Category: ‘Book Talk’

Any Dream Will Do

September 10, 2017 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber

Have you ever been forced to make a fresh start in a new environment? How did you handle it? Did you fit in?

When Shay is released from prison, she’s alone with no place to go. When she shows up at a church, she encounters Drew, a widower/pastor/single father. He’s still grieving over his wife’s untimely death and when he spots Shay, it’s during a dark moment in his life. He kindly offers Shay his help.

Shay is a bit suspicious of Drew, but, she accepts his help. After all, she has no choice. She has a chip on her shoulder since she’d been imprisoned for embezzlement. She’d only stolen the money to help her younger brother, Caden. After all, his life would be in danger if she didn’t give him the money.

Her mistake cost her years in prison, and now she’s ready to make a fresh start.

This book showed how judgmental and superficial Christians can be. Although a congregation should follow Jesus’s example, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, you just have to ask a congregation, What would Jesus do?

I loved to see Shay change and grow within this story. She got along with Drew’s children and they loved her. Drew finds he enjoys spending time with Shay, but, her past proves to be problematic for several in the congregation.

I thought this was a refreshing book and it was a bit different than Macomber’s other books. I guess it was different because it was about an ex-con, trying to make a fresh start. Shay gives it her best, leaning on Jesus for guidance.

So, have you ever been forced to make a fresh start in a new environment? How did you handle it? Did you fit in?

Above All Things

September 3, 2017 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Image result for above all things deborah raney

 

Above All Things by Deborah Raney

Have you ever discovered a big secret about your spouse? Was the secret so big that it affected your marriage?

Judd and Evette are happily married, expecting their first child. Judd receives a phone call: his former fiancée is hospitalized and for the first day time, he’s become aware that he has a six-year-old bi-racial daughter. He needs to come and get his child (Jolie) since the child’s mother cannot care for her.

Evette is stunned to hear this news. She has mixed feelings about bringing a biracial daughter into their home. Judd is just as stunned as he wonders why his ex never shared that he’d fathered a child.

This novel touches upon a lot of deep subjects. The main themes are race relations and forgiveness. Overall a good read. The author did a great job with research regarding African-Americans. I especially liked how she addressed the issue of Jolie’s hair – extremely realistic.

So, have you ever discovered a big secret about your spouse? Was the secret so big that it affected your marriage?

Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

January 25, 2014 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Have you ever been mad at a friend or relative for something they’d done to you? Was your anger strong enough so that you stopped speaking to that person for years – or forever? What happened between the two of you (if you care to share the details)?

Seth Webster is in a bind. His rambunctious twin boys need a full-time babysitter/housekeeper and so far, all of the housekeepers he’s hired have quit. They’re unable to care for his troublesome kids. Then suddenly “the agency” sends Mrs. Merkle aka Mrs. Miracle as his housekeeper. Mrs. Miracle fits right into his household – she’s an awesome cook, and she seems to be able to control his wild boys.

Seth is still grieving over his late wife and when he meets travel agency owner Reba Maxwell, they share an instant attraction. Reba has a fractured relationship with her family – she has yet to forgive her sister for something that happened four years ago – she has not spoken to her sister since.

Also, Seth’s in-laws (the parents of his deceased wife) are facing problems in their marriage. Are their problems fixable?

Mrs. Miracle knows about Seth’s enduring grief, Reba’s unforgivable nature, and Seth’s in-laws marriage problems. Mrs. Miracle is all-knowing since she’s an angel. She does her best to help fix the problems from which these characters are suffering.

I enjoyed reading this book. It’s gentle, sweet, and I think most readers of inspirational romance would like this story. The Hallmark movie was shown last Christmas and I enjoyed that too. I’d recommend this book to all who like a good Christmas story.

So, have you ever been mad at a friend or relative for something they’d done to you? Was your anger strong enough so that you stopped speaking to that person for years – or forever? What happened between the two of you (if you care to share the details)?

Leave a comment!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

My romance collection is on sale for 99 cents each.

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An Amish Miracle

December 14, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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An Amish Miracle by Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid, and Mary Ellis

Have you ever dealt with weight or body-image issues? Were you ever teased because of your weight?

In Always Beautiful, Becky Byler has always been fat, and she painfully recalls being teased by her peers. She stands in front of a rushing river, ready to dive in to take her own life, when, she suddenly prays to God for a miracle – she wants to be thin and beautiful. Her wish is granted, but, Becky’s life changes. Matt, a good-looking, well-liked young man in her community asks her out! Becky has admired Matt from afar, but, in the past, she’s kept to herself because she doesn’t want to face ridicule about her weight.

However, Becky’s best friend, Elam, is stunned about how much she’s changed. Why is she seeing Matt – after all Becky and Elam have always been best friends, and their friendship could easily turn into something more.

Out of the three stories in this collection, I enjoyed this one the most. I think it’s because it dealt with an overweight main character – I seldom see this in Christian fiction.

The second novella, Always His Providence, is about Rosa – a barren Amish widow woman. She’s desperately trying to make more money to pay the back taxes on her land – her deceased husband did not keep up with the tax payments and now Rosa could lose her farm. Adam, her next door neighbor and her husband’s best friend, vowed that he’d take care of Rosa after her husband died. Rosa’s husband, Uriah, saved Adam’s life and Adam feels indebted to Uriah’s widow, Rosa.

I enjoyed this story because I loved reading about the attraction between Adam and Rosa. Adam is scarred by the fire that took Uriah’s life. I also loved reading about Rosa’s chickens! Rosa sells eggs and the chickens’ egg-laying habits provide a unique twist to the story.

The first story, Always in My Heart, is about Hope. She’s blessed with several daughters, however, she wonders if her traumatic past is causing her to be son-less. Hope and her husband are almost desperate to have a male offspring, but, Hope keeps giving birth to girls. She thinks about that dark, traumatic night, and the decision she was forced to make afterwards. She’s never shared her experience with her husband, and she struggles, wondering what her husband would say if he knew. She also wonders if there’s anything she can do to ensure she has a male child in the future.

This story takes on an interesting twist as Hope receives a totally unexpected answer to her prayer. I liked this story, for the most part. Hope and her husband receive a totally unexpected interesting visitor which provides the story with a unique and interesting twist.

So, have you ever dealt with weight or body-image issues? Were you ever teased because of your weight? What did you do about it?

~Cecelia Dowdy~

My romance collection is on sale for 99 cents each.

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Traces Of Mercy by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

October 25, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Traces of Mercy by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

Has a nun ever impacted your life?

When a young, beautiful woman awakens in a doctor’s office, she’s stunned and confused. Suffering from amnesia, she can’t remember her name, where she’s from, or what she looks like. She spends time with the kind doctor until he finds a home for her with a group of nuns. The nuns grant her the name Mercy because of the Mercy medallion she wears around her neck.

Although Mercy stays with the nuns, she wonders about her background. When she meets Rand Prescott, her life changes. However, how can she move forward with her life when she knows nothing about her past?

Rand is smitten with beautiful Mercy. Since she suffers from amnesia, he wonders if she’s married, perhaps a family is around, searching for her.

Mercy gains knowledge of a deep, dark secret about herself. It’s hard to accept this knowledge about her life….what will Rand think when he finds out the truth about her past?

I really enjoyed this book! It’s a great historical novel and the unusual storyline really drew me in. I really wanted to see what happened to Mercy since she didn’t know about her past. She writes in a journal, hoping that by doing so, it may be a catalyst to help her to remember her past. This journal turns out to be a major catalyst in the novel.

I also enjoyed reading about Mercy’s time with the nuns. I’ve never known a nun personally. Everything I know about nuns is what’s portrayed in books and movies.

Many thanks to publisher David C. Cook and NetGalley for providing me with a free review copy.

So, has a nun ever impacted your life? If so, tell me more about it. How old were you when you when a nun played a part in your life?

Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt

October 11, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt

Have you ever worked as a cleaner/housekeeper (either domestic or commercial)? If so, did anything unusual ever happen on the job?

Gabby St. Claire had to quit college during her senior year to take care of her alcoholic father. She’d been going to school to be a forensic psychologist. The closest job she can find for her dream career is being a crime scene cleaner. She cleans up crime scenes after the police are done collecting their evidence. When she’s cleaning the house of a high-powered politician – a politician who may have killed his wife – she finds evidence that the police missed. Can she prove that the politician killed his wife instead of the scapegoat they have in custody?

Somebody is trying to kill Gabby. Parker, a police detective, is trying to assist in the case. Gabby is convinced that the supposed-politician-wife-killer is after her life too. After all, she did uncover the evidence, and the police have not told the public about her findings.

Since the police are so lazy about finding the real killer, Gabby takes it upon herself to find the killer. When they arrest her co-worker for a related crime, Gabby is doubly interested in finding the killer/arsonist. After all, she needs to prove that her co-worker is innocent.

Gabby attempts to solve the crime while an assortment of zany characters assist her. There’s Sierra, her animal-loving/animal-rights neighbor, Riley, a handsome mysterious man who lives across the hall. Why is Riley so secretive about his life? There’s also Parker (a Brad Pitt look alike) who is the detective on the case. Why does he continue to ignore Gabby’s evidence findings?

I thought this book was a humorous, delightful read. The story moves quickly and the chapters are written in a way that’ll make you want to keep reading. Overall, it was a good mystery.

So, have you ever worked as a cleaner/housekeeper (either domestic or commercial)? Did anything unusual ever happen on the job?

Uncertain Alliance by Mary Davis

September 29, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

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Uncertain Alliance by Mary Davis

Have you ever been swindled by an ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend or former-husband/former- wife?

Alice Dempsey is struggling to survive after her husband gambles away their family farm. Her husband was killed while cheating at a card game, and, he’s left their family in dire straits. Alice must work to provide food and shelter for her crippled grandfather, her toddler son, and her juvenile-delinquent brother, Burl.

When she loses her seamstress job, Ian Macgregor, an older man who owns a pharmacy, offers to give her a job. Alice refuses – she can never trust another man since her deceased husband manipulated her so badly. Since she refuses Ian’s kindness, how can she provide food for her hungry family? Her independence proves strong, almost too strong, when it interferes with her ability to support her loved ones. When Burl gets into trouble with the law, Alice finds it even harder to survive each day.

Ian Macgregor has had a secret crush on Alice for a while. He speaks to her each day as she goes rushing to her seamstress job. However, like Alice, Ian has been hurt in the past by his former love interest.

I thought this book was good. The characters were rich and very well-developed. Alice is a caring, stubborn, Christian woman who is extremely determined to care for her family by herself.

Have you ever been swindled by a husband/wife, or former boyfriend/girlfriend? If so, what happened? Was it hard to forgive him/her for their transgressions?

 

The Other Daughter

September 11, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

from the blog archives….

 

Other Daughter, The: A Novel (Paperback)
by Miralee Ferrell
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (October 31, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825426596
ISBN-13: 978-0825426599

How would you react if your husband’s unknown illegitimate child was forced into your life? Would his/her presence ruin your marriage?

From Amazon:
Book Description
Susanne Carson’s well-ordered family life is thrown into devastating chaos when Brianna, a young teen, appears on her doorstep, claiming to be the daughter of Susanne’s husband, David. The revelation of David’s apparent betrayal adds strain to an already fragile marriage. Will this shocking discovery drive the family apart, or will it draw them closer to God? Guaranteed fiction!

I enjoyed reading this book. I think what I loved most about it was that the author took some tough issues, issues that I’m sure a lot of families are dealing with, and shows us how we need to lean on God during troubled times.

The obvious conflict, David fathering another child, wreaks havoc on their home. Also, Susanne’s faith in God is practically non-existent. Susanne’s and David’s marriage is already in trouble due to their spiritual differences, and having an illegitimate daughter to show up in the midst of a faltering marriage offers the reader a conflict that takes some time to resolve.

Also, Brianna’s sudden appearance affects Meagan and Josh, David and Susanne’s children. They now have a new sister, and although they bond quicker with Brianna than Susanne and David do, it’s still tough-going for them when a serious accident occurs, harming Meagan. Brianna is stricken with guilt and wonders if she’ll ever be a real part of the family.

Susanne has a tough time accepting David’s other daughter, and she drowns her sorrows with alcohol, and her views are swayed further when her worldly friend, Gina, tries to create more havoc in the Carson household by doling out bad advice.

The characters seem so real in this book. When you see Brianna struggling, you just want to hug her, hold her, help her, and pray for her! I loved the way Brianna’s paternal grandfather had an immediate affection for his newly-found grandchild.

I recommend this book for those who like a good Christian read dealing with some tough issues.

So, how would you react if your husband’s unknown illegitimate child was forced into your life? Would his/her presence ruin your marriage?

I also wanted to mention some other Christian fiction titles that deal with illegitimate children. The following three books deal with this issue and I found these novels enjoyable and thought-provoking:

 

 

Other Daughter, The: A Novel (Paperback)
by Miralee Ferrell
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (October 31, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825426596
ISBN-13: 978-0825426599

From Amazon:
Book Description
Susanne Carson’s well-ordered family life is thrown into devastating chaos when Brianna, a young teen, appears on her doorstep, claiming to be the daughter of Susanne’s husband, David. The revelation of David’s apparent betrayal adds strain to an already fragile marriage. Will this shocking discovery drive the family apart, or will it draw them closer to God? Guaranteed fiction!

I enjoyed reading this book. I think what I loved most about it was that the author took some tough issues, issues that I’m sure a lot of families are dealing with, and shows us how we need to lean on God during troubled times.

The obvious conflict, David fathering another child, wreaks havoc on their home. Also, Susanne’s faith in God is practically non-existent. Susanne’s and David’s marriage is already in trouble due to their spiritual differences, and having an illegitimate daughter to show up in the midst of a faltering marriage offers the reader a conflict that takes some time to resolve.

Also, Brianna’s sudden appearance affects Meagan and Josh, David and Susanne’s children. They now have a new sister, and although they bond quicker with Brianna than Susanne and David do, it’s still tough-going for them when a serious accident occurs, harming Meagan. Brianna is stricken with guilt and wonders if she’ll ever be a real part of the family.

Susanne has a tough time accepting David’s other daughter, and she drowns her sorrows with alcohol, and her views are swayed further when her worldly friend, Gina, tries to create more havoc in the Carson household by doling out bad advice.

The characters seem so real in this book. When you see Brianna struggling, you just want to hug her, hold her, help her, and pray for her! I loved the way Brianna’s paternal grandfather had an immediate affection for his newly-found grandchild.

I recommend this book for those who like a good Christian read dealing with some tough issues.

– See more at: http://ceceliadowdy.com/blog/2007/page/5#sthash.gBaYNBoZ.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~Cecelia Dowdy~

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~Cecelia Dowdy~

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~Cecelia Dowdy~

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Sushi For One?

September 4, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

From the blog archives…

Sushi for One?

Sushi For One?
by Camy Tang
Book One Of The Sushi Series
Publisher: Zondervan
Pub. Date: September 2007
ISBN-13: 9780310273981
352pp

From the back cover:
Lex Sakai’s family is big, nosy and marriage-minded. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the oldest single female cousin in the clan.

Lex has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the perfect man. But the one man she keeps running into doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex starts to let God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.

===========================
I purchased this novel at last month’s ACFW conference in Dallas. This is the first time I’ve ever read a Christian fiction title with Asian characters, so I was eager to see how the story played out. I’m always anxious to see Christian novels portraying characters with different ethnic backgrounds.

This book is definitely chick-lit! Camy’s voice reminds me a lot of Kristin Billerbeck’s. The story is full of humor and Tang has created a strong character that will remain in your mind for a long time. Lex is a sports fanatic, and she loves volleyball. She’s in a dead-end job and when she quits on a whim, she soon finds herself landing the job of her dreams, working in the field she loves…sports!

She also wants to play pro-volleyball, and when her dream is about to come true, a serious incident occurs, causing her faith in God to waver even more. To top it all off, her grandmother is threatening to pull funding for the girls volleyball team that Lex coaches, if Lex doesn’t find a boyfriend soon.

Due to a traumatic event in her past, Lex finds it hard to get close to men. The one man whom she can be comfortable with, Aiden, is agnostic, definitely not one of the traits on Lex’s Ephesian’s list!

I’d recommend this book to those looking for a light, funny, chick-lit read. A lot of the qualities in Lex’s crazy family are familiar to us all!

Sushi for One?

October 23, 2007 Posted by novelistcd Edit

Sushi For One?
by Camy Tang
Book One Of The Sushi Series
Publisher: Zondervan
Pub. Date: September 2007
ISBN-13: 9780310273981
352pp

From the back cover:
Lex Sakai’s family is big, nosy and marriage-minded. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the oldest single female cousin in the clan.

Lex has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the perfect man. But the one man she keeps running into doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex starts to let God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.

===========================
I purchased this novel at last month’s ACFW conference in Dallas. This is the first time I’ve ever read a Christian fiction title with Asian characters, so I was eager to see how the story played out. I’m always anxious to see Christian novels portraying characters with different ethnic backgrounds.

This book is definitely chick-lit! Camy’s voice reminds me a lot of Kristin Billerbeck’s. The story is full of humor and Tang has created a strong character that will remain in your mind for a long time. Lex is a sports fanatic, and she loves volleyball. She’s in a dead-end job and when she quits on a whim, she soon finds herself landing the job of her dreams, working in the field she loves…sports!

She also wants to play pro-volleyball, and when her dream is about to come true, a serious incident occurs, causing her faith in God to waver even more. To top it all off, her grandmother is threatening to pull funding for the girls volleyball team that Lex coaches, if Lex doesn’t find a boyfriend soon.

Due to a traumatic event in her past, Lex finds it hard to get close to men. The one man whom she can be comfortable with, Aiden, is agnostic, definitely not one of the traits on Lex’s Ephesian’s list! However, once all of the obstacles are overcome, the book has a romantically satisfying ending.

I’d recommend this book to those looking for a light, funny, chick-lit read. A lot of the qualities in Lex’s crazy family are familiar to us all!

– See more at: http://ceceliadowdy.com/blog/2007/10/sushi-for-one.html#comments

Sticks And Stones By Susan Meissner

August 28, 2013 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

From the blog archives…(2007)

Have you ever tried to solve a real mystery? How were your investigative skills?

Sticks and Stones (a Rachel Flynn Mystery) by Susan Meissner

(Paperback)

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Pub. Date: January 2007
ISBN-13: 9780736919159
300pp

From Amazon.com
Book Description

Critically acclaimed author Susan Meissner’s Rachael Flynn mystery series started with the popular Widows and Orphans. In the second serving of intrigue, Sticks and Stones, lawyer Rachael Flynn receives an unsigned, heart-stopping letter:

They’re going to find a body at the Prairie Bluff construction site. He deserved what he got, but it wasn’t supposed to happen. It was an accident.

When the body is uncovered, Rachael and Detective Will Pendleton discover that the fifteen-year old victim, Randall Buckett, had been buried twenty-five years before. Is the letter writer and the killer the same person? Why would someone speak up now? And why are they telling Rachael?

Susan Meissners ability to weave a fascinating tale will leave readers wanting more.

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To tell you the truth, I don’t believe I’ve ever read a cozy mystery. I’m not sure if this would be categorized as a cozy, but it reminds me a little bit of the way a cozy is defined.

This book was good, and it was suspenseful without being too scary. Also, although the characters were Christians, it wasn’t a very preachy book. I think people who read secular fiction would enjoy this book a lot, too.

One thing that happened in this story reminded me of the Brandilyn Collins novel, Eyes of Elisha – Rachael has a supernatural ability from God to sense danger, it’s an ability she realizes she’s received since the birth of her child.

As you read the story, you’ll find yourself sympathizing with the children Bucky tormented twenty-five years ago. You’ll find yourself drawn into the story, mesmerized, wanting to know who sent Rachael the three letters tipping her off about the death a quarter of a century later.

There are also some secondary characters that provide comic relief to this serious mystery. You have Trace, Rachael’s artistic husband, as well as Trace’s artistic cronies. Trace and his friends give their opinions using words and drawings to imagine what might have happened to Ronald Buckett.

Rachael’s uncanny ability is tested when she realizes that something dreadful has happened in the cellar of a house in Bucky’s neighborhood. The house has been burned down long ago, and is now replaced by another dwelling. However, although the serious crime happened long ago, Racheal can still sense that there was pain and anguish behind Bucky’s death.

This is a good read to grab for a rainy day, when you just want to curl up in front of the fire with an intriguing and suspenseful story.

So, have you ever tried to solve a real mystery on your own? Were you successful?