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Original Essays | August 18, 2014

Ian Leslie: IMG Empathic Curiosity



Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
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Virginia Campbell has commented on (119) products.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

Virginia Campbell, March 19, 2014

The American Frontier of the eighteenth century is a rich source of amazing factual events and fascinating folk history. Author Lori Benton's beautifully descriptive writing and love of subject allow her readers to walk in the footprints of the past. "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" is a thrilling and compelling historical romance in which a young woman of privilege leaves behind all she has known in order to escape the cruelty of an obsessive and ambitious stepfather. Tamsen Littlejohn knows that she cannot accept an arraigned marriage when she longs to choose her own path. A heartbreaking tragedy and discovery of secrets about her very identity compel Tamsen to risk all in a daring flight for freedom with a frontiersman she has just met. Jesse Bird is a principled man of faith, and he is captivated by the beautiful Tamsen. Realizing the dire situation Tamsen faces, Jesse agrees to take her to a safe place away from her stepfather. Thus begins an amazing adventure through the rugged North Carolina frontier which will lead Tamsen and Jesse on an odyssey of survival and spiritual growth. Unexpected events along the way will take them to heights and depths that neither of them could have ever imagined. Will the love of a lifetime be their ultimate redemption and reward? Immerse yourself in this richly-told tale, and let author Lori Benton take you on an unforgettable journey of the heart and soul.

Review Copy Gratis WaterBrook Press via Blogging For Books
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Cadence of Grace #03: My Hope Is Found by Joanne Bischof
Cadence of Grace #03: My Hope Is Found

Virginia Campbell, October 2, 2013

"The Cadence of Grace Series" from author Joanne Bischof is emotionally rich, spiritually rewarding, and exquisitely written. Ms. Bischof is a masterful storyteller, often leading the reader in an unexpected direction. She has the rare ability to convey powerful emotion with a delicate, deft touch. Book three in her series, "My Hope is Found", brings full circle the love story of Lonnie Sawyer and Gideon O'Riley. Life in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the early twentieth century was often one of poverty and hardship. Old tradtions held fast as the outside world rolled forward. Lonnie and Gideon were brought together in a forced marriage, one that Gideon desperately wanted to avoid. Nonetheless, he and Lonnie became man and wife, and their journey together began. Leaving behind their home area so that Gideon could find work, they began an arduous trek faced with many obstacles. Finally, they were given shelter and sustenace from a kind older couple, Elsie and Jeb Bennett. Their time with the Bennetts was one of hard work and personal growth, with the Bennetts offering their hearts as well as their home. Gideon and Lonnie fell deeply in love and were blessed with a son, Jacob. Just as their lives seem to be on the right course, word comes that Gideon is still married to his first wife, Cassie, a wife that Lonnie had not known existed. Gideon had been wild and reckless in his youth, but he thought that his brief first marriage had been anulled. Stunned to learn that he is not legally married to Lonnie, they are both devastated when he is ordered by the court to return to Cassie. When Cassie finally agrees to release Gideon and grant him an anullment, he is overjoyed and begins his final journey home. However, as with every step in his life's path, there are side trails, and he must bide his time until the courts will hear his case. Before heading to Lonnie and Jacob, he goes back to work for an old friend in his apple orchard, and when at last he can head to the Bennett's farm, he takes with him young apple trees to begin his own orchard. In Gideon's absence, Lonnie has been befriended by a kind and handsome young minister, Scotsman Toby McKee. Toby loves Lonnie, and she is very fond of him, knowing that he would be a good husband and father. Lonnie accepts Toby's proposal shortly before Gideon arrives at the farm, and Gideon faces another spiritual challenge. He must learn what his newfound faith really means, putting the welfare and needs of those loves before his own, and placing his prayers for the future in the hands of the Lord. After Gideon and Toby have a physical altercation, Jeb declares that they must work together to plant the apple orchard. As the two men labor side-by-side, they get to know one another, and a grudging admiration is formed between them. As Gideon waits for the final court decree that will free him to marry Lonnie, she must decide which man will share her life and raise her son. This a highly recommended series. Read the first two books, "Be Still My Soul", and "Though My Heart is Torn", and then read "My Hope is Found". You will be so richly rewarded as a reader.

Review Copy Gratis Multnomah Books
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The House That Love Built by Beth Wiseman
The House That Love Built

Virginia Campbell, March 31, 2013

A house made of brick and mortar is not a home unless love lives there. A family may share genetics and blood history, or it could be a collection of misfits brought together through need, companionship, and love. In "The House that Love Built", author Beth Wiseman beautifully illustrates through words how the emotions and ideology of family and friendship eventually blur along the lines, and something wonderful and unique is born. Brooke Holloway has learned to keep moving forward, despite the devastating loss of her true love, her husband Travis. Dealing with his death, raising their two young children, and running her family's hardware business are what drives her days. She doesn't think that there will ever be another love in her life. Owen Saunders is a bitter man whose disastrous marriage and painful divorce have left him mistrustful and isolated from even thinking of another romantic relationship. He buys an old house to renovate in Smithville, TX--not because he really wants to live there--but to spite his ex-wife, Virginia, who has long dreamed of buying such a house. Owen and Brooke meet when he begins his many trips to the hardware store for supplies. She has long been curious about the Old Hadley Mansion, the house that Owen now owns, and she has an itch to see inside the place and find out if rumors of a hidden treasure are really true. Eventually Owen and Brooke form a friendship, and over time their relationship deepens into something more--but will past hurt and loss keep them from reaching for a bright and happy future? The Lord above truly does work in mysterious ways--his master plan has long been in place, and we come into it with his eyes upon us. Beth Wiseman is an author who writes with humor, poignancy, hope, and faith, and in "The House that Love Built", it is hearts and hope that bring together a one-of-a-kind family made with love. Recommended for those who realize that acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption are ours to be had when we allow love and abiding faith to light our way.

Review Copy Gratis Thomas Nelson Publishers via Booksneeze
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Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert
Wishing on Willows

Virginia Campbell, January 6, 2013

I was completely captivated by author Katie Ganshert's debut novel, "Wildflowers from Winter", and I looked forward to reading more works by this talented writer. Now that I have read the sequel, "Wishing on Willows", I am a Katie Ganshert fan for life. The writing is virtually seamless, the story line flows, and the characters are defined with an immediacy of emotion and physicality. The plot revolves around a development company that wishes to build upscale housing in the little town of Peaks, Iowa to provide homes for the employees of a large company which will be locating in the area. The mayor and quite a few other residents of Peaks are all in favor of the changes that will be made to the town, even if it means the closing of some local businesses to make way for the construction. The Willow Tree Cafe and the One Life Ministry are the two holdouts in the way of "progress", and the pressure is on for them to give in to the majority rule. However, there is more than brick and mortar involved in these two establishments--there is also heart and soul, and hopes and dreams. The Willow Tree Cafe is owned and operated by Robin Price, a young widow with a small son. The cafe was the dream of Robin and her late husband, Micah, who died without knowing that Robin was to bear his child. With the help of Micah's brother, Evan, and other family and friends, Robin made her husband's dream come true. Even though her heart was breaking, and pain and heartache were constant companions, she forged ahead, taking comfort in her sweet baby boy, Caleb. When developer Ian McKay offers to buy her cafe, Robin refuses. How could she let go of such a large piece of her heart? Ian is intrigued and attracted by Robin, but he is the son and heir of the development company's owner, and he is feeling the weight of his father's edict to make the construction deal a reality. His own family business is depending on the high-dollar contract, and his mother's cancer has returned, making emotions run even higher. Robin had clung to the memories of her life with Micah, and she is torn between the past she knows and the future of which she is unsure. Would she be untrue to Micah if she dared to love again? As tensions build, and life-changing events occur, will faith be strong enough to guide and comfort Robin and Ian? Is there a way to resolve the situation for the good of all and save the cafe and the ministry--both places of refuge for many community members who seek spiritual healing. In the midst of all the politics and personal problems, have two hearts found an unexpected love? First read "Wildflowers from Winter", and then follow up with "Wishing on Willows". Your emotions will be touched, your faith will be reaffirmed, and your spirit will soar.

Review Copy Gratis WaterBrook Press
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Cadence of Grace #01: Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof
Cadence of Grace #01: Be Still My Soul

Virginia Campbell, September 17, 2012

I was born and raised, and still reside, in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. This is a timeless place--as much as things change, they remain the same. The constancy of the mountains is comforting and immovable. Author Joanne Bischof offers a look at life in rural Appalachia in "Be Still My Soul". Lonnie Sawyer and her mother and siblings live under the rule of Lonnie's abusive alcoholic father. Lonnie's refuge is her Aunt Sarah, who offers brief respites from family troubles with readings from the Bible in her home. Lonnie and her mother are both blessed with beautiful singing voices, and at one local musical get-together, her father's pushes her up on stage. When handsome mandolin player Gideon O'Riley walks her home and asks for a kiss, both of their lives are forever changed. At first reluctant, Lonnie agrees to a kiss, but ladies man Gideon wants much more. Ashamed, Lonnie breaks away and runs back to her house before Gideon can have his way. The next day, to her horror, she discovers that her father witnessed the kiss, and he assumes the worst. Lonnie and Gideon are forced by both their fathers into a quick marriage ceremony. Taken away from her family and home, and now married to a resentful man whom she barely knows, Lonnie struggles for emotional survival. Her faith is as indelible as the mountains themselves, but can she endure what awaits? Gideon grew up in a different atmosphere from Lonnie. He was not abused, but he felt trapped by the lifestyle of the generations which had come before him. His music and woodworking skill were his refuge. He was attractive to women, and he went from one to another without a care. Now he was married, and he no longer could drift along through life. Goaded by his friends and emboldened by moonshine liquor, Gideon does have his way with Lonnie, which they both regret. Gideon is not kind to Lonnie, leaving her no choice but to follow him as they walk away from their home area toward a town which may offer work. With no money, and no transportation, they walk and walk, day after day. They find shelter with a kind older couple, Jebediah and Elsie, who have a nice homestead. Having witnessed Gideon's less than kind treatment of Lonnie, Jeb is a stern taskmaster, and Gideon works harder than he ever has in his life. Lonnie discovers that she is expecting a baby, adding to the chains of responsibility which weigh heavily on Gideon. At times, "Be Still My Soul" is tough to read. The poverty, abuse, alcoholism, and lack of education are all part of a continuing cycle. Yet, there is beauty to be found, as faith shines through, and hearts grow together as life goes on. While some never escape from the bleakness of an impoverished existence, others find riches beyond compare in an abiding faith. Gideon and Lonnie endure much, each having to find their own path before they meet as one heart. Highly recommended.

Review Copy Gratis Multnomah Books
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