Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A SKY WITHOUT STARS, by Linda S. Clare

The year is 1951. Frankie Chasing Bear and her son, Harold, left the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota following the death of her husband. Her luck doesn't get any better when they find themselves stranded in Phoenix after their rattletrap pickup breaks down. Her plan was to go to Los Angeles as part of an Indian relocation program. Instead, she battles heat, poverty, and prejudice in a town that has little sympathy for Indians.
 She's determined to help her son survive the bullying he receives by sewing a Lakota Star pattern quilt to remind him to be proud of his heritage. But Harold is having none of it. He decides he wants to return to Pine Ridge, where at least he had friends.
 Nick Parker is a federal agent assigned to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He’s attracted to Frankie's determination to survive in her hostile environment. For her part, Frankie believes Nick already has two strikes against him--by her definition he's a half-breed (part Lakota, part white) and he works for a Bureau that has never had the Indians' best interests at heart. She wants to trust Nick, but can she?
 Sky Without Stars really grabbed my attention. Linda Clare has done a wonderful job of reminding us how poorly Indians have been treated, while at the same time she's crafted a suspenseful story of a mother's love for her son.
 Readers will feel the heat, dust, and fear that Frankie experiences as she tries to make a life for herself and Harold. Her determination had me cheering her on as I read.
 I highly recommend Sky Without Stars.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

MINDING MOLLY, by Leslie Gould

To say Molly Zook is a controlling woman is an understatement. Her days consist of making lists and plans, not only for herself but for her sister and for Mervin Mosier, a neighbor who helps on their family farm. In the Biblical story of Mary and Martha, Molly identifies with Martha. Somebody's got to do the work, right?
 With her father recently deceased, and her mother ailing, Molly's not far off the mark. If she can't keep their farm profitable, her mother wants her to marry Mervin Mosier to solve their financial problems. Then Molly meets handsome horse trainer Leon Fisher, who has come from Montana to Pennsylvania to work with a horse breeder--and not incidentally to find a bride.
 Molly jumps into full "control" mode to arrange things so that Mervin will fall in love with someone else, and Leon won't want to go home to Montana. But the harder she tries to manipulate the lives around her, the more her plans fail. Readers will find the book hard to put down. Will Molly ever give up control and wait to see what God has planned for her? Or will she control herself into a lonely spinsterhood?
  On a personal note, reading Minding Molly was a bit of a nudge for me, since I, too, have always identified with Martha in the Mary and Martha story in the Bible. Minding Molly is a novel that will keep readers entertained as they follow Molly while she learns that "the course of true love never did run smooth."

 My thanks to the author and Bethany House Publishers for my review copy of Minding Molly.

Monday, February 3, 2014

RESOLUTE, by Martin W. Sandler

An absolutely fascinating story of Great Britain's obsessive search for a Northwest Passage through Arctic waters in the early-to-mid 1800's. Martin Sandler relates history with a story-teller's skill. Some non-fiction can be a slow read, but not "Resolute." I couldn't put it down--the images of the explorers' hardships stayed with me long after I finished the book. If you enjoy history, you'll love "Resolute."
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