Monthly Archives: May 2012

Two Testaments- Elizabeth Musser


In this second book of the Secrets of the Cross trilogy, the story of the Algerian war for independence from France continues.  David travels to Algeria to rescue his friends and discovers his estranged father has been kidnapped as well.  The orphanage in France struggles for survival in the midst of controversy and threats.  Gabriella struggles with confidence as she contemplates taking on the running of the orphanage with Mother Griolet’s failing health.  A young Arab boy is sent to the orphanage as a spy with orders to kill one of the children as well as Gabriella and David, but in the face of so much love and care, he has a change of heart.

Two Testaments is not at all a disappointment as a sequel.  I read far into the night, way past my bedtime, as the pages seemed to turn of their own volition.  In addition to learning about a segment of history that I knew little about, I also found it interesting to read about life at the beginning of the Arab domination of North Africa.

I am eagerly awaiting book three of the Secrets of the Cross trilogy as Elizabeth Musser brings the story into the present day!  If you are a historical fiction fan, you should definitely put this series on your short list!

Two Crosses- Elizabeth Musser


Historical Fiction at its finest!  Gabriella is the daughter of American missionaries to Senegal.  Mother Griolet is the head of the French-American exchange program at the boarding school in the south of France.  David Hoffmann is the very handsome American professor of French Literature.  Gabriella finds herself an innocent participator in a world she never imagined.  A Huegenot cross necklace she received from her mother becomes a link to the past and also puts her in danger from those who believe she is part of an underground spy organization.

Algerian innocents and Europeans living in Algeria are caught between the FLN, the Arab socialist political party seeking independence from France, and the OAS, the French nationalist organization working to prevent Algeria’s independence.  Hugo is the mysterious head of the underground resistance, but who is he?  From secret messages hidden in loaves of bread to orphans smuggled out of Algeria on sail boats, the suspense keeps you turning the pages.

I LOVE historical fiction, and this series is not only captivating but also very well-written.  I would put Elizabeth Musser right up there with the Thoenes, and that is high praise indeed!  In addition to crafting a masterful story, the author has chosen a fascinating, yet little known, historical event as a setting.  Two Crosses is the first book of Elizabeth Musser’s Secrets of the Cross trilogy.  Be on the lookout for my review of Two Testaments coming soon!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

Mother’s Day


Mother’s Day.  Two words.  A myriad of emotions.

For some, it’s a fond memory of a mother on her knees in prayer, the smell of chocolate chip cookies cooling on the kitchen counter when you walked in the door from school, a compassionate kiss on the forehead feeling for a fever.  For some, it’s the memory of a hard-working mother who did her best even though her best wasn’t quite good enough.  For some, it’s the memory of nights lying awake in bed wondering why other kids had a mom and you didn’t.

For some, it’s a day of regrets as you look back at the ways you hurt the one who gave you life.  For some, it’s a day of hope as you look at the promise of a future in your own children.  For some, it’s a day of pain as you bravely endure another reminder of your empty arms.  For some it’s a day of mourning as you face your first, or second, or twentieth, Mother’s Day without your mother.

The truth is, Mother’s Day is more than just one of these emotions for each of us.  We all have fond and not-so-fond memories; we all have regrets, pain, and hope.  We all know there are things we want to say to our mothers but never will.  The truth is, we need this very special day.  We need to remember.  We need to laugh.  We need to cry.  We need to face our regrets.  We need to mourn.  We need to hope.

I believe EVERY woman is called to be a mother.  Some are called to be biological mothers; some are gifted to be adoptive mothers.  Some are chosen as adopt-ED mothers- the favorite aunt, the Sunday school teacher, the next-door neighbor.  Some are spiritual mothers- the ones that cover us in prayer and are the Titus 2 women in our lives.  Whatever kind of mother God has purposed you to be, do it with purpose.  Do it because the future generations need you.  Do it because there is hope.  Do it because there is the promise of a future for someone in your life.  Be a grandmother to a child who doesn’t have one nearby.  Be a spiritual mother to a younger woman who needs help with the busyness of this fast-paced life.  Be an adopted mother to a teenager struggling to find his way.  Make a difference in someone’s life.  They will be a better person because of you, and you will be a better person for having influenced someone for eternity.  And who knows, if you’ve done your job exceptionally well, they may just roll their eyes at you and say, “Thanks, mom.”

31 Days to a Happy Husband- Arlene Pellicane


Okay, I have to admit I was skeptical about this one, but really…who doesn’t want a happy husband?  So, I jumped on the Bullet Train for a fast-forward ride through 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  Let’s face it, sometimes we wives need to be reminded of our role in God’s divine order.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of why we fell in love with our husband.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of why he was the perfect one.  Thank you, Arlene Pellicane, for your transparency and your humor as you approached some delicate topics.

The introduction is titled, “Are You Still Dreaming?”  The author then approaches five key areas of marriage through the acrostic DREAM- Domestic tranquility, Respect, Eros, Attraction, Mutual activities.  With real-life experiences from such well-known individuals as Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Cliff and Joyce Penner, Tim Hawkins, Bob Meissner, and Bob Lepine, this was not a hard read.  The points are clearly made, and it truly is an enjoyable look into what makes a good marriage.  Although there are many, many noteworthy quotes from the book, perhaps my favorite is this one:

“I asked a group of professional men, ‘You are leaders at work making tough decisions and saying hard things to other coworkers and subordinates.  Why don’t you just tell your wife when you have an unmet need in your life?’  The answer was so funny.  ‘We can get another job.'”

Daily challenges and chapter discussion guides make this a perfect book for a ladies Bible study, Sunday school class, or a neighborhood book club.

Although the title of this book is 31 Days to a Happy Husband, the end result is more likely to be a Happier Wife!


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

The Irish Healer – Nancy Herriman


Irish Healer.  Rachel Dunne has been accused of murder.  With no option but to move away in order to protect her family’s reputation, she travels to England with the promise of a temporary position helping a retiring doctor pack up his library. Determined to find a respectable teaching position and have nothing more to do with medicine, Rachel finds herself unable to resist helping people in need no matter how much she tries to distance herself.

English Doctor.  James Edmunds has lost his wife to death and his young daughter to a better life with his widowed sister. With no option after the death of his father but to fulfill a promise to raise his daughter on the family farm, he makes plans to retire from medicine and live a quiet life as a farmer. Determined to learn how to be a father and to protect himself from close relationships, Dr. Edmunds finds himself unable to resist the beautiful Rachel Dunne.

Victorian England, rules of society, secrets, and cholera- all combine to capture the reader’s imagination in The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman. A good summer vacation read!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

Wake Up, Generation – Paige Omartian


In the young adult motivational/self-help genre, this book should receive all the awards available!  Paige Omartian is an extremely rare young lady with a passion for spurring young people to define and achieve their dreams, awaken their passions, and act on their calling.  Diagnosed with cancer at age 10, she fought the fight and is living the lessons life has taught her so far.  With real-life examples of young people who dared to live their purpose as teenagers and clear directions for defining your gifts, abilities, and passions, as well as an easy-to-follow formula for writing a life mission statement and putting it into immediate practice, Wake Up, Generation is a must-read for every teen and young adult!

I just can’t say enough good about this book.  In a society of apathetic, bored teenagers, Paige Omartian is sounding the alarm to her generation to Wake Up!  When it is released (I believe the projected date is September), I urge you to run to your nearest bookseller and buy a copy for every teenager you know.  If you are a youth worker or Sunday school teacher, this would make a life-changing teaching series for your group- buy a copy for every student and read through it together; have the teens do the end of chapter challenges in class or as a homework assignment.  Or better yet, host a young ladies’ weekend retreat (or a combined youth retreat) and spend the weekend developing a life action plan for every girl (and boy)!   Can you tell I’m excited about this one?  I can’t wait to get a copy for the teens in my church youth group and work through it with them!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor- Rosina Harrison


Rosina Harrison was born into a poor English family, the daughter of a stonemason and a laundress, in 1899.  Her dream was to travel, a frivolous dream for a girl of her class in this era.  Encouraged by her mother, she gained the education necessary to become a lady’s maid and set out to accomplish her dream, eventually becoming lady’s maid to Lady Astor.  This autobiography is written in the common language of a servant, yet it portrays the life of a gracious lady – perhaps the servant was more the “lady” than the woman she served.

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor takes the reader on a slow-moving yet fascinating journey into the lifestyles and customs of the wealthy in the first half of 20th century England filled with lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses, royalty and commoners, peace and war.

I received a free copy of this book for review and was not required to write a positive review.

How to Ruin Your Life by 30 – Steve Farrar


Expanding on his speech given at his son’s graduation, Steve Farrar gives young adults an excellent guide for establishing a solid foundation.  With topics such as the law of cause and effect, finding God’s purpose, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and being a life-long learner, he helps young adults with practical ways they can establish a rock-solid life.  When you are 20, you can’t imagine being 30, but in the blink of an eye it seems 30 is approaching, and many 20-somethings find themselves wondering who they are supposed to be.  Instead of purposefully planning their life, many young adults allow life to just happen and find themselves in their 30s scrambling to build a life (or rebuild a life) on a weak foundation.

Farrar makes a statement in the first chapter that sets the theme for the remaining chapters and which should become a warning beacon for every young adult:  “Every choice in life – every thought, word, and action – brings a return of circumstances with it.  You will reach the age of thirty only by traveling the road through eighteen, twenty-one, and twenty-five.  And the choices in life during those quickly passing years will entirely determine the person you will be at thirty.”

How to Ruin Your Life by 30 – Nine Surprisingly Everyday Mistakes You Might Be Making Right Now will make a fantastic gift for high school and college graduations or a valuable teaching series for a College/Career Sunday school class.

I received a free copy of this book for review and was not required to write a positive review.