November 23rd, 2014

river

She looked once more at the dreaded river. Since Anna’s death, it had been such a barrier . . . a place and a moment she could not seem to move past.
A line I can’t move beyond…
The River

Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents’ landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn’t entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.

Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can’t undo?

My Comments: Once again Beverly Lewis writes a GREAT Amish novel. I found the story quite engaging, even though some parts were kind of predictable–but not completely so. I didn’t completely understand the family dynamics. Both sisters in the family left the Amish and became English. Of course I’ll never completely understand the Amish, although I find their lifestyle completely fascinating. Relationships were key – daughter and father; sister and sister; brother and sister, and mother and daughter. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the story of the demise of Anna the youngest sister. I feel this could have been explored a little more deeply – maybe another time. Keep the Amish novels coming, Ms. Lewis!

November 21st, 2014

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About the book:

Andrew can’t remember the last time he spent Christmas away from work. The end of the year is crunch time for literary agents. But when your career is your life, your life starts to suffer . . . beginning with your marriage.

When a heart-wrenching accident in a Christmas Eve snowstorm jars this high-powered agent from his obsession with success, a Christmas miracle will give him a second chance at love, life, and gratitude, but only if he can put aside his own ambition and learn to appreciate each moment.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to change a man’s life—and to teach him to treat every day as if it were his last.

My Comments: Great holiday read on the order of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. I felt like there was going to be no lesson learned throughout most of the book which frustrated me, but it was part of the story which had to be told.

I was a little disappointed in the ending, but not sure of another way it could have ended. The message of forgiveness is woven throughout the story. The main character, Beth, was amazing and very likable. I found myself routing for her throughout. Andrew was a bit of a arrogant, self-absorbed character.

Life is short and difficult we need to make the most of it while we can. Priorities must be adhered to in order to have a life full of meaning. The Christian message was implied, especially forgiveness. This is a good read with great message!

 

 

November 15th, 2014

 

lilacAbout the book:
Once upon a time, Rick Sullivan had a promising future. One of Jewell Cove’s star athletes and reigning heartthrobs, he joined the Marines and had the world in the palm of his hand…until it all came crashing down. His honorable discharge doesn’t make him the hometown hero everyone wants him to be, and there’s little reprieve from the demons that haunt him at night. Still, even though it seems that all hope is gone, fate has something else in store…

Just hearing Rick’s name is enough to give Jess Collins a headache. Years ago, they’d been close. Now she barely knows the man Rick has become since his return from service…then again, Jess isn’t that same young, naïve girl anymore either. And while there’s a powerful attraction between them–one that yields a greater passion than Jess could have ever imagined–both are wary about opening their hearts to love…and loss.

But happy endings don’t come easily when long-buried secrets insist on rising to the surface. Will their pasts tear them apart–or can love find a way to heal them both?

My Comments:  This was a good book, I enjoyed the small town setting and feel. The characters were likable and real as were most of the situations. This is not my usual read, however, although most of the book was clean and would not be offensive to Christian believers, there was some sex outside of marriage and sexual situations described. Other than the couple of these scenes, the book would appeal to a wide variety of readers. I will probably read more of Alward’s books because the story is down homesy and sweet.
Thank you NetGalley for the free e-copy for review. This is my honest opinion.

 

November 13th, 2014

imageAbout the book:

In the small town of Grandon, five very different people discover the true meaning of Christmas. Jennifer and Ryan are both single parents, struggling with their own losses and heartache as they attempt to move forward in the present while still holding onto the memories, joy, and heartache of the past. Sixteen-year-old Kaylee is faced with a life-changing situation that has affected her whole family. Stephen and Lily are happily married and ready to start a family. All of them are facing their own struggles, and all are finding their way through the dark. When they are brought together for a rather unconventional church Nativity, they will learn that with strength, courage, and love, there is always hope.
The New York Times bestselling author of the beloved The Christmas Hope series returns with this new heartwarming, inspirational story about the power of love and faith to reveal the possibilities that lay right in front of you.

My comments: This is an enjoyable little holiday book. The stories intersect well and tie together well. I love Donna VanLiere’s Christmas books. This is the latest of many. They are sweet, clean, and warm and fuzzy.

November 12th, 2014

imageAbout the book: 

With all the warmth of a cozy quilt, three authors stitch together Amish tales of hearts joined, friendships patched, and the bright joys of Christmas tradition . . .
A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant
Charlotte Hubbard

Seth Brenneman didn’t expect his holiday would include rescuing pregnant young Mary Kauffman and her two children. . .or having unexpected feelings for the still-grieving widow. But when they must play the leads in an impromptu live Nativity pageant to help his Amish community, will their roles reveal their hearts–and work a miracle for a lifetime?

A Christmas On Ice Mountain
Kelly Long

Matthew Beider and Laurel Lapp’s secret wish to marry is a gift their feuding fathers definitely won’t accept. And trying to settle their dats’ long-standing quarrel is making their holiday anything but merry. Can rediscovering the joys and friendships of Christmas past finally turn their families’ futures bright?

A Perfect Amish Christmas
Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna and Felty Helmuth’s grandson, Gideon, plans to spend Christmas on a beach in sunny Mexico. But Anna is quite sure he’d rather be with them, snowshoeing, ice fishing–falling in love. And she knows the perfect girl. Not only is Dottie Schrock an excellent quilter and baker, she’s having a party. There’s just one complication–Gideon is not invited. Dottie has her reasons, but Anna trusts that the spirit of Christmas–and true love–will change her mind, and her future . . .

My Comments: Great Amish read! I love that it especially centers around quilts – warm and cozy! The three stories are unique – I mean they don’t intersect and the characters are different – the three commonalities are Amish, quilts, and Romance. So if you like clean, Amish fiction with the setting of Christmas, you will love these stories. I have read other Amish books by these authors – they are all good. Interesting that Kelly Long’s story contains a family feud – didn’t think Amish participated in this behavior, but according to this story, they do. Great book!

 

November 1st, 2014

treetops

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartimeSiblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of ChristmasTurn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?
My Comments:  

The cover of this book did not grab my interest or cause me to necessarily want to open it and begin reading, but in this case “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to my feelings about this book. Once I began reading, I could hardly put it down, and wouldn’t have except I need to go to school every day and teach first graders.  The three stories set during World War II, feed off of each other. We are talking about three main characters – siblings – each one mentioned in the other stories, but each a star in her/his own story.  I love that – as well as the three different voices of the three different authors. The setting, World War II adds a different dimension as well – fear (what will happen to my loved ones?), faith (where does GOD fit in throughout all of this?), and family (closeness, especially at the holidays). The characters are strong as is the family. We read of multi-generations under one roof. This book definitely sets a holiday mood, and even though I was born years after World War II, brings back memories of a simpler time.
I would like to recommend this book to Christian fiction readers – especially if you are like me and can never get enough holiday reading. It’s a great read!
I agreed to read and review this book and give my honest opinion.  Thank you WaterBrook Multnomah for the free copy!
October 27th, 2014

our first christmas

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” Join four of your favorite authors for tales of Christmas romance to remember forever.

“Under the Mistletoe,” Lisa Jackson

Megan Johnson’s marriage is over—or so she thinks. When her husband Chris lands in the hospital, fighting for his life, she remembers the unexpected joy of their first Christmas together…

“A Ranger for Christmas,” Mary Burton

The holidays bring painful memories for history professor Marissa Thompson. Agreeing to help Texas Ranger Lucas Cooper solve a case offers the perfect distraction. But as danger threatens, the joy of love has never been more tempting.

“A Southern Christmas,” Mary Carter

Reporter Danielle Bright is heading home for the holidays to write up a feature story about Christmas down south—and possibly win back her ex. But Sawyer, the sexy photographer along for the ride, is determined to jingle her bells…

“Christmas in Montana” Cathy Lamb

Family is the ideal antidote to getting fired, but Laurel Kelly isn’t prepared for the changes at home in Montana—or the fact that her college boyfriend Josh Reed now owns the family land. But a blue Christmas could be the perfect surprise for a holiday to remember.

My Comments:  Every year I read tons of Christmas books, and I’ve already read one Amish, now I’m reading one secular. I love this type of book because there is mystery and suspense as well as romance. The first story A Ranger for Christmas was full of content – especially for a short story. I loved it! The characters were not perfect, yet they were totally interesting and people I would love to know. The pull towards family is strong, but the pain some people feel at the holidays was also very present.

My favorite stories were the first two, A Southern Christmas and A Ranger for Christmas. I read and enjoyed the other two, but the first two really caught my interest. Short stories put into an anthology are great for this time of the year, when I still enjoy reading, but don’t have the time for a long novel. I get it read quickly and completely.  Thanks NetGalley for the free review copy. This opinions are totally my own.

October 25th, 2014

An Amish Family Christmas

Celebrate the holidays in Amish Country

Heart of Christmas by Marta Perry

Amish teacher Susannah Miller suddenly has two new students: the children of her former love. Widowed father Toby Unger broke Susannah’s heart ten years ago, but now the handsome Amish man desperately needs help with his troubled little ones. Can the joy of the season reunite two lonely hearts in time for Christmas?

A Plain Holiday by Patricia Davids

Outspoken nanny Sally Yoder left her Amish community for her rumspringa. Though her heart is back home, the Amish man she loves, Ben Lapp, will never love a bold woman like her. But when a snowstorm strands her, her young charges and Ben on a remote farm at Christmastime, they both might discover that love is the true holiday spirit.

Amish teacher Susannah Miller suddenly has two new students: the children of her former love. Widowed father Toby Unger broke Susannah’s heart ten years ago, but now the handsome Amish man desperately needs help with his troubled little ones. Can the joy of the season reunite two lonely hearts in time for Christmas?

Outspoken nanny Sally Yoder left her Amish community for her rumspringa. Though her heart is back home, the Amish man she loves, Ben Lapp, will never love a bold woman like her. But when a snowstorm strands her, her young charges and Ben on a remote farm at Christmastime, they both might discover  that love is the true holiday spirit.

My Comments: I love reading Amish Christmas books. They are full of what makes the holidays important and devoid of the materialism so rampant in our society. This book is no exception, in fact, the important side of Christmas in emphasized! Both stories in this book are written by two of my favorite authors – Patricia Davids and Marta Perry. The stories are engaging and emotional. One other thing about these stories as in so many other Amish books is that there is a sweet predictability embedded. I love that. I need the escape that a happily ever after contains. There is danger, there are accidents, there is romance, there is some suspense as to what will happen – all of this caused me to continue to the end. Thanks for writing and publishing these stories!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

October 20th, 2014

image

Celebrate Second Christmas, a treasured, lighthearted time of community, with four Amish romances.

“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman

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.

“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid

Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.

 

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller

Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.

“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer

Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

My Comments: Another winning Amish novella series. This was the second book I read for the 24-hour marathon, otherwise I could have read each in one sitting and been totally immersed and engaged. I loved each of these stories – they were uniquely different and different from each other.  The romance was super sweet and touched me deeply. I like the tradition the Amish have of a Second Christmas with the first being totally focused on the birth of Christ, then the second being focused on family and friends. I would love that tradition. Instead we try to cram it all in one day. I enjoy reading books by all four of these authors – Tricia Goyer, Ruth Reid, Beth Wiseman, and Kathleen Fuller. They each have a great style of writing and pull a reader right into the story. I have trouble sometimes getting into a story if it doesn’t have an immediate hook, each of these short stories did!

I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given!

 

 

October 18th, 2014

imageWhen she moves to Amish country to find peace and healing, Madeleine finds a special community—and a special man—who pull her out of her solitude into a new life.

Moving to Pennsylvania wasn’t in Madeleine’s original plans. She should still be in California and should have married her pilot fiancé a year ago—but death has a way of changing everything. Now the former Air Force flight nurse is living alone in Paradise, Pennsylvania, and working as a maid at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. She isn’t exactly a widow . . . but she sure feels like one.

Saul Beiler isn’t exactly a widower . . . but his wife is long gone. His eleven-year-old daughter, Emma, doesn’t know that her mother fled the Amish community—and married another man—but she does know that her dat is lonely, and that a pretty young maedel just moved in next door. Madeline’s numb heart begins to thaw as she spends more time with the innocent and ever optimistic Emma. The stronger her friendship grows with the young girl, the more intrigued Madeline grows about the humble, strong, man raising her on his own.

But even as a strange attraction pulls Saul and Madeleine across a stark cultural divide, they—and everybody else—have to wonder: What could they possibly have in common besides heartache? Will love allow Madeleine to finally find the home she’s been dreaming of all along?

My Comments:  This is the first book I finished for Dewey’s Readathon!  WooHoo!  I liked this book quite a bit, but it ended abruptly.  I hope ther’s a book 4 in the series. The story is very hopeful and romantic, ut I don’t know how anyone can convert to being Amish. I love reading about them because the stories are sweet, clean, and full of family, but the legalism would kill me – figuratively speaking. this story seems to being Madeleine back to her roots, she has Amish in her blood, that’s why I think it works and is believable.

this is the first Amish book I’ve read where divorce is mentioned at all, and also done believably

Thank you NetGalley for opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest opinion.