25 Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Irene Hannon Writes Another Winning Book!

                         "One Perfect Spring"                        
                            By Irene Hannon

I always look forward to a new book by this author, as I KNOW it will be a fast paced tale, that  compels me to read it at once and not put it down until the last page has been read. This book was no exception !

Claire Summers, an independent, single mom is doing her best to make the best of the mess that confronted her life. Workaholic, Keith Watson, has only one interest- his job, UNTIL a letter from Claire's eleven year old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything.  As the executive assistant to a philanthropic business  man, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations, however this letter stands out , in that NO money is being requested. All this young girl desires, is for her neighbor to find her long lost son, and she is unable to do it by herself. She needs his help! Although Keith is not eager to comply with these wishes. he digs into this assignment with his usual results oriented style. Little does he realize, how involved he will become with Claire and how "unusual" the results will be. Who would ever think that one child's desire would bring love and hope to so many lives???  including his own!!

 The characters in this book had me intrigued from the first chapter. They were realistically described in such a way, that I immediately could feel their joys, hurts, pain and confusion.  Their challenges became mine and I became a cheerleader for them in tough times. 

The plot twists and has so many unexpected turns that at times, I had to stop and think! How is this going to end?? Where is this leading??

All in all, this book is a tenderhearted story that proves to us that life can bloom after the harshest season!! It truly is a story of miracles resulting from faith.

Definitely a five star book!!

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

Don't Let Your Past Keep You from a Full Future!

"Lost and Found"
  By Sarah Jakes

This autobiography deals with a young girl's challenges and what can happen if you do not listen to and wait for God's plan for your life.

Sarah Jakes, daughter of famous Bishop T.D. Jakes, one of the influential megachurch pastors in the nation, faces all of the trials and tribulations that are encountered in today's world. They are NOT pleasant, NOT filled with happiness and NOT what our Christian parents want for us. Sarah, like all teens, dreamed of a life full of love, laughter, and happy endings. But her dreams are quickly shattered, when she finds herself pregnant at the young age of thirteen, compounded by her father's reputation of being a great Christian pastor. 

Sarah found herself very alone, not only as a preacher's kid, but as a teen mom. She was shunned at school, and gossiped about at church. She seemed to have nowhere to go !! Who would love her just for herself, not condemn her for all the mistakes she had made???  A few year's later, her fairy tale wedding ended in devastating hurt and rejection. Once again, she is tempted to let pain dictate her future.

Instead, Sarah suddenly discovers a God , who she had given up on, but HE had not given up on her! God has a plan for Sarah, on in which He turns her deepest pain into His perfection.

This book is a memoir meant to give hope to the lost and troubled, proof that you can be found, irregardless of the circumstances.

This book was well written and definitely has a purpose. I found it a bit slow moving and hard to get through, perhaps due to the fact that I have never experienced these particular roadblocks in my life. Yes, I have had others, but I think to fully enjoy and use this book to its purpose, you must have something in common with Sarah. 

To those that are seeking answers in their lives, this book could be a valuable resource. 

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

A Sweet Contemporary Romance!!

                                       "Meant to be Mine"
                            By Becky Wade

If you are looking for an easy summer read, with a feisty main character, romance, and even some humor, look no farther. You will truly enjoy it. This book was a pleasure to read, delightful tale and yes, had some very real , unexpected problems. Becky Wade touched on some delicate subjects, gambling, drinking, taking prescription drugs for reasons other than the intended use, and having a girlfriend when legally married to another woman. However, this was done in a very appropriate manner and was very much part of the storyline. As a Christian, I did not find it offensive or inappropriate. These are very much a part of lives in our world and I loved how they were challenges for these young people to overcome. Only with God's help can you achieve success. and this was clearly the answer.

Ty Porter and Celia Park were an item in high school, in Celia's mind, although not reciprocated by Ty. When they meet again after college, the magnetic pull is even stronger than before. This time, Ty seems to feel the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance results in a very quick decision to be married in a Las Vegas wedding chapel. 

The following morning, they wake not only to a marriage certificate but to cold reality- Celia is ready to be Ty's wife, however Ty is far from ready for this relationship! He is a professional bull rider and has no plans to settle down with this hometown girl. Living on the road is his life and he loves it!

The story jumps five and a half years ahead. Celia has devoted her life, forgetting her dreams, so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or, at least, he believed he had, until he once again meets up with Celia and into the face of a child he never knew he had. 

Can Celia forgive Ty for the past? Can Ty sacrifice his current lifestyle to win back his lovely wife and gain a sweet daughter???

The well developed plot moves ahead quickly, with many twists and turns. Becky Wade is a champion at adding the unexpected to complicate the situation. She does deal with sensitive topics for Christians, but does so in a very real way, showing that God can win in all paths of life. 

I fell in love with Celia in the first chapter and fought her battles alongside her. She was so easy to identify with, a strong, young mom, with roadblocks appearing in every chapter of her life. Her intense feelings for Ty made me dislike him and to just want him to go away!!! A good book is one in which I can identify with the characters and I sure did it!!!

Congratulations, Becky!! A great book, not what I expected, but that is exactly why I loved it!

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Hit By Shelley Shepard Gray!!


By Shelley Shepard Gray 

About the book: 

Thankful, Book Two in the Return to Sugarcreek series
New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray captures the beauty, devotion, and warmth of Amish life in this engaging tale of family, commitment, trust, and love set in the beloved community of Sugarcreek.
Christina Kempf has always known that God chose Aden Reese to be her husband. As children, he was there to save her when she fell through the ice, and he's been by her side ever since. After his parents died in a car accident ten years ago, the Kempfs raised Aden as one of their own, and everyone sees Aden and Christina as brother and sister. But Christina has never given up hope that Aden will one day ask her to be his wife.
Aden always planned to court Christina. But losing his mother and father changed everything---except his love for her. Her parents generously welcomed him into their home and treated him like a son. He can't betray their kindness by admitting his feelings for the girl who is like a sister . . . yet so much more.
Pressured by her parents to court, Christina begins to accept the attentions of Sugarcreek's young men, and now, Aden must make a choice. Will he stand by and watch the love of his life slip away? Or will he risk losing the love and trust of the family he holds dear to tell Christina how he truly feels?
Thankful includes a P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading.

About the author: Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Connect with Shelley: websiteFacebook

My Opinion of this book:

I have thoroughly enjoyed EVERY book written by Shelley Shepard Gray, and this book was no exception. Upon picking it up from my mailbox, I had this  compelling urge to read it immediately!! However, that was not to be, as we were preparing for a vacation in Lancaster County, PA. BUT, I did read the novel, while in Amish country. How appropriate to hear the horses and buggies travelling down the road, as I read this Amish tale.

Right from the first chapter, I was intrigued with the main characters. They had very real problems that presented  challenges that  seemed to be insurmountable in the Amish faith.  Christina became a friend who I wanted to enfold in my arms and assure that everything would work out just fine, if she waited for God to work on His plan for her life. Aden proves to be an honest, caring individual who any girl would love to have for her partner in life. But was that to ever to be possible???  Would he wait for that still, quiet voice?  This couple had a very different and yes, difficult relationship. Could they overcome the odds?

The plot was well developed and had just the right amount of suspense alongside the growing romance to keep the reader interested. The topic of adoption and caring for an orphan was dealt with in a sensitive, realistic manner. Being thankful for what you have and are given is the theme throughout the book. Also addressed, is the topic of fostering a child of a different race. These twists and turns in the plot really made me think of all I have and should be thankful for. We all need to stop and think of how blessed we really are!!

Definitely a five star book!! Book Two of the "Return to Sugarcreek" Series is one that you do not want to miss. Totally different slant on events in the Amish community!

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

To read other reviews of this book;  http://litfusegroup.com/author/sgray

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/wAcFF 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beverly Lewis welcomes us back to Hickory Hollow. PA !

   "The Last Bride"
  By Beverly Lewis

As I picked up this book to begin reading, I felt a sense of regret and loss. It is the last of the Hickory Hollow Series. Each book was a stand alone, although, they were bound together through the community and the faith. This series was a hit with me immediately, as it dealt with things rarely addressed in the Amish fiction genre, problems, events , that are very real . The Amish people are not exempt from these problems, however how they are dealt with, is unique.

Tessie Miller, the main character, is the last of the five daughters of Old Order Amish parents. She has her heart set on marrying the love of her life, Marcus King. BUT... a problem arises! Her Daad violently opposes this match. The puzzling refusal to allow them to court confuses this young couple, and as all young people seem to do, make them even more determined to tie the knot.

With a bit of thought, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, returning to Hickory Hollow to live a secret life. They remain single, in the eyes of their community, each living apart, thinking that in time Tessie's parents will come around to their way of thinking and approve the marriage. But, the unthinkable happens, and Tessie faces an almost certain censure of the Amish community. Can she ever find a reason for hope? Will she allow God to take over and comfort her? 

I do love the Amish genre, but I must admit that I often tire of the trend of the same kind of problems occurring over and over again. This book grabbed my attention immediately because it was very different from the norm. Beverly deals with a subject about which many are unaware. The health issues that face the sect as a result of inter-marriage are addressed in an sensitive, however, realistic manner. In the Amish community, due to families remaining in the faith and continuing to live in the same area, the result is in genetic problems with offspring. Many handicapped children appear due to relatives marrying others in the family. I must say that this made me really think of the Amish community and how they would deal with this kind of problem. 

The plot was very well developed and drew my attention away from my surroundings. I became part of the Amish world! The twists and turns glued me to my chair, eager to read the next chapter. 

When I can identify with at least one character in a book, I can honestly say it is a GREAT book. Beverly's book met my criteria without a doubt. I felt Tessie's confusion, pain, fears and challenges. Her faith and dedication to doing the right thing made her a wonderful Christian girl. 

I am sorry to see this series end, however, I am sure that Beverly Lewis will present us with another winning book before too long.

A five star book!! 

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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Fantastic Mennonite Mystery

                                         "Gathering Shadows"
              By Nancy Mehl

I must admit that I am a book addict!!! I just love all different genres of books! But every once in a while, you come across a certain novel that just jumps out at you and grabs your attention and won't let you escape its grasp, not even for food or sleep!! "Gathering Shadows" did this to me. I had previously read Nancy's series, "Road to Kingdom" and enjoyed it immensely, but this book even topped those books! A true mystery with just the right amount of romance! The first page of "Gathering Shadows" grabbed my attention and I could NOT put this book down. A nail biter, sit on the edge of your seat kind of mystery! A Mennonite mystery, with Christian values apparent throughout the story.

The main character, Wynter Evans is a young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, with a bright future awaiting her. However, a tragedy in her past, distracts her from her job. Her brother suddenly disappeared nine years ago. This has haunted her, as he was never found and the mystery never solved.  Wynter, unexpectedly comes across a photo of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him and simply can't pass up the chance to track him down. Using research as her cover, she sets out with the station's photographer to the place where the photo was taken, the small, strange town of Sanctuary.

Upon arriving in the town, EVERYONE knew she was there!! Meeting the town's young mayor, Rueben King, could be the best thing in Wynter's quest. Together, they begin to uncover secrets- hidden secrets that could destroy lives of those in Sanctuary if made public. Wynter discovers that her family's past hides in the shadows. SOMEONE will stop at nothing to  keep the answers she is  searching for hidden for ever- even her life!!

The characters drew me into the plot immediately. I felt their every fear, displeasure, intrigue and also joys. They became real people to me, with very real problems, my friends, with whom I could easily identify. 

There were many twists and turns throughout that kept me glued to my chair with book in hand. Around every corner was a new mystery or event that kept me guessing until the final chapter. Nancy Mehl does an outstanding  job of keeping you focused on the main plot, while you nervously bite your nails, wondering what will take place next. 
A truly intriguing book, one that would appeal to ALL!!

A five star book!! I cannot wait for Book two in the new series, "Finding Sanctuary".

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Quilts of Love Series produces another winning novel!

"A Promise in Pieces"
  By Emily Wierenga

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. TheQuilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: A baby quilt touches many hearts as it travels from family-to-family and through generations.
After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women's Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier's last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.
Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she's not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier's baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.
Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child's name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattie---and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt---years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.

If you are searching for a well written book that will touch your innermost soul, this is the book for you. We, as humans, don’t truly realize how a simple gift and a simple promise can change a life forever. This comes about by a caring nurse and a small quilt. Emily’s story is told in the first person, which often is not my favorite. However, upon reading the first chapter, I was hooked!! She used rich language along side fluidity of the plot. The events just flowed into one another with ease, often shocking or surprising me. Intertwining subplots were woven , with meaning and purpose.
I was not prepared to choose Clara as a favorite character, when I began reading, however, once again, I was surprised!! She became an individual with determination, despite hard times, someone who cared very deeply for others and did not just think of what she could do to be helpful, she acted upon it. This not only was valuable to others who were hurting, but to herself as well. I became extremely emotionally involved in this book, the characters, and in their lives. It made me think: Have I ever done anything that is even close to making a difference to others, as Clara did??? I had to take this to heart. Maybe I should dig deeper within myself to discover how I could let God work in me, to be a servant to others.
I loved this book!! Definitely a five star book!!

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Lovewebsite.

About the Author: Emily Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier, and the author of Save My Children(Castle Quay Books, 2008), Chasing Silhouettes (Ampelon Publishing, 2012) and Mom in the Mirror(Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Emily resides in Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.

Learn more about Emily at: http://www.emilywierenga.com

To read other reviews of this book: http://litfusegroup.com/author/EWierenga

This book was supplied by Litfuse, 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...