25 Book Reviews

Friday, February 28, 2014

"The Beiler Sisters" - A New Series by Jerry Eicher

"Holding a Tender Heart"

       By Jerry Eicher

"What happens when an Englisha girl decides she's really Amish at heart?" This is subject addressed in Jerry's first book of his brand new series. I have always enjoyed books by this author and this book was no exception!

 His accuracy in describing the Amish community and people of this faith is to be commended. As Jerry was raised Amish, he uses this knowledge to its best advantage enhancing  the ability to identify with his main characters  . They are realistically developed throughout the story, having real problems and challenges, just as you and I would! The difference appears when they deal with these worries and fears. The Amish faith approaches them much differently than you and I would. The true picture of an Amish community is clearly formed in your mind as you read.

Debbie Watson has just graduated from college and attained her first job. Her parents are delighted and they are eager to see her become independent and discover all that life has to offer.  BUT, and this is a big BUT, what will they ever say and do when Debbie announces that she is moving in with the Beiler family because she prefers the plain life to the glitter and sparkle of the world that her peers have chosen! Just as an aside here, Debbie is attracted to Alvin Knepp, a quiet, reserved Amish farmer who doesn't seem to realize she is alive! Another, NOT so quiet Amish man, Paul Wagler, DOES know she is alive and attempts to win her heart.

While waiting for Alvin to discover her, Debbie has other things to work out. Verna, one of the Beiler sisters, and her dearest friend, is devastated when the man she loves , Joe Weaver, is wrongly charged with a crime and may go to jail. He is innocent, but in the Amish tradition, has difficulty standing up for himself in a court of law. Debbie is asked to intervene to solve this romantic/legal dilemma, while she herself is struggling to get a beau and assure her parents that she has not gone of the deep end!

I truly enjoyed the different twist of this book of the Amish genre. So often the books are full of Amish young people who want to join the Englisch world! This is a whole new approach!  And it presents totally different problems! 

The plot is developed quickly, easy to follow. There are interesting subplots along the way to keep your mind alert throughout the book. The author uses wit as well as compassion to keep the reader engrossed in the story.

Another great book!!! Looking forward to Book 2 in this series!!!

This book was supplied by the author and Harvest House in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another Present Day Fairy Tale, by Rachel Hauck

"Princess Ever After"

   By Rachel Hauck

About the book: A Royal Wedding Book
Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.
But she's content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother's hand-painted book of fairytales.
Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation's future---and his own.
Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she's destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together---with a little divine intervention---Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

My Thoughts:

What a delightful book!!! What girl doesn't love Fairy Tales !!! What girl doesn't wish to be a princess???  Rachel Hauck fulfilled both of these desires in her newest book of The Royal Wedding Series. Throw in royalty, a new country, a rags to riches story, and it equals a delightful read. I had read Book One in the Royal Series, "Once Upon a Prince" and loved the whole concept of a present day fairytale. I was intrigued with the development of the characters in this book. As I read, I was reminded of Cinderella, a favorite childhood tale. Regina, is a regular working girl, whose world is turned upside down, when she discovers that she the long lost princess of a distant country, Hassenberg. She is a realistic character that is so easily identified with, that you automatically share her challenges, decisions, and fears. You dream along with her, of what it COULD be like, and also, what it WILL be like to give up her regular job and home, both near and dear to her.

Tanner is the "knight in shining armor"!  I loved him upon  his first appearance in the book. Kindness, honesty, faith- all these words well describe him. He, too, has fears to overcome, but is determined to attain his goal. If you can choose a character to fall in love with, Tanner is the one!! A true charmer!!

The plot, although a bit slow moving at the beginning of the book, picks up speed and keeps the reader thoroughly engrossed, with new twists and turns around every corner. It was slower as it gave so much description, but I felt in the end, that this added to the charm of the tale. You were able to picture the setting of all of the events. It was as if you were there! this is what, to me, makes a great book!!

"Princess Ever After" reminded me of "Princess Diaries", every girl's dream!! Rachel has a outstanding talent of richly describing each scene. Her knowledge of royalty appeals to many readers, of which I was one!! 

Definitely a five star book!! Take time to pretend!! Also take time to think about divine intervention in lives!!  A great read!!

Meet the author: Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and RITA nominated Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series, the Nashvegas series and the Songbird Novels penned with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full time in 2004. Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Learn more about Rachel at: http://rachelhauck.com

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/tk6Wt 

This book was provided by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Fabulous Mystery/Thriller/Romance- ALL in one!

                              "Shadows of the Past"

   By Patricia Bradley  

Synopsis: Psychology professor and criminal profiler, Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve--the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she is stalking the truth about the past, someone is stalking her.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife--a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. With his estranged brother the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

Join the chase as this determined duo search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present and moving into a future filled with new hope and love. Readers will be swept into the sultry South in this debut novel from a promising and already award-winning writer.   

From the first page of this book, I was "hooked"!!  The plot is outstanding in its intertwining subplots and the tension and suspense it builds, as you enter the lives of Taylor and Nick, the main characters. It is definitely a book to NOT start to read at night!! You will never get any sleep until you have read the final page!! It is the first book in Patricia's new Logan Point series.and I am now eagerly awaiting the next . If you want a predictable suspense story, do NOT choose this one!! It has surprises around every  corner. Just when you take a deep breath and relax, another unexpected event occurs to put you back in a tense mode! 

The characters are well developed and realistically described. You can feel the fears, terror and confusion as the story progresses. Being able to identify with the characters makes the book for me! And this one does it from the very first chapter. I was almost shaking with fear and afraid at times, to turn  the page, for fear of what would happen to my "friends".The problems that these characters had to deal with were frightening but believable. In spite of the unusual and breathtaking events that take place, a romance develops, in a most unusual way. 

Needless to say, I will be watching this author closely!! Patricia Bradley definitely writes nail biting suspense!

A five star book! Don't miss it.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 

An Inspiring, True Story of How One Woman Saved a School Under Siege

"Prepared for a Purpose"    

    By Antoinette Tuff
with Alex Tresniowski

If you want to be truly inspired by a true story of how a single woman's courage and faith prevented a tragedy, then this is the book for you. A reader could not be found, that would not be encouraged by Antoinette's powerful faith that enabled her to be a true hero!

Synopsis: The main character, Antoinette Tuft, is a woman who has not had an easy life. She has had to face her own pain, hurt and rejection. while still holding strongly to her faith , grace and hope. This hope gave her exactly what was needed in an unbelievable situation, one in which we hope never to find ourselves. Antoinette is a single mom, who was married for thirty three years and had two children. Her son was diagnosed with a serious neurological disorder, her life was shattered with a divorce, and she continually struggled to keep her faith through struggles, emotional, spiritual and financial. At times, she fought with such desperation, that she attempted to take her own life. A tough life!! But through it all, she maintained her faith! In fact, these challenges gave her the courage and strength she needed in a horrific situation.

 As a bookkeeper, in a school, Antoinette met many people and dealt with a variety of situations. On the morning of Aug. 20th, 2013, life started out normally. Never in her dreams, would Antoinette dream of the events that would take place. While relieving the receptionist in the office for a short while, a young man entered the building. Completely dressed in black, his facial expression  showed intense anger. In his hands , he held a rifle, with his finger placed on the trigger. He was ready for action, NOT one that we ever want to experience. His eyes showed a severely disturbed man, capable of doing horrendous acts! After announcing that "We are all going to die!", Antoinette knew she and everyone in the building was in danger. 870 children were in this building, and after Antoinette quickly gave an announcement on the PA System, they waited in fear as their elementary school rushed into lockdown mode. 

Antoinette became a hero that day! She used her faith , courage and trust in the Lord, as well as her own past life events to avert a tragedy that could have ended in hundreds being killed. This story is evidence of what can be done if we allow ourselves to be used by God. God uses ALL of our life experiences , good and bad, to prepare us of our own moment of divine purpose.

This tale was one so riveting, that I could not put the book down. I knew how the tragedy ended from news reports, but what the public doesn't know or realize is the effect of this one woman on the future lives of hundreds of children. The way Antoinette use compassion and empathy to disarm a mentally ill man intent of killing , could only be through the power that God gives us in our most needed moment.  God's plan was definitely at work throughout her life to prepare her for this horrible experience.  The power of prayer is clearly evident. Little did Antoinette know, when she awoke that day, how important her past would be in helping her deal with a day of nightmares!

Definitely a five star book!!  Worth the read illustrating the power and value of compassion, one which we should teach all of our children!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Another Amish Novel from Leslie Gould, Based on a Shakespeare Play!

"Minding Molly"
  By Leslie Gould

I have enjoyed all of Leslie's books in  "The Courtships of Lancaster County" series. These books are all based on works of Shakespeare and uniquely and creatively  twisted into an Amish tale. "Courting Cate" and "Adoring Addie" were great books and I picked up this new novel, already knowing that I was again in for a treat. This new book was no disappointment. It did take me a bit longer to get into the story to connect with the characters, but when I did, it was worth the wait! The main characters are realistic in their descriptions and actions, as well as having little quirks and traits that make it easy to identify with.

Based on "A Midsummer Night's Dream", the story begins with Molly Zook, who ALWAYS liked to be in control, struggling with her mother's wish to  save the family farm , by marrying Mervin Mosier.  He is not appealing to Molly in  any way, especially after she meets Leon Fisher, a handsome, personable young man from  Montana. He is currently living in Pennsylvania, training horses at a nearby ranch.  Tall, muscular, handsome, what more can you ask??? Molly has never met anyone like him and finds herself attracted to this stranger in a big way, much to the dismay of her mother, who lets her immediately know how SHE feels! Doesn't Molly want to marry someone local, who can save the family farm from being sold, in order to pay bills??? 

Molly, being the determined creature she is, will NOT let anyone get between herself and Leon. NOT EVEN her maam!  Molly makes a special attempt to get Mervin (her mother's choice of a beau) to fall back in love with her best friend , Hannah. A camping trip to the Poconos, Molly thinks , is just what is needed , some togetherness forced upon both Mervin and Hannah.  However, Molly seems to lose all control . Her plans quickly go awry. It seems the Leon and Molly might be falling for each other instead!!  Will Molly learn to give up her control to follow God's plan?? It may be different from her own! Can she handle letting God control her???

The plot was somewhat slowly paced, however , I loved the book.  It was a super read and although slow, I totally enjoyed the descriptions  of the characters and the setting. It enabled me to walk in their shoes for a short time. The plot line exhibited the power of God to handle the twists and turns of life. Even when we would rather not listen to Him, His direction is shown and available for us to follow.

 A great read!! Don't miss it!

This book was supplied by the author and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Patrick Craig Does It Again!! He has written another Amish novel, with a different twist!!

"Jenny's Choice"

  By Patrick Craig

When a parcel  arrives at my door, I am in a state of excitement and anticipation, especially, if I know that it is a book!!!  I am immediately at that mailbox , ripping open the package, and ...... then..... I disappear from the world of reality!  When "Jenny's Choice" arrived on my doorstep, it once again "made my day"!  I must say, though, that there was one big disappointment!!! This is book three of Patrick's Apple Creek Dream Series!! It is now ending!! When you find a good read, you want it to go on forever, thus, I felt a very real sense of loss. My friends who live within these pages will be gone!!  The series is now over!!! BUT I have great faith, that Patrick will write another series in which I can become engrossed.

Can a new mother ever recover from a tragic  loss?? That question plagued me from the first chapter 0f this book. The main character, Jenny and her husband Jonathan have settled in Paradise, PA ( I must say my favorite vacation spot) to raise their young daughter Rachel in the simplicity of an Amish community.

Tragedy strikes! Jenny must do what she feels is best for Rachel- and that seems to be that she has to leave her beloved farm and return to be with her parents in Apple Creek, Ohio. 

Jenny, courageously, works through her grief and despair. It is not an easy road. You feel her heartaches and cry with her . She becomes your best friend, or sister, who you would love to hug, pray with, and say, "It is going to be alright."  Jenny does one thing that the Amish faith frowns upon. She loves to write, journals, stories, articles!! BUT , isn't that worldly???? Well, in the eyes of a particular bishop, it certainly is! A handsome young publisher discovers her work and encourages her to make use of her great talents. Jenny finds herself in a quandry- can she remain Amish when she meets worldly success??? Can she follow her heart, when a romance begins to bloom????  Jenny must ask herself how far she is willing to go to follow her dreams. Is publishing and a new relationship part of God's  plan??  Is she willing to leave her faith to move ahead in her desires??

The plot was full of twists and turns. If you like the unexpected to occur in books, then this is the book for you! Just when you think you have Jenny's life worked out, another complication is thrown in!  

Patrick Craig has outdone himself on this last book of his series!! Definitely , a five star book!

NOW, I am eagerly await to see what this author comes up with for his next series!! It will be a great surprise, I am sure!!

This book was supplied by the author and Harvest House in exchange for a fair and 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...