Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn

Opening Paragraph:  Helena stood upon the ship's deck and surveyed the army sent to kill her. Before her stretched the harbor of Judea's provincial capital, Caesarea. The city was rimmed by hills, and the hills were crowned by temples and palaces. The might of old Rome was firmly established here, and it was her enemy.

Synopsis:  In his latest historical epic, worldwide bestselling author Davis Bunn takes readers on a journey through an ancient landscape. Travel with Empress Helena from Caesarea to Judea. Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to do what God calls her to, she takes a perilous pilgrimage. Along the way she meets those who would help her (the wizened and wise bishop Macarius; the rough-edged but kind-hearted sergeant Cratus; the young soldier Anthony, a man who has lost everything, including his faith) and those who would harm her (the menacing and murderous Roman assassin Severus). Miracles seem to follow this humble but determined woman as she wins many over to the faith, and changes lives forever—including her own. This unforgettable story of the discovery of the True Cross will thrill readers with its adventure, and with its vivid portrait of one of Christian history’s most important women. 


Review by Mirella Patzer
The Pilgrim is a brief novel (165 pages) Helena, a wealthy Roman noblewoman who was cast by her high ranking husband. In accordance with her heaven-sent visions, she travels to Judea where she could be executed for being a follower of Jesus Christ. As assassins tail her and her small group, other followers and believers of Jesus join up with her and her army slowly grows. The setting is the Holy Land during the 4th century. This small but powerful novel is about the courage and faith of Saint Helena and the forgiveness of sins. It is a tale about the True Cross, told by a master storyteller who knows how to engage the reader with his simple, but powerful prose. With each page, Davis builds tension with dangerous circumstances and fascinating characters. This unforgettable story is highly recommended!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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At Home in Persimmon Hollow by Gerri Bauer

Opening Paragraph: A fine man, indeed. What had that woman in Jacksonville been thinking? Agnes Foster sighed. She didn't need this discouraging first encounter, not when she was already tired, bedgraggled, and disappointed in her new surroundings. The Persimmon Hollow train station was nothing more than a log shelter in a hot, isolated wilderness. It was definitely not what she expected."

Synopsis:  At Home in Persimmon Hollow is the first book in a series chronicling the world of Agnes Foster and the people of frontier-era Florida. In 1886, Agnes Foster is forced to leave the Catholic orphanage in New York where she grew up to start a new life as a teacher in Persimmon Hollow, Florida, a town she has only ever seen in a newspaper ad. With nothing but her strong Catholic faith to sustain her, she leaves behind the only home she’s ever known and the little girl she hopes to adopt, and encounters a wild and beautiful new landscape, and a town full of hardworking, faith-filled people. She also meets the difficult, yet handsome and hard-to-ignore Seth Taylor, a man whose heart has been hardened to God after a terrible loss. Just as Agnes starts to feel Persimmon Hollow could be a good home for her and her daughter, and that Seth could be her love, tragedy strikes in the form of a trio of evil men from both their pasts, intent on doing them more harm. Will their fragile new love survive? Will Seth return to his faith? Can Agnes finally escape her dark past and find a bright new future?

Review by Mirella Patzer
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At Home in Persimmon Hollow by Gerri Bauer is a Catholic / Christian based historical romance novel. Set in 19th century Florida, at the heart of the story is a young woman named Agnes Foster who was raised in a Catholic orphange by nuns. After an incident with a villain, Rufus Smith, she is compelled to leave the orphanage and strike out on her own as a teacher in Persimmon Hollow. There, through a young 12 year old boy named Billy, she encounters his uncle Seth, a handsome loner. Soon, her past catches up to hger, throwing her into grave danger. In this heartwarming story-line, we experience good vs evil as entire town comes together to either aid or hamper poor Agnes. And of course, love blossoms with Seth. 

What a stunning cover! It definitely drew me to the book. I enjoyed reading a Catholic romance novel, my first, and the unique setting of 19th century Florida. The Christianity in this novel is a bit stronger than other novels, which will appeal to some and discourage others. For me, it was pure enjoyment. A nice story indeed! 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

Opening Paragraph:  Maud was bent over one row suckering tomato plants and Lovely was bent over the next one. They were talking about a girl Lovely had his eyes set on. But a cow's bawling interrupted that. Maud unfolded and looked toward the river. Lovely did the same. The bawling was loud, unnatural, and awful, and it set them to running. They ran first toward the house, not toward the sound, because neither had taken a gun to the garden. Maud stopped on the steps; Lovely rushed in for their rifles. Armed up and not bothering to talk, they both ran straight toward the pump to get to the pasture below the ridge where the howling was coming from...

Synopsis:

A debut novel chronicling the life and loves of a headstrong, earthy, and magnetic heroine

Eastern Oklahoma, 1928. Eighteen-year-old Maud Nail lives with her rogue father and sensitive brother on one of the allotments parceled out by the U.S. Government to the Cherokees when their land was confiscated for Oklahoma’s statehood. Maud’s days are filled with hard work and simple pleasures, but often marked by violence and tragedy, a fact that she accepts with determined practicality. Her prospects for a better life are slim, but when a newcomer with good looks and books rides down her section line, she takes notice. Soon she finds herself facing a series of high-stakes decisions that will determine her future and those of her loved ones.


Maud’s Line is accessible, sensuous, and vivid. It will sit on the bookshelf alongside novels by Jim Harrison, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and other beloved chroniclers of the American West and its people.

Review by Mirella Patzer
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Maud's line is a tale about the author's own family. The story is set in beautiful Oklahoma, and delves into the culture of the First People of the land and the settlers of the era. The story includes all the expected hardships: hazards, dangers, illnesses - mental and physical, and the violence of the wild American west. The writing is simple to fall into and the story has many fascinating characters. Unfortunately, the heroine, Maud, came across as selfish and prone to foolish decisions. Nevertheless, the story is a portrait of the times and a good history of Oklahoma. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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