25 Book Reviews

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love Finds You in ???????? where now??

                      "Love Finds You in Mackinac Island"
                          By Melanie Dobson

Synopsis: As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette's once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money.

Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls, Elena spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac's rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery buried in the pages of a tattered diary.

As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island's most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes' financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.

This book is a pleasant, historical fiction, that includes a romance, a conflict of opinions and a "busy" plot!  The main character is torn and of course the mother doesn't help matters. Elena is not the typical woman of the times who on the hunt for a husband. She is more of a modern woman than her family desires, making her a very appealing character to me.

 The plot has twists and turns that surprise even the experienced reader. A good book full of a few laughs along with the conflicts.  Mustn't forget the history and geography lessons along the way!! Great book full of learning!!

Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside's Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense).

Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years.

Melanie and her family enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific.

When Melanie isn't writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

For more about Melanie Dobson and her books, visit www.melaniedobson.com.

ink to buy the book:

Celebrate with Melanie by entering her Kindle Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

• A brand new Kindle Fire

• Signed copies of Melanie’s Love Find You books: Love Finds you in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/4/12. The winner will be announced on 8/6/12 on Melanie’s blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Melanie's giveaway onFACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Book was provided by LitFuse in exchange for an honest and fair review.

A Different Style Book from Jerry Eicher and hs wife Tina

"My Dearest Naomi"
By Jerry and Tina Eicher
  I have read each and every one of Jerry's wonderful Amish novels and have never been disappointed. He always catches my interest immediately and keeps it throughout the book. The romance and faith , challenges and heartaches and pure joy is exhibited in each one. This book was very unique. For one, the writing style was completely different.
 It is a series of letters written by Eugene Mast, an Amish gentleman who leaves his community for nine months to go and teach in a Mennonite area. He leaves his home in Indiana, as well as the love of his life, the beloved Naomi, the woman he is planning to marry, upon his return home. Sooo... the story is a compilation of letters written by Eugene and Naomi to each other during this time. I must admit , it took me a while to become interested in this . I am not one who enjoys reading letters. I prefer a pure fiction tale, as his previous books have been written.

However, as the story unfolds, through these letters, I began to feel a connection between the two young people. I felt as if I was a part of their very private lives and I believe this was the intent of the book. You do feel the romance, the love, loneliness that each of them  experiences during this long period . Does absence make the heart grow fonder? In this case, I am not sure that they ever had grown apart. The letters do make you think of a young couple who desperately miss one another and their very deep love for each other.  This book is based on fact and Jerry and Tina did go through this very sad separation period.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but I must admit I prefer Jerry's other books. I did feel for the characters , however missed the exciting plots and twists and turns that his other books portray.

It is a well written book and many others will LOVE it. In fact, my sister in law can hardly wait to borrow it. So , it is a personal preference of mine to read pure fiction. This book certainly still portrays Jerry's talent of writing true romance. Keep writing , Jerry!! Love your books!

This book has been provided by the author and Harvest House in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another Hit by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim has continued to use her talent to write another love story that truly speaks to the heart. In this newest book, a Mennonite family  is front and centre. You can feel the heartache  and the struggles that they have withstood during recent years. Amy, the mother, is a strong mom, who will do anything to stand by her three children and attempt to heal/lessen  their pain of losing their dad much too soon. She puts on a brave front, while she herself , is in agony, losing her life partner.  The empathy you feel for her is realistic and she becomes one with you. You want to fight for her,  give her the strength and faith she needs to pull through.  Kim combines her wonderful description of characters with a spell binding plot. Although the plot keeps you entranced to the very last page, with guesses of what is going to take place, it remains an easy to read book. Kim has written a beautiful book with the flavor of romance, that only she can give, mixed with  enough humor to keep us smiling.

Amy hopes that a new start in Kansas will help her family heal quickly, with the ease of a change of scenery. She wishes the best future that she can provide for her family. BUT, and here is the BIG BUT- the new neighbor, Tim Roper is anything, but thrilled to  have an Old Order Mennonite family living next to his apple orchard. Unknown to Amy, his bitterness comes from his past- he left the Mennonite faith years before and does not want any reminders of his former life- pain lies in this past. 
The children are the breaking point for Tim. He falls for the sweet, fresh faces of these youngsters, one of whom reminds him of another boy who had similar  disabilities.  Upon trying to keep them away, he is drawn to Amy. Is she interested in a new romance? Is he??
They do form a friendship that is a huge surprise to both of them. A variety of emotions arise. Will past hurts keep them apart? Or will God use these challenges to let the relationship develop into more?  Will Amy and Tim follow God's plan or stick to their own ?

You must read to find out!! It is a great book, full of faith and healing of the soul. Definitely, a five star book!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.  Available now from your favourite bookseller."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"An Almost Amish" Novel!!!

"Almost Amish"
By Kathryn Cushman

My very first impression of this book was, "Wow, this is different! Is it REALLY an Amish story?"  Well, I was correct, it is very unusual , in that the main characters are NOT Amish. That immediately grabbed my interest, as this is not the norm for the Amish genre. But it is truly a book that involves the Amish and their lifestyle in a very imaginative way.

Kathryn Cushman has once again written a heartwarming story of plain living- with unique twists and turns, creating a life which is very inconvenient yet it is a simple lifestyle.  She teaches us lessons in a most unusual way- challenging a normal Englisch family to take on the life of a typical Amish family in an Amish community. This family is forced to take a second look at life and the blessings that can be discovered  in simple living. I was spellbound from beginning to end of this book , as I was never sure what would happen next. The characters are realistic, with everyday problems, as we have, but are forced in this situation to deal with them , as the Amish would, not as they would in their own English world. Kathryn's plot is so well developed that you feel with the family- their hurts, confusion, then acceptance and finally peace.

Synopsis:  Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She is a frustrated wife and mother. Although , she realizes that she should feel blessed, she does not! Just exhausted , feeling she can no longer cope with life.  Then, an opportunity arrives that appears to be a miracle. Her sister-in-law, Susan, lands a chance to participate in a new reality TV show about trying to live like the Amish. HOWEVER, here is the important part!! She needs another family to join here. This is just that break that Julie believes will meet her current needs.
But this summer adventure is certainly NOT simple living. There are TV cameras filming, watching every move . Susan is a perfectionist and strives to have every move as it should be , in her city life, not as it actually is in Amish country. While she becomes more and more frustrated, Julie begins to find the peace she has desired for so long. She has to stand up Susan, as well as the filming crew and boss, explaining the need to slow down. Whether it is cleaning, cooking or dressing differently, each Amish challenge causes more complicated feelings and results.
This book is truly one which shows us how we need to learn about ourselves, our needs and our place with God. Who is going to do the planning? Humans or the Heavenly Father???
The children all go through different stages of rebellion, then acceptance. A true to life family experience that would be valuable to all of us. Julie's feeling of success instead of  the former feeling of always failing is the result of following  peaceful, faithful lifestyle of the Plain People.

Wow!! A great book that can teach all of us something, young and old alike!! I can hardly wait for another new book by Kathryn.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now from your favourite bookseller."   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vannetta Chapman's New Series- A REAL Winner in Amish Fiction!!

" A Promise for Miriam"

 By Vannetta Chapman

At this stage of my life, I can honestly say that I have read/reviewed hundreds of Amish fiction novels. Usually, I can predict , within the first few pages, if the book is going to be interesting, have a great plot and if the characters will become part of me.  That is not to say, that all of have the same likes or dislikes, however, I knew within moment of opening this book, that it was a HIT!!! 
I have reviewed Vannetta's three Shipshewana Amish mysteries and loved them, so of course, wondered how the switch over to Amish romance would be. NO SURPRISE HERE!!  A Promise for Miriam is fantastic!!

The plot and characters  captured both my emotions, as well as my interest. Never a dull moment in this book. There are intertwining events that keep you guessing at all times. The characters became part of me. Their feelings became mine. I felt their challenges, joys, pains and successes. That is what a good book does for me. It satisfies me in all of these aspects.

Miriam King is an Amish schoolteacher  ( - there- you got me right away- so was I , at one time) who truly loved her job and students.  At the ripe old age of 26, she is NOT desperate to get married, although others think she should be. She is happy. Most Amish women her age are married and have families, but she has not yet found the person with whom she desires to spend the rest of her life. At least, no one worth giving up her beloved job at Pebble Creek.
Then.... into the scene, steps a widower, Gabe, and his young daughter,- a newcomer to the area. Now , Miriam has to deal with mysteries and challenges, she has never dreamt of having. Gabe , appears to be a very private person who does not share easily his feelings and his problems. He has experienced the pain of losing a loved one - the past haunts him. His daughter, who has some problems that the teacher , Miriam chooses to address, forces the two adults to communicate and work together for a child's well being.  
After a near tragedy, Gabe finally accepts and returns the love and friendship of the Amish community.  He finds out that he is NOT helpless or useless- he can make a difference to this new area  in which he now lives. Will he make a difference to  a certain schoolteacher as well??? That is what you need to read to find out.

This is the first book of Vannetta's new series, entitled, "The Pebble Creek Amish Series".
I am anxiously and impatiently waiting for the next book!!  When you read a book in a day and a half, you know you have found the reading material that you enjoy and that is well written.

Thank you , Vannetta , for giving me the pleasure of putting myself in another world for a short time!! I LOVED this time with my nose in this book!!

This book was provided for review purposes by Vannetta Chapman and Harvest House Publishers.

The Story of a Wedding Gown- Does that not appeal to all females??

Product Details"The Wedding Dress"
                      By Rachel Hauck

This book appealed to me at once, due to the most beautiful cover. I usually don't examine covers of books that carefully before reading, however the beauty  and uniqueness of this one drew my attention immediately. A wedding dress , but you cannot see the bride in the photo. Then , I realized that was the theme of this book. It is wonderful story of four woman who by some miracle were bound by one wedding gown. This is over time, in fact, over a century, that this somewhat magical dress finds its new bride and these women are bound forever- I wondered, at the conclusion of the book, who would wear it next!

The story begins with the main character, Charlotte, who owns a chic bridal boutique where she is enthralled with getting brides ready for their big day. Dressing them appropriately, in a dream-like fashion , is her gift.  Her talent to make even the plainest bride look like a princess is her passion.  However, her own wedding is coming up, and she appears to have lost all desire to dress herself. Charlotte  can't seem to take any interest in finding a gown- is this a sign?? Should she be marrying Tim?? 

The real challenge of the plot begins when Charlotte is at an estate sale and purchases a battered old trunk- one which she really can't afford. Upon getting it home and eventually when opening it, a vintage dress is discovered- it looks brand new but it isn't !!! Shimmering with pearls and satin, handstitched, it is a work of beauty. But the mystery arises: where did it come from, who wore it??? For some strange reason the trunk had been welded shut! WHY???  A mysterious man in a purple vest plays a part in the  plot. Who is he? 

Charlotte begins a search for the gown's history, as well as for a new bride to wear it.
I was so engrossed in this part of the book that I must say, I lost all track of time and place!!  We get to know the four different women who have once worn this dress, from 1912 -1968.  Rachel has the wonderful ability to intertwine their lives  as well as telling each bride's story. Every one was unique  and filled with the power of faith. In all four lives, there is a distinctive beauty in finding true love and the gown plays a huge factor.

Who will be the next bride and what will the next story be?

The magic of this story was Rachel's talent in using the dress as a symbol for the Gospel  of Jesus Christ. As she states, "It never wears out. It fits everyone who tries it on. It doesn't need to be altered. And it is always in style."  I believe that says it all!!

A fantastic story with a deep meaning!  It touched my heart as I read each person's story. Plot- excellent
Characters- fantastic, your best friends
What more can you ask for in a book???

Well done, Rachel. Number one in my book!! 5 stars!!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now from your favourite bookseller."   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Amish Fiction at its Best!!

Product Details                    "Faithful to Laura"
                    By Kathleen Fuller
Kathy has once again written a story that pulled at my heartstrings, as well as   teaching me more about the Amish faith. She has the ability to make you feel the deepest, most intimate struggles of the hearts of her main characters. I felt their pain, confusion , as well as their times of joy and happiness.  They were my friends, and at times I was so engrossed in the story, they became my family. A very difficult book to put down!! This is a book to be read when you have no other tasks calling your name- you won't hear your name being called!!

This is a book that concentrated on a double romance- two couples have a great struggle to put the past behind them and continue into a brand new future, forgetting their  previous difficulties. Kathy does a superb job of describing the Amish life in Middlefield, giving us those little details that make a story extra special. She exhibits the Amish faith as one that can overcome a heartbreaking betrayal. 

Laura leaves her Kentucky home to go to Middlefield, Ohio to do one and only one thing: to find Mark King who appeared to love her with all her heart, then suddenly left.  She must find out why , so that she can continue her life and move on with her future.
Sawyer is a Yankee (Englischer) who grew up in an Amish home. Now, he is an adult and must make a decision that may be life changing- go back to the life he had as a child or be baptized into the Amish faith. Sawyer had suffered loss when he was very young, so he understands the anger that Laura feels and at times exhibits. Due to their common problems, their friendship grows, however as Laura lets down her guard, she discovers new information about Sawyer that threatens their relationship. Both she and Sawyer are struggling with the issue of anger. Somehow they must let go and forgive those who have sinned against them, that is the Amish way!

Will they be successful? Will Sawyer remain faithful to Laura as she is in the midst of struggle to trust the Lord??

This is a book that is engrossing from the very first page to the very last !!  Kathy has you immersed in the Amish life and the everyday struggles and challenges they meet. Although we think of them a people of peace and forgiveness, she reminds us that they , as well as others, have their problems and challenges. The difference comes in how these are dealt with and how they allow God to direct their lives.  As we are not all perfect, neither are they.
Thank you Kathy , for allowing me to get a true glimpse into the Amish lifestyle of Middlefield. A FANTASTIC book!! Well worth the read! A touching book which reaches your inner soul!

This ebook was provided by NetGalley and Thomas Nelson , in exchange for an honest review.

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...