Monday, March 26, 2018

Thrilling Conclusion -- If I Live

If you want high-level, page-turning, heart-stopping suspense, you just can't beat Terri Blackstock. And her If I Run series is some of her best story-telling yet!

If I Live is the thrilling conclusion to this three-part series. The first pages of the first book started the breath-taking adventure of Casey Cox, who was wrongly accused of murder. From there to the end of the third book, the twists and turns mount exponentially as Casey tries to find a way to prove her innocence and bring the real criminals to justice. Along the way, she risks her own safety out of concern for other people -- some she knows well and some she meets along the way. Her biggest obstacle as she runs is not knowing who she can trust . . . and that is one of the exciting parts for the reader -- never being sure who are the bad guys and what extremes they will go to in their evil schemes.

Casey also finds herself on a quest to find God, although understanding and believing His love and purpose for her is one of her greatest challenges. No spoilers . . . but the outcome of Casey's journey is fantastic. Just don't expect to be able to put the book down easily, if at all!

I highly recommend this entire series. The books definitely need to be read in order, so if you haven't started yet, get your hands on copies of If I Run and If I'm Found and then finish up with If I Live. I'm sure you'll be glad you did!

About the Book:

The hunt is almost over . . .

Casey Cox is still on the run after being indicted for murder. The hunt that began with her bloody footprints escalates, and she’s running out of places to hide. Her face is all over the news, and her disguises are no longer enough. It’s only a matter of time before someone recognizes her.

Dylan Roberts, the investigator who once hunted her, is now her only hope. Terrifying attempts on Dylan’s life could force Casey out of hiding. The clock is ticking on both their lives, but exposing the real killers is more complicated than they knew. Amassing the evidence to convict their enemies draws Dylan and Casey together, but their relationship has consequences. Will one life have to be sacrificed to protect the other?

With If I Live, Terri Blackstock takes us on one more heart-stopping chase in the sensational conclusion to the If I Run series.

About the Author:

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of  Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.

Find out more about Terri at

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Great story with some interesting history -- Phoebe's Light

All of Suzanne Woods Fisher's Amish books have been great, so I expected the same when she went a little different direction -- delving into the history of another group of people, the Quakers. And after finishing Phoebe's Light, I found my expectations met -- another great story by one of my favorite authors.

The story was filled with a wide range of characters -- some easy to love and some not so much so. Adventure, love, disappointment, danger -- all these added up to a great tale that kept me engaged from start to finish. And I learned a little history about some of the early religious and cultural elements of our country that I was not familiar with. This was a great read, and I look forward to the next book in the series.

I recommend Phoebe's Light to fans of Suzanne Woods Fisher's writing and anyone interested in a good story with some interesting history.

About the Book:

Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she’s doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a “minder” on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary’s journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe’s shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way–just in time.

In this brand-new series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her signature twists and turns to bear on a fascinating new faith community: the Quakers of colonial-era Nantucket Island.

About the Author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing and The Newcomer in the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, 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

Kathleen's best yet -- Words from the Heart

While I have enjoyed Kathleen Fuller's entire Amish Letters series, I think her latest -- Words from the Heart -- outshines the others. In fact, it just might be her best book yet.

Ivy Yoder and Noah Schlabach find themselves involved in an attic-cleanup project for Noah's aunt, Cevilla. Neither of them has interest in any romantic involvement coming out of their time together, no matter how much Cevilla might try to manipulate otherwise. No one could have imagined how much impact could come from a bunch of old doilies and a bundle of abandoned love letters.  

I'm not sure I can identify all the reasons I enjoyed this book so much, but the entire story was very touching. Kathleen created characters with real-life feelings and experiences. As they worked through a variety of tasks -- some of them very mundane, some more interesting -- they shared times of fun and pleasure, as well and illness and rejection, all the while learning lessons about love and life. I felt drawn into the story and cared a great deal about people, as though they were actual friends of mine.

I highly recommend Words of the Heart to fans of great Amish fiction or heartwarming stories in general.

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

About the Book:

Her fingertips brushed against something else in the box of doilies. She lifted a bundle of letters, neatly tied with a thin red ribbon . . .

Ivy Yoder hasn’t heard from John King in over a year. She knows it’s time to let go of the idea that they will one day marry, but she’s humiliated to be one of the oldest single women in her Amish community of Birch Creek. When quirky Cevilla Schlabach asks her to help clean out an attic, Ivy is grateful for the distraction.
Noah Schlabach isn’t from Birch Creek, or even Ohio. His job as an auctioneer takes him around the country and away from a typical Amish life, but he still remains devoted to his family. So when his aging aunt asks him to help clean out her attic, he agrees. Plus, who knows what curious items he might find up there?
As Noah and Ivy work side by side, they come across a different kind of treasure: a packet of letters written during the Korean War. Soon they are swept up in the story of two young people falling in love—even as they remain determined not to fall in love themselves.
Words from the Heart is a moving story of lost love letters, fragile fears, and the beauty of taking another step forward.
About the Author:
Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, and the Amish Letters series as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at, Twitter: @TheKatJam, Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Danger in Hart County -- His Risk

The books in Shelley Shepard Gray's Amish of Hart County have an interesting twist to the typical Amish love story in the form of an element of suspense. His Risk is built largely around danger and mystery with the return of a member of the community who left several years earlier and appears to bring danger with him when he returns out of concern for his brother's health.

The story is set in an Amish community, and most of the characters are obviously a part of that culture. An important thread throughout the story, though, takes place in the English world with plenty of suspense, danger, and questions. The story takes several turns, some particularly unexpected, keeping a good pace going in the interest level.

His Risk is part of a series, and there are a few references to characters and events from the earlier stories. However, the book works just fine as a stand-alone for anyone who has not read the others.

I recommend His Risk to fans of good Amish fiction. Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of the book.  I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

See what other readers have to say about His Risk here.

About the Book:

An undercover English DEA agent will do anything to protect the Amish girl he loves.

Calvin Fisher left the Amish community at fourteen and never looked back. Only his brother's illness can bring him back to Hart County. Now, as Calvin works to make amends, he meets Alice, a local nursery school teacher, and falls hard for her. But he has a secret that could threaten the happiness he's finally found.

Alice shouldn't like-or want-Calvin. He's English, has a questionable past, and an even more questionable job. Still, she can't help being intrigued. Though Calvin assures Alice that he's worthy of her, she's torn between surrendering to her growing feelings and steering clear of him.

When a sudden surge of criminal activity alarms the community and even targets Alice, Calvin fears that his double life has put everyone he loves at risk. As for Alice, she can't help but wonder if the brave and honorable man she's lost her heart to is far more dangerous than she could ever imagine.

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. Find out more about Shelley at

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Powerful true story of faith -- I Will Not Fear

In her I Will Not Fear, Melba Pattillo Beals shares some details of the frightening, dangerous time she endured as a 15-year-old during the integration of an all-white high school. But she goes far beyond those days to share how the lessons of faith she learned during that critical time -- as well as before and after those events -- have served her well throughout her whole life.

Being from Arkansas, I have heard for years about the "Little Rock Nine" and their efforts to integrate Central High School in Little Rock. I attended junior high and high school almost twenty years later in another Arkansas town where integration was still very much a difficult and frightening issue. Those connections were much of what drew me to read this story.

The details from those first days of attending Central High School, the threats on the lives of those students and their families, and even the offensive treatment by members of their own community brought real life to an event from the history books. As the story progresses, the author takes readers far beyond those events into the places where her life went after she left Little Rock and faced many other challenges. One of the constants, no matter where she went and what she faced, was her faith in God, influenced tremendously by her grandmother's teachings from early on.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history involved or anyone looking for encouragement to remain strong in the face of life's big obstacles.

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

About the Book:

In 1957, Melba Beals was one of the nine African American students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. But her story of overcoming didn't start--or end--there. 

While her white schoolmates were planning their senior prom, Melba was facing the business end of a double-barreled shotgun, being threatened with lynching by rope-carrying tormentors, and learning how to outrun white supremacists who were ready to kill her rather than sit beside her in a classroom. Only her faith in God sustained her during her darkest days and helped her become a civil rights warrior, an NBC television news reporter, a magazine writer, a professor, a wife, and a mother.

In I Will Not Fear, Beals takes you on an unforgettable journey through terror, oppression, and persecution, highlighting the kind of faith we all need to survive in a world full of heartbreak and anger. She shows how the deep faith we develop during our most difficult moments is the kind of faith that can change our families, our communities, and even the world.

Encouraging and inspiring, her story offers hope that faith is the solution to the pervasive hopelessness of our current culture.

About the Author:

Melba Pattillo Beals is a recipient of this country's highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, for her role, as a 15-year-old, in the integration of Central High school in Little Rock, Arkansas. A retired university professor with a doctorate in International Multicultural Education, she is a former KQED television broadcaster, NBC television news reporter, ABC radio talk show host, and writer for various magazines, including Family Circle and People. Beals's Warriors Don't Cry has been in print for more than 20 years, has sold more than 1 million copies, and was the winner of the American Library Association Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and the American Booksellers' Association Award. She lives in San Francisco and is the mother of three adult children.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mail-order brides -- Beneath a Prairie Moon

One of my favorite things about a Kim Vogel Sawyer story:  getting to the end of the story and seeing how all the pieces fit together. One of my least favorite things about a Kim Vogel Sawyer story:  getting to the end of the story and having no more pages to read.

If you have followed my reviews at all, you should have picked up that Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors. She tells stories (frequently historicals set in her home state of Kansas) of hardship, struggles, love, and faith in a way that tug at the heart strings. Before the story is over, I have usually laughed, cried, and felt like taking some of the characters and "shaking some sense into them."

Beneath a Prairie Moon is everything I have just described. The setting involves a kind of rough and tumble town that is short on females of marriageable age, which prompts many of the unrefined men of the town to send letters and money back East for the purpose of securing mail-order brides. When the manager of the bride service and her assistant make the long trek to Kansas, Eastern high society meets the unpolished prairie and all kinds of consequences develop. There is a lot of uncertainty and hard-headedness, and even some pretty dangerous situations. Before all is said and done, love shows itself in many forms -- expected and unexpected.

As always, I highly recommend Kim Vogel Sawyer's latest book to all fans of great inspirational fiction. Thanks to Kim and her publisher for providing a copy of the book.  I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Story:

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father's illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can "marry up" with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he's put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the "little city gal" in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won't bring happiness?

About the Author:

KIM VOGEL SAWYER's titles 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 her retired military husband Don. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and a bevy of grandchildren.

Great WWII story -- The Sea Before Us

There are lots of facets of WWII that spark my interest. Not so long ago, I would not have placed reading details of the actual military aspects of war too high on that list. In the past few years, though, that has changed -- and Sarah Sundin is one of the main reasons for that change. Like the others I have read, her The Sea Before Us is a book that I had trouble putting down, no matter where the story was going at the moment.

Sarah does an excellent job of weaving together a story with real people, with real feelings, into the real battles of war. (I use the term "real" a little loosely, because many of her characters and even specifics of battle are fictional, but they are all very real on the page.) She is a master at research and uses the fruits of that research to share exact events from the war or piece them together into something that could have very well happened at that time.

Wyatt and Dorothy both have stories that invite you in to learn more. Hurt, guilt, remorse, fear, love, and faith all play into the directions their lives take. They each help the other grow, even at the times they seem to be working in opposite directions and when the war threatens to tear everything apart.

I highly recommend The Sea Before Us (and for that matter, any of Sarah Sundin's WWII stories) to fans of great inspirational fiction. And you just might learn a little military history along the way. Sarah has two more books planned in the Sunrise at Normandy series, stories that make me anxious to pick up where this one left off.

Thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of the book.  I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

Nothing but love could heal the wounds of war

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a "Wren" in the Women's Royal Naval Service, who pieces together reconnaissance photographs with holiday snapshots of France--including those of her family's summer home--in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt turns into naval bombardment plans for D-day.

 As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn into something more. But both of them have too much to lose to give in to love . . .

About the Author:

Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, Anchor in the Storm, and When Tides Turn in the Waves of Freedom series, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. Her popular Through Waters Deep was a Carol Award finalist and named to Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years." A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. Sarah lives in California. Visit for more information.