The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller
Bethany House, 2009
$9.99 at

From After her father’s death, artist Carrie Brouwer moves to Collinswood, Ohio, where she accepts a job in the carousel factory owned by her friend Augusta’s father. On her first day, she discovers she’s the only woman in the plant, and the men resent her—especially the manager, Josef Kaestner. Can she win his respect—and perhaps his love?

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like this book. The cover is gorgeous, the plot is well-thought-out and interesting, and there were some humorous parts in what I read. I liked Carrie (Carrington). But somehow it didn’t draw me in – I couldn’t even finish it. The way it was written felt kind of dry to me, and I had no desire to finish it. That said, I’m going to share one of the humorous parts that I enjoyed with you:

While I explained my situation to Mrs. Wilson, I heard Augusta inhale a huge gulp of air. A minute or two later, a loud whoosh escaped her lips. Both Mrs. Wilson and I turned to stare.

“Breathing through the mouth in large gulps helps to clear the lungs of impurities, ” Augusta said.

I couldn’t believe that she managed to keep a straight face.

“I’ve never heard that before,” Mrs. Wilson said. “But I’m always willing to try something new.” She sucked in a mouthful of air and clamped her lips together in a tight fold. Her face soon turned the shade of a ripe persimmon. I was thankful when she clasped her hand to her chest and exhaled a gush of air. “I do believe you’re right. This deep breathing is cleansing.”

I would recommend reading the reviews at, too – there are mostly positive reviews there and you can go see why they liked this book so much. :-) You should know that my tastes run more toward classics like Anne of Green Gables and a few amazing works of Christian fiction like Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell and anything by Francine Rivers. I like books that are deep and meaningful with well-developed characters. I felt that, in this book, I was kind of thrown into a story with no introduction to any of the characters. And my new policy is to not force myself to read a book I don’t love – there are too many good books out there for me to waste time on anything that doesn’t grab me right at the get-go!


That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake
Bethany House, 2009
$9.99 at

From Publisher’s Weekly: Against a backdrop of male chauvinist prejudice and smalltown small-mindedness, twins Enoch and his sister Taylor Bestman, veterinarian and medical doctor respectively, arrive in Gooding, Tex., with the best of intentions. What they find is a great deal of anti-female sentiment when it’s discovered that Taylor, the new medical doctor, is a woman. Determined to prove herself, Taylor takes on whatever the little town can throw at her and slowly wins over most of the people’s affections, including that of a stubborn blacksmith who views medicine as an inappropriate profession for a woman.

My Thoughts: This was my first Cathy Marie Hake novel, and I enjoyed it! I loved the characters, who I thought were well-developed and had great personalities. The subject of anti-feminism was included as part of the main plot but didn’t overpower the story. The romantic relationship was a little lacking (I was more interested in the secondary romance of Taylor’s brother, lol) but I liked the main character so much that it didn’t bother me enough to put down the book. Overall an entertaining read, one that you’ll enjoy if you like strong female protagonists, reading about lady doctors in the West, and likable characters.

I received the books reviewed above from Bethany House as a part of the Bethany House Book Reviewers Program. If you’re interested in becoming a Bethany House book reviewer, please visit and apply!

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