Monday, February 25, 2008

By Julie Lessman

Reviewed by Marion Kelley Bullock


From Boston to Ireland and back, Faith O’Connor’s boisterous family lives and loves, with unconcealed passion and colorful drama. Faith O’Connor falls madly in love with Collin McGuire, an Irish rogue of whom her Boston parents heartily disapprove. But he’s secretly courting her younger sister. When her parents discover this, they attempt to put an end to the romance. And when Collin turns his affection to Faith, more complications arise. But Faith, intent on what God wants for her, refuses to let her passions rule. Her parents’ romance adds depth to this historical. Faith sees their love in action, and wants that kind of love for herself. She won’t settle for less.

The O’Connors are caught up in the turmoil of World War I as it rages across Europe in 1916. Faith’s father, her brother, and Collin leave home to fight for freedom.

And right in the midst of this passionate portrayal of a boisterous Irish family, one of Ms. Lessman’s characters presents the gospel message, clear and plain.

I was captivated by A Passion Most Pure. I cared about the real, flesh and blood characters and I was kept guessing until the end. Wow! You can’t top that.

Friday, February 22, 2008


By Marion Kelley Bullock

Two cats live at my house. Sometimes this is good. Other times it feels like I’m in a combat zone. If I’m not careful, I get rammed by these two frantic felines racing through our small house. Anything that gets in their way is in mortal danger.

We didn’t start out to have two cats. We’ve always been a one-cat family. When our thirteen-year-old black and white Precious died from a heart attack, I was devastated. I called my daughter, the one who has multiple cats—I refuse to say how many—and she offered me one of her babies. I wasn’t ready to get another cat just yet, I said, bravely. But I sobbed that evening and the next, and maybe the next, because there was no cat sitting beside me in my recliner or lying beside me in my bed. No cat sat in my lap when I wrote at my computer. Say what you will, but I insist there’s something about the purring of my cat that inspires me.

Once again, my daughter mentioned that we could have one of her cats. Maybe I’d like to have sweet little Abbie, one of my favorites, she tempted. I said I might. That must have seemed like a yes, because she started working it out post haste. She could bring Abbie to us. At least, she’d meet us halfway. She lives about three hundred miles away. It seemed ridiculous to drive one-hundred-fifty miles when there were no doubt dozens of deserving cats right here in our own town. But that’s just what we did.

Abbie settled in nicely and we became a family. Then our twenty-two-year-old grandson, William, who had finished college and held a job in Lubbock, relocated to our little town. He became a prison correctional officer, while he and a friend started building a computer business. It seemed logical that he move in with us and save toward buying a house.

It seemed just as logical that his big cat, Bandit, move in, too. At least, we thought so. But Abbie disagreed. She laid her ears back, hissed, and spat every time Bandit got near her. For weeks, they skirted around each other. Abbie was afraid, because Bandit was invading her territory, William said.

One day, we noticed Abbie washing Bandit’s face, and the next thing we knew, he reciprocated. Without our realizing it, they had gradually become used to each other. They’d discovered there was room for both of them.

They still skirmish, chase each other and occasionally growl or hiss. But all in all, they’ve become pals. If they’re separated, they cry.

It struck me that humans are much the same. We need friends. But friendships take time to build. They don’t always spring full-blown into our lives. Sometimes they develop slowly—a smile here, a kind word there. Until, gradually, a warm, companionable closeness becomes an integral part of our lives. And we wonder how we ever lived without it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My crit partner, Megan DiMaria tagged me for this game. I'm reading Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure. I'll be posting a review of it soon. I turned to Page 123, found the fifth sentence and posted the next three sentences: "It's simply a heart thing, Briana. All you have to do is acknowledge you're a sinner and that Jesus is your Savior. Then simply ask him to come into your heart and be Lord of your life."
Wow! What a message, right in the middle of Julie's passionate portrayal of a boisterous Irish family.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

BLESSINGS, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Reviewed by Marion Kelley Bullock

Trina Muller works in her mother’s cafe in Sommerfeld. Outwardly cheerful, she harbors a secret desire to attend college and become a veterinarian. She dreams of taking over Doctor Groening’s practice when he retires. But her parents would never approve her career. Trina can’t believe God would give her the gift of healing sick and injured animals without allowing her to use it.

Graham Ortmann loves Trina, but he’s indignant when she shares her plans to attend college. She should be content to be a wife and mother. How could he marry a woman who won’t follow the dictates of the Old Order Mennonite fellowship?

After Trina begins her studies, a young veterinarian buys Dr. Groening’s practice and Trina begins to doubt her calling. Other troubles pile up and Trina fears she’ll never be able to achieve her dream.

Not only will Trina Muller win your heart, but you'll also be able to reconnect with the other friends we met in Beginnings and Bygones. Kim’s third book in the Sommerfeld trilogy is well worth the read.