Friday, September 11, 2020

Awesome Conclusion -- Two Steps Forward

Two Steps Forward is Suzanne Woods Fisher's awesome conclusion to her The Deacon's Family series.

The neat thing about a conclusion to a series from this author is that you probably haven't seen the last of the story. For example, several of the characters in this book were introduced in earlier visits to Stoney Ridge through this or other series, and some of them are much better versions of themselves than when we first met them. But there is nothing that gets old about revisiting these people and places -- it's much like going back home to catch up with familiar friends and family and the new goings-on in their lives. In addition to some of the romance and regular day-to-day fare you expect in an Amish story, these books include well-written plots that involve difficult and complicated issues that might come up in either Amish or English settings.

I highly recommend Two Steps Forward -- as well as Mending Fences and Stitches in Time -- to fans of great Amish fiction. This story could be read as a stand alone, but would probably be best enjoyed as a part of the series.

About the Book

Sylvie needs a man of substance to help her run her business.

What she gets is Jimmy Fisher.

Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted through life as long as he could on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him--until they didn't. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N' Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She's offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith's son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith's rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy's lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie's heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake?

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 30 books, including On a Summer Tide and On a Coastal Breeze, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop's Family, The Deacon's Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Beautiful Story of Acceptance -- The Librarian of Boone's Hollow

The Librarian of Boone's Hollow is another treasure from the pen of Kim Vogel Sawyer. 

The step back into the Great Depression era of mule or horseback delivery of books to the backwoods communities of Kentucky is interesting all on its own. But the people, the characters from this author's mind and heart, are what makes this one more gentle story of hope from one of the greats in Christian fiction.

Addie -- a young girl from the city who finds herself in challenging times that are not of her own making but who determines to follow her love of reading and writing to move forward for herself and her family

Emmett -- a young man forced to move back to his family's little mountain home while trying to find a job that makes use of his recently earned college degree

Bettina -- a poor, uneducated girl who sees marriage as her only hope for escape from a difficult home life

Nanny Fay -- an older woman who lives alone, with most of the community's residents avoiding her at all costs because of fears and superstitions

I highly recommend The Librarian of Boone's Hollow to all fans of inspirational historical fiction or to anyone who wants to get lost in a story of hope, faith, community, and acceptance.

Thanks to Kim Vogel Sawyer and her publisher for providing a digital copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book

A traveling librarian ventures into the mining towns of Kentucky on horseback—and learns to trust the One who truly pens her story—in this powerful novel from the best-selling author of A Silken Thread.

During the Great Depression, city-dweller Addie Cowherd dreams of becoming a novelist and offering readers the escape that books had given her during her tragic childhood. When her father loses his job, she is forced to take the only employment she can find—delivering books on horseback to poor coal-mining families in the hills of Kentucky.

But turning a new page will be nearly impossible in Boone's Hollow, where residents are steeped in superstitions and deeply suspicious of outsiders. Even local Emmett Tharp feels the sting of rejection after returning to the tiny mountain hamlet as the first in his family to graduate college. And as the crippled economy leaves many men jobless, he fears his degree won’t be worth much in a place where most men either work the coal mine or run moonshine.

As Addie also struggles to find her place, she’ll unearth the truth about a decades-old rivalry. But when someone sets out to sabotage the town’s library program, will the culprit chase Addie away or straight into the arms of the only person who can help her put a broken community back together?

(Get a sneak peek at the first chapter of The Librarian of Boone's Hollow here.)

About the Author

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed bestselling author with more than one million books in print in seven different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades 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, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Compelling Story -- A Violent Hope

A Violent Hope is very much unlike my usual choice of books. In fact, I can't say that I "liked" the story. It is too full of hurt and despair to be "likable." 

But I don't know when, or if, I've ever read anything much more compelling. After I downloaded the book onto my Kindle, I checked out the first few pages to be sure it came through OK. I started reading, and by the time I got to the second or third page, I was drawn in so strongly that I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading the entire book in one afternoon.

The story is full of the raw messiness of life, including time after time when bad choices are made that negatively impact the individuals involved and others close to them. But what kept tugging at me as a reader was the thread of Hope -- at times almost hidden, but still there -- that kept showing up in the lives of the characters.

A Violent Hope is a well-written story that provides an awesome reminder that Christ doesn't give up or stop drawing hearts to Himself, even hearts tangled up in ugliness. While there is nothing I would consider overly graphic or inappropriate in the way the author portrays events in the story, I would recommend this book for mature readers.

Thanks to the author, Ericka Clay, for providing a digital copy of her book. All thoughts in this review are my own.

About the Book

Mack Reynolds is battling his demons. After years spent attempting to heal wounds from being abused as a child, he confronts the author of his nightmares, his uncle, leading to a catastrophic decision and permanently sealing his fate.

When Natalie, Mack’s wife, convinces herself that she won’t be able to support her family on her own, she moves herself and her daughter to White Smoke, Arkansas where she has a new job lined out and the hope of a new beginning. But after being demoted in a mere six months, meeting a less than reputable “best friend,” and chasing the same addiction that helped fuel her husband’s final breakdown, Natalie ends up spiraling out of control and comes out worse the wear ten years later.

All grown up, her daughter, Wren, struggles with her own addiction and a never ending series of tough situations she blames on her father’s early demise. It’s not until Mack’s mother, Rochelle, can confront her past, her questionable living arrangement with her husband and his mistress, and the bitter hurt that’s metastasized inside of her that Natalie and Wren can receive the guidance they both desperately need. But is it too late?

Told through the lives of the three women touched by Mack’s struggle, A Violent Hope takes a deeper look into the human heart and the God who repeatedly heals all wounds.

 About the Author

Ericka Clay is a published novelist and the author of Unkept and Dear Hearts. She graduated from the University of Arkansas creative writing program and has published a book of short stories and poetry.

Ericka has been awarded a number of times by Writers Digest for various short fiction pieces, she has written four novels (one of which placed as a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest) and has had the privilege of sharing her craft, teaching writing classes and holding writers workshops in the South Texas area.

She is releasing her latest novel, A Violent Hope, for publication through her publishing imprint, Believable Books, October 2020.

Ericka lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, daughter, two dogs and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally.