' home in the hills...the vivid descriptions, the people, and the vernacular bring it all back to life! And just like anywhere, there are good people and bad, hard workers and muckarounds, and people who are set in their ways. There's a bit of mystery, some romance to untangle, and an opening for another segment to this story. There was also a beautiful section about prayer and how it truly works that I think it an excellent segment to pull out and discuss with folks who might be facing a hard time, too.

Where the Road Bends (Rachel Fordham)
As Norah King surveys her family land in Iowa in 1880, she is acutely aware that it is all she has left, and she will do everything in her power to save it--even if that means marrying a man she hardly knows. Days before her wedding, Norah discovers an injured man on her property. Her sense of duty compels her to take him in and nurse him back to health. Little does she realize just how much this act of kindness will complicate her life and threaten the future she's planned.  Norah's care does more than aid Quincy Barnes's recovery--it awakens his heart to possibilities. Penniless and homeless, he knows the most honorable thing he can do is head on down the road and leave Norah to marry her intended. But walking away from the first person to believe in him proves much harder than he imagined.

This is a story of second chances, of redemption, and of the broken road leading Norah, Quincy, and some of the lesser characters right to where they should be.  It's a gritty story of life on the frontier in the 1800s, and there are some tawdry parts, but nothing graphic.  The characters fall, then get back up and reinvent themselves many times over.  What we should all take from this story is the far-reaching lengths that one of act of kindness will travel....sometimes all the way back to you.  

Some of Yvie's Favorite Reads

When the Day Comes (Gabrielle Meyer)
Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different lives. In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any hope of love--are put in jeopardy. Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. But the only work she cares about--women's suffrage--is discouraged, and her mother is intent on marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates matters. But Libby knows she's not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she must choose one path and forfeit the other--but how can she choose when she has so much to lose in each life?

I read a few hundred books each year, and enjoy time-travel, historic fiction, and mysteries....this is a combination of all of the above, with a bit of romance thrown in, too. It's almost like reading two books at the same time - one set in Colonial Williamsburg and one set in WWI England - until they begin to intertwine toward the end. And the ending...oh my heart! There are so many different facets to this book; it could have been a hot mess, but author perfectly weaves together each and every one of them to create a masterpiece. I look forward to seeing what comes next in this series!

The Master Craftsman (Kelli Stuart)
In 1917, Alma Pihl, a master craftsman in the House of Fabergé, was charged to protect one of the greatest secrets in Russian history--an unknown Fabergé Egg that Peter Karl Fabergé secretly created to honor his divided allegiance to both the people of Russia and the Imperial tsar's family. When Alma and her husband escaped Russia for their native Finland in 1921, she took the secret with her, guarding her past connection to the Romanov family.  Three generations later, world-renowned treasure hunter Nick Laine is sick and fears the secret of the missing egg will die with him. With time running out, he entrusts the mission of retrieving the egg to his estranged daughter, Ava, who has little idea of the dangers she is about to face. As the stakes are raised, Ava is forced to declare her own allegiance--and the consequences are greater than she could have imagined.

Wow! This wasn't exactly what I expected -- it was so much better! Fans of Dan Brown or the National Treasure movie series will love taking a treasure hunt across time, through Imperial Russia, in search of a priceless, lost artifact. There are twists and turns all along the way, some intellectual sleuthing, and soul searching for many of the characters. What's the real treasure here? You'll have to read to find out!

Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women’s Airforce Service in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her three daughters—until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men—even risk her own life?

I loved everything about this book! Growing up in an aviator-family, the author's descriptions of airplanes and aeronautic maneuvers, with the lingo, felt like slipping into a warm, comfortable blanket. She has definitely done her research on the world of aviation as well as on the WASPs and even the weather of this time! Like any good air show, the book took twists and turns, appeared as though the protagonist would fall to her death, and then recovered at the very last moment to bring cheers from the audience....ahem, readers. A must-read!

The Newcomer (Mary Kay Andrews)
After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate
entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.” So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road WITH A TRUNKFUL OF EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE and her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel. THE NO VACANCY SIGN IS FLASHING, & THE SHARKS ARE CIRCLING . . .And that’s the good news...

A lazy read for a lazy summer's day....Mary Kay Andrews has another hit with this murder mystery! The cast of characters illustrates the differences between northerners and southerners, and their quirks will draw you into their 'family.' At times flashing back to earlier moments, it tends to be a fairly straightforward and easy read. The reader will be rooting for Letty and Maya, wanting to have their questions answered, and occasionally surprised by a twist! Overall, the perfect beach read.

Dear Miss Dupre (Grace Hitchcock)
Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father's unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, she is forced into a different future. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan--find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the business empire.  Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society's elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is told to to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn't expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets a gentleman who captures her attention, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.

I read about a book a day, and this was one of the most entertaining books I've read in quite some time! In a Victorian-age Bachelorette, Willow is being forced to find a husband as quickly as possible. It truly plays out like the Bachelorette tv show, with hijinks, underhandedness, and multiple affections...but this a Christian romance, so it is clean. It ended the way I had hoped, and I cannot wait for the author to write the next book in the series....I sincerely hope it is about Flora and the runner-up (did you think I would reveal the winner?), as they deserve their happily-ever-after, too!

Reviews Published
*I received some of these books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.*