Sunday, March 26, 2017

Great finish to a series -- When Tides Turn


Reading Sarah Sundin's When Tides Turn was a bittersweet experience -- it was great to see loose ends tied up from previous stories, but I'm sorry to lose touch with "good friends."

As always, Sarah Sundin has combined her in-depth and detailed research with her fantastic storytelling to craft a story that picks you up and transports you right into a different time and place.  After having read the entire Waves of Freedom series, I feel like I have visited Boston of the 1940s and would expect to have run into Tess, Dan, and their family and friends during my visit.  The details of the workings of the Navy mixed with characters so real and alive bring a new level of understanding of life during WWII.  It was a thrill to journey with Tess and Dan as they each worked to "stay the course" in the midst of an array of joys and sorrows.

When Tides Turn has a great mix of history, war, and romance.  Fans of any of those genres should thoroughly enjoy the story.  While this book would be great as a stand alone, I would highly recommend reading the entire series in order.

Thanks to Revell Books for providing me with a copy of this book.  I am delighted to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

In a time of war, sometimes battles take place in the heart.
Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face. Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy's newly established WAVES program for women. Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to make admiral. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals, Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.

But love, like war, is unpredictable. When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore. Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?

About the Author:

Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep and Anchor in the Storm, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A story of Amazing Grace -- Grace and the Preacher

"Thank you, God, for givin' me Grace!"

I know I sound like a broken record, but I just can't help it!  Whenever I see the name Kim Vogel Sawyer on a book, I know it's going to be great.  And I was certainly not disappointed with Grace and the Preacher.

As always, Kim has given us characters that literally leap off the page with life.  I felt the heart and soul of Grace, Theo, Uncle Philemon, and others as I walked through their stories with them.  Innocent mistakes and deliberate deceit led to adventures filled with joys and pains that kept me totally engaged and eager to see how all the jumble could be unraveled and put back together.  Kim crafted a beautiful tale of  love and grace that was a delight to read and provided splendid nuggets for thought like the following:

  "If Jesus said it, we oughtta do it."

 "He has to be first. Because if He's not first, then we can't be whole."

Fans of great inspirational fiction should thoroughly enjoy this captivating historical story.  Thanks to the author and her publisher for sharing a copy of Grace and the Preacher.  I am delighted to share my thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has aa chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs. 

But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?

About the Author:

Kim Vogel Sawyer enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, are active in their church’s music ministry. Additionally, Kim helps lead women’s fellowship and enjoys teaching at writing conferences and spiritual retreats. When she isn't writing, Kim enjoys quilting, traveling, and spoiling her granddarlings. 

With over 40 titles on library shelves and more than 1.5 million copies of her books in print worldwide,

Saturday, March 18, 2017

New Amish series with a touch of suspense -- Her Secret


Her Secret is Shelley Shepard Gray's first book in a new series, an Amish story with a touch of suspense.

If you read a lot of Amish fiction, you may find the setting of this series to be a bit unfamiliar.  The story is mostly set in Hart County, Kentucky, away from the typical Amish settings in places like Lancaster County and Holmes County.  As Shelley has the Hilty family settle into their new home, she brings in details about this unfamiliar area.

The plot of the story has some intriguing twists that keep the story moving pretty well, although it does get a little bogged down at times. Most of the characters are interesting and develop well throughout the story.  The suspense, love story, and faith mix well with the other elements to make for an enjoyable read for fans of Amish fiction.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of Her Secret.  I was glad to share my thoughts in this review.

See what other readers think about the book here.

About the Book: 

A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she's getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky...if only she wasn't too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

 For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called "The Recluse" confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God's gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there's always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Illusion and intrigue -- The Illusionist's Apprentice

Kristy Cambron's The Illusionist's Apprentice is a story filled with illusion and intrigue.

The main story takes place in 1926/27, but flashbacks to various other periods of time are essential elements to putting all the pieces together.  The mix of history and fictions makes for an intriguing story with a feel of authenticity.  The characters are complex, particularly the main character, Wren Lockhart.  Illusion is her vocation, but it is also a large part of who she is personally.  
The plot of the story is filled with twists and turns.  Some of the mystery is fairly easy to put together, but other pieces kind of hit you over the head from out of nowhere. 

Fans of great historical fiction who are interested in a unique setting should really appreciate The Illusionist's Apprentice.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing a copy of this book.  I was delighted to share my thoughts in the review. 

About the Book:

Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

About the Author:

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, was named to Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014 and nominated for RT Book Reviews’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and for the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal’s Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction) for February 2015 and a Top Pick for RT Book Reviews. Kristy holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three young sons. Website: www.kristycambron.com Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-Cambron-Author.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Music for your heart -- A Note Yet Unsung


Opening the cover of Tamera Alexander's A Note Yet Unsung is an experience that will bring music to your heart.  You step immediately into 19th century Nashville, Tennessee, and are swept into the lives of Rebekah Carrington and Tate Whitcomb and the parts they play in the fledgling Nashville Philharmonic.

From the opulence of Adelicia Acklen Cheatham's Belmont Mansion to the sparseness of Chicory Hollow this story is a journey filled with tears, laughter, and almost every emotion in between -- with love and music as the threads that tie everything together.  A Note Yet Unsung is one of those books where you can get so lost in the story that you aren't sure whether you want to see how it all comes together or you want it to never end.  The hardest part of reading the book was when I looked at the clock at 1:30 a.m. and realized I had to put it away to get a few hours of sleep before finishing the story.

Tamera Alexander has an incredible way with words and uses her awesome skill of mixing facts and fiction to craft breathtaking stories filled with characters so alive that you expect them to speak directly to you.  Although they are stand-alone novels, all three of her Belmont Mansion novels have some commonalities that make the entire series worth reading in order.  I highly recommend them to any fan of great inspirational historical fiction.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy of this book.  I am delighted to share my personal thoughts for this review.

About the Book:

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah's hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor--determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music--bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah's new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville's new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse--and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head--he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city's new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music--his father, who is dying. As Tate's ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman's trust when you've robbed her of her dream?

As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women's hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history--but the hearts of men.

About the Author:

Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South and live in Tennessee, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children.

Tamera invites you visit her website, her blog, on Twitter, or Facebook.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A very enjoyable collection -- An Amish Home

An Amish Home is quite possibly the best collection of Amish novellas that I have read.  I have read several of these 3-4 story anthologies, and there is usually one that just doesn't strike me as well as the others.  But each of these four authors penned a story that was very enjoyable.

Three of the stories are centered around an Amish family facing some kind of difficulties in their lives.  The fourth focuses on an English couple who find warmth and kindness at the hands of a generous Amish employer and his family.  In each case, the means of accepting and overcoming the challenges comes from the strength of home and family.  

Due to the natural limitations of length in this type of collection, there is not as much time to develop the characters as in full-length novels and series.  In each novella, though, the characters and plots are presented so well that is easy to jump right in and feel like you know these people and care about their stories.  The pace of each story is very enjoyable as well.

I would highly recommend An Amish Home to fans of good Amish fiction.  If you are familiar with these authors, you should enjoy the contribution each one makes to the collection.  And if any of the authors are new to you, this is a great way to sample their work.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing a copy of this book.  I am happy to share my thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman—Sarah Lantz always dreamed of the perfect home, the perfect husband, the perfect family. When she married Abram, she knew she was on her way to securing her perfect life. All of that changes in one moment when an accident leaves her unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, dashing all of her dreams. As Abram starts to transform their home, Sarah begins a transformation in her spirit, and she begins, once again, to see her cup as half full.

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston—Down on their luck and desperate after they are evicted from their small apartment, Chace and Mia O’Conner reluctantly take Chace’s Amish boss up on his offer to rent them the daadihaus located on his property. They are certain they will never feel at home in the rustic cabin without any modern conveniences, and they start to blame each other for their seemingly hopeless situation. But with the help of their new Amish friends, Chace and Mia begin to enjoy their cozy cabin and realize that home really is where the heart is.

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid—Fifteen years ago, Thomas and Noreen King were blissful newlyweds. Young, naive, and in love, life was rosy . . . for a while. Then trials and tribulations rocked their foundation, shattering them emotionally, and soon, their marriage was in shards. All hope for restoring their previously unshakable union seems lost. When fire destroys their home, Thomas and Noreen are left to sift through the rubble. As uncovered items from the remains of the house shake loose memories of the past, Thomas and Noreen begin to draw closer and a flicker of hope—and love—is re-ignited.

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller—Faith Miller knows that carpentry is an unlikely hobby for a young Amish woman, but she loves the work and it keeps the memory of her grandfather alive. So when her cousin asks Faith to build the cabinets in her new home, Faith is only too happy to take on the job, even if it is the most ambitious project she has ever taken on. The only catch is that she has to work with her ex-fiance, Silas. As they work to build Martha’s kitchen, can they put the past behind them and start to build faith in one another again?

About the Authors:

Beth Wiseman is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Daughters of the Promise, Land of Canaan, and Amish Secrets series. While she is best known for her Amish novels, Beth has also written contemporary novels including Need You Now, The House that Love Built, and The Promise.

Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at amyclipston.com Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks Twitter: @AmyClipston

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life. Visit Ruth online at ruthreid.com Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid Twitter: @authorruthreid

Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including A Man of His Word and Treasuring Emma, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at www.kathleenfuller.com, Twitter: @TheKatJam, and Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Engaging series conclusion -- Amish Weddings (with a GIVEAWAY)


(Be sure to read to the end of the post for a chance to win your own copy of Amish Weddings.)

I thought Leslie Gould was taking on quite a challenge when she began her Neighbors of Lancaster County, mixing Amish and English neighbors with a military element.  But she brings together those and other conflicting plots in a very skillful way, culminating with this engaging series conclusion, Amish Weddings.

Most of the characters in this book are familiar from the previous installments, but they continue to grow and develop as their stories and circumstances change.  This is not a cookie-cutter Amish romance, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the interest level high to the very end of the story.

Fans of Amish fiction should really enjoy Amish Weddings. I would recommend that you read the first two books in the series before this one for a more enjoyable reading experience.

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for providing a copy of this book.  I was pleased to share my thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

Will Love Be Enough to Fix What Tragedy Threatens?

Gregarious Rose Lehman, who's always the life of the Amish youth singings, is determined to marry the bishop's son, Reuben Byler--until the handsome Army buddy of her future brother-in-law shows up in Lancaster County. In comparison to Trevor, Reuben seems downright boring. Trevor shares Rose's sense of fun and adventure, and her easygoing disposition.

When her sister Lila is injured in a devastating accident, Rose finds herself with more freedom than she's ever experienced in her life. Only Reuben seems to notice, but he never voices his concerns. Part of her relishes the freedom she's found with Trevor, but the other part wishes Reuben would finally express his love and "fight" for her. Have her choices ruined her best chance at love, or is there another path to happiness she just hasn't seen yet?

About the Author:

Leslie Gould is the author of the bestselling Courtships of Lancaster County series and coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her family in Portland, Oregon.

Giveaway:

I have a second copy of Amish Weddings that I would be glad to share with another reader.  For a chance to win, please comment below by midnight on Thursday, February 16.  I will randomly select the name of one commenter after that time.  Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.