Monday, May 25, 2015

Amish fiction with a different direction -- Amish Promises

Leslie Gould's Amish Promises goes a little different direction from typical Amish fiction.  The fact that there is a strong military element presents an interesting and unexpected tension to the story.

There are several strong characters in the story, with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.  The struggles both the English and Amish individuals experience provide a very intriguing story, with several twists and turns that keep the interest level high.  Friendship, faith, and true love are important themes throughout.

The story contains many difficult moments and at times moves a little slowly.  And it takes a little effort to get to know and keep up with all the characters and their place in the big picture.  But all in all, it is a very good story that I would recommend to fans of Amish fiction or Christian fiction in general.

Thanks to Leslie Gould and Bethany House for providing a copy of Amish Promises in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Journey Down a Quiet Lane in Lancaster County Where Love and Heartache and Friendship and Healing Meet

When Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home, they're looking for peace. Shani is thrilled to have Joel back from Iraq, but he needs time to heal, and the quiet of Lancaster seems just the place. They can't imagine any trouble with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, but things get off to a rocky start when their son is involved in an accident that injures one of the Lehman boys.

Eve Lehman has run her brother's household ever since the death of his wife, but Tim's a stern patriarch. Despite his protests, she's drawn to the new neighbor, Shani, and the two begin to form a strong friendship forged on faith and family. Things seem like they've quieted down until Joel's single and handsome army friend Charlie catches Eve's attention--a man unlike any Eve has ever met. Suddenly life for both families becomes more complicated than any of them could have ever imagined.

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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The best "Huckleberry Hill" story yet -- Huckleberry Harvest

As I've said in previous reviews -- you can count on a Jennifer Beckstrand "Huckleberry (anything)" book being a great read.

Huckleberry Harvest is the best yet of Anna and Felty Helmuth's adventures in matchmaking for their unsuspecting grandchildren.  Anna's cooking, knitting, and scheming, along with Felty's subtle cunning provide the setting for a touching story that mixes deep feelings with a healthy dose of humor. 

Jennifer has taken a common premise through five books, but has kept the story fresh each time. Her creativity is evident as her continuing matchmaker characters change little from story to story even as their methods of operation vary as needed for the moment.

The strength of this story -- and what I think made it my favorite -- is the deep look into the challenging experiences and feelings of the main characters, Mandy and Noah.  In this book Jennifer tackles a very difficult subject -- but she does it with care and sensitivity, showing her ability to write entertaining fiction while keeping things real.

I highly recommend Huckleberry Harvest to fans of Amish fiction or to anyone looking for a delightful story.  Thanks to Jennifer and her publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Mandy Helmuth doesn’t like Noah Mischler. Not one little bit. First he breaks her best friend’s heart, and then he has the nerve to chastise her for being a busybody. She feels quite justified in her dislike until Noah does something heroic, like save her life, and she’s forced to bestow her grudging respect even as she determines to keep her distance. But when she unwittingly stumbles into his family troubles, she catches a glimpse of the person Noah so successfully hides from others. Will Mandy be able to look past Noah’s rough and unyielding exterior to see the man she is destined to love?

Much to Noah Mischler’s annoyance, uppity Mandy Helmuth thinks she has the right to tell him how to live his life. If he weren’t helping Mandy’s grandfather install a stove and fix his roof, Noah wouldn’t be within a mile of Huckleberry Hill or that nosy girl who gives him a lecture every time she opens her mouth. But when Mandy discovers the horrible truth about his father, Noah is forced to reveal humiliating secrets that he’s never shared with anyone. He trusts her with his secrets, but can he trust her with his heart?

About the Author:
Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series set in beautiful northern Wisconsin. The first four books in the series are now available in stores and online: Huckleberry Hill, Huckleberry Summer, Huckleberry Christmas, and Huckleberry Spring. Huckleberry Harvest comes out May 26. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth, the two scheming Amish grandparents who try to help their grandchildren find suitable mates in Huckleberry Hill. Who would ever suspect two elderly Amish folks of mischief? 
Jennifer has a degree in mathematics, which comes in handy when one of her six children needs help with algebra. After twenty-five years of being a chauffeur, cook, maid, and nurse, she embarked on a writing career. Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.

She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and three adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten.

Find out more about Jennifer and her books:
Twitter: @JenniferBeckst1

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sweet Romance -- Whenever You Come Around

Whenever You Come Around is a sweet romance set in the midst of the beauty of Kings Meadow, Idaho.  In typical fashion, Robin Lee Hatcher creates rich characters with deep emotions who interact through an engaging plot filled with just the right amount of tension and intrigue.

The promise of budding romance is pretty obvious from the first pages. And the story goes deeper into the realm of forgiveness (especially for one's self) and healing of deep, long-held wounds. The story has a contemporary setting with some current issues that all come together in a warm tale of faith and love.

I highly recommend this very enjoyable read from a great author.

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

About the Book:

Just when Charity's wild imagination failed her, a flesh-and-blood hero walked into her life.

Best-selling author Charity Anderson returns to her hometown of Kings Meadow to defeat a bad case of writer's block. She imagines she'll spend a lonely summer writing and then return to her home in Boise. She soon finds herself caring for Buck Malone, a wilderness guide-and the object of her unrequited teenage crush. But what else can she do? Her dog Cocoa caused the accident that left Buck with a broken ankle and wrist, taking him off the trail for weeks of prime tourist-season work.

Buck and Charity have gone different ways since high school, and at first it seems they have little in common. Buck loves the simple, low-key life he's made for himself in the mountains of Idaho, and she's a woman accustomed to the faster, bustling pace of the city. But spending so much time together has Buck hoping to change her mind about staying in the small town she thought she'd left behind for good.

It's a summer for discovering that young love is a spark not soon extinguished.

About the Author:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of 70 books. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin and her husband currently reside in Idaho. For more information, visit

Friday, May 15, 2015

Non-stop suspense -- No Place to Hide

Lynette Eason provides non-stop suspense from the very first page of her third book in the Hidden Identity series -- No Place to Hide. It is obvious from the beginning who the bad guys aren't, but finding out who the bad guys are makes for a great ride full of lots of twists and turns and bumps.

Ian and Jackie are the main characters in a story rich in intriguing characters.  Their race to save themselves and clear their names provides ample opportunity to develop their stories and put together pieces, both expected and unexpected.  The relationship component is important and well written but is carefully balanced with the thrills of the story.  The faith component is woven seamlessly into the mix, making a great read for fans of Christian suspense.

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

About the book:

She'll defend her friend until the bitter end--but is she in over her head?

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.

Lynette Eason delivers nonstop action as Jackie and Ian travel a dangerous road--one that may lead straight to destruction.

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, Nowhere to Turn, and No Place to Hide in the Hidden Identity series. 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

Monday, May 4, 2015

Convicting life lessons -- The Heart of the Amish

WARNING!  Don't read Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Heart of the Amish if you can't handle at least a little conviction!  As you work your way read the stories, you will most likely find at least one instance that makes you think something like this:  "Wow!  If that person could exhibit peace and forgiveness after going through that experience, then I certainly don't have any excuse for not doing the same."

Not all the stories are directly Amish-related.  Some are from Mennonite individuals, and others have a little more distant connection to the Plain people.  But all teach important lessons about the benefits that come from trying to follow God's plan of peace and forgiveness, both for those who are wronged and those who have done wrong.  And the Amish proverbs and tidbits of information scattered throughout are a pleasure to read as well.

This book can easily be read in just a few sittings, or it can be enjoyed one story at a time.  Either way is certain to encourage some moments of review and reflection.

Thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of The Heart of the Amish in exchange for my honest review.

About the book:

We have all been hurt and we all have someone we need to forgive. But sometimes it's hard to let go of our hurt and anger in order to truly forgive and move on.

For the Amish, forgiving others in order to live at peace is woven into the very fabric of their faith. From daily annoyances to heartbreaking tragedy, they exhibit an incredible capacity for forgiveness that often baffles us. How do they do it? And how can we have the same attitude and ability to forgive?

Through true stories gathered from a variety of Amish communities, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows you how the Amish are able to release their pain and desire for revenge, and live at peace with others. Her in-depth, personal research uncovers the astounding yet fundamental way the Amish can forgive anyone from the angry customer at the grocery store to the shooter at Nickel Mines. You'll learn how to invite God into your story, apply lessons from the Amish to your own circumstances, and find the freedom that comes with true forgiveness.

About the author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Letters, The Calling, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Learn more at and connect with Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

An awesome read -- To Win Her Favor

I enthusiastically give 5 stars to Tamera Alexander's newest book, To Win Her Favor -- and that's only because on a scale of 1 to 5 I can't give more!

I feel like I have been transported to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1869 and have personally experienced every scene of this story along with its characters.  There were people I fell in love with and cried with, there were those I cringed with as they made mistakes and flawed judgment calls, and then there were those I wanted to punch as they created havoc and brought unnecessary suffering on innocent people.

Tamera dealt with the beauty and the ugliness of post-Civil War Nashville.  She hit difficult subjects head-on and highlighted both the good and the evil of the human race.  And she gently and beautifully showed the grace of God as He works in the hearts of people, even when they aren't paying any attention to Him.

One word of caution about the story:  while I found it to be tastefully handled, some descriptions of intimate details between husband and wife may be more descriptive than some would want, especially for younger audiences.

Tamera Alexander's awesome historical Belle Meade and Belmont novels just keep getting better and better.  This is one you don't want to miss!

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

See what other readers have to say about To Win Her Favor here.

About the book:

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He's come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he'd wagered, especially when Maggie Linden's father makes him an offer he shouldn't accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance---and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder---Maggie's father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail---Maggie must marry a man she's never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Tamera Alexander
is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville, Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don't forget Jack, their precious---and precocious---silky terrier.

Find Tamera online: website, Facebook, Twitter