Friday, May 17, 2013

Wishing On Willows, by Katie Ganshert

Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?  

A three-year-old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband.  As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa, she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her cafe and vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.  As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily.  His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks.  

I liked the two main characters in this story, Robin and Ian.  Robin’s struggles as a young widow determined to succeed and Ian is trying to gain approval from his successful father. Being successful and finding approval from the ones we love are the strong points in this book. 

I liked the idea that the author included a list of questions at the end, so this book would make a nice addition to any small group or book club. 

I wish Katie Ganshert, the author, had used the text about the willows earlier in the story since the title gave me the idea the willows had a significant meaning.   I was a bit confused by the chapters that gave Robin’s first-person point of view since they were interspersed throughout the book.  Perhaps a small heading at the chapter’s beginning would have clarified my story thoughts.

I give this book a definite 4 stars.  I look forward to reading Katie's next novel.
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"

The Icecutter's Daughter, by Tracie Peterson

My next book review is The Icecutter’s Daughter, by Tracie Peterson from the series Land of Shining Water.

As the lone female in a houseful of men, Merrill Krause dedicates her life to caring for her family and their business, as her dying mother asked.  Besides, it suits her; she’s never felt like she fits what most people expect in a girl- she’d rather work with her father’s horses and assist with the ice harvest.  And though she’s been mostly content up to this point, a part of her wonders if there will ever be anyone who will notice her amid the bevy of brothers determined to protect her from any possible suitors.

When Rurik Jorgenson arrives in their small Minnesota town to join his uncle’s carpentry business, he soon crosses paths with Merrill.  But unlike other men, who are often frightened away by her older brothers, Rurik isn’t intimidated by them or by Merrill’s strength and lack of femininity.  The attraction between them begins to build . . . until Rurik’s former fiancée shows up with wild claims that bring serious consequences to Rurik.

In my opinion, this book has just the right amount of mystery and romance to keep my attention and "stay up late to finish just one more chapter".  I liked Merrill because she was compassionate and willing to help her father and brothers instead of thinking of herself.  She had discovered she loved caring for her father’s Belgian horses that he raised.  The descriptions of the goodies prepared throughout the book made me hungry as Tracie described the tempting meals that Merrill served in the story.  I wish she would share the recipe of the carrot cookies (Page 46). 
With the descriptions of building furniture in Rurik's uncle’s carpentry business I could almost smell the fresh wood as it was being cut. The dilemma in Rurik’s relationship with his pre-arranged fiancée sure gives the story a puzzle to solve.  His best friend, Nils, challenges Rurik as they share their idea of becoming business partners.
I recommend this book to someone wanting a good fictional story with plenty of twists. 
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Books as part of their blogger review program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Bedtime Stories and Prayers, by Mackall and Bostrom

Make bedtime memorable and meaningful!

Bedtime Stories and Prayers is a special collection of four favorite Little Blessings stories.  

Bedtime routines often include a story and prayer. Now parents and kids can combine both with a special Little Blessings compilation book. The padded hardcover book includes the following sweet stories:
  • Bedtime Blessings, which reminds kids that God created nighttime too and they have nothing to fear
  • Thank You, God, which reminds kids to be thankful for everything
  • Blessings Everywhere, which helps readers remember their blessings
  • God Loves You, which carries the most powerful message of all to comfort and guide little ones through the night and through their lives.

Each page is filled with full color art of the endearing multicultural Little Blessings characters with illustrations by Care Bear creator Elena Kucharik.

What I love most about this book is the whimsical illustrations that children need for comfort and assurance.  Instead of falling asleep with books of pictures that portray anxiousness and sometimes fear, the Care Bear illustrator, Elena Kucharik, uses her warm details and child-like eyes to give extra confirmation of the stories.  The gorgeous colors in each picture give children the understanding that God’s blessings are beautiful.

Bedtime Blessings, Thank you, God!, Blessings Everywhere, and God Loves You, are the positive reinforcement all of our children need on a daily basis (if not more!) to know that the world they live in does have hope through God.

I would say my favorite story in this collection is God Loves You.  The idea that "you can be silly or you can be sad" as one page declares is a thought children can understand.  I would recommend this book as a gift for families, for Sunday School classes, and definitely grandparents should keep a copy to read aloud when their grandchildren come to visit.

Bedtime Stories and Prayers is the perfect way to end each day.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Tyndale House