Monday, October 31, 2016

Great romantic suspense -- Tangled Webs

Irene Hannon is one of the "greats" when it comes to romantic suspense, and she has another hit with the conclusion of her Men of Valor series -- Tangled Webs.  

The McGregor brothers were awesome heroes in this series -- not perfect heroes, each flawed in different ways, but heroes I would love to have fighting for me -- and the importance of family comes through in this book as it did in the earlier ones.  Dana is the perfect "damsel in distress"/but very strong woman for Finn's story.  Watching the two of them heal and dare to love as they deal with life and death dangers makes for a great page turner.  Irene weaves elements of inspiration into the story in ways that feel very natural and fitting to the situation. 

(An interesting side note:  It was fun to see some of the action take place in the town of Potosi, where I have lived for the past several years.)

Thanks to the Revell Reads program for providing a copy of Tangled Webs.  I was delighted to read the book and share my thoughts through this review.

About the Book:

Finn has packed away his combat instincts--but he may need them again when danger begins to stalk his quiet hideaway . . . 

After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not.

Bestselling author and three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon draws readers into a web of psychological suspense where danger lurks in dark corners . . . and keeps them captive until the very last page.

About the Author: 

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and Sea Rose Lane, as well as the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, two Carol Awards, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, three HOLT Medallions, two Booksellers' Best Awards, and a National Readers' Choice Award. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Once more to Stoney Ridge -- The Devoted

"Let things come to me
instead of rushing at them
as I usually do." - Patrick
"It's a funny thing about time.
There always seems to be enough of it
for the things that really matter." - Matt
"When you get to the end of yourself,
that's where you find God." - Fern

Suzanne Woods Fisher never fails to delight and inspire with her Amish stories. Her latest visit to Stoney Ridge, The Devoted, is certainly no exception.

I have loved the entire Bishop's Family series.  David Stoltzfus is a caring, devoted bishop, in spite of his own uncertainties about his ability to do a good job.  Over the span of the three books, he finds himself dealing with a wide range of challenges related to his own family, as well as other members of his church district.  With wisdom, and sometimes the help of his insightful wife Birdy, he effectively leads those he is responsible for.

Ruthie is one of the most vibrant characters in the series, and she really shines in The Devoted.  She has important decisions to make about her life and learns many lessons that affect her choices.  Patrick Kelly is a fascinating character who adds a very interesting element to the story.  And it is always fun to revisit characters from previous books and even previous series.  Suzanne threw some twists into the story that kept engagement high.  I hope we haven't seen the last of Stoney Ridge.

Fans of great Amish fiction should enjoy The Devoted.  I would recommend that you read the earlier two books so that you know about the characters.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of this book.  I was happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book:

Restless and adventurous, Ruthie Stoltzfus is right on the cusp of leaving her Amish home. Secretly, she’s earned her GED, saved her money—but she can’t quite set her journey into motion. Just as everything falls into place, along comes Patrick Kelly.

Patrick is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time is of the essence and every moment is to be cherished—especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.

Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back—and Patrick Kelly is in his way.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred—and the promise of hopes fulfilled. 

About the Author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

If you are interested in what other readers think about The Devoted, visit the blogs listed below.  The dates tell you when their reviews should be posted.

Blog Stops

October 18: cherylbbookblog
October 18: Blogging With Carol
October 18: Mary Hake
October 21: Daysong Reflections
October 22: Back Porch Reads
October 23: Lighthouse Academy
October 23: The Power of Words
October 24: Bigreadersite
October 25: Artistic Nobody
October 25: Donna’s BookShelf
October 26: Pause for Tales
October 26: Bukwurmzzz
October 27: Splashes of Joy
October 28: ASC Book Reviews
October 28: Vic’s Media Room
October 30: Book by Book
October 30: Quiet Quilter


To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of The Devoted and an iPad Mini 2 16GB! Click here to enter:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sweet, touching Christmas novella -- Restoring Christmas

I'm a sucker for a sweet, feel-good Christmas story.  Cynthia Ruchti's Restoring Christmas is every bit of that . . . but so much more.  In fact, it is one of the most touching stories I've read in a long time.

Cynthia has such a gentle way with words, and she definitely worked her magic in this one.  Alexis, Gabe, and Elsie -- as well as the other characters who show up -- are all very intriguing, both as individuals and as the unexpected, mismatched company they become.  Cynthia packs so much into this short book, using her limited pages to fill in the back stories of her characters, stories so important in understanding their perspectives on Christmas and the all-important, heart-deep restoration needed by each one.

The book has laugh-out-loud moments and times when you will likely wipe away some tears.  As the story reaches its resolution, there are beautiful elements which especially pull at the heartstrings.  The only bad thing in the book was that I wasn't ready to see the end.

Restoring Christmas is a must read to help get your mind and heart ready for Christmas and beyond.  Thanks to Cynthia for sharing a copy of her story.  I am excited to share my thoughts with other readers.

About the Book: 

Alexis Blake set out to restore a neglected building. What she didn’t expect was to restore a life…

Alexis has one chance to land her own show on the Heart-and-Home Network, and nothing–not an uncooperative client, a job site without indoor plumbing, or a challenging videographer–is going to stand in her way.

Elsie Raymond, at seventy-plus, is far from the ideal client, but she knows exactly what she wants her fieldstone house to look like, and no designer can tell her otherwise.

Gabe Langley, the man with the camera, is caught in the middle and it is his wisdom and warmth that just may be the bridge that will bring these two women together. Can they restore more than just a house and save Christmas memories from being lost forever?

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She's the award-winning author of 17 books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A second visit to Promise Lodge -- Christmas at Promise Lodge (with an EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY info)

Christmas at Promise Lodge is Charlotte Hubbard's delightful second installment in her Promise Lodge series.

Things start off on a high note with the preparation for Promise Lodge's first marriage celebration . . . but then as sometimes happens in Charlotte's stories, there is a twist with a difficult bishop.  (Readers of her Seasons of the Heart series know exactly what I mean!)  Lots of challenges -- some of them very big ones -- mixed with love and patience bring all kinds of excitement as the community moves toward their first Christmas together.  

As always, Charlotte fills her story with a wide variety of characters you either love or love to hate . . . or at least strongly dislike at times.  The relationships and conflicts keep the story moving at a very engaging level.  Although some outcomes are pretty much expected, there are lots of twists and turns along the way.  Fans of great Amish fiction should really enjoy this story.

Thanks to Charlotte and her publisher for providing a copy of this book.  I was happy to write this honest review based on my own thoughts. 

About the Book:

Promise Lodge's first wedding is cause for celebration—but the bishop's narrow-minded wedding sermon doesn't sit well with the Bender sisters, especially widowed Mattie Schwartz. She believes marriage and family aren't the only important gifts God gives--even if she suspects her tender feelings for Preacher Amos Troyer run deeper than simple friendship. Amos hasn't given up hope that stubborn, spirited Mattie will change her mind about taking another husband, but when an accident threatens to change his life forever, he wonders if the Lord has sent him a message. He'll need faith, hope, and charity to find the right path—and a Christmas blessing to convince Mattie to walk it with him.

Exclusive Excerpt from the Book: 

Mattie felt calmer as she made her way to the eck table. The bride and groom sat in the center, and behind them sat a white cake decorated in pale blue, displayed on the glass cake plate Mattie had used when she’d married Marvin Schwartz—an idea Beulah and Ruby had suggested after they’d baked and decorated the cake together.

“It’s gut to see all you kids enjoying this wonderful day,” Mattie murmured as she reached for Noah and Deborah’s hands. “And I wish you two a lifetime of God’s blessings as you begin your life together.”

Deborah grabbed Mattie’s hand between both of hers and squeezed it. “We can’t thank you and Amos enough for our plot of land, and for building us a beautiful home,” she replied earnestly. She leaned farther over the table, lowering her voice. “And I hope you and your sisters and Amos can work out a solution—a sensible peace—about running your businesses and marrying in God’s gut time rather than in Bishop Floyd’s.”

A sensible peace . . . in God’s gut time rather than Bishop Floyd’s. Was that too much to hope for? Too much to ask of God, the father of them all?

“Denki, Deborah. That’s a lovely idea,” Mattie murmured. She felt blessed indeed, witnessing the mature, sincere faith reflected in all the young faces at this table. “Our mission as God’s Plain people is always to attain the peace He desires for us—in our relationship with Him, and amongst ourselves, as well.”

About the Author: 

Many moons ago—like, in 1983 while she was still a school librarian—Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. This launched her into writing around seventy of those “true confessions” stories over the years, and she’s been a slave to her overactive imagination ever since. Over the course of her writing career, she has sold nearly 50 books—most recently, Amish romance series she’s written as Charlotte Hubbard or Naomi King. 

Charlotte lived in Missouri for most of her life, so her Amish stories are set in imaginary Missouri towns. These days she lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband of 40 years and their Border collie, Ramona.

Charlotte will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Enter here to win!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Another "Charming" story -- A Sister's Wish

Shelley Shepard Gray takes us for a third visit to Charm, Ohio, in A Sister's Wish.  Once again, she has provided a delightful story filled with "charming" characters.

The Kinsinger family have been in the forefront in this Charmed Amish Life series, and they are characters so well portrayed that you care for them as close friends.  Amelia's story is not all pleasant and easy; she has faced some struggles while attempting to take care of her family and putting many of her own desires away.  Simon has a past with lots of baggage, some of which he still carries around.  Shelley presents their story beautifully as one of forgiveness, reconciliation and dealing with the hard stuff of life.

Fans of great Amish fiction should enjoy A Sister's Wish, as well as the first two books in the series.  Thanks to Shelley and her publisher for providing a copy of this book.  I was delighted to write an honest review.

About the Book:


In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

A Visit to Charm:

As schedules would work out, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Charm, Ohio, just this week, our fourth time to have that pleasure.  I thought for a little fun, I would share in this post a few pictures I snapped that just might represent some of Shelley's inspiration for A Sister's Wish.  As is mentioned in her book, Shelley mixes real and imagined locations in her story; these pictures represent some of both.

One of our first stops just before entering Charm was Hershberger's Farm and Bakery -- which, by the way, has the best fry pies I have ever eaten.  In their petting zoo, you can find several goats.  I can't help but wonder if some of them are relatives of Amelia's pet goat, Princess.

One of the major businesses in Shelley's version of Charm, of course, is Kinsinger Lumber Company.  Is it possible that Kinsinger just might have been designed around the real-life Keim Lumber Company?

And what about a meal Simon has with someone special at Grandma's Restaurant in Charm?  Maybe it is similar to the Charm Family Restaurant.  In fact, I think Charm Family Restaurant was once Grandma's Homestead.

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.