Saturday, September 27, 2014

Conclusion of Return to Sugarcreek -- Joyful

Joyful is a satisfying conclusion to Shelley Shepard Gray's Return to Sugarcreek series.

This book was a light read, with the characters and plots very easy to follow and predict.  Besides the main story of Randall Beiler's and Elizabeth Nolt's working their way past a broken relationship, there are also conclusions to two other stories from the previous books in the series.  

Judith and Ben Graber struggle with uncertainties about the outcome of their foster care relationship with little James.  And Pippa Reyes deals with the possibility of a new relationship as she focuses on learning to manage her restaurant.  One weakness in the book is that there seems to be very little flow between the three stories, with the only real connection being that they all take place in the same community.

Fans of Amish fiction should enjoy this book.  The characters and setting seem true to the typical stories of this genre.  I would, however, recommend reading the first two books in the series before this one to provide the background for a better understanding of the stories.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of Joyful in exchange for my honest review.

See what other read have to say about Joyful here.

About the book 

A young Amish couple gets a second chance at love in New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray's final book in her Return to Sugarcreek series.

Randall Beiler is doing his best to put his family and the farm's needs first, even forsaking love. But though he tries, Randall knows he needs help caring for his younger siblings and keeping the house together.
When his brother offers pretty Elizabeth Nolt a job taking care of the house and cooking for the family, Randall is furious---and guilty about the way he once broke Elizabeth's heart. But when he learns that Elizabeth and her grandmother are struggling to make ends meet, he knows the offer, no matter how painful, is the right thing for everyone.
Elizabeth wants to refuse---to stay far away from the man who hurt her---but she needs the money. Though she vows to protect her heart, spending time in the Beiler household makes Elizabeth realize that, while she's older and wiser, her love for Randall still burns strong.
Randal, too, seems to want something more. But does he want Elizabeth because he truly loves her---or because he needs a housekeeper? If Randall sincerely wants something more, he must find a way to show Elizabeth---or risk losing his chance at love forever.

Purchase a copy:

About the author: 
Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, 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.

Connect with Shelley: websiteFacebook

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Emotionally gripping story -- The Butterfly and the Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron is a story that I found emotionally gripping -- not in the tears streaming down my face kind of way, but in a way that touched me deeply nonetheless. Kristy writes with vivid detail that allows you to see and feel the horrors of the concentration camp, while at the same time sharing glimmers of hope in worshiping God in the midst of the suffering.

The two points of view in the story, years and worlds apart -- yet drawn together over time and distance -- fit together to tell a beautiful story.  Wondering how all the people and pieces match up keeps the story moving at a very compelling pace through the very last chapters where it all comes together.

I was intrigued to learn more of the personal history of the holocaust and the part that music and art played in those times.  An inspiring theme throughout the story is best expressed in the author's own words in her note at the end of the book:  "Even in the most evil of circumstances, the art of human expression was so powerful that it couldn't be overshadowed, not even by death. . . It's about worship through God's creation -- our lives."

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing a digital copy of The Butterfly and the Violin in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

And then came war . . .

Today. Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems
Vienna, 1942. Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?
As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait—Adele—they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.

About the Author
Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and has 15 years industry experience as a corporate learning facilitator and communications consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction. She makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Website: Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Great romantic suspense -- Nowhere to Turn

Lynette Eason has given us another great romantic suspense story in Nowhere to Turn, the second book in her Hidden Identity series.

The plot twists in this story go in several directions -- the bad guys have other bad guys working against them.  While I was able to predict some of the particulars as the story developed, the ride to get to those spots was great reading.  Lynette is very descriptive in her writing and helps you feel the tension and fear her characters experience.  And then there are the twists you just don't see coming!

The romance was very nicely portrayed, even if it was not always at the forefront of the story.  There was good development of the main characters that helped show why they acted and interacted as they did.  The faith that Dani and Adam both exhibit flows seamlessly into the story.  Dani's son Simon was one of my favorite characters, and his disability was a definite element of added interest in the story.

This book definitely stands on its own, but I would also recommend you read the first in the series -- No One to Trust.  For more great suspense, I would suggest Lynette's Deadly Reunions series, my favorites of her books so far.  And I'm anxious to read the next Hidden Identity story next summer.  You just can't go wrong with Lynette Eason's stories. 

Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

She thought her days of hiding were over . . . but the danger has just begun
The day Danielle Harding takes her eleven-year-old son and flees from her abusive husband is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, things are just heating up. When Kurt was alive, he took something important from a mysterious individual--who wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold you in its iron grip as bestselling author Lynette Eason propels you along in a race to discover the truth.

About the Author

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at

Saturday, September 13, 2014

God sometimes has a better plan . . . The Desire

The Desire, book 3 in The Restoration Series by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley, continues the story of the Anderson family and deals with some tough, real-life issues.

As is typical in this series, there is a mixture of well-written story telling and solid Biblical guidance.  This story actually deals with three big inter-related issues -- infertility, "crisis" pregnancy, and adoption-- and the impact they can have on Christian families.  At times, it seems you may be reading a non-fiction counseling book, but those elements flow well with the details of the story.  Information provided by the authors at the end of the book reveals that much of the story was inspired by real events in the lives of family members.

This quick read (I read most of it in one afternoon) included pages I had trouble reading through the tears.  I would definitely recommend The Desire as a great story of God's love and direction in the lives of His children, love that often shows itself in a better plan than we could ever have for ourselves.  The Dance, book 1 in the series, is still my favorite, but I continue to enjoy following the stories of this family and look forward to book 4 next year.

Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

Can faith build a bridge between their dreams?
For two years, Allan and Michele have been trying to have a baby. The emotional ride has been taking a toll on their hearts--and their relationship. Michele is obsessed with researching fertility treatments while Allan seems content to spend his time--and their money--on supporting displaced children in Africa. Something's got to give. But they both hope it's not their marriage.

Still, God has a plan for Allan and Michele that they could never have imagined. And all it takes to set it in motion is a change of heart . . .

About the Authors

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Dance with Gary Smalley, The Discovery, and The Reunion. He has won three Carol Awards, and two of his novels were finalists for RT Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year for 2011 and 2012. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships and has appeared on national television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, and TODAY, as well as numerous national radio programs. He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of many books, including the Baxter Family Redemption series with Karen Kingsbury and The Dance with Dan Walsh. Gary and his wife Norma have been married for 49 years and live in Missouri.