25 Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Great new collection of novellas created by best selling authors in the Amish fiction genre!!

       "An Amish Reunion"
                   By:  Beth Wiseman
                Amy Clipston
               Kathleen Fuller
                Kelly Irvin


Their True Home by Amy Clipston
When Marlene Bawell moved from Bird-in-Hand ten years ago, she was in the deepest of mourning for her mother. Now her family has moved back so her father can seek employment after being laid off. To help save money, Marlene works at the hardware store owned by Rudy Swarey’s father. She knew Rudy growing up and had a secret crush on him, though he never seemed to notice her. But just as a friendship between them begins to blossom, her life is once again turned upside down. Will Marlene ever have a chance to find her own true home?
A Reunion of Hearts by Beth Wiseman
Ruth and Gideon Beiler experienced one of life’s most tragic events. Unable to get past their grief, the couple abandoned their Amish faith and went in different directions, though neither could bear to formally dissolve the marriage. When their loved ones reach out to them to come home for a family reunion, Ruth has reason to believe that Gideon won’t be there. Gideon also thinks that Ruth has declined the invitation. Family and friends are rooting for them to reunite, but will it all be enough for Ruth and Gideon to get past their grief and recapture a time when they were in love and had a bright future ahead of them?
A Chance to Remember by Kathleen Fuller
Cevilla Schlabach, Birch Creek’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is surprised when Richard, a man from her Englisch past, arrives in Birch Creek for a visit. While he and Cevilla take several walks down memory lane, they wonder what the future holds for them at this stage of life—friendship, or the possibility of something else?
Mended Hearts by Kelly Irvin
At eighteen Hannah Kauffman made a terrible mistake. Her parents and members of her Jamesport Amish community say they’ve forgiven her. But she feels their eyes following her everywhere she goes with eighteen-month-old Evie. Thaddeus, Evie’s father, escaped this fate by running away from Jamesport. Now that Thaddeus is gone, Hannah’s old friend Phillip is stepping up to be by her side. He has waited patiently for Hannah to realize just how much he cares for her. But when Thaddeus returns after two years, Hannah can’t deny the love she feels for him. Does the fact that Phillip has waited patiently for her all this time mean that she owes him something? Can she trust either one of them? Can she trust herself? She has repented and been forgiven by the One who is most important—her heavenly Father. But is she willing to risk making more mistakes by opening herself up to love?

My Thoughts:

If anyone has read my previous reviews, you already realize that one of my favorite genres is that of Amish Fiction. Although collections of novellas are not always my top pick of books to read,(only because I never want the tale to end),  I have to admit when I saw the names of the authors who contributed to this collection, I knew this novel would be one that I would love!! All four of these stories involve reuniting with loved ones. Each author uses her own unique style to produce a story that keeps the reader engrossed from beginning to end of the book. It was a delight to reunite with some of the folks of past series as well as encounter new individuals, each coming with their own needs and challenges.

Each and every character is described in a vivid , realistic fashion, enabling the reader to easily identify with them, feeling every hurt as well as allowing one to experience their joy when their battles of life are successfully dealt with. Just a side note.... be ready with a box of tissues, as these dear people tug at your heartstrings. Sensitive subjects are addressed with care and understanding as these families deal with grief, as well as struggles to maintain faith and trust in self as well as others. The reader is left with a deep feeling of empathy and understanding of these day to day challenges, similar to what each of us has experienced. Lives were changed as these characters repaired hurting relationships through forgiveness and faith in a higher power. 

The plot  in each novella moved at a quick pace and each was full of unexpected twists and turns. The theme of forgiveness so much valued by the Amish faith shines loud and clear throughout these four tales. This is not an easy task as each family discovered. Although each story is a standalone , the common theme of forgiving in order to  heal past hurts so that once can achieve reconciliation among family members ties them together. Even when we feel we are at our lowest , deepest moments, there is always hope, if we look above and follow God's plans. Peace within a family is so important to gain true happiness. 

This is a book not to be missed!! These authors should be commended on their skill and talent of leaving a lasting impression on all readers. The importance of faith and forgiveness to achieve healing past hurts comes through loud and clear . I was left with the thought, "Can I do something to improve my own and my family's lives?" Of course, after reading this book, all readers will have the answer!

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Rachel Hauck Has Written Another Winning Novel! A Story of Hope! Enter the Giveaway!

                   "The Memory House"
                       By Rachel Hauck

About the Book:

Genre: Christian Romance
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Embracing the future means remembering the past . . . When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either. Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share. Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.
Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts:

Rachel has the unique ability to take a theme and develop it into a story of hope even when the characters are in the worse situation that one can imagine. God , alone, has the ability to heal the past and give us hope for the future. Rachel clearly shows this in her new novel. This is a beautiful story of two women whose lives are intertwined although separated by  fifty years. 

Love , fear, loss of hope, are all experienced by the main characters. They are so vividly described that the reader immediately becomes one with them, feeling their every hurt as well as when they succeeded in finding joy amidst the storms. I was caught up in the lives of these people so much so that  at times, the world around me ceased to exist, as I lived life alongside them. The Memory House brings  these flawed , very realistic individuals together in spite of all that has gone on in their lives. There is a very real message underlying this story of healing, God and He only, can heal hurting hearts and supply each of us with what we need to find joy, even in the toughest situations. 

The intertwining plots are chock full of unexpected action and surprises. Just when the reader relaxes and thinks that the characters are on their way to  a happier future, reality kicks in! Unexplained tragedies and hurts once again arise. 

Overall, the reader is left with an intense desire to keep trudging along in life's battles. God is with us in the hardest moments and will see us through. There is always hope for a positive and joyful future that is only possible through His leading. 

A five star book!!! FANTASTIC READ!!

This book was a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own. A positive review was not required. 

About the Author
Rachel Hauck_headshotRachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at RachelHauck.com; Facebook: RachelHauck; Twitter: @RachelHauck; Instagram: @rachelhauc

Excerpt from The Memory House

When Mama Applegate spoke as if Everleigh were a guest rather than a family member, she embraced it with grace. Because at the end of the day, she was Rhett’s wife. She alone shared his dreams, his heart, his life.
And at night, when she couldn’t sleep, his soft breathing was her lullaby.
“Listen, mister, I have to get back to work or I won’t make it home in time for our dinner.” She tugged at his shirt collar. “So are you going to tell me why you’re here?”
“I was going to wait until tonight, but I got so excited . . .” Rhett stepped over to the desk in front of Everleigh’s and retrieved a long white canister. “Here. Open it. I feel like a kid at Christmas.”
“Rhett, what have you done?” She pried away the cap and slipped out a set of drawings.
“Here, let me.” Rhett unrolled a rendering of a cozy house with a wraparound porch nestled between two cottonwoods. “Our house, Ev. I took those sketches you made after we were married and gave
them to the architect. What do you think?”
“Th-this is our house?” She wrapped her arms around his waist, leaning against his thick arm as she studied the drawing.
“It’s our house, darling.”
Everleigh studied the drawing. It was just like she imagined. “Are you sure?” She gazed up at her husband. “I didn’t think we’d saved enough money.”
“We’ve saved every penny of your salary, and I finally sold the stud bull to Jacob Marshall. He’s been after me for a year . . .” Rhett held her with one hand while flipping through the drawing with the other. “I bought the ten acres by the stream. You know, the one with the trees we loved. Dad wanted to give it to us, but I said no strings.
I wanted to buy it so he can’t hold it over me. Not that he would, but family business can get tricky.” Everleigh leaned to see the name of the road. Memory Lane.
“Darling, the section right off Memory Lane? The spot I wanted?”
Rhett’s grandmother had named the dirt road years ago, when she imagined a large family with lots of grandkids running around.
She envisioned an Applegate community.
But her sons, Melvin and Earl, went to war. Only Earl—nicknamed Spike—returned home the fall of 1918. He inherited the ranch, married Mama Applegate, and fathered Rhett, an only child. Grandma’s two daughters married and moved away.
“Your granny would be proud, darling,” Everleigh said. “We’re beginning her dream.”
“Sh-she would.” Rhett cleared his throat, pressing his fist over his cough. “So, w-what do you think?”
Tell him! The timing could not have been more perfect.
“Rhett, sweetheart—”
He jerked his wrist up, checking his watch. “Oh, Ev, sorry, darling, but I promised Dad I’d pick him up from the hardware store thirty minutes ago.” He gave her a quick, passing kiss. “I’d planned to show you these tonight, but I just couldn’t wait.” He rolled up the drawings and tucked them into the canister. “What is it you wanted to say?” On reflex, he checked his watch again.
“Nothing,” she said, smiling. “I’ll see you later. We can talk then. I have work to do anyway.”
“You sure?”
Everleigh fell into him and pressed her cheek against his chest.
“You make my dreams come true, Rhett Applegate.”
He kissed her one more time, then held her at arm’s length.
“Distraction, girl, you are one beautiful distraction.”

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, April 22
Wishful Endings, April 22
Worthy2Read, April 23
C Jane Read, April 25
Carpe Diem, April 26
Mary Hake, April 27
EmpowerMoms, April 27
BigreadersiteApril 28
Pause for Tales, April 28
Quiet QuilterApril 30
Moments, May 5
Simple Harvest Reads, May 5 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize of a copy of The Memory House!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e2aa/the-memory-house-celebration-tour-giveaway

Another Fabulous Book from Chautona Havig! Enter the giveaway!

                    Thirty Days hath.......
                    By Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book: Thirty Days Hath  
Author: Chautona Havig  
Genre: Christian fiction, contemporary romance
 Release Date: Revised edition, Feb 26, 2019  

Blind Dates Are for Wimps! 
At least, that’s what Adric Garrison thinks. Can you blame him? Thanks to his sister and brother-in-law, Adric is about to embark on a year of month-long, chaperoned, blind dates. Awkward.
He didn’t ask for it. But Adric still finds himself living what seems more like a bad TV reality show than a new life in Fairbury. Once an ordinary (if prematurely gray and vertically challenged) guy, Adric is now Fairbury’s newest “most eligible bachelor,” and dreams of permanent bachelorhood loom on the horizon. Will he call it quits before the year is out, or will one of his “girls of the month” change his mind? One man, twelve women, one happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of Chautona's books that I have read, but I must admit that this is the BEST one yet!! If you are a fan of reality shows, such as "The Bachelor", you will definitely love this fun filled, somewhat humorous story. Although humor is present throughout the plot, there is also a thoughtful, serious theme. What do Christian singles do to meet the spouse of their dreams?? It is not an easy road to travel. How many single mates can one encounter in a church atmosphere?? Let's face it, there are not  as many as if one would do the "bar scene". 

Chautona uses her unique talent of developing a plot full of meaning and action. The reader is kept engrossed from beginning to end of this road to romance. The path is rocky and full of hills and valleys, however , the characters keep us guessing as to what the next roadblock will be!! The characters are described in such a vivid, realistic fashion that you are able to easily identify with each of them and walk alongside them in their quest to find a mate, one with whom they can share love and life. I must admit that at times I exploded with giggles as I read of some of the antics that a few desperate females use to entrap  poor Adric. At other times, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what on earth was going to happen next!

This is definitely a five star book, well written, full of action , keeping  with the modern times of the theme introduced by reality shows and ways to meet others. 

Fantastic read!!

This book was a gift. The thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and my own. A positive review was not required. 

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author    

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona

A Silent Truth No One Admits: Blind Dates Are for Wimps

Maybe I’m not the one to talk. After all, I never dated. Not really. My best friend in high school was a guy. We went to the movies. We did things. Still, we were just great friends. I had what might be considered one date in Lubbock, Texas in 1987. Maybe. I didn’t consider it one, but I suppose the guy might have. Maybe. Then I went from best friends with the guy I’ve been married to for 30 years to engaged in the span of a few seconds after what might have been a rhetorical question. He’s under orders not to tell me if it was. After all, he’s the fool who went on to say, “I do.” Just sayin’. Still, in the first decade of the 21st century, I discovered a new “thing” in reality TV. The Bachelor. Though I tried watching it, I couldn’t after a while. It started out reasonably clean, but then it devolved into cat fights, spit-swapping sessions, and drama. Oh, the drama. But one aspect intrigued me. The focused attention to finding the girl. What if Christians did that? What if we stopped playing the silly game of “pretend we’re not in this to see if you’re someone I could put up with for the next fifty or sixty years…”? Oh, man. What if the church rallied around its members and helped without pushing. Trust me, you don’t want to push too much. You may discover that the people you’re pushing just get together and talk about it. Laugh at your antics. Mock the ridiculousness of it. Not that Kevin and I ever did that back in the day or anything. (Check out that story HERE.) That “what if?” spurred an idea. Sister churches. Chaperones. Not a couple of weeks in a giant house somewhere, but a whole month of real living with someone, day in. Day out. And again, with that chaperone to avoid that “appearance of evil” thing. If you could spend that much time with someone, seeing warts, virtues, best and worst sides… well, maybe you might just be right for each other. At the least, you’d have a good idea if you even wanted to find out. That’s a healthier and quicker start than two or three months of a date here or there and hoping you’re seeing the real person. Right? I created a character and ran with it. From giving him less than Hollywood good looks, to an anger problem and a blue-collar job, Adric had lots going for him… and not so much! Then I tested it out. Acid test. I signed him up for eHarmony. No, really. I did. For the record, apparently short, prematurely graying mechanics with anger issues are a hot commodity. It took hours to get it set up, but man there were many women out there for him… supposedly. And to this day, my Gmail email (that I never use) still says adricgarrison@gmail.com. No joke. For what it’s worth, Adric learned one very difficult lesson that year. As I’ve already confessed. I’ve never been on a blind date. I doubt anyone would even consider that I’ve been on a date. Still, after writing this book, I know for one thing. Blind Dates Are for Wimps. 

                              Blog Stops

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a paperback copy of Thirty Days Hath, book cozy, and a $25 Starbucks gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into to the giveaway!

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...