Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review - Out of the Ashes by Tracie Peterson, Kimberley Woodhouse

Book Synopsis
Can the Majesty of Alaska Foster Hope and Healing for Those Who Need it Most?

After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925. When an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel arrives, it seems the perfect opportunity.

Young widow Katherine Demarchis is also traveling to the foot of Mt. Denali with her grandmother--a last trip before she retreats into a quiet and solitary life, finally free of the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Yet when she encounters there a Frenchman from her past, her plans for the future are thrown into question.

Both haunted by the violence of their pasts, can Katherine and Jean-Michel rediscover the bond they once had? Or, when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will it be impossible to heal what's been broken for so long?

My Review
Out of the Ashes tells the story of Katherine Demarchis.  Katherine is a young widow who travels with her grandmother to the Curry Hotel in Alaska in 1926.  While they are at the hotel, she meets her lost love, Jean-Michel Langelier.  Katherine is cautious of men because of an abusive marriage.  Jean-Michel is recovering from fighting for France in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925.  

Both Katherine and Jean-Michel are warm, sympathetic characters.  They both are vulnerable and trying to be stronger individually -- and they long to see if they can also be stronger together, with each other's support.

I loved the glimpse of Alaska in the 1920's and the workings of the Curry Hotel - with both guests and staff.  There was an upstairs-downstairs feel to the book that was very appealing.  I was curious and looked online.  The Curry was a real hotel that burned in 1957.

There were a number of other characters included in this story:  Katherine's grandmother;  Jean-Michel's flighty younger sister, Collette;  Cassidy and Allan Brennan, who work at the hotel and are expecting their first child;  Mrs. Johnson, chef at the hotel, and Cassidy's boss and friend.  This is the second book in The Heart of Alaska series.  It took me a few chapters to catch up with the large number of characters, but once I did, I enjoyed this novel as a standalone read.

Faith plays an important part in this story.  Both Katherine and Jean-Michel are exploring ways to deepen their faith, and this gives them a connection to each other as well.  

Out of the Ashes was a lovely, uplifting read.  I recommend it to fans of historical fiction and inspirational fiction.   I hope to read the other books in this series!

Author Bio
Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana. Learn more at

Kimberley Woodhouse ( is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she's shared her theme of "Joy Through Trials" with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She's passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story. You can connect with Kimberley on her website and at

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House.

Dear Abby - Favorite Dog Movies: Benji

Dear Friends,

I'm back to continue talking about dog movies with you here this week!  Our movie this week is Benji.  This was the third most popular movie at the box office in 1974.

Benji tells the story of an adorable, shaggy mixed breed dog.  Benji is a stray, but he picks out the perfect family.  The only problem?  The father in the family does not like dogs!  When the children in the family are kidnapped, Benji saves the day ... and finds the perfect family as a result!

Benji was portrayed by Higgins the dog.  Higgins was rescued from the Burbank Animal Shelter by dog trainer Frank Inn.   He was a Poodle - Cocker Spaniel - Schnauzer mix.  He made guest appearances on Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies, but found fame when he portrayed "Dog" on Petticoat Junction.  He had already retired, but came out of retirement to play Benji in this movie.  He retired again afterward and lived to the fine old age of 18!

Higgins the Dog with his person, Frank Inn
Higgins had famous puppies, including Mac, who played Tramp on My Three Sons, and Benjean, who starred as Benji in For the Love of Benji.

This was the final movie of Edgar Buchanan (Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction) and Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show).

It is said that Alfred Hitchcock considered Benji a favorite guilty pleasure.

Here is the movie trailer for this 1974 film:

Have you seen Benji?  Do you have any other dog movies you would like to recommend?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

Book Synopsis
After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

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My Review
The View from Rainshadow Bay tells the story of Shauna McDade.  She is a widow putting her life back together and taking loving care of her young son Alex.  Her life once again is turned upside down when her friend and mentor is murdered.  She turns to her late husband's best friend, Zach Bannister.  As they work to solve the mystery of her friend, they only discover more mysteries from the long ago past and from recent years as well.

This is a romantic suspense novel, and Colleen Coble does an exceptional job at balancing both aspects of the book.  I really liked the characters of Shauna and Zach, and wanted them to find happiness and healing together.

The mystery was very fast paced and had a number of interesting facets.  I loved the little pieces of the mystery -- an old, one-of-a-kind necklace, some aerial photographs, a surprising video message.

The setting for this novel was amazing.  I have never visited Washington state but have always wanted to.  This novel only made me want to visit more!   It is set in the small town of Lavender Tides:

"Most of the Victorian buildings and storefronts had been constructed in the 1880s, and the town often drew in tourists searching for a short stopover on a trip from Port Townsend to Sequim.

Many aging hippies had found its charm irresistible enough that they'd moved in and opened everything from coffee shops to pottery studios.  In the golden glow of the late afternoon sun, the town looked magical with its bustling pier stretching out into the blue water" (pp. 4 - 5).

There is a faith message in the book as Shauna reconnects with her church family after her husband's death, and Shauna and Zach share similar faith and values.

The View from Rainshadow Bay is the first book in Colleen Coble's new Lavender Tides series.  I am already looking forward to reading the next book!   I recommend this novel for fans of romantic suspense, well written mysteries, and Christian fiction.

Author Bio
USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written numerous romantic suspense novels including The Inn at Ocean’s EdgeTwilight at Blueberry Barrens, and Beneath Copper Falls.


Connect with Colleen

Website | Facebook | Twitter

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.