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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers

I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »
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    Flying Shoes

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Annie's Stories (Ellis Island) by Cindy Thomson

lanehillhouse, June 28, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014
Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson, © 2014 an Ellis Island novel

A thoughtfully written story of needs all generations have~to be accepted and protected, to be loved and cherished, and to find our way home.

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
--Isaiah 45:3 KJV

Annie Gallagher has been rescued from a life of bondage and sent to America from Ireland, coming through Ellis Island. She becomes a housekeeper at Hawkins House, a boardinghouse for women in Lower Manhattan. Along with her memories, Annie brings handwritten tales her father wrote out for her when he was ill before passing, of the stories he told her as a little girl.

One of my favorite characters throughout was the postman, Stephen Adams. He has a good heart and is kind to the families on his mail route. One thing that surprised me was the post office was more like a messenger transit service, delivering mail more than once a day should parcels or letters come later in the day, rather than collecting and delivering it the next day. When Stephen would come to the Hawkins House, he especially hoped Annie Gallagher would answer his ring at the door. He is unsure of his acceptance by young lasses and it is comical to find what his approach is. He finds out Annie does like his neighbor's sugary dough delights he brings to her. Hoping to find Annie at the Irish dances, he instead comes away with Irish tunes he whistles as he approaches the boardinghouse.

Annie Gallagher longs for the days of storytelling by her da. Independent, to take care of herself, she wants to share these stories with other girls and boys. She is dismayed when she finds Stephen is interested too ~ in her, or solely in her da's stories? Guarded, Annie puts a line around her heart, as she determines direction she is to take in having her da's stories published for reading by others. Stephen lives above a publishing office, which doesn't help matters of the heart to distinguish Stephen's intent in a finder's fee or caring for her protection in their printings.

Interesting as you read Annie's Stories, you may pick up on characteristics of Oz roles within; Dorothy, Tin Woodman, Scarecrow, and Lion. Leaving oppression behind and realizing forgiveness; released from bondage frees enabling the present and future to be lived beyond the past circumstances in life that no longer then can have a hold against God's intention for us.

As mysteries unfold for a new boarder and a parcel she receives, Stephen tries to track it down since it involves the United States Post Office Department and his mail route deliveries to the Lower Manhattan neighborhood. The Hawkins House has many visitors intent on discovering the whereabouts of the package too.

I liked how everyone in the house worked together despite their differences. They come to rely on each other and respect and trust develops. I am looking forward to the next novel by Cindy Thomson.

***Thank you to author Cindy Thomson and Tyndale House for the review print copy of Annie's Stories, Book 2 in her Ellis Island novels, following Grace's Pictures. I am fond of these especially because my ancestors came through Ellis Island. Come along as these immigrants settle in America in her stories, visiting some of the characters from Book 1. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
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Price of Privilege #2: Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

lanehillhouse, June 19, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014
Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta, © 2014
Price of Privilege Trilogy, Book 2

I remember the disdain I felt at the crushed violets with their purple velvet scorned and smashed onto the cobblestone by a small slipper foot. The pain of being discovered, I pushed it with my foot under the wooden stand so not to be found by those so immaculately putting the tiny bouquet together to give. The haughtiness and arrogance spurning this tenderly gathered offering being disposed and tread upon pierced my heart. Memories. I am old now, but they are fresh in my mind. Man's inhumanity to man. One incident of many brings it all back. Unraveling misgivings, rumor and truth, I want to leave my own words for those who follow after me in my lineage. For how could it be another way, misinterpreted by rumor and doubt?

Paperwhites have not been a favorite of mine, as my mother before me. How sad, but yet appropriate that flowers have such meaning in my life. An offered warmth in the coldness of my first days of arrival at Maplecroft estate and Edward's departure somehow settles me. I am told my father is coming; is he aware it is my birthday? Eighteen years and the first year without my mother beckoning me for the appearance of dawn. How I miss her. Although my father has offered me sanctuary here at Maplecroft, he does not beckon me upon his arrival. He has brought Forester with him and I am in range to hear them arguing ~ or discussing as they might decide. Am I to be believed, or suspect?

So much turmoil and indignant expectations. There is a spy in our midst. Who am I to believe? The one who is so haughty with me, following along with my father's every whim? Or my proposed fiancé ~ selected for me, but not by me? My whole life has changed as I have become known as my father's child. Where was he all the years my mother and I struggled; the one I find now is so benevolent? His motives, not mine, nor desired to be. Am I truly being sheltered, or used for benefit of others; continually?

My dreams and desires remain with another. Pulled away and shredded beyond my remembrance. I flee to my youth with Edward, Elizabeth, my friend, and Henry, Edward's brother. Giggles and dreams shared together those long ago days. I wondered if they would ever come again; days of happiness with longings to return to my life as Miss Julia Elliston, not as the Emerald Heiress, being sequestered at Maplecroft.
In Jessica Dotta's book 2 in the Price of Privilege Trilogy, Julia is carried forward from book 1, Born of Persuasion, the debut novel telling of her days at Am Meer and beyond, before her need for sanctuary at Maplecroft, leaving her prior world behind.

It would benefit to read book 1 so as to experience with her, what Julia has left out of necessity. This Victorian-era story portrays an upper class dependent on the wiles of society and governing politics of the times. The disdain of some of the staff in attendance to this perceived "interloper" is reflected from their earlier positions within the household.

Julia is expected to be schooled in deportment and social standings when she had none of these requirements prior to her arrival. She is to follow without rebuttal, the trappings and directions given, relying on others.

The girls continued to intrigue me the most. They all seemed so adapted, content to be in my exact position--"resigned to remaining under their fathers' rule, happy to rely on the gentlemen for their fate. It was as though they'd forgotten how to run through meadows barefoot with blades of grass stuck to their legs, or lie outdoors at night beneath a star-filled sky with a friend like Elizabeth. It dawned on me once, as I stopped dancing and stood still amidst a swirling ballroom, that maybe they hadn't forgotten--"maybe they'd never known.
--Mark of Distinction, 297

Book 3, Price of Privilege, releases in the Spring of 2015. It will be interesting to learn of the outcome of decisions made, for better or for worse.

***Thank you to Book Club Network and author Jessica Dotta for Book 2, Mark of Distinction, and to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a print copy for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
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The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable by Cathy Bryant

lanehillhouse, June 11, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable by Cathy Bryant, © 2014

While studying the scriptures and researching in preparation for writing her fifth novel, A Bridge Unbroken, Cathy Bryant dove deeper into true forgiveness, completely on its own ~ without the world view or other Biblical principles woven within. This study is the resulting sharing of that searching.

Beyond what "sounds right" to relying totally on the truth of God's Word, not allowing our belief system to be infiltrated by the enemy of our soul. Similar, but not exact. Read all of John 10:10 ~ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

A mini Bible study on the power of forgiveness.
Letting go to build a bridge...

Author Cathy Bryant shares with us truth of forgiveness available to us and in our forgiveness of others.

You likely have heard "Time heals all wounds." This is earthly "wisdom."
God's Word says in Psalm 147:3,
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

Another "saying" ~ "Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself."
“God’s forgiveness--"by it’s very nature as rooted in His grace and mercy"--is something that cannot be earned. It’s a gift. And just like every gift, the choice is ours to accept or reject.”
--The Fragrance of Crushed Violets, 15

"Ultimate forgiveness can only be found in God, because all sin is ultimately against God."
Psalm 51:4a,
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight...

We will study what God's forgiveness is, removing inaccurately mixed truth. We also will take a closer look at some of the attitudes and emotions that often hinder our ability to forgive, and His Word to guide us. Choosing to forgive, we trust God in His timing to do through us what we're incapable of doing on our own.

A searching of our hearts will bring us before God and His will for us. I am reminded of Psalm 139:23-24,
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
--Mark Twain

***Thank you to author Cathy Bryant for inviting me to be a part of the BlitzKat Book Blast blog tour for THE FRAGRANCE OF CRUSHED VIOLETS, a Bible study booklet on the topic of forgiveness, and for the copy sent to me. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
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Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt
Somebody Like You

lanehillhouse, June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt, © 2014

Widow Haley Ames comes home unexpecting to have a visitor who is the identical image of her deceased husband. How can it be? Even with a closed casket, could they have made a mistake?

Stephen Ames awaits the arrival of his sister-in-law, hoping to find out about his brother, Sam, after hearing of his death. Being separated for years following the divorce of their parents and their selection to stay with opposite parents. Living in different states, going to different highschools, losing contact because of separate plans and time later that never came.

Haley has Stephen leave. No one told her Sam had a brother; a twin brother.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and
saves those who are crushed in spirit.
--Psalm 34:18

As I read their story, I reflect on the fragileness of both of them. A brother, lost forever to be unable to reconcile with; a husband who stands before her, but it isn't him ~ a mirror image, alike in so many ways, yet different in pace and deportment.

So well written, their hearts come forth in such a way that you want to shield them from pain yet enable them to learn from each other. A story of hope and reaching out, yet soft and pliable as they begin to trust what they are given. Security and a solid foundation peeks through the haze of every day. Haley has had a close family; Stephen has not. I am amazed at the gentleness and closeness he brings in doing the little things, as she retains a self-protective shield in her grief, seemingly in reverse of their upbringings.

The interchanges between the families are very real and become healing for them. A beginning to move from what might have been to what they relinquish to live today. I thoroughly enjoyed the building and outcome as they trust God to lead. A story hard to put down, with so much to come through in changing circumstances. I applaud the author on how she brought in others to come alongside, as they find strength to go on. Being steadfast and removing barriers they were able to come to common ground.

***Thank you to author Beth Vogt and Howard Books for sending this copy during the book tour of Somebody Like You. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
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Gregory Sisters #02: While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad
Gregory Sisters #02: While Love Stirs

lanehillhouse, June 1, 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014
While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad, © 2014
The Gregory Sisters Series, Book 2

Assumptions. How do we battle ourselves with knowledge we do not have? Change does not come easy for the chefs at the restaurants Charlotte Gregory hopes to be employed with, nor for the doctor her older sister, Hannah, has with her newborn baby. Charlotte hopes to advise better nutrition for the patients, in the maternity ward and elsewhere in the hospital. Getting married and having a family is what she is advised to do and become a homemaker. With an aunt like Aunt Sam, how could she be expected to be any different? Once quiet, she now stands up for what she believes is right for the betterment of others.

Hoping to become recognized as the up-to-date graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery, Charlotte becomes part of a cooking contest her younger sister, Tessa, sees in the newspaper that is sponsored by the local gas company to present their new gas stove. To no avail, she leaves without an offer for employment.

Dr. Joel Brooks backed by his nurse sister, Mattie, decides to go to ask Charlotte to come and speak to the nurses about dietary measures for the hospital staff to incorporate beyond just using what is in their supply kitchen. While there, Joel, supposing she has lived a life of luxury, insults Charlotte and is ordered to leave.

Is it possible for them to come to terms and work together successfully? With Dr. Brooks being considered for a permanent position within the hospital, he is uneasy employing a new standard from what has always been done. Will he find the hospital is not the only recipient of her newfangled ideas in his orderly world?

This is the story of the second Gregory sister. Book 1 in the series, When Love Calls, highlighted older sister Hannah's story. Very enjoyable, I like Lorna Seilstad's writings, and the historical happenings in the early 1900s. Aunt Sam is beyond her times with her suffrage meetings and bloomer-wearing outfits. Fun and fast moving, I highly recommend The Gregory Sisters series. Book 3, leaves young sister Tessa to explore her wings.

As a graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery, Charlotte Gregory is excited to give healthy cooking classes to profit many a kitchen.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think.
--Ephesians 3:20

Lorna Seilstad
A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of When Love Calls and the Lake Manawa Summers series. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing contests and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Lorna lives in Iowa with her husband. Learn more at

***Thank you to Revell Reads Fiction for sending me a copy of Lorna Seilstad's While Love Stirs, book 2 in The Gregory Sisters series. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
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