Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Great Suspense -- Called to Protect

Called to Protect, the second book in the Blue Justice series, is another great piece of romantic suspense from Lynette Eason.

If you have read the first book in the series, you will recognize members of the crime-fighting St. John family who get involved to varying degrees in a complex fight against human trafficking. Chloe St. John, her K-9 partner Hank, and Deputy US Marshall Blake MacCallum lead out in the action. The suspense level is high throughout the story, and there is a nice thread of romance working its way through as well. 

Called to Protect could work well as a stand-alone, but I would recommend you read Oath of Honor as well. Both are great page-turners sure to be enjoyed by suspense fans.

Thanks to Lynette and her publisher for providing a copy of Called to Protect. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

She'll have to draw on all of her resources to crack the case--and guard her heart.

After being dumped by her fiancé, Chloe St. John has decided that the only male she likes is her K-9 German shepherd partner, Hank. But being over the whole romance thing has perks--like giving full attention to her job. Attention she's definitely going to need because a case of human trafficking with connections to her missing cousin just landed in her lap.

Deputy US Marshall Blake MacCallum is in a race against the clock to rescue his kidnapped daughter when Chloe and Hank are asked to be a part of the task force assembled to bring down the traffickers. Chloe finds herself attracted to the silent, suffering man. But can she trust him? And can Blake trust himself around this firecracker of a woman?

Buckle in. This fast and furious ride will have your heart pumping from the very start.

About the Author:

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Oath of Honor, as well as the Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at

Tense Series Conclusion -- Dead Drift

Dani Pettrey knows how to build great suspense from the first page and keep it going to the very last! She has done it again in Dead Drift, the thrilling conclusion to her Chesapeake Valor series.

Book three in the series left things at an extremely tense spot . . . and this one picks up right at that point and takes off running. The characters Dani introduced us to from the start of book one have continued to develop in their relationships and contributions to each element of the story. This final book brings together important pieces as the members of the group fight some of their biggest dangers . . . and Kate and Luke try to find what is salvageable from the past.

I suppose you could read Dead Drift as a stand-alone, but so much would be missing from the story. If you haven't read the previous books, do your best to get your hands on all four and then settle in for a great ride on the edge of your seat!

Thanks to Dani and her publisher for providing a copy of the book.  I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

Burning debris littering the ground . . . smoke pluming in the acrid air . . . this is just the beginning if he fails. 

Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to become part of an elite team set on capturing a deadly terrorist. When Luke returns to face those he left behind, their help becomes his only hope of stopping his target's latest threat of an attack that would shake America to its core. 

Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he's back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster. 

Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist's next mark?

About the Author:

Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the brand new romantic suspense Chesapeake Valor series, as well as the well-loved Alaskan Courage series which includes her bestselling novels SubmergedShatteredStrandedSilenced, and Sabotaged.She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their daughters, son-in-law, and super-adorable grandson.

Engaging New Amish Series (with a GIVEAWAY) -- The Hope Jar

The Hope Jar begins a new Amish series by Wanda Brunstetter.

The captivating characters in this story come from very different backgrounds and collide in unexpected ways in a Lancaster County Amish setting. For anyone not familiar with the particulars of Amish culture, this story provides a wealth of information about specifics of day-to-day life. My only criticism of the story is that in some places those descriptions are so detailed that they seem to bog down the flow of the narrative a little. 

All in all, this is an engaging story of loss, deception, love, and faith that fans of Amish fiction should enjoy. The story comes to a satisfying stopping point . . . but I will definitely be waiting to see where things go from here as the series continues.

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

About the Book:

A Brand-New Series from New York Times Best Selling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter.  

What happens when making an elderly Amish couple very happy means going along with a lie that gets bigger by the day?

Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them. Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle’s budding faith— but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards. 

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs. 

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Make your own prayer jar!

Want to make your own prayer jar to pass along to future generations? CLICK HERE to download a printable template you can use to write your sentiments on. Simply cut out each strip of paper when you’re finished and put them in the jar of your choice.

Blog Stops

Check out the following links to see what other readers think about The Hope Jar (and for extra chances at the giveaway described below!

Among the Reads, August 14
The Avid Reader, August 14
Just Commonly, August 15
Genesis 5020, August 16
Mary Hake, August 16
Bigreadersite, August 16
Lighthouse Academy, August 17
Splashes of Joy, August 20
SusanLovesBooks, August 20
Cafinated Reads, August 23
Quiet quilter, August 23
Carpe Diem, August 24
Texas Book-aholic, August 26


To celebrate her tour, Wanda is giving away a grand prize that includes a $25 Amazon Gift Card, jar-shaped notepad, and a copy of The Hope Jar (with an autographed book plate inside).

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click below to enter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Beautiful Story -- As the Tide Comes In

As the Tide Comes In is a beautiful contemporary story written by Cindy Woodsmall, together with her daughter-in-law Erin. 

While there is definitely a love story in this book, it is so much more than just your typical romance. There is a tremendous amount of loss, hurt, and uncertainty that has filled the life of Tara Abbott. But the beauty of faith, hope, and healing shines through in ways that cause her story to dig itself deep into the emotions of the reader. The entire cast of characters in this story is an over-the-top fantastic group of folks that I would love to have by my side if I found myself searching for answers as Tara was.

Although this book is certainly a stand-alone novel, you may find yourself thinking, as I did, that you've run across some of these folks before. If you have read Cindy and Erin's first joint venture, The Gift of Christmas Past, you might remember Tara playing a minor role in the story of a couple of her foster sisters -- who in turn play into Tara's story here.

I highly recommend As the Tide Comes In to readers of great inspirational fiction. Thanks to the WaterBrook & Multnomah Launch Team for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott's life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia's St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past - her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what's left of her identity into pieces?

About the Authors:

Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She's been featured in national media outlets such as ABC's Nightline and the Wall Street Journal. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. She can be found online at

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade.

Stories from the Heart -- Homespun

Imagine sitting down with a group of women whose clothes might (or might not) look a little different from yours, who might (or might not) speak a few words that you don't recognize, and whose houses might (or might not) be furnished with appliances that don't quite match yours. Conversation starts -- with various women, in turn, sharing whatever happens to be on their hears -- some topics pretty light and maybe even humorous, others pretty deep and touching. That is a pretty close description of what you will find when you open the pages of Homespun, a collection of writings from Amish and Mennonite women, compiled by editor Lorilee Craker.

I have to admit that this book was not exactly what I expected. I had thought these writings would give more insight into the particulars of Plain life, writings from these women that would open up more of the differences in their lives from those of us in the "mainstream." But what I found was what I have discovered from my connections with Plain people I have met over the past several years -- in many ways we have more commonalities than we do differences. Most of what I read in Homespun could just as easily have been written by many of my non-Plain friends. The experiences, and thus the insights, can be enjoyed by readers from a variety of backgrounds. 

I recommend Homespun to anyone who wants to slow down and enjoy some smiles, some reflection, and maybe even some tears. Thanks to Audra Jennings and her Read with Audra blog tour for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book:

Behind Amish romance novels, tourist spots and “reality” TV shows stand real people, with longings and loves just like the rest of us. Every Amish and Mennonite woman has a story. What would it be like to be welcomed into their homes and share those stories over a cup of coffee?

In the pages of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words, Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns while the reader sits in. The book’s editor, Lorilee Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collected these personal writings and authentic perspectives on life, hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God from Anabaptist women’s periodicals. Among the stories shared are essays penned by well-loved Amish and Mennonite writers such as Sherry Gore, Linda Byler, Lovina Eicher, Dorcas Smucker, and Sheila Petre.

Craker, who describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies, grew up in Manitoba where the Mennonite community was large. Her mother’s family came from Ukraine in the 1870’s and were pioneers who homesteaded on the prairies. Her father’s family arrived in Canada after World War II when they fled Stalin and his holocaust. She knew from early on there were lots of different kinds of Mennonite stories, but she never realized there was anything “different” about the way she grew up until she arrived in Chicago for college. “Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being my kind of Mennonite were one and the same. This assumption led to lots of explanations on my part about the difference between my modern Mennonite upbringing (‘like Baptist, with a German accent and special foods’) and those other related subcultures.”

Explaining the differences would eventually lead to Craker to writing her first book on the Amish where she learned for all the differences, there were many more similarities than she expected there to be. While visiting the Amish, she found a peace and gentleness that reminded her of home. As she compiled the stories for Homespun, those same feelings and many more came to the surface. “These narratives stirred different emotions in me. My heart ached for Ervina Yoder as she described what it was like for her to be the mother of a longed-for but stillborn baby. I was inspired and encouraged by Danielle Beiler’s trust in God as her provider, and I giggled at Mary Yoder’s secondhand testimony of an Amish man whose pants were just too stretchy. Other essays enthused my soul, and I came away feeling as if I had just been to church. My cup had been filled.”

As Craker searched for stories to include, several themes revealed themselves. She organized the book into sections delving into the themes and introduces each section with some of the lessons she took away from the women who wrote the stories.

·         Welcome. A deep sense of hospitality is fundamental to these women. Yet it’s not hospitality in the HGTV, your-house-needs-to-be-perfect kind of way.
·         Abide. They want to abide in an abode, if you will, that nurtures them and feeds their spirit. The writers here expound beautifully on what home means to them.
·         Testimony. Story makes the world go ’round. When we hear the stories—the testimonies—of others, we are better able to understand our own story and our place in the world.
·         Wonder. The blazing faith of early Anabaptists is evident in the openness of these writers to all things wondrous. These are true stories of miracles, phenomenal happenings that don’t make sense from a human perspective.
·         Kindred. A core value of both Mennonites and Amish is the preeminence of family—kinfolk, whether they be kindred or not. Our kin shape us in ways both known and unknown, good and bad.
·         Beloved. There is something wonderfully elemental and childlike about the devotion expressed here, devotion even in doubt. These pieces drew me closer to the One who calls all his daughters “beloved.”

Craker hopes that readers will enjoy the stories as much as she did. “You don’t have to be a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies to do so. All you need to do is open your heart and let the homespun words of these women enlarge your worldview, extend your heart, and increase your friendship with the Creator of all good and gut things.”

About the Editor:

Lorilee Craker is the editor of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words. She describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies and didn’t know there was anything “peculiar” about being Mennonite until she moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Chicago, Illinois for college. It was then that she realized most people outside of Mennonite communities assumed she had come from buggy-driving, bonnet-wearing, butter-churning folk. Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being her kind of Mennonite were one and the same. The experience of explaining the differences led her to writing the book, Money Secrets of the Amish (an Audie Awards finalist which she also narrated).

A freelance journalist, blogger and speaker, Craker was an entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press for seventeen years.  She has been featured in many media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Time and People. She is the author of fifteen books, including Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me, My Journey to Heaven with Marv Besteman, and the New York Times bestseller Through the Story with Lynne Spears.

The proud founder of a writing day camp for middle schoolers, Craker lives in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband and their three children.

Learn more about Lorilee Craker online at You can also find her on Facebook (@LorileeCraker), Twitter (@lorileecraker) and Instagram (@thebooksellersdaughter).

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sweet Amish Stories of Love and Family -- An Amish Family

An Amish Family is a collection of four novellas written by Kathleen Fuller, one of my favorite Amish authors. Two of the stories have appeared in previous collections with other authors, and the other two are new to this collection.

As always, Kathleen gives us sweet stories of love and family filled with characters experiencing real feelings and struggles, such as: long-time hurts and grudges (Building Trust); secret, misplaced guilt (A Heart Full of Love); unexpected love (Surprised by Love); and complicated relationships (A Gift for Anne Marie).

While my favorites are usually full-length novels and multi-volume series, I enjoy reading these smaller novellas from time to time. Each story can be read at a short sitting, or you can easily enjoy a little longer journey through the entire collection. 

I highly recommend An Amish Family to fans of great Amish romance.

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

About the Book:

In An Amish Family, beloved author of Amish romance, Kathleen Fuller, invites readers into the lives of four Amish families.
Building Trust
Grace Miller and Joel King are in love. They’ve dated secretly for the past year and when he proposes marriage, Grace eagerly agrees. But when she tells her parents about the wedding, she’s shocked when her father tells her she can’t marry Joel. Can Grace get to the bottom of her father’s animosity toward Joel so they can have the happily ever after she’s always dreamed of?
A Heart Full of Love (also in An Amish Cradle)
Ellie’s mother hasn’t stopped meddling in her personal life since Ellie lost her sight—and she’s taken it up a notch now that Ellie’s pregnant. When Ellie gives birth to twins, her mother insists on moving in to care for them. But when her mother’s behavior becomes unbearable, Ellie is forced to take a stand . . . and finally find out why Mamm can’t let go.
Surprised by Love
In a desperate move to evade her match-making mother, Emily Shwartz announces that she’s already seeing someone: Reuban Coblentz. The trouble is, Reuban is barely even a friend. Seeing how desperate she is, Reuban plays along. But when the past sneaks up on them, will this temporary arrangement turn into everlasting love?
A Gift for Anne Marie (also in An Amish Second Christmas)
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.
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.