Judah’s Wife (a novel)

Judah's Wife by Angela Elwell HuntAs the subtitle says, this is a novel of the Maccabees during the silent years – the years between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible! I loved it and thought it was a fabulous historical fiction novel. Not only does the author do lots of research to provide as much real history as is known, she also has a way with words, spinning a story that keeps you wanting to turn page after page! But, this is not a book for those who want a pretty story – Judah Maccabee is a warrior, defending his country and way of life against some wicked oppressors – the fighting is nasty, to say the least!

The author writes this story from the viewpoints of Judah Maccabee and his wife Leah, alternating from one to the other, giving the reader a greater depth to the story. And I confess, at the beginning of the book I felt sorry for Leah, then I didn’t like her, and finally I admired her – I don’t usually change my feelings so much about a character in one book!

At the end of the book the author tells what parts of the book are fact and what is fiction – I liked knowing that the battles described really occurred and I’m gaining real historical knowledge as I enjoy a good book. Unfortunately, too though, the tortures described in the book really happened and some parts of it were hard to read. But I do highly recommend this book! I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

To Be Silent Would Be to Deny Their God, To Defy Would Bring the Wrath of the King.

Seeking quiet and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she’ll have peace. But the very nation Judah was named for has been conquered by a cruel king, who decrees that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws or risk death for following the laws of Moses.

Judah’s father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands Judah to pick up his sword and continue the fight–or bear responsibility for the obliteration of Israel. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband’s decision–what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah’s wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.

The Author: Angela HuntChristy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly five million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels (The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty).

Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her youth-pastor husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City. Afterward, the dog gave out paw-tographs at the airport.

When she’s not home writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.

Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at http://www.angelahuntbooks.com.

Oath of Honor (a novel)

Oath of Honor #1  -     By: Lynette Eason
Wow! What a fast paced, suspenseful, great read novel! I loved it! This is the first book in the Blue Justice series and it focuses on Izzy St. John, one of six siblings, all in public service. Izzy is a police officer and, when her partner and friend Kevin is killed, and with gang activity in the city rising, she must find the killer – and who’s behind him quickly before other lives are lost.

Drugs, break ins, chases, shootings, fires, and yes, romance – I loved all the different twists and turns in this mystery. It just doesn’t stop! (I think after the intense, adrenaline pumping, action filled week Izzy had I’d definitely need a laid-back vacation!) I can’t wait to read the next book in the series! I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A murdered partner. A missing brother. Will Isabelle’s silence protect those she loves . . . or delay justice?

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. She knows they’ll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Izzy is determined to discover exactly what happened, and her investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll–including someone from her own family. With her dead partner’s brother Ryan, a handsome homicide detective, shadowing her every move, Izzy’s head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she’s had a secret crush on for years won’t leave her side?

The Author:Lynette EasonAward-winning, best-selling author, Lynette Eason writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her books have hit the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won numerous awards such as the prestigious Carol Award, the Selah, the Daphne, the IRCC award and more. Lynette is married, has two children, and lives in Greenville, SC.

No One Ever Asked (a novel)

Wow!  What an amazing, incredible, eye-opening, teaching without preaching, novel!  It just really spoke to me – I was encouraged, humbled and challenged as I got to know the different characters!

There were several different story themes going on at the same time, as well as a plethora of characters so I had to plow though a little to learn who they are but then – wow!  Taking place in a small Missouri town, three families find their lives intermingling, for the good and the bad.  As race relations escalate, Jen Covington, a white woman, has not only just adopted a 7-year-old black Liberian little girl, but has also moved half-way across the country.  Neither is easy – and the author doesn’t sugar coat it!  Meltdowns, attachment disorders, bonding issues, behavior problems, and even self-doubt are all skillfully woven into the story.  “She raised another 3 musketeers in mock salute.  To the mother who went to every adoption class, attended every seminar, quoted the adoption guru Karyn Purvis like a Bible scholar quoted Scripture, and possessed all the arrogance that came with too much knowledge and not a lick of experience.”

Camille, on the other hand, is perfection – on the outside at least!  With 2 girls and a boy, she is on the PTA, is a room mother for the youngest (the 2 older are past elementary school now) and organizes an annual charity 5K.  “She did Pilates at the YMCA two times a week.  She was surprisingly good at Zumba.  None of her clothes had holes in them and the only thing she posted on Facebook were cute pictures of her children.”  But can she hold it together when life starts crumbling apart on her?  What will happen as her perfect life shows its flaws?

The last main character, Anaya, is a young black teacher in the predominately white school that the other families attend.  Race tensions are running high because “South Fork was one of the most violent districts in the entire state of Missouri, and suddenly, because of some poorly written laws, those students had the option of coming to Crystal Ridge.”  And it’s not just an abstract concept for Anaya – she comes from the South Fork area!  Can she overcome the prejudice?  And at what price?

Racism, perfectionism, judgement, and so much more is beautifully blended in a story that made me want to keep reading and reading.  I loved how the novel flowed, telling the story through the eyes of Jen, Camille, and Anaya, and how they learn so much through each other as life punches them all.  I highly recommend this book!  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  It comes out on April 3, 2018 (since I read an advanced copy, the cover could change).


The Author:145407

Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the exciting state of Iowa, where she currently resides with her family. She likes to write things and consume large quantities of coffee and chocolate while she writes all the things. She’s won some awards. For the writing, not the consuming. Although the latter would be fun. You can learn more about Katie and these things she writes at her website http://www.katieganshert.com.

At last – Poland and Rothenberg

Although it has been a few months since I traveled with Kate, I never finished my blog post about our last trip in September.  So here it is!


With our four days in Prague over, we reluctantly got on the road early and headed north towards Boleslawiec, Poland, the mecca for Polish pottery shopping!  20170918_061956We had a factory tour scheduled and we didn’t want to be late.  The process for making the pottery really is interesting.  First, they press the clay into a mold.  After the piece has dried they add additional parts – like mug handles – and smooth the edges with a wet sponge.

The first firing in the kiln is next.  After that the painter uses a small cut sponge to sponge on the paint, each color having a different sponge. They use a paint brush to fill in any gaps.

The painters (99% of which are women) get about 3 hours to learn a new pattern.  When the paint dries the item is hand dipped into a vat of ceramic glaze, which completely covers up the painted pattern. (She’s not wearing any gloves!)

The piece is sent to its final firing after that layer dries and then it is ready to hit the market place.  Much of the pottery is shipped to the United States and japan but there is a lot available locally, with so many different patterns!20170918_104112

So, of course, after our tour we did some shopping!  We discovered a list and map available on line about the different shops, so although some of the hours have changed, it is a pretty good list for Polish pottery shopping.   Almost all the places take credit card and here’s the link to the stores, in case you’d like to know!

Complete guide for Pottery Shopping in Poland


My purchases!

The map below is not to scale but did help us get from place to place!Polish Pottery Map of Boleslawiec, Poland | JavaCupcake.com

After shopping, we ate an early dinner at The Blue Beetroot, which was delicious – real Polish perogies!

And then we went to our Polish palace to spend the night.20170919_073916.jpg

On our last full day abroad, we packed up our teeny tiny car and began the trek home, via Rothenberg ob der Tauber!  After traveling six hours we made it to the city, and, bless Google maps, right into the middle of downtown.  But as we drove into the town center, dodging pedestrians and tables, I pointed the famous clock to Kate – and hoped we wouldn’t have blue lights following us!  (Our route through the square!)20170919_171009_LI.jpgAdmittedly, I had been following another car, but it just didn’t seem right to be right in the middle of the town square!  Fortunately, we were able to eventually find parking and explore!

We enjoyed the Museum of Crime and Punishment (Kate had been there before but didn’t recall anything as she had only been 13 months/2 years old!)

20170919_165138-e1514910917136.jpgand the Christmas museum/Käthe Wohlfahrt store (the huge store that sells Christmas decorations year round)

before we were joined by Jen, a friend who had recently moved to Germany and drove 2.5 hours to meet up with us.  20170919_171407.jpgWhat a sweet and precious reunion!  We quickly checked into our hotel – Am Weissen Turm, a quaint 800-year-old building located inside the city walls – before getting some dinner.  20170919_175454And after dinner we all enjoyed the night watchman tour of Rothenberg –  a tour given at dark by the “medieval night watchman” who walks you around the city giving insight to the old city.  This was fabulous and so worth it!

All too soon morning came and in the darkness, we hugged goodbye with Kate and I returning to Frankfurt.  This time, our second time maneuvering a rental car around the airport, we didn’t get lost and were able to quickly fill the tank with gas and turn in the car.  We made it – over a thousand miles driven across Europe!  What a trip!  And BONUS – we got to fly back First Class!!