25 Book Reviews

Sunday, February 28, 2016

When Love and Family Conflict......

      "Hannah's Choice"
          By Jan Drexler

Hannah Yoder, a young Amish girl, loves her quiet, peaceful life on the banks of the Conestoga Creek. The year is 1842 and Lancaster County is a perfect place to reside- except-  problems lurk beneath the placid facade. Hannah makes an attempt to be the person who can bind the threads of her family together, in spite of them unravelling in front of her. Her father is worried, mother is depressed and sister is rebellious! She has a giant sized obstacle to overcome to achieve peace. As Hannah tries, HER world begins to fall apart. 

Every Amish girl's dream is to find the perfect mate to marry and raise a family, however, this is where Hannah encounters a problem! TWO young men seek her hand in marriage. One offers the home she so deeply desires while the other promises the adventure of following God's call to move to the west. Hannah must make a choice! Which man would make her happy??? Will she stay true to her family or defy her father and abandon the life that she has known??? No easy answers appear!!!

As Jan Drexler was a new author to me, I had no idea what to expect. Would this book meet my criteria for a "good" book?? I must say, it certainly did!!

The characters are described in such a realistic and thorough manner, that I could easily identify with them . I felt Hannah's every challenge, heartache and disappointment. As I read , each character became special to me in her/his own way. I was immersed in their culture and family life. Hannah's choice became mine!!

The plot is well developed and moves along at a steady pace, keeping the reader engaged until the end of the book. There are just enough twists and turns to keep one's interest. I must admit that I was on an emotional roller coaster alongside Hannah. I loved, and yes, even hated at times, the challenging situations caused by human nature. 

I definitely will be watching for Jan's next book. This is a book that avid readers of Amish Historical fiction will love!!

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Intrigue, Romance, Mystery... all caused by missing memories! leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of this great book!

"Shattered Memories"
By Debbie Lynne Costello

Synopsis: The Charleston earthquake has left destruction like nothing Doctor Andrew Warwick has ever seen. On a desperate mission to find the lady who owns his heart, he frantically searches through the rubble, where he finds her injured and lifeless. After she regains consciousness, the doctor’s hopes are quickly dashed as he realizes she doesn’t remember him. Things only get worse when he discovers she believes she’s still engaged to the abusive scoundrel, Lloyd Pratt. Now Drew is on a race with the wedding clock to either help her remember or win her heart again before she marries the wrong man. 

Waking in a makeshift hospital, Olivia Macqueen finds herself recovering from a head injury. With amnesia stealing a year of her memories, she has trouble discerning between lies and truth. When her memories start returning in bits and pieces, she must keep up the charade of amnesia until she can find out the truth behind the embezzlement of her family’s business while evading the danger lurking around her. 

My Thoughts:

As this author was new to me, I had no idea what kind of book to expect. After reading the first chapter, I knew that I was in for some fantastic reading!! It took only that to convince me that Debbie is an author to watch for future creations! This book is the first in a series, entitled, "Charleston Earthquake Series". I can hardly wait for Book Two!!

"Shattered Memories" is a descriptive, extraordinary tale filled with mystery, intrigue and romance. You are quickly immersed in the vivid scene of an earthquake, one which is easily pictured in your mind. The devastation becomes very real as you walk along side the characters.

The characters are so realistically described that they become part of the reader's world. Olivia worked her way into my heart and soul as I traveled with her on her journey. How would it feel to have lost everything??? Family, friends, home AND memories... ALL gone!!! A whole year of memories, gone in an instant!! The confusion and emotions were felt deep within me. It has been a long time since I have read a story that made such an impact on me. Deep feelings of empathy surrounded me for this very dear young lady. Andrew Warwick won me over from the first moment. He was such a kind, considerate, charming man, who had only good thoughts for Olivia. On the other hand, Lloyd Pratt rattled me!! The feelings of disgust and dislike overcame me as I wanted to jump into the story to save Olivia. He was a horrible villain who did a good job of pretending to be a gentleman, but what he failed in doing, was presenting himself that same way to the other characters. I have to admit, I experienced some pretty deep feelings of hatred toward him!! Not a Christian attitude, however, he just riled me to no end!

The plot was fast moving and captivating from start to finish. There were so many shocking twists and turns that I was kept on the edge of my seat, wondering what complication or tragedy would hit next. I must say, I have never been a fan of historical fiction but this book changed my thoughts! I absolutely loved it. The world passed me by as I became part of the story. 

The theme of trusting God in all times, good and bad, clearly shines through. The truth will win if we let Him carry out His plans in His time. 

Now, I find myself extremely impatiently waiting for Debbie's next book!!

Don't miss this book!! A five star!!

About the Author:
Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.

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

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!!! (on the sidebar of the blog)

Don’t miss the Shattered Memories and Charity’s Cross Facebook party on Feb 29! RSVP here

Blog Tour Stops

Feb 16: Quiet Quilter
Feb 19: Buwurmzzz
Feb 20: A Greater Yes
Feb 25: Bigreadersite
Feb 27: cherylbbookblog
Feb 28: Mary Hake

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"An Amish Market"

           Amy Clipston
           Kathleen Fuller
           Kelly Irvin
           Vannetta Chapman

Looking for a unique blend of fabulous Amish Authors, four novellas that take you along for a shopping trip?? Look no further!! Here it is!!!

Love Birds by Amy Clipston

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller

Every week, Hannah Lynne brings her home-churned butter to the local market. And every week Ezra stops by to purchase some. Hannah Lynne knows not to read too much into it—Ezra is a confirmed bachelor and barely even glances her way, despite any hope to the contrary. But when Ezra bids an exorbitant amount to win the quilt she had her heart set on, Hannah Lynne can’t stop her heart from taking over her mind. Could Ezra finally be in the market for love?

Sweeter Than Honey by Kelly Irvin

Shattering a jar of pickled beets wasn’t the impression Isabella hoped to make on her first trip to the local Combination Store of Bee County, Texas. But as embarrassed as she was by the accident, she didn’t think it warranted the frosty reaction from the handsome manager of the store, Will Glick. As she soon learns, though, Will’s heart has been broken one too many times. And now, for some reason, Isabella finds herself determined to be the one to repair that broken heart and renew his faith in love.

Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman

Stella Schrock works at the Old Mill in Nappanee, Indiana, with new employee David Stoltzfus, a recent widower. When strange happenings begin occurring around town, it appears as if someone wants to close the mill. Stella and David have to work together to solve the mystery of what is happening at the Old Amish Mill, and in the process they might just find that God has more in store for their future than they would ever have dreamed possible.

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a good read, rich in  Amish flavor and characters, enjoyable romances, and Christian based, then this is the book for you. Four superior authors have come together , each creating a story in her own unique style, with each novella flowing smoothly into the next. 

The settings all include shopping areas, where both Amish and Englischers come together to sell and buy.Spending money just happens to appeal to most women, especially, for the special Amish, home made goods!  

Amy Clipston's story, "Love Birds" , is the first in this book. The characters are well described in Amy's typical style,  making them realistic and very easy with whom to identify. Ellie took only minutes to become my best friend, one for whom I had sympathy and compassion. The deep feelings from losing her brother tugged at my heartstrings. It just seems that everything Ellie tries to accomplish , ends with failure. Even when trying to help her friend,, Seth, she makes a decision that is well meant however appears to end in disaster for both him personally as well as to their forming relationship. The plot is detailed and moves at a steady pace. Can this romance meet any success?? The reader is kept guessing until the very end of the story!! 

Kathleen Fuller's novella, " A Bid for Love", follows. the shopping theme, as another young couple struggles in forming a relationship. Kathy's talent at making you become part of the story is present once again, as  in all of her books. Young love is so special and it is described in a detailed way that has the reader sympathizing with all the obstacles that seem to stand in this young couple's  way. The heartaches are those that  are encountered by Englischers as well as Amish. A delightful story that keep you guessing at the outcome!

Kelly Irvin's story, " Sweeter than Honey", is one that made me giggle and want to cry , all within the same chapter. I easily pictured the scene of poor Isabella, standing by the shattered jar of pickled beets! So embarrassing! Especially when a handsome young man gives her what she considers to be a hard time. It seems that this young lady has a fairly common problem of being awkward when trying her best to make a good impression. You feel the love and care Isabella has for others as she tends to Will's broken heart. This story has much in common with the others, in making the characters come alive and live within your world for  a short time. But can Isabella be successful taking on this enormous task??

Vannetta Chapman, author of the final novella in the book, "Love in Store" , finishes up the market shopping theme that smoothly leads from one story to the next. She writes with her unique style of having a mystery run alongside a growing romance. The characters embraced me from the first page and kept me totally engrossed in this tale. Stella and David develop a romance as they work together so solve some very strange mysteries.. The plot moves quickly and keeps the reader guessing. I actually did some nail biting as events became more threatening and serious. Why and how were these strange events happening?? Who would want to cause heartache and destruction??  

This book is one that Amish fans must not miss!! Definitely a four star! My biggest disappointment in it was when it ended! I wanted the stories to continue!!

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

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Four Best Friends, Then One Went Missing!!

        "Cold Shot"
       By Dani Pettrey


 Enjoying college, Griffin McCray and his three best friends had made plans for the future. Their lives were all planned out, their hopes and dreams coming together. Griffin and Luke would join the Baltimore Police Department, while Declan Grey would become part of the FBI and Parker would study to become a crime scene analyst. Then, the unthinkable happened! Luke vanished before graduation and these young men's dreams and friendships crumbled along with this nightmare.

Now, years later, Griffin has left the police as well as his friendships. As he was still trying to forget a case that went bad when he was a SWAT team sniper, he is attempting to live a quiet life as a park ranger in Gettysburg. Well, it was quiet, until his world was once again turned upside down. Skeletal remains are uncovered near Little Rounided Top and they are NOT from the Civil War!

Griffin would just like the case to go away, however a charming forensic anthropologist  Finley Scott discovers evidence that points directly to an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan steps in to take over the case, the past and present collide! Some of Griffin's darkest hours have to be confronted, otherwise those he cares about will not escape the downward spiral of crime, danger and murder.

My Thoughts:

I love a good romantic suspense and looked forward to reading this one. I had read Dani's earlier books, Submerged, Stranded and Silenced and enjoyed them. 

This novel, I found to be a bit hard to "get into".  It took me three or four chapters to clearly understand who each character was and what part they played in the story. The characters a realistically and well described. It doesn't take long to identify with them and become part of the story. You feel their hurts, challenges and fears. 

The plot is well developed filled with unexpected twists and turns. Once I really got involved in the storyline, I sat on the edge of my seat awaiting the next fear filled situation. I wanted to shout "Run for your life" many times!!!  Romance played a big part of this story. The romances seemed to be intertwined with the most shocking situations.

Dani writes a good, clean Christian novel with the perfect amount of suspense, mystery and romance , to keep the reader engaged throughout the book. I was impressed with the many times that the characters prayed a fast simple prayer, not only in times of need but also when  thankful. 

I would recommend this book to all those who love mysteries. Just a word, be patient and read a couple of chapters, before you make a decision to continue. You will be glad that you did.

This book was provided by Bethany House, and Graf-Martin Communications , in exchange for a fair and honest review. Available now at your local booksellers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Fast Paced Book, Race Against Death!!

            "Always Watching"
              By Lynette Eason

Synopsis: (taken from back cover)
The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common--they're also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she's next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.

My Thoughts:
Words that describe this book??? Eerie, chilling, fast paced!!! This is the first in Lynette's new series, "Elite Guardians", a group of female bodyguards, who are fearless protectors and will go to extreme lengths to make sure that they do their jobs well, regardless of the danger and unknown factors. 

 The first emotion that arose as I began this novel, was extreme fear!! Yes, FEAR!! When the main character, Wade, discovered that he was being stalked , I felt his intense fear. That feeling you get when someone is always watching you, the evilness of the situation overwhelmed me . I became one with Wade and felt his every  worry. All of the characters were so well and realistically described, that the reader at once, becomes totally involved in every individual's life. You are on a roller coaster ride, with the lows plunging you into distress, with your heart pounding. How can these people deal with these scary, unbelievable situations?? 

The plot is very fast paced, keeping one engrossed and on the edge of his/her seat from the first chapter to the last. I became part of this mysterious suspense, fearful of what turning the page would result in for my friends. Would they survive?? Can they discover who is so manipulative and ingenious in keeping their identity secret while planning these destructive deeds? Who would want a family man to fear for his life?? These questions as well as many others were in the back of my mind as I read. This book is truly a race against death. Who will win???  With a bit of romance thrown in, the plot intensified as the story progressed. 

This is one book, that I just could not solve the mystery. The twists and turns kept me guessing and shocked me as new totally unexpected events occurred.  It is the best cliff hanger that I have ever read!!!  A true winner!!

Just be ready to have your heart pounding and the hair on your neck standing as you travel this journey of Wade's life.

Definitely a five star book!!

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Great Read for All Amish Fiction Lovers!!

"Return to Paradise"
 By Barbara Cameron


Twelve months ago, David Stoltzfus left the Amish community in Paradise, Pennsylvania—and encouraged his siblings to follow—after their father became overly stern and even abusive with them. Escaping to a new life in the Englisch world was the only way to keep one another safe. But it was not without sacrifice. When David left his father’s house and community, he also left behind Lavina Zook, the woman he planned to wed. 

Lavina hasn’t forgiven David for abandoning her, but when David’s father is diagnosed with cancer, she believes she might be the only one to lure him back to make peace . . . before it’s too late. Still, forgiveness isn’t easy. Even if she can get David to return, she’s not sure he will forgive his father. And she’s not sure she can forgive David, either.

My Thoughts:
This book is the first in a new series by popular author, Barbara Cameron, entitled "The Coming Home Series". After having thoroughly enjoyed all other books by this author, my expectations were high, and I must say, this novel was just as good , if not better , than her others. I certainly was not disappointed. 

Barbara's talent in development of characters was clearly evident in this story. I often judge a book as being "good", if I can identify with at least one of the main characters. Lavina, a young, unmarried Amish woman appealed to me and became part of me as the story began. She has many struggles and challenges and I must say, that I felt every one. Her emotional roller coaster became mine! David, the single man in the story, quickly gains my sympathy as he battles his own, very different problems in life. Can these two very dear people find love ? Or will all the obstacles in their way, defeat them?

The plot is extremely well developed and kept me engrossed from beginning to end. There are surprising twists and turns that pop up to shock the reader and keep one captivated. This storyline is one that is very different from the norm, problems that are not generally addressed in Amish fiction. The subject of an abusive husband is described in a sensitive manner, making us realize that the Amish are no different from you and I. They have similar problems in life! However, how they are dealt with are often very difficult. Divorce is simply not an answer when living in an Amish community. The story also addressed how this type of abuse affects the entire family, not only the spouse. Can forgiveness heal the situation??  How does a family deal with this, when the community tends to hide the problems? Abuse of this nature tends to send the children running, and this book is no exception. The sons have all left home. Will they return home when their father is ill?? Can they forgive the past?? This is all addressed in this book. Running away from a problem may appear to help but is does not solve any problem. 

The theme throughout this book is one of faith, forgiveness and prayer.  Easier said than done. Sin enters lives and tries to rip families and communities apart. Only God can deal with this and heal the hurts. 

A fantastic read!! I am eagerly awaiting Book Two in this series!! Get writing, Barbara!!

This book was supplied by the author 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...