25 Book Reviews

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coming Home to Hope Harbor!

        "Hope Harbor"
     By Irene Hannon

Synopsis:  Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

Fan favorite Irene Hannon brings a whole new cast of characters to life in a charming Oregon seaside village. Emotional and heartwarming, this story invites readers to come home to Hope Harbor, where love and hope bloom--and hearts heal.

My Thoughts:  Irene Hannon has become one of my favorite authors. Her storytelling is outstanding in its ability to grab the reader's interest on the first page and hold one captive until the last page is read!!

 Life goes on around you, as you immerse yourself in the complicated lives of the characters. The main character, Tracy Campbell is dedicated to keeping the cranberry farm,the  family business for three generations, going, even though the times are rough and obstacles constantly confront  her attempts. She is a very serious, intense young lady who strives to keep the floundering cranberry farm afloat, even during rough times. She grew up in this farming community, left for a while, however love brought her back home. Tracy is an easy character with whom to identify. The realistic and detailed description makes her one with you, appealing to your deepest emotions . She is suffering from heartache AND a secret. You feel her loneliness and confusion. When Michael appears on the scene, she is resistant to his offers of help as well as his kindness. Her reaction is totally understandable after becoming aware of the past events in her life. 

The plot moves quickly with many unexpected twists and turns at every corner. My attention was captured on the first page and I just could NOT put the book down. It is clearly a romance, however so many challenges, struggles and complications interfere with a smooth progress. 

Hope Harbor is supposed to be the place where hearts heal and love blooms!! But oh, what a struggle to attain those ends!

Definitely a five star book!!  Loved it!! Waiting for the next book !!

This book was supplied by Revell House and Graff Martin Communications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Now available from your local bookseller.

Another Well Crafted Tale by Ann H. Gabhart

      " The Innocent"
      By Ann H. Gabhart

She longs for peace for her land and her heart!! Can she find it in Harmony Hill??

Carlyn Kearney has spent two lonely years not knowing whether to mourn or to hope after she receives word from the Union Army that her husband is missing. The war ends without further word. Now penniless, in debt, and forced from her home, Carlyn seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill, only to discover that they will not allow her to keep her beloved dog, an animal that has been her faithful companion since her husband went off to war. Sheriff Mitchell Brodie has pity on the lovely young woman and agrees to take the dog. Carlyn is just settling into life as a sister in the Shaker village when she receives a devastating letter confirming her worst fears. As she wrestles with whether to commit herself fully to the Shaker life, mysterious deaths begin to occur, and Carlyn comes under suspicion. Can Sheriff Mitchell help her expose the true culprit?

Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart invites fans back to Harmony Hill for a story laced with intrigue, romance, and heart.

I have always had a curiosity about the Shaker faith and their beliefs. After reading many Amish and Mennonite novels, questions arose about the Shakers. They may appear similar in their emphasis on dress, however , after reading several of Ann's books, I was made aware of major differences. This author has researched thoroughly, making the characters, setting and plot believable and realistic. The traditions and way of life are accurately described in such a way that you imagine yourself there. Carolyn becomes a friend with whom it is easy to identify. You feel her every heartache, sorrow and worry. Her problems become your's . I felt her confusion as she attempted to deal with her challenges in her daily life, trying to adapt to the Shaker way of life. 

The plot is realistic and well developed with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader 's attention. I did NOT want to put this book down until I had finished it. The surprising events appeared around every corner. The story moved quickly. You just think you have the problems figured out when another 
blockade appears in the way.

I was very impressed with the accurate and detailed description of the daily life in a Shaker community. This book not only entertained me but educated me as well. Ann, you have taught me many things about a very different faith. This is a book that I highly recommend, definitely worthy of five stars. 

This book was supplied by Revell House and Graff Martin Communications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Now available from your local bookseller.

A Bridal School Adventure!!

      "Refining Fire"
    By Tracie Peterson

Twenty-two-year-old Militine Scott is in training at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle, yet she has no intention of pursuing marriage. What respectable man would have her? But she has found the school provides the perfect opportunity to keep her unsavory past hidden.

Thane Patton, though fun-loving and fiercely loyal to his friends, hides a dark secret, as well. He finds himself drawn to Militine, sensing that she harbors a haunting pain similar to his own.

Will they allow God to make something new and beautiful from the debris of their past?

My Thoughts:
I must admit that historical fiction is not one of my favorite genres, however Tracie's "Brides of Seattle " Series has won me over!! I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the first book, "Steadfast Heart" and this second novel was certainly no disappointment!! Although these books are the first two in a series, each could be read as a stand alone and enjoyed thoroughly. For me, it was a situation of revisiting the friends that I had encountered before. I felt as though I had moved back in time with them and was catching up on what I had missed.

The main characters, Militine and Thane, are realistically and described in such detail that they easily become part of your life. Each has quaint quirks that make them special in their own way. Their past has made them into who they are in the story, not all pleasant or easy. You can easily identify with them and feel their every challenge, worry, as well as successes. I found myself wanting to hug some of the characters and shake others!!

The plot moves quickly and is extremely well developed. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the book, keeping one's eyes glued to the page. Life went on around me as I immersed myself in the rather strange setting of the Bridal School , with unusual characters encountering unusual situations.  I became part of this very different kind of life, sometimes smiling, other times, worrying about the outcome. Just think.... would your parents have sent you to a school to find you a husband???? Maybe they wished to at times, however, it is highly unlikely to have happened. 

This is a Five Star book!! I highly recommend it! 

This book was supplied by Bethany House and Graff Martin Communications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Now available from your local bookseller.

Another Winning Novel from Wanda Brunstetter


"The Lopsided Christmas Cake"
By Wanda Brunstetter

Twins Elma and Thelma agree to bake for the Amish charity auction---then find out they have to do it onstage! They bumble through cooking chaos and create a hilariously imperfect pastry. But it attracts bids---and bachelors. Could a botched Christmas cake really be the key that unlocks romance for the Hochstetler sisters? 

Wanda Brunstetter has been writing fantastic books in the Amish fiction genre for many years. In this new Christmas book, Jean joins her to compose a humorous tale that causes the reader to smile, giggle and yes, even laugh out loud. Many feelings arise as you read this delightful tale that appeals to the romantic side of every one of us. Although the title alone makes  one smile, this adventure has one also  thinking of the ideal romance that all females desire, along with the  challenges one encounters on the path to happiness. 

The idea of single twins sharing their lives and adventures is a very different twist to Amish fiction. This book is definitely NOT your typical Amish tale of boy meets girl, get married, have a family. The desire to marry and have a family could be the thing that divides these two precious ladies. Their two lives have been so alike up to this point. I could easily identify with them and felt their confusion and trials as they attempt to deal with rather unusual situations. They were described so realistically that I felt they were near and dear to me. What lovable and yes, sometimes silly women!!

The plot was very different from the norm. Very simple yet appealing and touched my funny bone!! This book is an easy read but keeps one guessing throughout as you encounter little twists and turns.

Wanda has once again written a winning novel. I would highly recommend this book for a light enjoyable read. A great book to keep one amused during the Christmas season. 

This ebook was supplied by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Great Christmas Read, Inspiring and Intense!!

                                            The Christmas Cradle
                                             By Charlotte Hubbard

Everyone loves a great Christmas story and this one provides the perfect setting and plot. I was totally engaged from the first page!!  The story begins in November presenting us with a unique and very touching holiday surprise. Eighteen year old Lena and her boyfriend are stranded and need a place to stay, just for the night.... or so they think.  Lena, from a very strict family, has been banished from her home and their judgmental beliefs to run away with Josiah and have his babe. Is she doing the right thing?? Even she , wonders at times!!  Meanwhile, Miriam and Ben ,  who just happen to live nearby, are expecting their own miracle baby.  They and the town rally around this young couple to extend a much needed helping hand .

The characters were described in a realistic and truly lovable way. I felt their every trial, disappointment and joy!!  The plot moves quickly and is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Both sets of expectant parents experience troublesome times, shocking tragedies and disappointments, however, the Christian community pulls together to help everyone experience the true meaning of Christmas. I felt an intense sense of joy and happiness at the outcome of this book. In the season of joyous rebirth, a little child will lead them. Two families see their dreams come true, and become one!! A perfect book for the Christmas season!!

Fantastic!! It touched my heart and soul!!

Book was provided by NetGalley 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...