Thursday, April 8, 2010

Saved by Her Enemy: An Iraqi woman's journey from the heart of war to the heartland of America

by Don Teague and Rafraf Barrak

The war came into my home...and my heart...

When the headlines come up on my home page, I can no longer just skip over how many bombs went off in Baghdad today. Now it's personal. Through this book I meet two people who survived the daily chaos and death that is war. I was surprised at the maturity of this young woman who had to grow up quickly in a war torn city. I am astounded at the contrast between her life in Baghdad and her life in Florida. I am amazed at the faith of a family who took the risk and invested the time to make her a part of their family in the United States. Only by a reliance on God can this type of miracle happen... including the change in my heart.

I only have two complaints about this book. 1) The point of view in this book changes often and sometimes takes a moment of thought to deciper which author is talking. This may be distracting but it's still worth the read. 2) I wanted to know more. I'm hoping for a sequel.

Visit my review for the Amazon Vine Program at:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sixteen Brides

Bethany House (April 2010)


Stephanie Grace Whitson


A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four home schooled children Nebraska history.

She was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends.

Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.


In 1872, sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community."

Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledgling community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them.

These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixteen Brides, go HERE.

Kay's Comments: To read any of Stephanie Grace Whitson's novels is a delight! This one is no exception.

To me, the title is somewhat of a misnomer. The sixteen widows who set out on this journey are not necessarily looking for husbands.  Of course,with a praire full of single men, it would seem reasonable that marriage may be a result. One of the women may have a live husband looking for her.

The title is also somewhat of a misnomer because the storyline follows only five of the women in depth. These two observations are not a negative. Whitson does an excellent job of writing about five women at the same time. Her intricate knowledge of the history surrounding the setting makes the reading all the more real and interesting.

My favorite books by Whitson are The Prairie Series, A Garden in Paris, AHilltop in Tuscany and Nora's Ribbon of Memories.

This week, the  Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)

Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.


For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.

Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.

Kay's Comments: Siri Mitchell's books have a story to tell beyond the fiction novel. In this book, she exposes the rules of society at the time that lead to dangerous consequeces. The debut of young women appreared to be an innocent game. In truth, it was often a game of chess with the goal to see who could reach checkmate first. In the quest, lives are made or ruined, all for the sake of status or money.

The lingering question for me as I read this book is what is it in society's rules today that I accept as normal, yet is a dangerous game. Is it multi-tasking? Over scheduling? Social networking? Will someone, someday look back at our time and ask, "What were they thinking?! Couldn't they see it ruined their lives?" A question worth asking now.