25 Book Reviews

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lynette Sowell's Second Book in Her Pinecraft Series is ANOTHER Winner!!

"A Path Made Plain"
  By Lynette Sowell

When one thinks of Amish fiction, the usual setting is in Pennsylvania, Indiana or Ohio, CERTAINLY not in the sunny state of Florida. Lynette's first book in this series, "Seasons of Pinecraft", entitled "A Season of Change" totally captivated me and I must admit, this second one did the same! I absolutely loved the location! Knowing that Pinecraft is a real place where many Amish and Mennonites vacation, as well as some who are permanent residents, made the story very real to me.  The setting is one that I easily picture in my mind.

The main character, Betsy Yoder, has been totally devastated. She is heartbroken after being left by a man who also left the Order to marry someone else. Betsy finds solace in her talent of baking, owning a successful bakery in the village of Pinecraft. She offers the most delicious desserts from her Amish heritage. She has been successful in finding contentment  in her hard working life and so is totally shocked when some feelings appear involving the new baker, Thaddeus Zook, a former Amish man. He is NOT one to whom she should be attracted. He has a wild streak and a great liking for leather and motorcycles!!

Thaddeus has NO desire to rejoin the Amish community. He is only in Pinecraft , due to a personal need of refuge from an adversary attempting to track him down. He tries desperately to fight the growing attraction that he feels for Betsy, as he realizes that she has an intense devotion to her faith and family, while he cherishes his freedom.

Can Thaddeus and Betsy meet on a commmon ground?? Does God have a plan to combine their lives ?? How will God satisfy the needs and desires of this young couple??

Lynette has a special talent in describing her characters in a realistic way. They become so important to the reader that one wishes to be able to give advice, pray with them, and at times, just give them a big hug.  You feel their confusion, challenges, heartaches and joys. 

The plot moves quickly and successfully involves both mystery and romance, while keeping us in the Amish genre.  Just as I would think I had figured out some answers, a new twist or turn would appear in the next chapter.  This book holds one's attention from beginning to end!! In fact, I had great difficulty putting it down to deal with daily life!! It is truly a sit on the edge of your seat type of book.

I am looking forward to the next in the series!! 
This book is a five star!! I LOVE it , Lynette. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to review it. 

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

A Brand New Amish Mystery by Popular Author, Vannetta Chapman!

                                                   "Murder Tightly Knit"
                  By Vannetta Chapman

What a fantastic surprise to receive in my mailbox!! As I unwrapped this book, the cover immediately grabbed my attention! So different, so appealing, I could hardly wait to begin reading!! Usually, my attention is not drawn as much to the cover as to the author's name and title, however, this book has a highly attractive and appealing picture. Combined with the title, who wouldn't be attracted ???

Vannetta has combined two of my favorite genres, mystery and Amish. This book, "Murder Tightly Knit" is the second in "The Amish Village Mystery Series"  and is every bit as enthralling as the first, ""Murder Simply Brewed".

The characters drew me into the story from the first page. Hannah Troyer knew that something was amiss at The Cat's Meow Yarn Shop in the little town where the Amish and Englisch mingle every day. It is normally a nice quiet, touristy Artisan Village where people come to enjoy a cup of coffee, a delicious meal and shopping for crafts. It is the last place that you would expect to be involved with a grisly murder. The Cat's Meow has been closing at strange times, with the manager, Mary who is normally calm and dependable, disappearing without a word to her friends.  An Englisch man has been observed loitering in the back of the story, raising a few suspicions.

Now, in the small town of Middlebury, Indian, a young man, Owen has been discovered dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail, a path leading toward the village. The clues are scarce. One of the few leads are to The Cat's Meow, one that is just not understandable to Mary's good friends. How could she ever be involved??? A sweet lady who is dedicated to the Amish faith !!

This murder becomes complicated as strange clues appear. The FBI are called in . However, Hannah and the village manager, Amber are in no mood to wait for them to figure out the mystery, what they already know, no one from the Amish Village killed Owen. Amber and Hannah need to work quickly to restore the harmony back to the Amish community, Who killed Owen??? Certainly, not one of their own!!! What secrets will the FBI discover???

This story started off with a bang on the very first page and the mystery and whodunit feeling continued until reading the last page. What appears to be a simple murder, turns into a complicated plot full of unexpected twists and turns. There was nothing SIMPLE about this mystery!!  Unusual government involvement turned up totally unexpected complications! Just when I thought  that I had all the answers, silly me, there would be a highly detailed clue, one that was a total shock!! 
This book is definitely not one to read if you have jobs to do around the house. You just wont get them done!! I could not put it down, much to my husband's dismay, particularly at mealtime!! 

The characters became part of me . I wanted to join them in their search for the clues. At times, I found myself so worried about them that I must admit, they became my best friends. They were active within me, talking to me as I read! Yes, sounds odd, but that is how highly involved I was in the plot and these wonderful people. 

Vannetta has done it again!! She has written a five star book!! I can hardly wait for the next!!

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Brand New Author to Explore!

"The Journey Home"
    By Hope Kesler

Amish fiction just happens to be one of my favorite genres, however , this author is brand new to me, as she is to many others. As this book was offered to me by Hope, herself , to read and review, I wondered what kind of book I would encounter. It is a novella, short, but would it appeal to my liking??? This really seemed like a silly question, once I started reading this book!

Since I do read a LOT of Amish fiction, I am familiar with common themes and settings. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Hope Kesler wrote from a perspective quite different from the norm. It really appealed to my interest, from the first page. The only real negative thought while I was reading, was that this book is just WAY too short!

Birdie, the main character, was brought up Amish, however, her personality is quite different from what you expect from an Amish young lady. She is far from submissive and definitely has a mind of her own, keeping her feelings NO secrets from friends and family. The relationship that Birdie has with her father is not one that is kind or desirable. Although he is a deacon in the church, quite a honored position, he actually lied to get her to return home to take care of her ailing mother. Faith describes these characters in such a realistic manner that early in the book, they become part of you. There were times when I just wanted to shake Birdie's dad and shout at him. NO, it isn't very Christian like, but he greatly disturbed me by his cruel attitude toward his sick wife and kind daughter. 
It has been kept a secret from the community that Birdie was living in the Englische world. In fact, her father lied, so as to not shame himself .
Caleb appears in the story and brings with him the true kindness that is generally part of the Amish faith. He and Birdie find themselves attracted to one another. BUT.... does Birdie wish to return to her Amish roots?? Would Caleb,who is new to the community, but finding a place in his comfort zone, ever leave his new job and home, for a woman???  
The message is clearly laid out in this book. The Amish are not exempt from problems that everyone else encounters. The plot was well developed, with the common theme throughout- people in all faiths can make mistakes and have battles within.

My desire is that this author continues to write and PLEASE write longer books!!! I thoroughly enjoyed this one!!

This ebook was received from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sarah Price Writes a Very Different Kind of Book!!

"Plain and Simple Traditions"
"Amish and Mennonite Holidays"

           By Sarah Price

I have read many of Sarah's books and each is written in an appealing style, but I must say that EACH and EVERY one is a complete surprise. Yes, she is indeed a talented author, but she just keeps me on the edge of my seat, wondering the topic of her newest book!! You just never know!!!

This book is certainly unique and one that Sarah's personality shines through. The book portrays her love and understanding of both the Amish and Mennonite communities. Since my background also hails from the Mennonites, I am always aware of inaccuracies in many books.  They may not bother other readers, but to me , they are important! I am happy to say this was not the case with this seasonal book.

 Sarah manages to do a good job of combining personal stories and interesting tidbits about the lives and celebrations of these two conservative, religious communities. Included in the book, are delicious recipes that have been around for years, tested and true! The kind of food that is filling, easy to prepare and basically "comfort food".  I believe that the simple recipes using everyday things usually kept in our cupboards, actually reflects the simple lifestyles of these people, often known as the Plain People.

This book is one which would appeal to those who are just being introduced to The Plain Communities, as well as those of us who already entranced by their importance of family, keeping to their beliefs and heritage in spite of the world around them . Their strong beliefs that have kept them going for centuries are still being practised. What does this all tell us?? God is great and good to those who put their faith in Him. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Some have said they would like more details about the personal lives of the Amish and Mennonites. Sarah has given you a taste of it and to further understand, you can simply do some research OR as I do, read some of Sarah's Amish Fiction books. In them, she gives much info about the everyday life.

This ebook was received from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"What is the secret that could shipwreck both of their lives????"

            "Love Unexpected"
             By Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund truly writes from the heart and soul.  I have read her award winning books, "Captured by Love"and "The Preacher's Bride"  and did not believe that any other book could be better!! Just shows what I know!! "Love Unexpected" takes us to a totally different setting with very different characters. 
All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home but when her steamboat sinks near Presque Isle, she is once again left destitute with nowhere to lay her head. A very unlikely solution appears. Patrick , the lighthouse keeper , has just lost his wife and is having great difficulty caring for his child as well as doing his job. A travelling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might  just be the answer to each other's problem. A very hasty marriage takes place between the two of them and Emma finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this very handsome but strangely quiet gentleman. Nothing in Emma's aimless life has prepared her for motherhood, parenting a toddler and managing a rather unique household. 

Emma soon has some suspicians! Patrick appears to be hiding something from her and then she hears a very disturbing rumor abouth the circumstances surrounding his former wife's death. Her great desires for a home and family could end up in disaster, leaving her once again in dire straits!! Can Patrick and Emma solve their problems, allowing God to work out His plans for this little family???

The setting of this book appealed to me immediately. Upon reading the first page, you are thrown into a very different place, with strange and unusual things happening. There is NO way that you can stop reading , without finding out more. This book grabs your interest and has you on the edge of your seat until you read the very last page. 

The characters are realistic and so well described that they become part of you. You feel their every hurt, desire, joy and challenge. I just wanted so much to put my arms around Emma telling her that she would be just fine.  Patrick , although a frustrating character, with a very different personality , appealed to your sympathy at once. His past problems made him into what he was, sincere, but leery of the good nature of others. He sure did have his reasons.  The toddler was one who you wanted to pick up , cuddle and reassure that all would be well.  Jody certainly has a strength in her description of characters, and getting them involved in your life. 

The plot is one that is puzzling and keeps you guessing. Just when you think you have the mystery solved another twist or turn in the plot occurs to confuse you again. I spent many several late nights reading, as I just could not turn out the light until I knew all was well in Emma's world.

A five star book!!

"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".

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...