The Headmistress of Rosemere, written by Sarah E. Ladd and published by Thomas Nelson (2014), takes place in Darbury, England in 1816. For Jane Austin lovers, this book is perfect. Just imagine yourself in a huge sitting room with a roaring fire on a cold night. You are wrapped in a warm robe and slippers, finding enchantment in this romantic and suspense filled story, full of spiritual truth. This book is suited to women, aged 18 and above.

Patience Creighton’s father has died, her mother, filled with sorrow, is spending her days in bed. Her brother, Rawden, has left for London. That leaves twenty-five year old Patience to run the girl’s school her family has operated for many years. Her family has long rented Rosemere.

Rosemere’s landlord is William Sterling. William, whose father has also passed away,  has been unwise in the past, and his gambling debts have rendered him unable to pay his bills.

In the beginning of the story, he ends up on his tenant’s doorstep, after being assaulted by his creditors’ henchmen on the road home from a tavern. George, the stable man, finds him in the early hours of the morning and asks Patience to tend to his wounds. This she does, and finds that even in his sorry state, and despite some of the unfavorable rumors she has heard about him, she is still taken with the young man, several years her senior. Embarrassed to be found in such a condition, he leaves the house. Yet, he can’t forget the lovely woman who cared for him.

The rest of the story reveals William and Patience’s developing romance and their search for a more meaningful relationship with the Lord. Struggling with decisions, they both come to realize that in order for their dreams and goals to succeed, they will need the Lord’s intervention. They must also relinquish past failures and forgive themselves as God has forgiven them.

Patience’s brother, Rawden, finally returns with Lydia, his new wife, and Ewan O’Connell, a past suitor of Patience’s. Rawden hopes that Mr. O’Connell can start up a boy’s school in addition to the girl’s school. Six years ago, Ewan proposed marriage to Patience, but she turned him down, caring for him only as a sister would. He left in a huff, and now he has returned. He still fancies himself in love with Patience.

The novel ends well and happily, with all the pieces fitting into place. The Headmistress of Rosemere is especially well written, and therefore, quite fun to read. It is sure to keep your interest, while making you think about your own faith in the Lord. You will see how much God’s help is needed with each new day.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

21 Days of Joy, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC (2016), is the fourth book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. This one is all about mothers. The most wonderful aspect of this book is that you don’t have to be a birth mother to find great joy in its pages. It is a wonderful read for those wishing they were mothers, those who have fostered or adopted children, or those who have lost children. It gives women hope that they can be used as a mother in a child’s life.

I loved reading the book and seeing how each one of the twenty-one stories was so varied and touching. The main thread that winds through this incredible little book is that God loves and honors mothers of all kinds. He loves our children and hears our prayers for them.

There were two stories in particular that stood out, and I would like to share about them. “Here With Us” by Nancy Ellen Hird is about an adoptive mother. I love the idea of adoption because my daughter has a desire to adopt someday. Kristie, an adoptive mother, has rushed home from a business trip after learning that she and her husband have been given a baby. She is overjoyed, but more than a little nervous as she reaches for the newborn in her husband’s arms.

She and Matt love their new little bundle of joy, a sweet baby girl. In a private moment with her sister Lisa, Kristie expresses fear that the birth mother might change her mind and want her baby back. Lisa reassures her, but also offers that all children go away someday, and that we are just borrowing them from the Lord. Kristie relaxes and rejoices at the amazing gift she and her husband have received. As our children grow, we need to learn to let go, and place them into God’s loving care.

Another story I particularly enjoyed is “Haiti’s Song,” by Deborah Raney. It is about a young woman, Valerie Austin, whose fiancé, Will, has just called off their wedding after most of the arrangements have been made. He comes to realize he never wants children, and yet Valerie does.

From a young age, Valerie had dreamed of having children. She had sewn many children’s clothes as a young teen, placing them in her hope chest for the future. Heartbroken when her wedding is called off, Valerie donates the clothes to charity.

In Haiti and working at an orphanage, she begins to love the children around her, and finds herself at peace with God’s calling. All of a sudden, she starts to recognize the clothes she had made years ago, worn by the children she works with. She knows that God is giving her a message. She believes He is pleased with her sacrifice and will use her in a mighty way, even if she never has children of her own. I found this story to be particularly heartwarming.

This little book is filled with all kinds of stories about mothers. It is sure to inspire you to do your best wherever God has called you.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was written by C. S. Lewis. Although I grew up reading voraciously, I did not discover Lewis’s children’s books until I was in college. Instantly captivated, I devoured all The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) was the first of the series of seven books to debut, although The Magician’s Nephew comes first chronologically in the plot’s timeline.

Set in World War II England, this story begins when four siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are sent to the countryside to escape the threat of London air-raids. They are housed on an elderly professor’s estate. Their adventures begin when little Lucy, while exploring the vast house with Peter, Susan, and Edmund, steps into a wardrobe. Snuggling against rows of soft fur coats, she inexplicably stumbles into another world—the world of Narnia. Lucy finds herself in a snowy wood lit by a glowing lamppost beside which she surprises a faun, who soon becomes her friend.

Returning to the world of England with her tale of wonders, Lucy finds her sister and brothers don’t believe her, especially when they try the wardrobe and find nothing but coats. Edmund teases her, but later gets into Narnia himself. After meeting a white witch who calls herself the Queen of Narnia, Edmund is taken in by her magic and promises to bring his family to her.

When at last all four of the children enter Narnia together, they meet salt-of-the-earth Mr. and Mrs. Beaver who plan to introduce them to Aslan. The great lion Aslan, king over all, has recently returned to break the white witch’s grasp on his kingdom of Narnia. Ancient sayings promise that four human children will help overthrow the witch and then rule from four thrones in Aslan’s name. But Edmund doesn’t like this talk and sneaks off to join the enemy.

In a land of breathtaking scenery, castles, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the children are transformed. Aslan radiates power, but models wisdom, compassion, and courage. As the beavers say, “…he isn’t safe, but he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Working together with their new friends, the children must secure peace for all.

This book is exceptional on so many levels. The children are different ages and have different personalities, yet each shows bravery and growth. Lucy’s pure heart leads the way. Peter becomes a noble leader. Susan is gentle and caring. Edmund learns humility and develops a heart that understands the value of both justice and mercy.

Lewis is a master of description. With simple, clear language, he sketches vivid scenes and memorable dialogue. Grand themes of self-sacrifice, forgiveness, atonement, love, and community are woven into an engrossing narrative that readers love to return to again and again.

There are many commentaries of the allegorical meanings in these stories—I will leave that for readers to judge.

If you want fresh, clean literature for young imaginations, I recommend The Chronicles of Narnia. Reading aloud is a good approach for the younger ages. Upper elementary children will enjoy reading them as chapter books. The final book in the series, The Last Battle, has end-of-the-world themes that may be too complex and sad for young readers. High school-aged kids will handle that volume better. My personal favorite book in the series is The Horse and His Boy.

Your local library, most bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com have The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It has also been made into audio books and movies. I recommend you read the books first. Among the audio books, though, my favorite is the Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre version. Of the movies, the one that is most like the books is the BBC version, but the 1980’s special effects will seem simple to the sophisticated child viewer of today.These books will leave a lasting, positive impression on readers’ minds. My children still quote them.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

The Wonder of You, written by Susan May Warren and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2015) is one of the Christiansen Family novels.  It is a book most young women can relate to. The Wonder of You explores how two young adults can come to realize just how vital the Lord is in their decision-making.

Amelia Christiansen, 20, and Roark St. John, 25, are very different from each other. She grew up in a small resort town, Deep Haven, Minnesota. To study photography, she traveled to Prague. Roark, whose missionary parents died when he was a teen, has traveled many countries helping his Uncle Donovan with the family’s billion euro hotel business that he will someday inherit. Amelia and Roark met and fell in love on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

But Roark, running from tragedies in his past, pretended to be only a student. He failed to reveal to Amelia other pieces of information about himself. When she saw him on the bridge with another woman, not knowing the woman was just an old friend, Amelia cut her time in Europe short and high-tailed it home to her safe family and the high school boyfriend she had broken up with. Roark pursued her, but she and the large Christiansen family turned him away.

As The Wonder of You unfolds he’s back and more determined than ever to win her. He takes a job in the local coffee shop. At a creek-turned-raging-river near the town, Amelia witnesses a man attempting a daring rescue. She recognizes the man as Roark, but losing sight of him later she believes she only wanted it to be Roark. A couple of days later, she sees him and talks with him at the coffee shop. Her feelings, she discovers are a tangled mess.

The story shows Roark pursuing Amelia, sure she is meant to be a part of his life. Amelia is not sure at all. She still cares for him, but there is safety at home with her parents, the resort they own, her protective and sometimes overly protective five siblings and her old flame, Seth. Amelia, drawn to both Roark and Seth, decides to give both men a chance to win her heart.

Roark volunteers to help the Christiansen family and Amelia with a boy scout day trip. The demands of the trip and an emergency help Roark and Amelia gain a greater understanding and a deeper respect for each other.

Roark and Amelia feel a call from God, yet they can’t quite put their finger on exactly what that is. They are just hoping it involves each other. However, Amelia still seriously considers a relationship with Seth who is safe, would stay put and would make a fine husband. But as she continues to consider making a life with him, she feels unsettled. She wonders about her childhood dream to travel to other countries while pursuing her love of photography.

Roark knows his life has become very complicated. He will someday inherit a company that is worth billions, but he doesn’t know how to break that news to Amelia. He wants her affections to be for him and not his money.

Meanwhile, Seth is moody and angry with Roark, hoping he will simply leave town, so he and Amelia can continue where they left off. Seth is a Christian, yet he is somewhat immature.

Amelia can’t seem to make a choice between the two men, or even figure out if she really wants to stay home, or do more traveling. Roark finally reveals to Amelia that he is to inherit a hotel business. She leaves in a huff, feeling that he has lied to her and wondering what is the use of a relationship based on a lie. Her parents and siblings have come to love and admire Roark for the many amazing qualities they have observed in him since he has been living in Deep Haven.

I think that often young people are confused about God’s will and plan His for their future. There are some amazing lessons about waiting on the Lord in this story. Trust is something Amelia and Roark learn when a difficult trial arises near the end of the story.

In the end, Amelia learns she doesn’t need a man in order to serve and follow the Lord. She can do that trusting in Him alone. A relationship should only add to her love for the Lord. She learns she truly wants the man God had designed her to be with, someone who can serve the Lord alongside her. The story ends happily, with both Amelia and Roark finding their needs met in Christ and His glorious plan for their lives. A subplot involving Max and Amelia’s older sister, Grace, deepens and broadens the theme of trusting God with your heart.

 

Note from Nancy: A review on Amazon.com suggests that the novel assumes premarital sex. The author has Amelia and Roark kiss, but only kiss. This novel does make references to premarital sex having happened among Amelia’s siblings, but the family considers the premarital sex to be a mistake and a sin.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

Read Aloud Bible Stories: Volume One written by Ella K. Lindvall and illustrated by H. Kent Puckett was published by Moody Publishers (1982). There are many books of retold Bible stories for children, but this one takes first prize. Its text is fast-paced and kid-friendly. Through repetition it emphasizes the emotions of the people involved. Young children will be swept up in the story as if they were actually there.

The stories in this first volume are: “The Man Who Was Too Little,” “The Man Who Couldn’t See,” “The Boys and Girls and Jesus,” “The Wind That Obeyed” and “The Man Who Said Thank You.”

At the end of each story is the question, “What did you learn?” The answer given further relates the story to the child and what he or she needs to understand about himself and God. For example in “The Man Who Couldn’t See,” the answer is Jesus took care of His friend and He will take care of you.

The colorful, yet simple illustrations do more than enhance the text. They capture the excitement and adventure of each story. For example, the fear on each disciple’s face during the storm makes the story seem even more real. The children can almost hear Jesus command the wind and the waves to be still.

This book has been recognized with two awards: a Gold Medallion Book Award and a C. S. Lewis Medal Honor Book.

There are four other volumes which are just as delightful and true to God’s Word.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is a widow and the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist was written by Janet and Geoff Benge and published by YWAM Publishing (2001). This man’s life is truly extraordinary. Many books have been written about George Washington Carver. I recommend this one because of the smooth flow of the story connecting the many remarkable events of Carver’s life. The reader gets a strong sense of his personality, faith, and the motivations that carried him through difficult times. Part of the Heroes of History series, it is a great candidate for a book report, but it is also a fascinating read in its own right.

George’s mother was bought as a slave by the Carvers, a childless couple on a farm in Missouri. Bushwhackers—lawless men who stole slaves and resold them—carried off baby George and his mother one night. Although a search was made, only George was found. He and his brother Jim grew up on the farm, learning hard work and frugality. The end of the Civil War brought freedom to all slaves. Jim was happy to stay and work on the farm, but George was restless. Mrs. Carver taught him to read, but there were few books for him to explore. George took long walks and became fascinated with plants. After seeing paintings at a neighboring farm, George created inks and made pictures of his own.

When he was eleven, George packed up his meager belongings, said goodbye to Jim and the Carvers, and walked eight miles to the nearest town to go to school. Taken in by a kind couple, he helped them wash clothes for townspeople in exchange for room and board. Soon he had learned everything the teacher knew, and he moved on to another school, working his way.

George’s youth was a series of these moves across the country, as he sought knowledge. He met wonderful mentors and friends, as well as atrociously bigoted people who threatened his life. His genius, a growing resume of skills, perseverance, and work ethic are impressive. The obstacles put in his path by evil people were huge and some passages are heart wrenching to read.

Eventually, George Washington Carver earned both Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees. Later in life he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree. He served for four decades as head of the agricultural department at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Macon County, Alabama. This all African-American school was set up by Booker T. Washington to equip former slaves to earn a living. George’s work there encompassed laboratory research, teaching classes, nature hikes, leading a Bible study, beautifying the grounds, educating local farmers on how to increase crop yields and creating astonishing new uses for peanuts and soy beans.

Over the course of his life, George Washington Carver became friends with James Wilson (United States Secretary of Agriculture, 1897-1913), President Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and many other influential people of the day. Although he could have used his tremendous skills to enrich himself, George Washington Carver dedicated his life to lifting up those in greatest need.

I recommend this book for high school because the subject matter is complex, and there are violent scenes. Carver’s life will intrigue people contemplating college and career directions. It can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Christianbook.com in paperback and audiobook.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

They Didn’t Use Their Heads was written and illustrated by Jo Ann Stover and published by JourneyForth (1990).

Attention parents, grandparents and teachers. This whimsical and clever book will captivate both the child and adult reader with its words of wisdom.

It suggests playfully many ways to use your head such as turning it, laying it down or covering it up. In a humorous way it shows what happens when you don’t use your head. However, if you are wise and a tiny bit clever, it offers, you can think with your head before you act.

The author takes familiar squabbles and difficulties that come from a child’s not thinking and then comes up with reasonable solutions. The solutions are understandable to any child such as, “you can be right without a fight,” or  “even when you’re small you can help.”

This book could lead to great discussions of other ways a brother and sister didn’t use their heads and what the results might be, as well as the remedies.

Repetition of the phrase, “They didn’t use their heads,” and the use of rhyme act as stepping stones drawing the listener into the book. The author’s decision to use of a variety of children’s names prompts the child reader to listen for his/her own name which contributes to making the book a page turner.

In this world of bright colors and “bling,” the book’s simple black- and-white illustrations add to the sound, sensible flavor of the writing and are anything but boring. The facial expressions go hand-in-hand with the text of the story.

I definitely give They Didn’t Use Their Heads high marks and recommend it for children ages five to eight.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is a widow and the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold, written by Joyce Magnin and published by Zondervan (2013) will keep you in stitches! The main character is a hoot. Harriet Beamer is a spunky lady in her early seventies who travels across the country with her donut-loving basset hound, Humphrey, to live with her only son, Henry and his wife Prudence.

Adventure follows Harriet, but at the moment she is feeling homesick and missing her best friend Martha. Martha also has an only son, but though she raised him well, he made some wrong choices. He is now in prison for armed robbery. She has handed the entire situation over to the Lord, and He has granted her peace in the midst of her heartbreak. Harriet also knows the Lord, but she tends to jump to her own ways and solutions when it comes to some of her choices. Harriet convinces Martha to come and visit her.

Henry, a stay-at-home writer, and Prudence, a busy lawyer, have several surprises for the-newly-arrived Harriet. The first one being that they will soon be adding a suite for Harriet onto their small house. She is thrilled as she learns she will now be able to unpack her beloved salt-and-pepper shaker collection. The second surprise is that after two miscarriages, Prudence is expecting again and Harriet will finally be a grandma!

Henry encourages his mom to get out into the town, make some new friends and engage in her hobbies. Harriet hits it off with a neighbor, and together they visit the Empire Gold Mine. Harriet is fascinated with the mine and wonders what it would be like to own or rent a gold mine herself.

Within the week, Harriet is dining at the cafe in town where she one day meets a seventeen-year-old named Lily. She feels sorry for the girl who seems lonely and appears to be in need. Her mother died quite a while ago and she lives with her father, Winslow G. Jump, or Win for short.

He soon shows up at the cafe and Harriet feels he is lacking in his parenting of Lily.In the course of conversation, Harriet learns that Win desperately needs a backer for a mine he will be leasing from a man named Old Man Crickets. The mine is a placer mine about forty-five minutes away.

If Harriet would agree to be a backer, her name would be on the lease and she might soon just come into lots of money. Harriet is intrigued. Before she knows it, she has volunteered to be the needed backer, handing over about five thousand dollars to Win.

Harriet, Win and Lily visit the mine, and then agree to stay in touch. She is promised paperwork giving her details about her newly leased mine. She decides not to tell her son and his wife about her investment, thinking they have enough to deal with.

In a few days, Harriet’s friend Martha arrives for a visit and Harriet spills the beans about the mine. Within the week, she has handed over even more money to Win and still has none of the promised paperwork. Martha worries about this situation and even though she has promised not to tell Harriet’s son, she tells him one day when Harriet is out. She asks him not to tell his mother where he found out.

Without divulging the outcome of the story, I’ll just say that in a very clever way, and with a moral to the story, all turns out happily. Harriet learns a valuable lesson about prayer, and her friend Martha finds the hope of a possible new start for herself.

All the characters in this story are adorable, but especially Harriet with her quirky ways and Converse sneakers. I’m sure you will fall in love with her and enjoy her adventures as I did.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

William Wilberforce: Take up the Fight (Heroes of History) was written by Janet & Geoff Benge and published by Emerald Books (2015).

William Wilberforce lived a remarkable life. Born into a wealthy merchant’s family, he had many advantages as a child, but tragedy sent him off to an aunt and uncle’s house for a number of years. There he was given a Bible and nurtured in the Christian faith.

After returning home, William steadily lost touch with his faith and lived a life of materialism: partying, singing, drinking, betting on cards, and avoiding his studies.

A visit to Parliament introduced William to his calling–politics– and to William Pitt, who became a dear friend and partner in the British government. The two young men pursued their careers together. At twenty-one, William Wilberforce became the youngest man ever elected to Parliament. William Pitt did not join him until later, but rose to become Prime Minister by the age of twenty-four.

Through reading and debate, William Wilberforce’s mind and heart turned back to Christianity. Could he be a Christian and a politician at the same time? He wrote to William Pitt, explaining that he thought he should resign from the government. He secretly met with his mentor, John Newton, to seek his advice. Both Pitt and Newton encouraged Wilberforce to remain in politics. Thrilled and terrified, William Wilberforce decided to display publicly what God might do through a man determined to follow Him.

Wilberforce sought to translate his faith into bills that would benefit society and eradicate its many evils. He debated long and hard, but often his bills were rejected. He also used his fortune to support education for poor children, more humane prisons, kinder treatment for animals, better public manners and polite speech, and many other causes.

Slowly, Wilberforce met people who educated him on the evils of the slave trade, including Thomas Clarkson, James Ramsay, Sir Charles Middleton, and others. He realized this was a great cause that he must champion. For years it seemed that William introduced a new anti-slave bill each spring, only to have it voted down. He tried many different strategies to end this human trafficking, but it was hard to sway the wealthy men who derived so much income from the labor of their own slaves. Public opinion sometimes went his way, sometimes against him. His health suffered, but he pushed on.

Read how William’s efforts finally brought about the demise of this great evil, how God blessed his life through an unexpected marriage, and how God upheld William even through loss and trouble.

The life of William Wilberforce is an important story for children to read. This biography is suited for upper elementary, middle school, and high school audiences. Although the subject matter—slavery—is harsh, the writers deal with it skillfully. They make the evils abundantly clear without graphic description. There is a lot of talk about war and politics that can be a little confusing. This was a very dynamic era in British history. The language level is appropriate and the story length is about 200 pages. You can buy it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

From the Start written by Melissa Tagg and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is Book 1 of 2 in the Walker Family Series. It is a delightful read for women age 18 and above. The writing is funny, positive and cheerful, even though not everything that happens is upbeat.

Kate Walker, the main character, is in her twenties. She used to believe in romance until she gave her heart to Gil, a married man who lied about his marital status in order to win her affection. Now she is recovering from that experience.

Kate writes made-for-TV screenplays. When she is told a TV network is turning down her screenplays, she puts it all in perspective. Several years ago she had won an Emmy for her writing, but she knows lately her scripts have been lacking something. She considers moving home to Maple Valley, Iowa.

Not far into the story, we are introduced to Colton Greene, a former NFL quarterback who has been forced into early retirement due to a shoulder injury. His best friend is Kate’s brother, Logan Walker. Logan takes Colton home to Maple Valley with him to help his father repair a train depot damaged in a recent tornado. Colton’s manager, knowing Colton can’t play professional football, keeps urging him to find a writer to write his story. Colton is dragging his feet on this suggestion.

In Maple Valley, Colton meets Kate Walker unexpectedly when she lands at home late at night, goes to her room and finds him in her bed! She is shocked and quickly moves to another room. The next day, all is figured out and forgiven. Colton and Kate begin talking.

While living in LA, Colton was very depressed and discouraged after he was forced to give up sports. Also the girl he was recently seeing became engaged to somebody else.Colton finds himself loving small-town Maple Valley and its slower pace. He throws himself into helping Logan’s father prepare the train depot for Depot Day in early October. Kate admires Colton’s qualities of self-sacrifice and hard work. They both begin to think about God and how He might have a purpose in all of the changing events of their lives.

Colton asks Kate to write his story. She agrees and has completed several chapters when she discovers Colton’s parents died when he was nine, and he was in foster care until the age of eighteen. He did have a wonderful caseworker who loved the Lord. He still has many scars from the tragedy in his young life and Kate has trouble getting him to talk about his past.

From the Start is about a romance but it also looks at love between family members and between friends. Webster Hawks, a teenage boy in foster care, is on the football team. He becomes friends with Colton and Colton mentors him. Kate meets Megan, a single, twenty-one-year-old who owns the coffee shop in town and who discovers she is pregnant. Both Kate and Colton become the big brother and sister that these young people never had.

Things are going smoothly when a surprising twist comes about. Just as everyone is gathered for Depot Day to celebrate the newly renovated train station, there is a flood. Every one pitches in and helps with sand bags. Colton and Kate end up at Megan’s house because the bridge has been shut down for the night. That evening Colton takes Kate on a special date. He receives permission from a realtor to take her to a vacant home in town that she has always admired from a distance, but has never visited. They have a picnic and even see a movie.

On the way home, they argue. Colton is having second thoughts about a book being written about him. He has escaped the limelight and doesn’t want to be in it again. Kate doesn’t agree. Writing the book was going to help her and she had her heart set on it.  She wants to go back to Megan’s place, but he thinks they should talk. Colton keeps driving, and a deer runs across the road. Another vehicle hits their car. Colton’s knee is injured; Kate has broken some bones and is rushed to the hospital. He stays by her side.

Colton tells her family what has happened. They are forgiving, but he is convinced Kate won’t want anything to do with him. He feels responsible for her injuries and for disappointing her about the book. He decides to leave town and return to LA for awhile. Kate is very hurt that he has left without saying goodbye, but she understands how bad he must feel so she waits on the Lord to discover His plan. After Kate recovers, she returns to Chicago.

The story continues to twist and turn but it ends happily. The two of them discover a new faith, a ministry, and a lasting relationship with each other.

I enjoyed reading all the details in this story. It definitely kept my attention, and as always, kept me up at night. I learned that God’s plans for us are often very different from our own. In the end, His plans are better and more wonderful than anything we could think or imagine.  He uses all the joy and hardships to mold us into the vessels he wants us to be for His glory.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Book Reviews

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