25 Book Reviews

Saturday, March 24, 2018

An Amish Tale With a Twist!

         Starting From Scratch
             By Kate Lloyd

About the Book:

An Old Flame Brings a Spark of New Hope
En Alt Maedel—an old maid.
At age twenty-nine, that's what Eva Lapp considers herself. And who could argue with her? Finding a good Amish husband at her age will be next to impossible. Plus, Eva's unwarranted bad reputation in Lancaster County precedes her. Maybe living the Englisch life would be better.
Squeezed out of her childhood home by her brother's boisterous family, Eva finds lodging and a new job managing a small café at a local plant nursery. But the challenge of her new position isn't enough to distract from her current predicament.
To Eva's surprise, her first love, Jake Miller, suddenly returns to Lancaster County. Flooded with emotions and filled with questions about Jake's past, can Eva trust what she's feeling?
Jake and Eva face many obstacles in their quest for a fresh start in the community, but perhaps with God's help, they can find the redemption they both desperately need.

My Thoughts:

This book has the most attractive cover!! It immediately caught my attention and drew me into guessing what it could be about, baking utensils, flour, and a display case full of goodies! Why is a young Amish girl looking at these delicious goods?? I have enjoyed all of the novels that I have read by this author, however, I must say that I think that "Starting from Scratch" is THE BEST!! It was unique in that it didn't follow my usual expectation of the Amish genre. It was NOT a girl meets guy, falls in love, type of story! In fact, it definitely was not a "love at first sight" romance.

The characters are so realistically and well described that I at once became part of their lives and walked alongside them in their rocky journey through life. I easily identified with Eva, a twenty nine year old single woman. After all, I, myself , was 35 when I married. The sense of hopelessness of finding a partner at her age seemed next to impossible. I, too, experienced that dilemma. Family problems abound as Eva attempts to become more independent. Leaving one's home and beginning a new life is not easy. It was difficult for Eva to face her challenges. I became totally engrossed while reading of her family problems, rumors and troubles that arise. She had so much to deal with and faced so much judgement from others. Her meeting with her first love, Jake, caught me by surprise, as she debated if she should trust him, despite a somewhat questionable past. I could feel Eva's struggle in deciding if he had really changed.

The plot moves at a steady pace with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader fully occupied from beginning to end of the novel. So many obstacles appeared in Jake and Eva's path. Could they ever get a fresh start in life ? Can people forgive and forget??? The description of this Amish community was so well done that I could picture the rolling hills and the well kept farms.

This is a MUST READ for all lovers of Amish fiction. To those who normally are not attracted to this genre, try it ! Kate Lloyd writes in her unique style that appeals to all. Her somewhat quirky characters leave you wondering what will happen next in their lives.

This book was received as a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Author:
Author Kate Lloyd is a passionate observer of human relationships. A native of Baltimore, Kate spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, PA, the inspiration for her best selling novels Leaving Lancaster, Pennsylvania Patchwork, and Forever Amish, the third book in the Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy. Her novel, A Letter from Lancaster County, released July 1, 2017. Starting from Scratch will release April 3, 2018 and in and is available for preorder.

Kate is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, the setting for Kate's first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite. Kate has worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur. For relaxation and fun, Kate enjoys walking with her camera in hand, beachcombing, and playing with her two young grandchildren.

Find out more about Kate Lloyd at her
Website: www.katelloyd.com 
Blog: http://katelloyd.com/blog/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/katelloydbooks
Instagram: katelloydauthor
Twitter: @KateLloydAuthor 
Pinterest: @KateLloydAuthor

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Great New Addition to "The Amish of Hart County" Series by Shelley Shepard Gray!

        "His Risk"

By Shelley Shepard Gray

All I can say after reading this book  is "WOW!"  

This is the fourth book in "the Amish of Hart County Series" , however  can be easily read as a standalone book. As a fan of Shelley's novels, I picked up the book knowing that I would  enjoy it and it would be good, but this book simply blew me away!! I was captivated from the beginning to the end. It meets every requirement I have for the ideal read and then some!! It had magnetic qualities- pulling me into the story, and making me travel this tense journey of life alongside Calvin , the main character.

Calvin Fisher left his Amish community when  he was fourteen  and never returned. Until now!! It was only his brother's ill health that brought him back to Hart County. As this young man works to earn forgiveness , he meets Alice, a young nursery school teacher. AND .... the struggles begin as a romance develops, despite Calvin's deep, dark secret that could threaten his new found happiness. 

Alice knows that her attraction to this secretive  man is wrong. He is an Englischer now, as well as having  a questionable job. Calvin attempts to convince her of his worth , however, she fights the attraction toward him. After all, she is a faithful member of the Amish Community.

Suddenly, the small community in which Alice resides, is alive with criminal activity. Calvin fears that his double life has put everyone in danger, particularly one special young lady for whom he is developing deep feelings. Alice begins to doubt her feelings and wonder if she is wrong about her confidence in Calvin's honor. 

The characters in this novel are so realistically and well described that I immediately became part of their lives, living the highs and lows alongside them. Calvin became my hero!  He dealt with Alice is such a kind, loving manner while dealing with  his dangerous, threatening job. Alice is a sweet Amish girl who becomes my best friend. I wanted to give her a big hug and support her in her fearful experiences. 

The plot is one that kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page of the book to the last! It was full of unexpected twists and turns and kept my heart throbbing throughout. For those readers who love suspense, this is a book that should not be missed!! For those who love Amish Fiction, this is a unique book that will grab you and not let you go. 

Written in Shelley Shepard Gray's unique style, this book is a true winner!! It had a depth  that is admirable. There is much more than what is apparent on the surface. As you did deep within the characters' lives, you discover surprising and yes, shocking details. 

Definitely a five star book!!! What will this author come up with next??? This is going to tough one to beat!

This book was a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. A busy wife and mother of two, she spends her days writing and keeping track of her two teenagers. Her two dogs keep her company when she writes in her basement.

Shelley enjoys writing about the Amish and visits Amish communities in Adams and Holmes counties several times a year. When not spending time with her family or writing, she serves on several committees in her church.

She also bakes a lot, loves coconut cream pie, and will hardly ever pull weeds, mow the yard, or drive in the snow.

Shelley also spends a lot of time on line! Please visit her website, www.shelleyshepardgray.com to find out her latest news...or become her friend on FaceBook.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Fantastic Debut Novel by Teresa Tysinger!!! Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

                 "Someplace Familiar"
                    By Teresa Tysinger

About the Book:

Release date: May, 2017
Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.
Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project – and an undeniable whirlwind romance.
But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts and discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?

Click here to purchase your copy!
My Thoughts:

The cover of this book immediately caught my eye! There is something about it that calls to me saying, "READ ME!"  As Teresa Tysinger is a new author, the novel was an unknown territory to me. How glad I am that that cover caught my attention! Upon starting to read, I was whisked away to a place called Laurel Cove where I met and connected with some of the most interesting people.

The main characters, Livy and Jack were described in such a detailed and realistic fashion that it was very easy to identify with both . The author is very talented at creating characters that have depth and meaning. I loved the fact that she showed us bits and pieces of their childhood to understand where each was coming from. Both Livy and Jack had pasts that they had to deal with in order to attain joy in a new relationship. I have to admit, I love a good romance and this was one!!  These characters were not without flaws and had to learn to forgive themselves as well as others . 

The plot had just enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged from start to finish. Tackling the subject of verbal abuse was done in a creative, sensitive manner . The Christian message of how forgiveness is a true healer comes through loud and clear. When one attains this, then a future becomes so much brighter and full of hope. 

  A VERY impressive debut novel!!
Teresa Tysinger, I will be waiting for more novels from you!! ]
This was a great read!!

This book was received as a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own. I was not required to give a positive review. 

About the Author:

Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. Her debut novel, Someplace Familiar, released this summer. She also is a contributing writer for the Fort Worth Moms Blog (part of the national City Moms Blog Network). A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.

Guest Post from Teresa Tysinger

Someplace Familiar began way back in 2014 when I participated in National Novel Writer’s Month, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. It was an exhilarating, albeit exhausting, experience! Since then, the book was workshopped with a critique group, had large portions rewritten countless times, pitched at workshops, edited by two editors, and even renamed (original title was Good Graces). After a lot of prayer, I decided that self-publishing would give me the greatest flexibility and control while being able to maintain my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and full-time communications director. It’s been a wonderful ride!
About the Inspiration for Someplace Familiar One thing I’ve learned about myself through writing Someplace Familiar is how much I am personally drawn to setting and place. The idea for the book was born out of my desire to introduce readers to the charming small-town life found in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where I went to college. Laurel Cove, the fictional town where the story is set, is directly based on my best friend’s hometown of Burnsville, NC. The other source of inspiration comes from my great-grandmother’s tiny bungalow home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Long weekends and summer vacations spent there were full of imagination, adventure, and sweet memories. The scents of her garden, feel of the damp earth beneath my feet, slow pace matching gauzy curtains dancing in the breeze—it all is mirrored in the cottage home of Livy’s Gram in the book. The rest of the story formed around my desire to capture my childhood memories of this home that was so magical and safe for me.
About My Writing Style Here are a few ways I would describe my writing style: Sensory—I aim to provide readers with an experience that enlivens all of their senses. Relatable—It’s my hope that readers see themselves in realistic, flawed characters trying to make their way to discovering grace in a less than perfect world. Charming—Like any good southern fiction, there’s a good dose of charm in these pages.
My prayer is that Someplace Familiar will touch readers with an awareness of God’s grace even during circumstances and within relationships that feel hopeless. Restoration is possible!

Blog Stops

Just Commonly, March 1
Pursuing Stacie, March 1
Among the Reads, March 2
Bigreadersite, March 2
Quiet quilter, March 3
C Jane Read, March 4
Remembrancy, March 5
Book by Book, March 7
A Greater Yes, March 10
Carpe Diem, March 13
Simple Harvest Reads, March 14 (Guest post from Mindy)


To celebrate her tour, Teresa is giving away a grand prize of a gift basket that includes a signed copy of the book, an Original Painting by Author’s Sister (artist Cyndi Browning), and a $10 Amazon Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ca5b

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...