25 Book Reviews

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Jane Austen Tale Related in Amish Style! A Very Special Blog Post! A Note from the Author, Herself!!

                     "The Matchmaker"

                         By Sarah Price

Hi Karla,
Thank you so much for inviting me to share a little bit about myself on your blog. I’ve been writing for almost forty years, starting when I was just a little girl when I would write stories about gnomes in little notebooks (which I still have!). I gravitated to writing about the Amish genre because my heritage is Anabaptist and I find the Plain culture fascinating.
Unfortunately, there is often a misconception that Amish fiction books are poorly written and just formula romance. And then there is often a problem concerning many authors’ accuracy of the portrayal of Amish. Many authors do not have first-hand experience with the Amish or readers are basing what they know on “reality” shows.
My books, however, do bring authentic experiences to the readers as I’ve been directly involved for my entire life with Mennonites (my father’s side of the family) and the Amish (I even lived on a farm!). In regard to my writing style, I focus on methods of absorbing the reader into the story to make them feel as if they are actually there. And character development is my favorite part of the writing process.
Earlier this month, The Matchmaker, the second book in my Amish Classics series, was released. It is the retelling of Jane Austen’s classic book, Emma. Based in an Amish setting, my Emma follows the same trials and tribulations of Jane Austen’s Emma. She thinks a little too highly of herself and those around her. She is quite happy to express her opinions, often when she shouldn’t. Personally, I love Emma as a character because she is so real. Let’s face it…she’s flawed. Aren’t we all? But her flaws get her into a few situations that will make the reader chuckle. That’s the best part of retelling Jane Austen’s novels: She had the greatest characters!
Many of my regular readers tend to stick to just the Amish genre. I often hear that it’s because these books are clean and godly. However, so are the classics. By combining the Amish genre with classic storylines, I’m hoping to enlighten readers so that they might consider other genres, such as the classics, for their TBR pile! I want to reassure them that it’s all right to explore Christian books, too. There are so many great books outside of the Amish genre that will open up an entire world to readers, and also might help them differentiate between well-written books and those that are not.

If you would like to learn more about The Matchmaker and visit other tour stops here is the link to take you to the Blog Tour List.

The Preiss family emigrated from Europe in 1705, settling in Pennsylvania as the area's first wave of Mennonite families. Sarah Price has always respected and honored her ancestors through exploration and research about her family history and their religion. At nineteen, she befriended an Amish family and lived on their farm throughout the years.
As a masterful storyteller, Sarah Price prides herself on presenting an authentic Amish experience for her readers. Many of her stories are based on actual people she has met and her own experiences living among the Amish over the years. Sarah now resides in Morris County, New Jersey with her family.
While she started out as an Indie author, she signed on with Realms, an imprint of Charisma House and Waterfall Press, an imprint of Brilliance Publishing. Her first book, First Impressions: An Amish Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was released in May 2014.
Get the latest news about Sarah Price on Facebook, Twitter, and sarahpriceauthor.com.

Please use these buy links: Amazon / B&N / Christianbook.com

I thought that I had read the best Sarah Price book ever, when I read "First Impressions", however , I was mistaken! I believe this new book is THE best, well, until she writes another new one! This author has a very special and different talent. She can remake a Jane Austen tale into one with an Amish setting and Amish characters.  Who else could possibly take "Pride and Prejudice" and come up with a believable Amish tale? Now, once again Sarah has succeeded in retelling "Emma" in this new creation, "The Matchmaker". A perfect setting and a very different look at Amish life!! 

The main character, Emma, was one who made me angry, made me chuckle, irritated me beyond belief, all in one chapter with her judgmental attitude. At the beginning of the book, I just wanted to shake some sense into this young lady!!  She appeared to be a meddling busy body, always involved in someone else's love life, totally ignoring her own well being and happiness. My opinion did change as I read on in the book, thank goodness, or I would have been up in arms throughout the whole story. To me, a good book  is one that enables me to identify with at least one character. This book met my qualifications with no problem. Gideon, a close friend of Emma's dad, was one of the few people who could put her in her place and make her think. He was kind, well meaning and showed his care for her by stepping and stopping her from making some REALLY big mistakes. Sarah`s ability to picture and understand the characters is outstanding. I became part of this story!!

The plot moved quickly with unexpected twists and turns withing every chapter. It was believable  and realistic. It makes you realize that just because someone lives in an Amish community does not mean that they are exempt from the problems of everyday life. How they deal with them may be different but these individuals are human too. They make mistakes as do we!

I highly recommend this book to those who are tired of the ordinary, predictable Amish genre. Sarah Price is a writer with great imagination and puts her own twists in her creations.

Definitely a five star book!

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Life Following Tragedy!

        "Deadly Echoes"
          By Nancy Mehl

For Nancy's followers, this book will be NO surprise! It is every bit as captivating as her previous novels. "Deadly Echoes" is the second in her newest series, "Finding Sanctuary", following "Gathering Shadows".  It can be read as a stand alone but I would highly recommend you read the first book so that you become more familiar with the characters. Nancy writes some of the best Mennonite mysteries!! They do a super job of making your heart throb with tension and keeping you up late at night! You just can NOT put the book down, once you begin reading. 

Sarah Miller seems to have found some peace in her life, following a horrible past. She is happy in her teaching job in the peaceful Mennonite  town of Sanctuary. Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting a niece who she had no knowledge of, was unhappily interrupted by Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason, who has to inform her that her sister has been killed. 

To Sarah's dismay, this death is eerily similar to the murder of her parents. Paul becomes involved, at Sarah's request, to dig deeply into the murders that the police had dismissed as burglaries gone wrong. Paul and Sarah are drawn together and their feelings grow as the investigation uncovers layers of lies, almost twenty years old. As they get closer to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide, it becomes dangerous, in fact life threatening!  The last remaining of the Miller family is about to come to a quick end if the mystery is not solved!! 

The characters are well developed and realistic. I easily was able to identify with  Sarah. That just happens to be my qualification of a good book! I must be able to put myself in the character's position and feel her moods. The fears, doubts, challenges  and unhappiness were felt deeply as the story progressed. 
The romance that begins gives you a positive feel when all else seems to be going wrong. 

This book is a cliffhanger, sit on the edge of your seat kind ! There are so many twists and turns in the plot that at times, I just had to sit back and think through the events that were occurring . Even then, I was completely confused and just had to keep reading until I found some answers to the mystery. Just when I would think I had a solved crime, another event would occur that would have me puzzled once again. It is a story of how faith and devotion to God can help heal even the brokenhearted. Not a preachy book, but one which certainly makes us think about the power of God and how he gives us second chances, those which can make the echoes of the past become quieter.

The echoes of the past just kept coming through, even when the reader wished that they would stop. This is truly a mystery that you do not want to miss. 

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

A Handsome Firefighter to the Rescue!! But The Lady Does NOT Want Anyone to Fight HER Battles!!

"The Dandelion Field"

  By Katheryn Springer


This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn't need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine's dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter's youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that's compromised when Raine reveals she's pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend's son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: "The baby is mine."

Knowing gossip of Raine's pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin's reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin's feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1yGTVen

My Thoughts: 

The cover of this book drew my attention immediately, combined with the title. I wondered what on earth a field of dandelions could have to do with a firefighter and  a single mom, Gin and her son, Cody. As I don't want to spoil this connection for readers,  I won't give any more info on this, but I must say it is heart wrenching and so meaningful. There is no other word for this book but CAPTIVATING! I was engrossed in the story from the first page and could not put this book down until I finished.

The characters become very real to you within minutes of beginning to read. Raine, a young, lonely girl whose dad walked out, is in a strange town, needy and hungry for someone who will be kind to her. She and her mom do the best they can in the circumstances, but as a teen, Raine is dissatisfied and unhappy. You just want to open your arms and give her a big hug, telling her that it will be alright. Cody, is a young man, with a similar problem. His dad lost his life after a tragic accident. Although you feel his loss, he does have a mom who has been successful in providing for him, as well as a role model , Dan. The author has done an excellent job in making you feel this hurt and loss. A somewhat delicate subject is dealt with in such a compassionate way. You feel the pain and confusion when Raine reveals her pregnancy. As a parent of a young person, I could relate easily.  You can see the heart of each character as well as watch them grow in their faith.

The plot moved quickly as twists and turns evolved in each chapter. A somewhat unwanted romance develops, as this story proceeds. I cannot say that this novel is a cliffhanger, however it allows you to feel deeply as you read and contemplate how God can bring beauty from the most dreaded situations. It is truly a story of hope. 

Kathryn Springer has successfully written a book that will touch your inner being. There is hope in the darkest of moments of our lives. It is our choice of how to use it. Can we put our faith in God's plan? Can we allow him to do His will?

Definitely, a five star book!! I am looking forward to reading more by this author. 

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

About the author: 
Kathryn Springer is a USA Today bestselling author. She grew up in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child she spent many hours sitting at her mother's typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books --- which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own. Kathryn has written nineteen books with close to two million copies sold. She lives with her husband and three children in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Find Kathryn online: websiteFacebook

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

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Every Quilt Has A Story!

     "A Stitch in Crime"
        By Cathy Elliot

Stories based on quilts are always among my favorites. Quilts tell us stories, some of love and some of loss. The "Quilts of Love" series, releasing a new book each month, has been a highlight for me. The novels vary so much , some mystery, contemporary, historical as well as romance thrown in. These books draw you into the lives of endearing , sometimes quirky characters , leaving you touched by their lives.

About the book: 

Thea's first quilt show is coming apart at the seams!
Thea James has accepted an assignment as co-chairperson for Larkindale's first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she's already feeling frayed when things start to unravel.
Mary-Alice Wentworth, a much-loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea's dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick-off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds?
When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears,
Larkindale's reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town's investment in the quilt show before Mary-Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.

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

The characters in this book were so realistic and well developed that I immediately became engrossed in their lives. Their troubles, disappointments, joys and challenges became mine! Thea's frustrations were so real to me that I became rather annoyed at those who stood in her way. Mary-Alice was a sweet, rather confused elderly lady who was quirky and oh, so lovable. 

The plot moved quickly and had just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the reader glued to the page. Of course , the mystery of the family quilt, yet to be unveiled to the public was the main attraction in the story. But, the reader is kept guessing to its importance and meaning until the very last page of the book. If you are looking for a bloody, gruesome mystery, this book is NOT for you! It is a clean, somewhat quirky mystery, with a wholesome theme. It is a Christian mystery, without the gore that many books have.

I would recommend this book to all lovers of the Quilts of Love Series. It is an enjoyable read, as are all of the books in the series. 

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

About the Author: 

Author and speaker Cathy Elliot nourishes her night-owl habit by creating cozy mysteries and more on her trusty laptop in Anderson, California. Like the protagonist in her new mystery, Cathy is an avid quilter. Besides collecting (too much) cool fabric, she also enjoys hunting for antique treasures.

Connect with Cathy online: websiteFacebook

To read more reviews on this book, click on : http://litfusegroup.com/author/celliott

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Winners Are Announced!!

The winner of the draw for " An Amish Cradle" is Loretta!! Unfortunately she did not leave me a contact email or last name. If this is you, please send me a message! Beverly Lytle and Mary Ellen Ashenfelder win the consolation prizes , a luggage tag and pen, compliments of Amy! 

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...