25 Book Reviews

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Beginning Author!! Evidence of more good things to come!

        "New Beginnings"
            By Pamela Jo


Upon her return from her best friend Charlie's wedding, Victoria found that the beautiful city of Chicago had never seemed emptier and neither had her soul. She realized she was surrounded by all the people in the world and she still felt lonely. Deciding to take her friend Charlie’s advice and make a change in her life, she packed her bags and moved to the west coast of Florida. Little did she know that the young Amish girl that she met on the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico would begin a spiral of emotional changes for both of them.

My Thoughts:  I must admit that I am always a bit leery when asked to review a book by an author that is making a debut. What if I don't enjoy the book? What if it is poorly written?? Do I want to be the one to discourage someone just starting out? Yuck!! I do NOT want to be the one to cause an up and coming author to stop writing!!  All of these feelings ran through my mind, upon reading the request of Pamela Jo. I had loved a book that she coauthored with popular author , Sarah Price, so just maybe I can do this!!

"New Beginnings" is the first in a series, entitled "The Sands of Time". I discovered very quickly that I did not need to worry at all about reviewing this book. It started out well, easy to read and enjoyable. The only negative comment I have, is, it just didn't last long enough. I was reassured by the author that this story would continue in the next book in the series. 

The characters are realistically and well described. It did take me a few pages before I figured out who was who, but I then found the main character , Victoria , someone with whom I could identify. The desire to find oneself and be happy with who you are runs throughout the story. Victoria does just that, as does her young Amish friend. 

The plot evolves quickly and smoothly. There are some twists and turns that keep the reader's attention. At times, I was completely surprised by the direction that the storyline took.

The setting is one that is well described and fitting for this theme of finding oneself, being thankful and following God's plan. The sunny beaches of Florida called to me as they were described. I could feel the sand on my toes and hear the sounds of the waves hitting the shores. I felt the hope and peacefulness that accompanies a day at the beach. 

This book is an easy , enjoyable read, different in nature from the usual Amish fiction genre. I am looking forward to the next in the series!! Get writing , Pamela Jo!!

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

An Unlikely Pair!! She sells priceless antiques, he sell livestock by the pound!!

"At Love's Bidding"
By Regina Jennings

This author certainly chose a very different setting for her historical romance, a Boston auction house! Not a place that is generally used for this type of book. The main character, Miranda Wimplegate, is helping her Grandfather in his business, at a Boston antique auction house, creating a catalogue of the items that are to be bid on. This is usually done so that buyers are able to get a background on what they are looking at  and know the proper value of the items. 

Miranda makes an mistake- one that is very disturbing and serious!! She has accidentally sold a very influential, powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous  bidder. This family has the ability to ruin the family auction business! Desperate to appease these individuals, the portrait is tracked to the Missouri Ozarks! However, buying it back is not as easy as it appears!! An outlandish offer is made to buy the local auction house and ALL of its holdings so that they can get their hands on the one important item, the painting. THEN, the shocking news is discovered!! Their purchase was NOT the auction house that they thought, it was a cattle auction! What on earth will  they do with such a thing??? Neither Miranda or her Grandfather have any idea what to do with such a business!!

Entering the scene is handsome, very annoyed Wyatt Ballentine who is extremely annoyed to discover that his bosses don't know a thing about running the business that he has singlehandedly  kept afloat. Miranda and Grandfather are faced with more cattle than they have wanted to see, but NO painting!!  This situation goes from bad to worse, as an unlikely partnership is formed to attempt to save everyone from failure.

Regina Jennings writes in a style that is uniquely her's alone. She makes use of humor in serious situations to ease the tensions. Her characters have quirky characteristics that make them appealing to the reader. They are described in a way that makes them easy with whom to identify. I must say that I laughed aloud at some of the situations they found themselves in. 

The plot moves quickly with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader glued to the page. There are unexpected complications around every corner. Although the events are disturbing, upsetting and could change lives , they are described in Regina's unique way of having you tense and giggling at the same time. An unlikely and unwanted romance develops in spite of two individuals who want nothing to do with it. 

For those who love historical romance, this is a definite MUST read!! For those who don't particularly like this genre, try it!! I, for one, don't always find this genre appealing, however  the humor and setting of this book make it unusual and extremely different !

A five star book!!

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another Great Mennonite Mystery/Suspense By Nancy Mehl

"Rising Darkness"
  By Nancy Mehl 


Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. After a rough childhood, her teenage poor choices harmed others, leaving her with no choice but to change her life. Her entry-level writing job at a newspaper puts her in the right place at the right time to overhear office gossip about a prisoner who has information on a decades-old unsolved crime. While the other reporters write off the tip as the ravings of an angry criminal, Sophie can't ignore it because she knows the name of this prisoner from her old life. 

Upon learning from the man that one of the other suspects is hiding out in the Missouri town of Sanctuary, she takes on a false identity to investigate and meets the young pastor of a local church--the very man she'd loved as a troubled teenager. As she gets closer to finding the suspect, will the truth of her own past come out before she discovers the identity of the criminal--or the very person she's seeking puts a fatal stop to her investigation?

My Thoughts:

This is the third in Nancy Mehl's series, entitled "Finding Sanctuary". Although it can be read as a stand alone, I would highly recommend the reading of the previous two in the series. It gives the reader a greater understanding of this very unique community and the type of people who reside there. All three of these books are full of intrigue, mystery and suspense and yes, even romance.

This book is one that makes the reader think. It is a story of learning to trust, allowing the past to remain there, not determining our future.  God holds us  in His hands and as difficult as it may be, we must turn to Him and let him carry out His plan for us. 

The setting of this book is unique and very different. It is a small community that is occupied by many of the Mennonite faith. There are mysteries that seem to be hidden in many of the residents' pasts and that where they stay- in the past! Seemingly forgotten! Sanctuary is  a town that appears to be oh so peaceful, but is it really what it seems??

The characters are realistic and well described, such that you easily identify with them and feel their every challenge and fear. I trembled along with Sophie as she met with frightening memories of her past. Can she turn to God and let Him deal with her regrets and shames?? Or, will she let these memories form her future?? It is up to her!!

The plot is full of twists and turns that keep the reader intrigued from beginning to end. Mysterious events keep one on the edge of their seat as the feeling of suspense mounts and grows!! Romance is present, intricately woven into this tale. 

Nancy Mehl's talent at building the tension and suspense is outstanding. Her unique writing style keeps readers totally engaged in the plot. 

A five star book!! I highly recommend this book to all readers!! Take a chance, try something different!!

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

About the Author:

Nancy Mehl is the author of twenty-one books, including the Road to Kingdom and Finding Sanctuary series. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson. Visit www.nancymehl.com to learn more.

What Could Be Better Than Four Amish Novellas By Favorite Author, Beth Wiseman?!

            "An Amish Year"
            By Beth Wiseman


Spend a year in Amish country with four sweet romances.
Rooted in Love (previously published in An Amish Garden)
Rosemary Lantz is doing her best to run her family’s household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul Petersheim has pursued Rosemary for years, but Rosemary keeps turning him down. What Saul doesn’t know is that she has good reason—something no one can know—especially not him.
A Love for Irma Rose
The year is 1957, and young Irma Rose has a choice to make. Date the man who is “right” for her? Or give Jonas a chance, the wild and reckless suitor who refuses to take no for an answer?  Irma Rose steps onto the path she believes God has planned for her, but when she loses her footing, she is forced to rethink her choice.   
Patchwork Perfect
Eli Byler has been a widower for two years when he chooses to make a fresh start in Paradise, Pennsylvania. As Eli juggles the admiration of two women, he meets Miriam Fisher—the most unconventional Amish woman he’s ever met. She doesn’t fit the mold for what Eli is looking for, but it isn’t long before Eli realizes that Miriam is everything he wants. But Miriam has no plans to get married—ever.  Will Eli be able to change her mind?
When Christmas Comes Again (previously published in An Amish Second Christmas)
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

My Thoughts:

I must admit that when I hear that a new Beth Wiseman book is going to  be released, I feel great anticipation and have the expectation that this book will be the best yet!!  I am NEVER disappointed! This collection of novellas was certainly no exception. It met every one of my criteria for a well written book! Although, novellas are not my favorites, as they seem too short and don't  satisfy my yearning for a complete story, Beth managed to create one that was so full of hope, love and faith that the stories engaged me from beginning to end. The Amish recipes that are added, are just the icing on the cake!

The characters are so realistically described that you easily identify with them and live their trials, challenges and joys right along side them. Beth uses her unique talent of inserting little quirky, humorous qualities into these folks that make them appealing to all readers. When you start to give them advice, you realize that the story must be exceptionally well written!!  

The plots are full of unexpected twists and turns that keep a reader intrigued  until the last page is read. I must admit that I still wanted each story to keep going! That is evidence that this is ONE GREAT READ!  As the novellas moved through the seasons, each one flowed smoothly into the next. 

My favorite one, if I had to choose , would be "A Love For Irma Rose, as she was a character in a previous Beth Wiseman book. She had become a near and dear friend to me and I had wanted to know more about her. This short story met my need to find out .

Beth Wiseman is a talented author who continues to surprise us with very different, unique books in the Amish fiction genre. Magnificent books exemplifying her talent in leaving within us , feelings of love, hope and peace.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Collection of Novellas That Warm The Soul!!

Enter the contest to win a great prize!!

"The Amish Christmas Sleigh"
          By Kelly Long
             Amy Lillard
            Molly Jebber

About this book:

Kelly Long 
For solitary toy-maker Sebastian Christner, hiring Kate Zook as his new housekeeper is simply the right thing to do. Now she can support her special-needs brother. But one taste of her independent spirit is showing him undreamed-of holiday joy—and making him long to give her a home for always . . .

Amy Lillard
Bernice Yoder has far too much to do to entertain holiday dreams. Even if she can help Jess Schmucker outwit his three mischievous young daughters, it’s impossible to imagine the handsome widower can see her as anything but a scolding schoolteacher. He never guesses how a magical Christmas Eve will open his eyes to love or how Der Herr will awaken their faith and hope.

Molly Jebber
As much as Charity Lantz’s children need a father, the young widow isn’t sure her new neighbor Luke Fisher can ever be the right choice. They’re having more disagreements than snowflakes in December. Besides, he’s never given a sign he wants to be more than friends. Can Gott show them a way past their misunderstandings to a forever love?

My Thoughts:

I must admit that I do LOVE the Christmas season and all of the feelings that arise within me at this time of year.  Joy, faith, the invaluable gift that was given to us all make me feel the happiness that reigns throughout this holiday. Commercialism may have taken over through the media, however, deep within, the true meaning of Christmas overcomes all.

I also must admit that novellas are not my favorite books to read. There is always a desire to read more left behind!! This book, I am happy to say , was the exception ! Each story involved a Christmas sleigh and carried this common theme smoothly and left me happy and satisfied. Each of these authors is a talented writer who uses her own unique writing methods resulting in a great Christmas read. For those of us who love the Amish fiction genre, this book simply warms our hearts and souls. 

Love, romance, happiness is evident in each novella. My faith in human nature was strengthened as I read of desired love, when you least expect it. Following God's plan is so important, as each story unravelled. Unexpected blessings abound when we let God lead.  

The characters are all described so realistically and in such detail, that the reader becomes totally immersed in their lives, challenges, trials and yes, their joys too. Many have little quirks that appeal to our sense of humor, making it easy to become their best friends. 

The plots are well developed and keep the reader engrossed from beginning to end. The common theme of the sleigh connected the stories in a unique and different way. Although each novella had its own events, the common thread keeps you connected throughout. 

The true meaning of Christmas shines through all authors' writings, reminding us of God's love and compassion, supplying us with exactly what we need, when we need it!!

I highly recommend this book to all readers. Definitely deserving of five stars!!

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

About the Author
Molly Jebber is an educational, motivational, and Women’s Christian Connection speaker. She was raised in a small town in the Midwest, and insists if you had blinked twice, you would’ve missed it. She loves God, her family and friends, sunshine, swimming and traveling to the Amish communities.  Creating historical Amish characters and throwing them into difficult situations and joyous times has been challenging and fun for her. The greatest reward she’s experienced in becoming an author is meeting wonderful people from all over the world who’ve been encouraging and supportive.
Kelly Long is the author of the acclaimed Amish Patch of Heaven series and has been a finalist for the coveted Carol Award from the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Lily’s Wedding Quilt was a 2011 Goodreads Favorite Book of the Year.  Born and raised in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, she’s been married for nearly twenty-five years and has five children. Please visit her at kellylongbooks.com.

Amy Lillard won the 2013 Carol Award for her first Amish romance Saving Gideon. She was also a Maggie Awards finalist. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. Visit her at amywritesromance.com

Link to purchase book: http://amzn.com/B00RRT31E4

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Touching Christmas Novella!

"A Shenandoah Family Christmas"
      By Lisa Belcastro

Book Information:
Where is Christmas?Ebook - A Shenandoah Family Christmas
Disease, freezing temperatures, and the Revolutionary War bring bitter reality to the Reed home in December 1777. Captain Benjamin Reed is ordered to sail a supply shipment south to General George Washington. Days beforeShenandoah’s scheduled departure, Ben’s first mate succumbs to smallpox.
Rebecca Reed had never feared the dreaded disease until her one-year-old daughter Felicity breaks out in the telltale rash. In the cold, dark days of Advent, Rebecca, Ben, and the Reed family wait in prayerful hope as Felicity fights for her life and they wonder who could be next.
With the rest of the family at risk, they decide to obtain the forbidden cowpox vaccine. Ben’s brother Jonah, his uncle Isaiah, and Shenandoah’s cook Adam Greene venture off in search of the outlawed vaccine. A blizzard hits. A tree crashes. Jonah crumbles to the ground. A woman with the face of an angel aids Jonah, but is it too late? And where are Adam and Isaiah?

As the death toll rises throughout the Colonies, the Reed family prays for more than one Christmas miracle.
My Thoughts about this novella:

This novella was one that made me think of the cliche, "the reason for the season".  It may be a short story, however, the true meaning of Christmas, is exemplified in a unique, thoughtful manner,  lingering deep within the reader long after completing the book. Lisa Belcastro continues her Winds of Change series with this Christmas novella, involving once again the members of the  Roberts family. 

The characters are well described in a realistic manner, so that the reader can easily identify with them  from the first page of the book. The family is celebrating Christmas in a way very different from what you and I experience. Lisa has a special talent in being able to show us the true beauty and meaning of this special day, in the most inspirational manner. There is a depth of love within this family that we all desire to attain. As they celebrate the birth of our Saviour, the characters exemplify an intense unconditional love of all . It is a difficult life that the family is living but one that shows us how important it is to value one another in good times and in hard situations. 
The plot moves quickly with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader entranced.  
This is definitely one that I highly recommend to all readers! It will remind you of God' unconditional love for every one of us and how we can follow Him by following His example. 

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

About the Author Author pic
Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard.  She loves time with her family and friends, running, gardening, outdoor activities, cooking, chocolate, reading, traveling, a healthy dose of adventure, and her cat, Ben, who keeps her company while she creates fictional lives for the numerous characters living inside her head.
Lisa runs as an ambassador for TEAM 413 (www.team413.org), and has completed a marathon (26.2 miles) in all fifty states.
Lisa’s stories are set on the Vineyard amidst the magnificence of the ocean, the beauty of sandy beaches, rolling hills, and ancient cliffs, as well as the people and events that make the Island so very unique.

When she’s not at her desk, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, training to run the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge in January 2016, walking the beach looking for sea glass, or enjoying a great meal while she pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style Magazine.

Link to purchase book: http://amzn.com/B01789P77Q

See  Sidebar for entry to this fabulous contest!!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Back with my old friends, Anna and Felty!! Enter to win the six books in this series by Jennifer Beckstrand!

     "Huckleberry Hearts"
   By Jennifer Beckstrand


Young-at-heart octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never miss the chance to find a perfect match for one of their grandchildren. And when their beloved Cassie returns to Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, Anna has a feeling they might soon have a doctor in the family…Though Cassie Coblenz left her Amish community to go to college, Mammi and Dawdi’s farm will always feel like home. It’s the ideal place for an extended study break—at least until her grandmother’s handsome Englisch doctor becomes a regular distraction. Zach Reynolds is the kind of heartbreaker Cassie has learned to avoid, no matter how charming he may be. 
Unlike every woman Zach has met in recent years, Cassie doesn’t fall at his feet. Strong, generous, beautiful within and without —she’s everything he could want. Yet the gulf between them deepens when a tragedy shakes his faith. Now the good doctor has one goal—to become a man who could be worthy of Cassie’s love…

My Thoughts:

Being the sixth in this series (The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill) of Jennifer Beckstrand's books, one may have the thought, "Oh no not ANOTHER one!" , however this is FAR from the truth. I have absolutely loved every single book.

Each one seems to be better than the last, if that is possible!  I only had one big problem with this story!! I could not put the book down, once I had started to read. The world passed me by as I met with my old friends, Anna and Felty. The house remained dusty, meals just had to wait. A late bedtime was impossible to avoid. The first chapter captured my attention and I remained engrossed to the very last page. 

The characters are each realistically described in such detail that you are able to identify with them immediately. Each one has some little quirks that make them who they are. I caught myself giggling aloud as this elderly couple continued in their roles as matchmakers. Lovable, comical, yet serious and dedicated to making each single person as happy as they are! Falling in love with these two is hard not to do! They are the grandparents everyone wishes they had. Cassie and Zach just don't stand a chance with these two loved ones planning their future.

The plot moves quickly with just enough twists and turns to keep one caught up in the action. You just never know what or when the next bump in the road will arise.  No romance ever seems to go smoothly, even when life is being planned by two experienced matchmakers who are doing their best to follow God's plan! Well, sometimes they do get carried away!!

Will Cassie allow herself to led into a romance planned by others?  Will Zach be successful in his courting plan??

This is definitely a five star book!!  FANTASTIC!!

Provided by the author and Celebrate Lit, in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Remember to enter the contest. The winner will receive a copy of all six books in the series. 

jennifer beckstrand
Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.
Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten..

Link to purchase book: http://amzn.com/1420136534

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...