Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A patchwork of Christmas stories -- An Amish Christmas Quilt

When I saw An Amish Christmas Quilt bearing the names of two of my favorite Amish fiction authors -- Charlotte Hubbard and Jennifer Beckstrand -- I was sure this collection of Christmas stories would be a good read.

Charlotte takes her readers back to Willow Ridge and characters familiar from her Seasons of the Heart series.  Seth has shown up in previous stories but gets his chance here as a main character. 

Jennifer provides another visit with Anna and Felty and their exploits in matchmaking for their grandchildren.  Because of the shorter length of the novella format, readers don't get to spend as much time with the Helmuths, but the fun characters still get their chance to shine.

I very much enjoyed revisiting "old friends" in both of these fun Christmas stories.

Kelly's characters are connected to her Ice Mountain stories, books I have not yet read.  As is the case with some of her other stories, Kelly's style is a little edgier than the others and might not be considered acceptable for younger readers.

Amish fiction fans should enjoy these stories at Christmas time -- or at any other time, for that matter.  Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the book:

With all the warmth of a cozy quilt, three authors stitch together Amish tales of hearts joined, friendships patched, and the bright joys of Christmas tradition . . .

A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant
Charlotte Hubbard

Seth Brenneman didn't expect his holiday would include rescuing pregnant young Mary Kauffman and her two children. . .or having unexpected feelings for the still-grieving widow. But when they must play the leads in an impromptu live Nativity pageant to help his Amish community, will their roles reveal their hearts--and work a miracle for a lifetime?
A Christmas On Ice Mountain
Kelly Long

Matthew Beider and Laurel Lapp's secret wish to marry is a gift their feuding fathers definitely won't accept. And trying to settle their dats' long-standing quarrel is making their holiday anything but merry. Can rediscovering the joys and friendships of Christmas past finally turn their families' futures bright?

A Perfect Amish Christmas
Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna and Felty Helmuth's grandson, Gideon, plans to spend Christmas on a beach in sunny Mexico. But Anna is quite sure he'd rather be with them, snowshoeing, ice fishing--falling in love. And she knows the perfect girl. Not only is Dottie Schrock an excellent quilter and baker, she's having a party. There's just one complication--Gideon is not invited. Dottie has her reasons, but Anna trusts that the spirit of Christmas--and true love--will change her mind, and her future.

About the authors:

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and the Forever After in Apple Lake series, set in two Amish communities in beautiful Wisconsin. She 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. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and two adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten. Readers can visit her website at

Kelly Long is the author of the acclaimed Amish Patch of Heaven series and has been a finalist for the coveted Carol Award from the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Lily's Wedding Quilt was a Goodreads Favorite Book of the Year in 2011. Born and raised in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, she’s been married for 28 years. 

A light, but thought-provoking, read -- A Question of Destiny

Whenever I write a review of a book by Anita Higman, I usually use two words:  fun and quirky.  And those two words once again fit her latest (available only in ebook form) -- A Question of Destiny.

Lucy O'Brien, Andrew Whitfield, and multi-millionaire Ian Chalmers are all fun characters with their own individual quirks.  The premise around which the whole story is based was a fun one to ponder as I read:  How would my life change if I suddenly was handed ten million dollars with very few conditions put on how I used it?  Watching Lucy deal with the benefits and challenges of the sudden changes in her lifestyle kept me engaged in the story.  The various characters in her life -- both old and new connections -- and the different ways they reacted to her wealth made for a very entertaining story.

I would recommend A Question of Destiny to anyone looking for a quick, fairly light read with some important principles woven in -- things like discovering what is most important in your life. 

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

About the book:

Lucy O'Brien is about to be given ten millions dollars and a chance to live a life she never imagined. Will this newfound wealth be Lucy's undoing, or can she rise above the temptations within high society and choose to become a nobler version of herself? And will the solitary Andrew Whitfield—a man who watches over Lucy as she adapts to her new lifestyle—cause her to close the door on her dreams or be the key that opens the rest of Lucy's destiny?

About the author:

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Connect with Anita at

A new Mennonite series -- When Mercy Rains

The first books I ever read by Kim Vogel Sawyer were the three volumes in her Mennonite series, The Sommerfeld Trilogy.  She won me over with those stories, and I have grown to appreciate her work more and more as I've read her historical novels through the years.  I have a hard time picking favorites in almost any category, but Kim would definitely be on my short list of favorite authors!

When Mercy Rains begins another great trilogy of stories in a Mennonite setting -- The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. 
As that label suggests, restoration is an important theme running through this first book.  Secrets have led to deep hurts on the part of many of the characters, but the truth finally comes out, bringing with it mercy and healing.  From beginning to end, the characters are very real and draw you into their stories.  Some elements of the story are easy to predict as the book progresses, but Kim provides several twists and surprises which keep things very interesting.

Fans of stories about Plain life or great Christian fiction in general should enjoy When Mercy Rains.  The book has a nice ending, but there is still plenty of room for the story to continue.  I look forward to seeing where Kim takes us next in When Grace Sings, book #2 in the series, which should be available soon.

About the book:

She left, heavily weighted with secrets. But God reveals all things, in His timing. And He redeems them.

Suzanne Zimmerman was only seventeen and pregnant when her shamed mother quietly sent her away from their Old Order Mennonite community in Kansas. With her old home, family, and first love firmly behind her, Suzanne moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and raised a daughter, Alexa, on her own.

Now, nearly twenty years later, an unexpected letter arrives from Kansas. Her brother asks her to bring her nursing abilities home and care for their ailing mother. His request requires that Suzanne face a family that may not have forgiven her and a strict faith community. It also means seeing Paul Aldrich, her first love.

Paul, widowed with an eight-year-old son, is relieved to see Suzanne again, giving him the chance to beg her forgiveness for his past indiscretion. But when he meets Alexa, his guilt flickers in the glare of Suzanne’s prolonged secret—one that changes everything.

Suzanne had let go of any expectation for forgiveness long ago. Does she dare hope in mercy–and how will her uncovered past affect the people she loves the most?

About the author:

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling, award-winning author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope. More than one million copies of her books are currently in print. She lives in central Kansas where she and her retired military husband, Don, enjoy spoiling their ten granddarlings.

Learn more about Kim at her website or on Facebook.

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope. More than one million copies of her books are currently in print and have garnered awards including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas, with husband Don and their four feline companions. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and ten grandchildren. - See more at:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sweet Christmas Stories -- An Amish Second Christmas

An Amish Second Christmas is a collection of four sweet Amish stories, all connected in some way to the Amish tradition of "Second Christmas" -- celebration with family and friends on the day after Christmas.  Each of the four authors provides a fun story filled with loveable characters who find love in unexpected ways.  These quick-to-read, enjoyable stories of healing and growing at various times provide both tears and smiles.  And a very nice bonus appears at the end of the book with delicious recipes from each of the stories.

Fans of good Amish fiction should enjoy reading these stories at Christmas or at any other time of the year.

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

About the book: 

Celebrate Second Christmas, a treasured, lighthearted time of community, with four Amish romances. 

“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine  begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.

“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

About the authors:

Award-winning, bestselling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but she has also written several successful contemporary novels, set primarily in her beloved Texas, including Need You Now and The House that Love Built. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's The Promise is inspired by a true story. Website: Twitter: @bethwiseman Facebook: Fans-of-Beth-Wiseman

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. Website: Twitter: @TheKatJam Facebook: Author Kathleen Fuller

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children. Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid Twitter: @authorruthreid

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like and Tricia and her husband John live in Little Rock, Arkansas where John works for FamilyLife. They have six children. Twitter: @triciagoyer Facebook: authortriciagoyer

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sweet, faith-filled love story -- Love Without End

Love Without End is a sweet story of two hurting hearts finding the courage to love again after past failures.  In her usual style, Robin Lee Hatcher, has crafted a story filled with characters you come to know and care about from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the chance to read Chet's story of a second chance at happiness, after first meeting him in Robin's A Promise Kept.  It was also fun to revisit King's Meadow, the welcoming setting from the previous book.  Nana Anna's tale from the past woven into the present-day story was another delightful element in the story.

This book is well worth the short time it takes to read.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a sweet, faith-filled love story.  Like many good books, it tells the whole story but leaves you not quite ready for the last page.

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

See what other readers think of Love Without End here.

About the Book:

Chet and Kimberly have both failed when it comes to love. Will they risk their hearts to love again?

Chet Leonard's life was forever changed when his 17-year-old son died and then, soon after, his wife walked out on their family. Over two years later, all he wants to do is hold onto his horse ranch and raise his remaining sons to be honorable men.

Kimberly Welch, widowed mother of Tara, a rebellious 15-year-old, has reached the end of her finances and nearly the end of her rope. She and Tara come to King's Meadow to try to piece their lives back together again. Kimberly has no intention of becoming involved with the residents of this remote mountain community and certainly not with any man.
When octogenarian Anna McKenna returns to King's Meadow and to the Leonard ranch, she becomes an agent of change and healing for the two hurting families. With her help, Kimberly and Chet may discover that true love has no end. 

Purchase a copy:

About the Author:
Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heart-warming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, two RT Career Achievement Awards, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over sixty novels.

Find Robin online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Monday, December 1, 2014

Heartwarming conclusion (with a giveaway) -- Emma Blooms at Last

(Please note a giveaway at the end of this post!)

Emma Blooms at Last is Naomi King's heartwarming conclusion to her Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series.  If you've read the previous books in these two connected series, you've probably already fallen in love with the Lambrights, Grabers, Brubakers and other recurring characters.  All those families continue to play important roles in this latest story -- but as the title suggests, Emma finally gets a chance to bloom.

Without giving away any spoilers, this is how one of the book's characters (you'll have to read to find out who) sums up the person Emma finally shows herself to be:
"You look really pretty today, Emma.  Like a rose blooming in midwinter.  You've got that kind of strength and determination, you know -- to bloom where you've been planted, no matter what the season or the situation."

I found myself shedding a few tears of joy as pieces seemed to fall into place in God's perfect timing for many of my "friends" in Cedar Creek and Bloomingdale.  And it seemed very appropriate at this time of year for there to be a special Christmas element woven into the end of this sweet story.

Fans of Amish fiction should snatch up a copy of Emma Blooms at Last for a great read.  I would suggest, though, that you would enjoy the story more if you read the other books in the series first.

Thanks to Naomi and her publicists for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Romance is in the air during the fall wedding season in the Amish community of Cedar Creek. But while one loving couple prepares to tie the knot, Amanda and Wyman Brubaker’s large family faces a threat from outside their happy circle…and must learn to pull together.

Recently wed Amanda and Wyman Brubaker are thrilled that their children from previous marriages have blended together to form a strong family. But when the construction of Wyman’s new grain elevator is delayed, making the project more expensive than anticipated, Amanda’s determination to rally the kids into taking on work to improve the family’s finances comes into conflict with Wyman’s sense of responsibility as head of the household….

Meanwhile, as James Graber and Abby Lambright prepare for their long-awaited nuptials, folks gather from far and wide. Amanda’s nephew Jerome has long been smitten with James’s sister Emma and wants to seize this chance to woo her. But Emma’s been burned once and is twice shy of trusting the fun-loving, never-serious Jerome. As Emma and Jerome struggle to understand each other, and find the courage to make a leap of faith, the Brubakers face a bigger challenge than they first anticipated and begin to discover just what it means to fight…the Amish way.

About the Author:

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Naomi King (a.k.a. Charlotte Hubbard) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card! A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Continue to follow the book tour and comment often to increase your chances of winning!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Historical Romance -- Surprised by Love

Julie Lessman's Surprised by Love is the third fun installment in her Heart of San Francisco series.  I haven't had the chance to go back and read the first book in the series but have enjoyed getting to know the McClare family and friends in books two and three.

Through these stories, set in San Francisco in the very early years of the 20th century, Julie allows us glimpses into both the highest and lowest of society of that time.  Megan, the former wallflower of the well-to-do McClare family, has returned from a year in Paris, with a confidence and determination leaving her barely recognizable even to those closest to her.  Her new tenacity is tested in heart-wrenching ways in her career aspirations . . . and in love.  At the same time, her mother continues to struggle with relationships complicated by trust issues.  The characters and the plot are well developed in ways that keep the reader's interest level high, leaving important questions unanswered until near the end of the story.  Faith plays an important role in several of the characters' lives, some starting with strong faith and others learning as they work through their struggles.

I would recommend Surprised by Love to fans of good historical fiction.  The book works fine as a stand alone, but I would suggest reading the other books in the series first to get the whole story.

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

About the Book:

She can turn the head of the man who spurned her--but can she turn his heart?

When Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris, no one would accuse her of being poised and pretty. But on the other side of the Atlantic, this wallflower blossomed into a beauty with big dreams. When she returns to California and accepts an internship at the district attorney's office, she's thrilled that her life is taking shape. But the exciting opportunity quickly loses its glow when she discovers she'll be working alongside Devin Caldwell, who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.

Bram Hughes is the best friend to whom Megan has always turned for support and advice. But when she seeks his counsel about working with Devin Caldwell, Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

Author Julie Lessman draws a romantic triangle that will touch your heart in this glittering Gilded Age tale of transforming love.

About the Author:

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series The recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards, as well as many other accolades, Lessman was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 and 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. She resides in Missouri with her family. You can contact Julie through her website at

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Christmas at war time -- Where Treetops Glisten

Tricia Goyer and Sarah Sundin have both been on my "favorite authors" list for some time now.  Both know their World War II facts and do a fantastic job of putting that information into great stories.  So when I saw their names on Where Treetops Glisten, an anthology of WWII Christmas stories, I knew I wanted to read the book.  I had never read anything by Cara Putman but had seen her name and was interested in trying something by her.  I was very glad to have the opportunity to read these stories.

Each of the stories focuses on one of the young adult siblings in the Turner family and their personal experiences over a range of years during World War II.  Abigail, Pete, and Merry each face their own challenges of life and love during the difficult time of war.  One of the main connecting threads of their stories is their Grandma Louise.  As Sarah Sundin writes about her in the book's prologue -- "They needed her faith.  They needed her wisdom.  And they needed her joy."  Those elements help the Turner family navigate successfully through this turbulent time in their lives.

Three great authors have crafted a wonderful collection of stories that fit together beautifully.  Fans of WWII fiction, Christmas stories, or just awesome writing in general should find this a great read.

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

See what others think about Where Treetops Glisten here. 

About the Book:

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas 
Turn 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?

Purchase a copy:
About the Authors:

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.


Christmas in Amish Country -- Christmas at Rose Hill Farm

What can be better at this time of year than a Christmas story with an Amish setting? Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers a great one in her Christmas at Rose Hill Farm.

This story is a little different from many of the typical Amish fiction books I've read.  The tone of the story is fairly serious -- maybe even nearing melancholy at times -- but still with a very hopeful spirit about it.  Bess and Billy both have old hurts hanging over present decisions -- and they both learn important things about themselves and others as they piece together events and lessons from the past.  And then there is George -- what a delightful and surprising character to find intermingled in important details of the story.

I always enjoy finding characters from previous books in new stories.  If you have read Suzanne's earlier series -- Lancaster County Secrets and Stoney Ridge Seasons -- you will recognize several old "friends," but at different stages of life than where you first met them.

I would strongly recommend this great story from Suzanne Woods Fisher to fans of Amish fiction and even to those who may not normally read in the genre.  I think a wide range of readers can relate to the characters' lives and relationships.

Thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of Christmas at Rose Hill Farm in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge. And that suits Bess Riehl just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word of explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes when Billy's cousin Amos proposed--for the third time--and beginning to plan for her Christmas wedding.

When a "lost" rose is discovered in a forgotten corner of the greenhouse at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. His plan is to get in, identify the rose, and get out. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose--and he can't get Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy--and Amos too--that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series, the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill 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 follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A deep story of guilt and forgiveness -- An Amish Buggy Ride

A short time ago, I finally tried a Sarah Price Amish story (you can see my review of First Impressions here) and was very pleased that I did.  But as good as that one was, I was not prepared for my next Sarah Price read.  An Amish Buggy Ride topped all my expectations!

While the setting is one of my favorite genres (I love almost anything Amish), the theme of the story transcends the setting to meet readers with any area of interest.  Kate Zook is so burdened by self-imposed guilt that she is convinced leaves her among the greatest of sinners, that she can't imagine ever deserving to be forgiven and able to really enjoy life.  Without giving away any of the story, I must say that the way Sarah has the characters come to grips with sin, guilt and forgiveness left me in tears and touched me deeply.  The worst part of the whole book was that it had to come to an end!

I highly recommend An Amish Buggy Ride to fans of great Amish fiction and to those who might think they don't even like Amish fiction!  Thanks to Sarah for providing an advance digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Quiet and soft-spoken, Kate Zook is the responsible eldest daughter in an Amish family and prides herself on fulfilling her role. Then, one fateful snowy night, she uncharacteristically speaks her mind—and unwittingly plays a part in a horrible accident.

Wracked by guilt over her role in the tragedy that left her brother David injured, Kate devotes herself to his care, going so far as to take on his chores in the fields. Even so, her brother’s resentment toward her grows, and David torments Kate, making her increasingly isolated life even more difficult.

Though Kate’s parents have emotionally withdrawn, someone outside the home takes an interest in Kate and notes her clear grief. Samuel, a local boy, has recently returned from a wild rumschpringe—the Amish term for exploring the wider world—and recommitted to his community. Intrigued by Kate’s gentle yet loyal ways, he begins to fall in love with her. But tensions rise as he refuses to put up with David’s rage. As Kate’s heart begins to stir and cry out for happiness, she must rely on faith to find forgiveness or risk losing out on love.

About the Author:

The author of over 25 novels, Sarah Price brings her Anabaptist roots and over 25 years experience with the Amish to her books, many of which have been Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers (Plain Fame, Plain Change, Amish Faith, & others).

The Preiss family emigrated from Europe in 1705, settling in Pennsylvania as the area's first wave of Mennonite families. The name later changed to Price. 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.

Twenty-five years later, she now splits her time between her husband and children in the NYC Metro area and a home that she shares with an Amish woman in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where she retreats to reflect and write. 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.

Visit the author's website and blog at
Like her Facebook page at
Follow her on Twitter @SarahPriceAmish and Instagram @SarahPriceAuthor.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

R-I-V-A-L-R-Y or R-O-M-A-N-C-E -- Becoming Bea

Leslie Gould continues her series of Amish stories based on Shakespeare's plays in Becoming Bea, Book Four in her Courtships of Lancaster County series.  Her inspiration for this story comes from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Becoming Bea brings together familiar characters from the previous books in the series and provides updates on their lives.  Bea and Ben are highlighted as they try to work their way through past rivalries and determine whether they have feelings deeper than the conflicts they have experienced throughout most of their lives.

Because of decisions Bea has to make when her family takes a trip she is not interested in joining, she finds herself in a situation where she is able to learn more about herself and find out where her true passions lie. 
My favorite element of the story was watching her as she truly became the Bea she was intended to be.

In this story Leslie develops an interesting cast of characters with a wide range of personalities.  From time to time, I had a little trouble keeping up with all of them and how they fit together, but each one played an important part in the story.  The challenges involved in this Amish setting of caring for so many babies and other details of a busy household certainly kept the story moving.  

Fans of Amish fiction should find Becoming Bea an enjoyable read.  Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Read what others have to say about Becoming Bea here.

About the Book:

Can Bea and Ben Turn Rivalry Into Romance?

Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows.

One person she’ll never be able to find peace with though is Ben Rupp. They’ve known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

Purchase a copy: 

About the Author:

LGouldLeslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller "The Amish Midwife," a 2012 Christy Award winner; ECPA bestseller "Courting Cate," first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; and "Beyond the Blue," winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She and her familyl live in Portland, Oregon.

Find Leslie online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Leslie Gould is back with the latest book, Becoming Bea, in her Shakespeare-inspired series, The Courtships of Lancaster County. Don't miss the other books in the series, Courting Cate (retelling of The Taming of the Shrew), Adoring Addie (inspired by Romeo and Juliet), and Minding Molly (inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Leslie is celebrating the series with a Kindle giveaway and a Facebook party on November 11th.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire

  • One copy each of the entire The Courtships of Lancaster County series: Courting CateAdoring Addie, Minding Molly, and Becoming Bea.

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 11/11. Winner will be announced at Leslie's 11/11 Becoming Bea Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Leslie and Amish fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Suspense in small-town Mississippi -- A Promise to Protect

A Promise to Protect, Patricia Bradley's second book in her Logan Point series, is another good romantic suspense novel.  Secrets and surprises -- some a decade old -- pop up throughout the story, keeping a nice level of suspense right up to the end.  The theme of forgiveness -- especially how God's forgiveness should help us forgive others and ourselves -- fit very nicely into the lives of the characters as well.

Being a southern girl myself, I enjoyed the little southern touches in some of the description and dialog of the story.  There were a few spots where the plot either seemed bogged down or a little disjointed, but all in all, I found A Promise to Protect to be a very good read.

Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I look forward to more Patricia Bradley suspense from Logan Point, Mississippi.

About the book:

In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman's secret could change everything.

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn't heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn't mean he can get her--or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago--out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But all too soon, Ben is charged with a different task--protecting Leigh from the people after her brother. With Leigh doing everything in her power to avoid Ben, it's no easy task. And the secret she is keeping just may change their lives forever.

About the author:

Patricia Bradley's manuscript for Shadows of the Past was a finalist for the 2012 Genesis Award, winner of a 2012 Daphne du Maurier award (1st place, Inspirational), and winner of a 2012 Touched by Love award (1st place, Contemporary). She is a published short story writer and is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc. When she's not writing or speaking, she can be found making beautiful clay pots and jewelry. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Christmas fun -- Huckleberry Christmas

I've read hundreds of Amish fiction stories written by dozens of authors, and in several different styles.  Most of them I have enjoyed, some more than others, and the reasons for the enjoyment vary from book to book.

Since the very first book in Jennifer Beckstarnd's The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, I know why I will enjoy the next one -- they are just Plain fun!  And that is exactly what I found in Huckleberry Christmas.

Anna and Felty Helmuth are lovable Amish grandparents determined to help their grandchildren and great-grandchildren find their perfect partners, even when the young people aren't particularly interested in looking.  With reluctant subjects of the matchmaking schemes, there are bound to be difficulties along the way, but Mammi Annie will do everything within her power to find a way for love to prevail.

Beth and Tyler both have bad experiences in their past that seem to present insurmountable roadblocks to a long-term relationship.  Beth, in particular, has serious trust issues in men and even with God, that threaten to derail any hopes of a second chance at love.  Finding the strength to stand up to the ghosts of her past is her only real hope of ever realizing what she really wants as the Christmas season comes around.

And by the time this story ends, Annie is already hatching her next matchmaking plan. I will be anxiously awaiting that story to be revealed in a few months in Huckleberry Spring.

Thanks to Jennifer Beckstrand and Kensington Publishing for providing a copy of Huckleberry Christmas in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Now that they've happily married off two of their grandchildren, Anna and Felty Helmuth are ready for their next matchmaking challenge. What better way to celebrate the most heartwarming of seasons--and make Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, the place for unexpected love. . .
A difficult marriage has left the Helmuths' widowed great-granddaughter, Beth, finished with wedlock. She's content to live with them and make a life for herself and her toddler son. But once she turns down handsome Tyler Yoder's proposal, it seems only fair to encourage him to find a suitable wife. Trouble is, his gentleness and generous ways are showing her how joyous a real meeting of hearts can be. . .
After a failed courtship, Tyler thought the best he could hope for in a wife was mere companionship. But spirited Beth is the one he longs to protect, and hold close. Earning her trust is the hardest thing he's ever had to do. And soon, both will discover that forgiveness and understanding are gifts that only rekindled faith--along with the happiest of holidays--can bring.

About the Author:

About Jennifer, from Jennifer . . .

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.

I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.

My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

Learn more at her website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspiring Old Testament storytelling -- Keepers of the Covenant

This is only the second book I've read by Lynn Austin, but I am sold on her great storytelling ability.  In Keepers of the Covenant, book two in her Restoration Chronicles  series, she has taken Old Testament historical events and real Bible characters and brought them to life with the addition of fictional characters and events.

It is evident Lynn has studied the Old Testament accounts and done her research on customs of the time period.  Then she has added well-thought-out characters and events as they could have happened to help her readers feel a sense of personal connection with the time and place of the stories.

It was eye opening to me to think of weaving together the stories of Esther and Ezra as Lynn did in this book, but it seems to be a very plausible fit to the Old Testament timeline. 

I look forward to reading more of Lynn Austin's well-done Bible-based fiction.

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 Keepers of the Covenant here.

About the book: 

The Old Testament Comes to Thrilling Life in the Latest from Lynn Austin
In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king's palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.
When the battles come to an end, Ezra's brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude's widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple---but the fight to keep God's Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges . . . this one for the survival of God's covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author

Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

Find Lynn online: website, Facebook

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another great suspense-- Deceived

There are a few names whose very presence on a novel leave me feeling confident I will not be disappointed in the book.  One such name in the genre of Christian romantic suspense is Irene Hannon.  So when I picked up Deceived, book 3 in her Private Justice series, I got exactly what I expected -- a fantastic read!

Irene fashions characters who come very much alive from the first pages of the story and draw you deeper into their lives with the emerging plot line.  The ups and downs, joys and struggles that Kate and Connor go through, as well as the twists and turns of the plot, provide a very enjoyable story with the right balance of suspense, romance, and faith.  Information about the characters' lives is provided at just the right time in the story to help the pieces come together.  Irene's extensive background research is evident throughout and provides an element of realism that helps drive the story.

I would highly recommend Deceived to anyone who enjoys a well-written story -- particularly one filled with suspense and a healthy dash of romance.  You may want to start with books 1 and 2 from this series, but the story can be great as a stand-alone.

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

About the Book

A grieving mother. A mysterious child. And a dedicated PI who's determined to solve the puzzle.

For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she's convinced it's her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating "accident" begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon's many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plotline that accelerates to an explosive finish.

 About the Author

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels, including the Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, two HOLT Medallions, a Daphne du Maurier Award, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, and a National Readers' Choice Award. In addition, she is a Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. Irene lives in Missouri. Learn more at

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