25 Book Reviews

Friday, April 29, 2016

Amish Fiction at its Best!

    "An Unbroken Heart"
        By Kathleen Fuller

"An argument. A crash. In an instant, Joanna's world is changed forever."

This statement, appearing on the back cover , immediately grabbed my attention. That, along with the most beautiful cover, told me that this was going to be an excellent read. Kathleen Fuller, a favorite author, has never let me down and this book was no disappointment!  If anything, I think it was her best book yet!!!

The story grabs your attention from the first chapter, giving you a bit of background and enticing you to read more and more and more and.......
Joanna, the main character, was in the midst of an argument with her parents and in the next moment , her parents were taken from her forever in a hit and run accident. Her body is broken but even worse , her heart is in deeper pain. Her very last words to her beloved mother and father were said in anger. 

Due to injuries suffered in the accident, Joanna is forced to live for an extended time in a rehabilitation centre. The most intense problems she must deal with begin when she re-enters her Amish life. Nothing is the same!! Her life, her family, her relationship with Andrew Beiler have all been affected by this tragedy. 

Joanna has loved Andrew since a young age of twelve . These feelings grew as she turned into a young lady. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to marry her , but questions whether it is really love he is feeling or pity. As the wedding dates comes closer and closer, Joanna is not experiencing the joy and excitement that most brides feel. Instead, she is overcome with  anxiety and guilt. 

As a faithful Christian, Joanna hears the faint whispering of her God. "Be strong and courageous" but she is afraid that courage for her, may be walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father. 

What is God's plan for this dear young Amish woman??? Will God's plan take away everything that she has dreamed and hoped for??? Could God be changing the desires of her heart?????

I have enjoyed  every one of this author's books but this one especially so as it appealed to  a very deep sense of my emotions. The characters are described so thoroughly and realistically that I could feel every hurt, pain, disappointment , worry as well as moments of happiness. For me , the criteria for a good  book is one in which I can closely identify with at least one of the characters. This novel was a real winner !! I had such empathy for both Joanna and Andrew. They both had such dedication to their faith and it seemed as if God's plans had gone awry. Why would a loving God do this to a wonderful couple?? My feeling were so intense that at times, I wanted to step into the story and give Joanna a big hug and tell her that everything would be alright. However, deep down, I worried that maybe it wouldn't be!!!

The plot moved at a fast pace with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. Just when I relaxed and thought everything would work out, another complication would arise. The world passed me by as I read this book from beginning to end with only time out to eat and sleep. I must admit, the sleep was less than usual, as I just HAD to find out what would happen next  in this story. 

Definitely a five star book!!  This book is high on my list of recommended books to be read! It will appeal to lovers of Amish fiction as well as all others who enjoy a book in which they can escape their own reality for a short time. 

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

Generational Legacies

     "The Inheritance"
       By Michael Philips

Synopsis: (taken from back cover) The death of the clan patriarch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whale's Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed MacGregor Tulloch's heir to be his grand-nephew David, a local favorite, but when it is discovered that MacGregor left no will, David's grasping cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And while Hardy doesn't enjoy much popular support, he has the backing of a shadowy group of North Sea oil investors. The courts have frozen the estate's assets while the competing claims are investigated, leaving many of the residents in financial limbo. The future of the island--and its traditional way of life--hangs in the balance.

Loni Ford is enjoying her rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, DC. Yet in spite of her outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her paternal grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Phillips's dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace, and of the dreams of men and women everywhere.

My Thoughts: "The Inheritance" is a well written historical novel. The author provides detailed background and historical information throughout the book. I am sure that Phillip's fans would be thrilled with this new novel, however, I found it extremely difficult to read. The culture, dialect and lifestyle of the Whales Reef community was thoroughly described as the past and present is blended in this tale. I must admit that this book was just not "my cup of tea". Those who are thrilled with historical facts would be drawn into the story, I am sure, but I am just not one of those fans. 

The story gets off to a very slow start, which I suppose is good for some readers, as they absorb the intense thoughtful details. For me, it just did not grab my attention and by the third chapter, I wanted to give up. I did manage to finish the book, but it took me a while. The tale jumps between characters and places challenging me to attempt to find a connection. As the plot developed, those connections were made but by then , I was lost amid a lot of facts that I no longer cared about. 

Michael does have an outstanding talent of painting a detailed picture of the setting on a Scottish Isle. I could picture the scenery quite clearly. To me , this was the  most interesting part of the book. With his many talents, I am sure that Michael Phillips's new book would appeal to many readers of historical fiction. I am simply not one of them. 

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. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Another Winning Book by New York Times Bestselling Author, Beverly Lewis!

"The Atonement"
  By Beverly Lewis

Synopsis:  (From back cover) 
The mistakes of the past haunt Lucy Flaud, who years ago stopped attending the activities for courting-age young people in her hometown of Bird-in-Hand. Now twenty-five and solidly past the age of Amish courtship, Lucy has given up any hope of marriage, instead focusing her efforts on volunteering in both the Plain and fancy communities of Lancaster County. Yet no matter how hard Lucy strives, she feels uncertain that she'll ever find redemption.

Dale Wyeth has a deep mistrust of modern-day "advances" and the dependency they create. The young Englisher's interest in living off the grid is fueled further when he meets Christian Flaud, Lucy's father. Dale appreciates the self-sufficient ways of the Old Order Amish, and Christian invites him to learn more about them by staying at the family farm.

As Christian and Dale grow closer, developing a father-son rapport, Lucy begins to question what Dale's being there might mean for her. Could God be testing her? Or is it possible that even the most unworthy heart--and two people from very different walks of life--can somehow find a new beginning?

My Thoughts:

Beverly Lewis just happens to be the author who first introduced me to the Amish Fiction Genre, before it ever became popular. She is a master storyteller who relates her tales with a great understanding and knowledge of the Plain People. Her books are full of realistic information about the Amish communities, the people and their way of life. The Amish have problems as you and I do, and Beverly manages to relate in a sensitive accurate manner how they deal with them .

The story started out at a somewhat slow pace, however, I felt that this was needed so that the reader could completely understand and get to know the characters and their deep secrets hidden in past lives. Each person became very real to me as I could easily identify with them . I felt their every hurt, challenge, disappointment as well as their joys. The theme of forgiveness. as well as working through grief and all of its hurts and challenges run throughout the story, involving each of the main characters.  Lucy's relationship with her father was a delicate subject to describe but Beverly does so with grace and sensitivity. God's forgiveness is portrayed as one that is easier to accept than forgiving oneself. So very true!!

The setting had me breathing the fresh country air of the Amish Community. I could picture the well kept farms and family occasions. I was in Lancaster County in spirit, although not in body. 

The plot, once the first few chapters have been read, moves steadily and with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader glue to the page. The conclusion shows us very clearly how powerful love and redemption are , and the importance of both.

A great book! No surprise to fans of Beverly Lewis! 

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.

"Witty Storytelling at its Best!"

      "Like Never Before"
         By Melissa Tagg

Synopsis: (from book cover) 
A dying newspaper. An intriguing mystery. And a love they didn't see coming.

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley's haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher...if only she knew who he was.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime--a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he's inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.

But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She's scrappy, but wounded. He's dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley's quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts. 

My Thoughts:
This is the second book in the Walker Family Series. Although it can be read as a stand alone, I found that having read the other, it was just like revisiting old friends and family. 

 This author is one who excels in character development. After reading just a few pages, I found that I could easily relate to the main characters' emotions and thoughts. The characters were well described, so realistically that the reader becomes part of the story. Amelia's confusion, challenges, hurts and joys became mine , as did Logan's!!  Two very different individuals however both became dear to my heart. Amelia was somewhat quirky, yet kind and inquisitive. Logan also had his little quirks, making them an interesting couple, if they were able to overcome the obstacles in the way of a romantic connection. 

The setting was perfect for the story of a small town newspaper. Maple Valley, typically was a place where everyone knows everyone else and ....sometimes too much of their private business!   Festivals and town fairs are still alive in these places.

The plot moved at a steady pace with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader captivated. Just when you think you have the answers to the problems, something pops up in the way to block the way. 

I would highly recommend this book as a great read!! It takes you on life's journey back to faith and forgiveness. Isn't that what God wants of all of us?? Following His plans gives us peace , forgiveness and joy. Both Logan and Amelia are on a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. Will they allow God to take control of their lives????

A five star book!!

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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Who Doesn't Love Weddings??? AND a Giveaway of a Kindle Fire!!

      "A Season to Wed"
     A Collection of Novellas 
        By:  Rachel Hauck
               Cindy Kirk
               Cheryl Wyatt

What woman doesn't love to read about weddings??? I sure know that I do! Stories of romance, preparing for weddings, dreams coming true.... what could be better!!!  As soon as I realized that one of my favorite authors would be writing one of these novellas, I knew this book would be a winner. I was also thrilled to discover that the other two authors were equally great story tellers!!

They’ve helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.
Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk
Sometimes the road to happiness is paved with youthful mistakes.
Ten years after what she thought was her almost-wedding, Hope Prentiss discovers that the ceremony counted—and, as fate would have it, the jilted John Burke has just ridden back into town. After spending some time with John and helping plan a Christmas wedding for a mystery couple, Hope begins to wonder if she really wants a divorce . . . or a real wedding of her own.
A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck
Revealing the beauty in other women might be Ginger Winters’s specialty—but it will take an unexpected kind of love to help Ginger see the beauty in herself.
Ginger Winters will be the “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade. But when high-school crush Tom Wells shows up looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her from love once again . . . despite Tom’s best efforts.
Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt
Meadow knows how to serve delicious food to match any wedding theme. But can she accept love when it’s served up on a silver platter?
Meadow Larson is having the mother of all Mondays when her roof caves in during a blizzard, right before the most important wedding contract of her career. Renovation contractor Colin McGrath offers to fix Meadow’s roof, even though he knows he is the last person she would accept help from.
But the more Meadow gets to know the new Colin, the more she realizes God may have something more permanent in store than a new catering kitchen.
My Thoughts:
I absolutely LOVE weddings!! So.... this book was a pleasure to read!! My only negative comment.. I finished it far too quickly!! All three of these authors write with fantastic creativity and detail. I quickly envisioned myself there with the characters. My criteria for a good book , is one that I become immersed in and can identify with the characters. These three short stories met that criteria within the first few pages.

 All three novellas were sweet love stories with just enough complications and challenges, to keep the reader enthralled. They are more than just simple romances. Life is full of mistakes, valleys of despair and troubles. How they are handled, is the important thing. God can take care of these situations without hesitation as He does in these stories. He takes the mistakes and turns them into something very special, however, only can do this if the individual will forgive and take a jump into faith. Love is always roller coasters, involving the highs and lows in emotions. We have to allow God to be the leader and follow His plans to work them out. All three authors , each in their own unique way, examined this and had the main characters follow through to a delightful wedding experience 

This book is definitely a winner!! Five stars!!! 
Link to purchase bookhttp://amzn.to/1RLgoyY
About the Authors
Rachel Hauck Bio:
Rachel Hauck is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Her book Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com, Facebook: rachelhauck, and Twitter: @RachelHauck.
Cindy Kirk Bio:
Cindy Kirk sold her first book in 1999 as a result of a contest win which garnered a critique of the entire manuscript. She’s been writing—and selling—ever since. Cindy has been a Booksellers’ Best Award Winner, a finalist for the National Readers’ Choice Awards and a Publishers Weekly best seller. Cindy has served on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) since 2007. In November 2014, she began serving as President of the 10,000+ member organization. She’s a frequent speaker at not only the national RWA conferences, but large regional writing conferences. She has also presented at smaller retreats and conferences across the country. She lives on an acreage in Nebraska with her high school sweetheart husband of too-many-years-to-count and their three “boys” (a shih tzu, a blue heeler and a dorkie). Their daughter lives close by with her wonderful husband and their two little girls. Cindy invites you to check out her websitewww.cindykirk.com. Twitter: @CindyKirkAuthor
Cheryl Wyatt Bio:
Cheryl Wyatt writes romance with virtue. She’s a USA Today bestselling author and has earned RT Top Picks, spots #1 and #4 on her debut publisher’s Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books list, Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence final, and other awards. Cheryl loves readers! Join her newsletter at www.CherylWyatt.com. Facebook: CherylWyattAuthor Twitter: @cherylwyatt
To celebrate the A Season To Wed Celebration Tour, Rachel Hauck is giving away a Kindle Fire! Click to enter https://promosimple.com/ps/953c
To read other reviews of this book:

Blog Stops

April 6: Giveaway Lady
April 7: CTF Devourer
April 8: Splashes of Joy
April 8: Southern Chelle
April 9: Just Commonly
April 13: Bigreadersite
April 14: Texas Book-aholic
April 16: A Greater Yes
April 17: Quiet Quilter
April 17: Bukwurmzzzz

This book was provided by the authors and CelebrateLit, 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...