Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book Reviews

Since the last time I posted on May 29 about Dale Cramer's Amish trilogy, I've read several books. I came upon The Returning by Ann Tatlock in our church library (a new book, just added) and read it quickly. It was about a man returning to his family after several years in prison and how each of the family members related to him. He had an older teen-aged son who accepted him, a younger teen-aged daughter who chose to ostracize and ignore him, and a seven-year-old daughter who was afraid of him because she had never seen him before.

As he worked patiently with each of the children, trying to gain their trust, there were many ups and downs. The man had found God's purpose for his life while in prison, but his family were not church-goers. In fact, the teenaged daughter was involved in some very off-the-wall activities.

This was a very good story, as are all of AnnTatlock's offerings, and I was glad I read it.


Stealing Home, by Allison Pittman, was a babeball story set in a small town in the early 1900's, a period piece very well researched by Ms. Pittman. The main character was Ellie Jane Voyant, a 26-year-old woman who had never had an offer of marriage. She lived with her father, the Judge, when her brother asked her and her father to rent a room to a down-and-out baseball player. He was an alcoholic needing a place to stay where alcohol was not readily available, so that he could prepare himself to continue with his major league career. Of course, he made a big splash in the small town, and we meet many quirky characters as they try to relate to him.

Ms. Pittman wrote subsequent chapters about the main characters in the book, introducing us to them. One was Morris, a twelve-year-old black boy who wanted to play baseball. Another was Ned, who secretly loved Ellie Jane. And then there was Duke Dennison, the ball player who came to live in this town for a time.

The book was charming, inviting, and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. There was an unexpected ending, one that took me totally by surprise. I think if you decide to read this book, you will enoy the authenticity and the small town flavor.


Dan Walsh's newest book, The Dance, co-authored with Gary Smalley, is similar to many of the Karen Kingsbury books I have read. It is the first in a four-part series about the Anderson family.

Jim and Marilyn Anderson were a couple in a beautiful house with everything a modern family could want, except love and respect. They were drifting, as many couples do today, until Marilyn left and disrupted Jim's comfortable life. The story tells about the couple, about their children and how this event affected them, and how this drastic act woke a man up. Jim began to realize how many times Marilyn had sought him out in previous years.

This story was simple, yet profound. When a couple comes to the place where these two were, it took a jolt to cause them to think of the other person. Marilyn had been thinking, but Jim was totally unaware of what could happen to his life because of his unthoughfulness. Dan Walsh is an excellent writer, and I think you will enjoy reading this one. You will want to read the others, as soon as they become available, as he weaves stories about this particular family.


In our local library I found another book by Dale Cramer titled Summer of Light. I had enjoyed his Amish stories, but this one was very different. It was about an iron worker, a strong man who lost his job because of an accident. His wife, a lawyer, convinced him to stay home with the three small children for the summer while she continued to work. The kids were out of school and one of them was a special needs child who needed special attention. So began Mick's adventure with his children, a hilarious, yet sweet journey.

This book contained laugh-out-loud humor that could only have been written by someone who experienced it. There were too many hilarious incidents for this to just have been made up.

Mick tried to work as a carpenter while keeping an eye on his son Dylan and the dog, Andy. The scrapes they got into just kept on coming. Mick also related to a homeless man he had met on his job, and this relationship continued through the summer with many poignant scenes.

I recommend this book if you want to just read for fun. It is highly entertaining.


The Outsider by Ann Gabhart is the first in her series of books about the Shakers, a group of people who had a religious community in Kentucky in the 1800's. The main character was Gabrielle, who had come with her mother to live in this celibate community. Shakers did not believe in marriage, in fact, they were taught that it was a sin to "commit marriage."

Gabrielle relates to the the younger girls as their teacher and we come to know several of them. Dr. Scott enters the community because of an outbreak of disease, and this doctor is the outsider who is another main character, the one who falls in love with Gabrielle.

Ann Gabhart has written a series of four books about the Shakers, and this is the first. I hope I am able to read the other three because I was very much taken with the people I met in this book. Ms. Gabhart draws her characters carefully and causes the reader to care about each one.



  1. Hello Juanita. Nice to meet you. My dad was a Baptist Deacon, so I was raised in a Christian home where we were always taught about God. I have counted that one of my biggest blessings. I had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. Enjoyed our large family. Definitely some rough years, but never short on love and laughter. I have 4 children and 2 step-children, 12 grandchildren, and 18 great-grands. 3 of them this past year. Always such a great time when we are together. There are only 2 brothers and I left of my family. The book I have of Ann's is The Gifted. Wish I had them all. I think there is 6. I had never heard of the Shakers. This was a great article by your son. Enjoyed it. I joined to follow you by email. GOD bless. Maxie

  2. Thanks for the note, Maxie. Be sure to let me know when you get your book. My email address is on the note I sent to notify you that you won.