Archive for the 'Women’s Fiction' Category


Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

Love arrives in pieces

About the book: For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

My Comments: I heard a lot of good things about this book – good romance, great beach read, and I saw it on many TBR lists for the summer. Stella, who grew up in a pastor’s home, is not a typical pastor’s daughter. She won beauty contests, she’s been married and divorced, and now she was just about ready to move back to live with her parents until her mother finds her a job in her field of interior design. What neither she or her mom knows, however, is that she would be working closely with an old boyfriend, who just happens to have history with both Stella and her sister.

The book is good. It includes a nice southern flair. I like the exploration of complicated relationships which we see in several parts of this book. It IS a great summer, beach read.

I am giving my honest opinion in exchange for a free copy of the book from the publisher.

Kim Vogel Sawyer’s When Grace Sings

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

when grace sings

When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion?

Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren’t what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she’s operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk.

But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths.

Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.

My comments: This was an interesting, engaging read – a mix of English, Amish, and Mennonite groups. It was written by multiple points of view but clearly labeled so it wasn’t confusing. The characters were extremely likable and open to change which served the story well. I love the idea of a Bed and Breakfast story line and setting and this one did not disappoint. The Englishers whose car broke down and subsequently visited for a few days added modern times to a story that was basically steeped in the past (Amish and Mennonite faiths seem to be like a step back in time). Briley, looking for dirt on these groups, was charming most of the time, but he was surprised at all he found out during his visit. The story moved along well with many surprised embedded along the way. I recommend this book to Amish fiction and romance book lovers!

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Amy Clipston’s – A Simple Prayer

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

prayer

About the book:

Linda is no stranger to hardship. Now she dares to hope for a chance at love and a new beginning.

As the sole survivor of a buggy accident that left her orphaned at age four, Linda Zook was reluctantly raised by her Uncle Reuben. She longs to be worthy of someone, but the lasting trauma of her injuries and embittered upbringing have destroyed her self-worth. When Hannah Peterson asks her to work at the Heart of Paradise Bed & Breakfast, she’s finally able to realize some confidence.

Aaron Ebersol left the Amish community seventeen years ago when he could no longer bear the restrictions or the constant tension with his father. Despite years of unanswered letters to his parents and the roots he’s put down in Missouri, Aaron rushes back to the Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania, after receiving word of his mother’s stroke. Hesitant to get too close to the family he was once a part of, he decides to stay at the Heart of Paradise Bed & Breakfast. Talking with Linda allows him to explore his feelings about his family and his position in the Amish community.

As Linda and Aaron open up to each other, their feelings for one another turn into more than friendship, and Aaron must make a decision about his future as an Amish man.

Can Linda and Aaron forgive the family members who have deceived and forsaken them? And will Aaron be able to convince Linda that she is worthy of his love?

My Comments: I took a break from reading Amish fiction and came back to read this great one! To be Amish, or not to be Amish – that is the question! I could hardly put this book down. The ending (which wrapped up the whole series – Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel), kept me in tears. Needless to say, it was a cathartic read. Bitterness pays a high price as was played out in the characters of this story. Linda is an amazing character – someone I’d like to be like when I grow up 🙂 I wish real life could be like these books – sometimes it is, that is our hope.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review which I have given – great read – especially for fans of Amish fiction. Thank you Amy Clipston for another engaging story!

Chasing Sunsets by Karen Kingsbury

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

chasing-sunsets-9781451687507_lg

Growing up in a comfortable home, Mary Catherine wanted for nothing. Though she loves her wealthy parents, their lifestyle never appealed to her. Instead, Mary Catherine pursues meaning through charity work, giving away a part of herself but never giving away her heart.

Mary Catherine lives in Los Angeles with her roommate, Sami, and volunteers at a local youth center with coach Tyler Ames and LA Dodger Marcus Dillinger. Despite Mary Catherine’s intention to stay single, she finds herself drawing close to Marcus, and their budding romance offers an exciting life she never dreamed of. That is, until she receives devastating news from her doctor. News that alters her future and forces her to make a rash decision.

My Comments:  I wish life was like a Karen Kingsbury novel. Seriously, there are usually one or more happy ever afters. Having said that, this book has the flavor of Frank Peretti books in that there is serious spiritual warfare. We’re talking angels and evil spirits. Thankfully, this book does not have the after-effect those books had on me. There is a lot more feel good about this story. It is easy to read and a quick read. The characters are somewhat multi-faceted and lack perfection. Most of them are trying to live for Jesus. They are Christians of various spiritual maturity levels. I think this book would appeal to young adults and young marrieds, although I usually read all of Kingsbury’s novels and I’m past that age group. In fact, I knew a 90 year old women who loved and read all of  them! I recommend this and all of Kingsbury’s books.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

Marie Bostwick’s – The Second Sister

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

second sister

Years of long workdays and little sleep as a political campaigner are about to pay off now that Lucy Toomey’s boss is entering the White House. But when her estranged older sister, Alice, unexpectedly dies, Lucy is drawn back to Nilson’s Bay, her small, close-knit, Wisconsin hometown.

An accident in her teens left Alice mentally impaired, and she was content to stay in Nilson’s Bay. Lucy, meanwhile, got out and never looked back. But now, to meet the terms of Alice’s eccentric will, Lucy has taken up temporary residence in her sister’s cottage–and begins to see the town, and Alice’s life, anew. Alice’s diverse group of friends appears to have little in common besides an interest in quilting. Yet deep affection for Alice united them and soon Lucy, too, is brought into the fold as they share problems and stories. And as she finds warmth and support in this new circle, Lucy begins to understand this will be her sister’s enduring gift–a chance to move beyond her difficult past, and find what she has long been missing. . .

My Comments: Imagine living a fast-paced political life in Washington D.C. Does this appeal to you? It really doesn’t to me, especially after reading this book and discovering the sacrifices involved. Lucy and Alice were sisters – not especially close, but they had been in years past. Alice, the golden child, saved Lucy’s life. Lucy, however, as a teenager felt responsible for a tragic accident which left Alice mentally challenged. Wow! Imagine living with that kind of guilt. Lucy seemed to stay busy possibly trying to block out this life-altering event in her life. Never, did Lucy wish to return to her hometown, but the unexpected death of Alice caused her to run home to attend her funeral. What she finds there shocks her. She’s remembering that not everything was bad and evil about her hometown. The people are real, they care about each other and although they don’t embrace Lucy at first, it happens. Then there’s Peter…

I enjoyed this book and found it thought-provoking. I received the book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Colleen Coble’s – The Inn at Ocean’s Edge

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

the inn at ocean's edge

About the book:  A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore’s childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie . . .

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents. Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She’s at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the “nervous” woman’s testimony as less than credible.

But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke’s father suspected she’d been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn’t show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.

As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.

My comments:  Wow! This book kept me reading and reading. Imagine waking up one day to find out that your entire life was a lie! Not only that – but that you had close relatives you knew nothing about! Then to find out nobody believes you, in fact others think you may be a murderer. I can’t even begin to imagine. I also can’t imagine those closest to me lying about everything. This book was a quick, on the edge-of-your seat read. The setting sounds gorgeous in an eerie kind of way. The characters are believable, and there are many twists and turns. I had a little trouble following the change in characters though – the switch off seemed somewhat awkward, but this may be because it was an advance reader’s copy.

Colleen Coble is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. I have loved everything she has written and read them all. This book won’t be published until April, but it’s definitely worth looking into.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

The Matchmaker by Sarah Price

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

the matchmaker

About the book:  When Emma’s interference in her friends’
lives backfires, will the consequences
be more than she bargained for?

Emma Weaver is twenty-one years old and has found a passion for playing
matchmaker with her friends. Her neighbor, Gideon King, warns her about
interfering in people’s lives, but she disregards his advice and plans to set up
Paul, the son of the bishop, with her friend Hannah.

But when Paul misinterprets Emma’s attention, believing she has feelings
for him, he begins asking her to ride in his buggy after Sunday singings and
shows up at her house for Friday evening visits. As she tries to repair the
damage that’s been done and mend the hearts that have been broken, she
finds herself in trouble with the community. Will she learn her lesson and
stop meddling in the affairs of others? Will she find a love of her own?

My Comments:  This book was quite engaging. I read it in just a couple of days. I loved Emma Weaver and her care for others. I loved her daed, and I loved Gideon King. Oh my, the gossip amongst the Amish amazed me. It’s been quite a while since I read Emma by Jane Austin, the book this story is based on, but this book definitely made me want to see the movie again. There are a few twists and turns which kept the story moving, and I loved the Amish slant on the story. I found out about some prejudices the Amish hold.

It seemed like Emma could have had any man she wanted, but she didn’t even wish to marry. She just wanted to marry everyone else off.  This was a great book to read around Valentine’s Day – love was definitely in the air in surprising ways—

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

Sarah Price bio – The Preiss family emigrated from Europe in 1705, settling in Pennsylvania as the area’s first wave of Mennonite families. Sarah Price has always respected and honored her ancestors through exploration and research about her family history and their religion. At nineteen, she befriended an Amish family and lived on their farm throughout the years.

As a masterful storyteller, Sarah Price prides herself on presenting an authentic Amish experience for her readers. Many of her stories are based on actual people she has met and her own experiences living among the Amish over the years. Sarah now resides in Morris County, New Jersey with her family.

While she started out as an Indie author, she signed on with Realms, an imprint of Charisma House and Waterfall Press, an imprint of Brilliance Publishing. Her first book, First Impressions: An Amish Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was released in May 2014.

Get the latest news about Sarah Price on Facebook, Twitter, and sarahpriceauthor.com.

matchmaker bio

The Christmas Light

Thursday, 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.

Where Treetops Glisten

Saturday, 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!

Christmas Preview – Debbie Macomber’s Mr. Miracle

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Mr. Miracle


Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.

After trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.

Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.

Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.

My Comments: This is a novella and rather short, so the characters aren’t extremely developed, nor is the story. Also, angels are involved which makes it more unrealistic, but sweet. Debbie has a Christmas series with angels, but I could never really get into those. In this book the angels had a role to help the humans – kind of guardian angels. I like the story, and I was engaged. It was a quick read. Hallmark will have a movie based on this book coming out for the holidays. The ending seemed kind of abrupt to me. I felt like I was left hanging. This book could be read at any time of the year even though the setting was Christmas time. After having read the book, I am now looking forward to seeing Hallmark’s movie.

Thank you NetGalley for a free review e-copy in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.