Sharing my love of reading and books through book reviews. Grab a cup of coffee and a good book!

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Amish Kitchen

By Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipson & Kelly Long

About This Book
The Amish Kitchen is the Heart of the Home – and the Ideal Setting for Stories of Love and Hope.
Fall in Paradise, Pennsylvania, always brings a brisk change in the weather. This season also ushers in unexpected visitors, new love, and renewed hope for three women. 
Fern has a green thumb for growing healing herbs, but longs for love to bloom in her life. Then the next-door neighbor’s oldest son, Abram, comes running into Fern’s kitchen seeking help for his little sister. The crisis soon leads to a promise of romance—until mistrust threatens to end the growing attraction.
Nearby, Hannah runs her parents’ bed and breakfast, Paradise Inn—but her life feels nothing like Paradise. She longs for a man of integrity to enter her life, but never expected him to knock on the front door looking for a room. Will she be able trust Stephen with her future once she discovers his mysterious past?
When a storm blows a tree onto Eve’s farmhouse, she has little choice but to temporarily move her family into her parents’ home. Outside of cooking together in the kitchen, Eve and her mother can’t agree on anything. But this may be just the recipe for hope in healing old wounds.
Three Amish stories—each celebrating love, family, and faith—all taking place in a tight-knit community where the kitchen truly is the heart of the home.
Also Includes Reading Group Guide and 45 Old Order Amish Recipes

My Review
I truly loved this book!  Three different Amish stories all centered around something to do with the Amish Kitchen being the heart of the home.  I had previously read books by all three authors (and loved all three for different reason) but to have stories from all three in one location was icing in the cake.  All three novellas are well written, and although they are shorter stores, they don't leave the reader wondering what happens next.  The homeopathic remedies and the recipes in the back of the book add to the appeal to Amish readers. 

I give this book five out of five stars and I hope that the authors have future books with combined stories!

NOTE - I received this book free from ThomasNelson in exchange for an honest review.  I was, in no way, obligated to provide a positive or good review.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Accidentally Amish

By Olivia Newport

About This Book

Escape the helter-skelter of the modern culture and join software creator Annie Friesen, hiding at the home of an Amishman. With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures colliding within her. But is her love for Rufus strong enough for her to give up the only life she’s ever known?

My Review

This is book One in the Valley of Choice Series.  I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.  It is not the typical Amish fiction book so I was a little disappointed.  The main character is not Amish and the story is actually two parallel stores woven into one novel.  There is the modern story about Annie and there is the one about her ancestors.  Annie flees her former boyfriend because she no longer trusts him - he steals from her.  She hides in a barn and meets the Beiler family.  Within the book the story of the Beyeler family is told as they came to America in the 1700s.  At the end of the book we find they are actually the author's relatives.  Annie meets Rufus Beiler and begins to fall in love.

I really didn't get into the characters as I have in other Amish novels - there is not much depth and the two-fold story doesn't interest me either.  I may read the follow-up books in the series to see what happens, but if I don't read them I won't feel as if I missed anything either.

NOTE - I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Twice A Bride

by Mona Hodgson

About This Book
Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek.  When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn. 

With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West.  Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?

My Review
This is book 4 in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.  I have read two of the books and have found them to both be very enjoyable.  Willow is actually a sister-in-law to one of the Sinclair sisters, but is welcomed as a part of the family.  She had been institutionalized for depression after her husband’s death.  She is tired of everyone treating her like a piece of glass so she decides she is going to stand on her own and begin a new life. 
Trenton Van Der Veer is not your typical romantic hero.  He has a speech impediment and it has scarred him throughout his life.  He knows who God is but hasn’t been to church since his parents convinced their church to exorcise the demons causing him to stutter – he was embarrassed and mortified.  He was engaged but the young woman broke his heart and he is not looking for love. 
He is a photographer and finally settles down in Cripple Creek thanks to a good friend.  Willow is a portrait painter and he hires her to do work for his clients, mistakenly thinking she is married.  When he finds she is a widowed, he is secretly relieved.  Can these two overcome their pasts to find true love?
The characters are the strongest part of this book – they are very well written, fully developed  and easy to empathize with.   As you read the book, both Willow and Trenton grow in faith and it’s encouraging to you in your faith.  The related stories with the Sinclair sisters bring lightheartedness and help the book to be a quick, easy read without too much worry, gloom and darkness. 
IT is possible to read this book as an individual book even though there are brief references to past story lines in the first three books.  You wonder what happened but it’s not a bad thing – you’ll just want to go back and read the first three books !!
Final review – FIVE out of five stars!!
NOTE – I received this book free through the Blogging for Books program at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing for my review.  I was, in no way, obligated to give a positive review.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

His Love Endures Forever

By Beth Wiseman

Book Description

An unplanned pregnancy. An absent father. Can love really endure all things?
Danielle Kent is anything but Amish. But as destiny would have it, she has fallen in love with an Amish man.  Now she’s 18, pregnant, and hopeful that the child’s Amish father—Matthew Lapp—will do the right thing and marry her. She knows Matthew plans to leave his Colorado settlement for a life in the Englisch world. But that plan never included a baby.  When Matthew walks away from her and their unborn child, she has nowhere to turn. Her unlikely friendship with Levi offers some comfort—yet they have so little in common. This wasn’t the plan she had for her life, and she has never felt so alone. She doesn’t want to be pregnant. Doesn’t want to be Amish. Doesn’t want to trust God.
And yet.  God has plans beyond what her mind can imagine . . . loving plans to show a lost young woman that His love never fails but endures forever.

My Review

In the third book of the A Land of Canaan series, Danielle Kent is a teenager in love with Matthew Lapp, her Amish boyfriend.  She has plans but find out that she is carrying his child.  However, he has plans of his own.  He wants to leave the Amish and live in the English world.  He doesn’t want a wife or a child.  And, when she tells him about the baby, he tells her that he never loved her.
Danielle has no idea what to do.  Matthew has broken her heart, her mother is not around and she is scared.  But her childhood Amish friend, Levi, offers to marry her and raise the child as his own.  Though none of these events were in anyone's plans, God works in mysterious ways through the situations and a beautiful love story develops.  However this is not your typical Amish love story.  The story is also about the interaction between the English and Amish worlds. 

The characters are likeable and the plot is certainly believable given that more and more modern people and things are within the Amish world – just by virtue of curiosity.  As you read the story you really feel for Danielle – she is only 18 but she has been through so much – abandonment, feeling unloved, no mother, Matthew not loving her, pregnant, feeling alone, etc.  Levi seems to be a savior of sorts for her but God leads her to make the correct decision.  I recommend this book to all readers – not just those who like Amish fiction.  I would give it five out of five stars.

NOTE:  I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my review.  I was not required to post a positive review.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whispers In The Wind

By Lauraine Snelling

About The Book

She's Come This Far.... Must She Turn Back Now?

After fleeing North Dakota and the now defunct Wild West Show, Cassie Lockwood and her companions have finally found the hidden valley in South Dakota where her father had dreamed of putting down roots. But to her dismay, she discovers a ranch already built on her land.  Cassie's arrival surprises Mavis Engstrom and forces her to reveal secrets she's kept hidden for years. Her son Ransom is suspicious of Cassie and questions the validity of her claim to the valley. But younger son Lucas decides from the start that he is in love with her and wants to marry her.  Will Cassie be able to build a home on the Bar E Ranch and fulfill her father's dream of raising horses, or will she be forced to return to the itinerant life of her past? 

My Review

I liked this book - but didn't love it.  I love the author's books so I was surprised that I didn't really like this one until I realized that I should have read the first book and maybe I would have liked this one more.

The main character, Cassie (good name), doesn't keep your attention.  Reading the book was sluggish and I found myself wanting to skip a few pages or chapters to see if it improved further into the book.  Since this is a series, I also found that there were no loose ends or unanswered questions at the end that would entice me to want to read Book 3. 

Overall I was disappointed.

NOTE:  I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Tidewater Inn

By Colleen Coble

About This Book

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.  Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.  But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.  Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

My Review

This book started off with a bang - a kidnapping in the first chapter.  It is not a mystery story but a story with family, secrets, danger and many other things.  Libby owns her own business and inherits a beautiful inn worth millions.  She visibly sees her business parther,  Nicole, kidnapped but no one believes her when she arrives on the island.  In fact, they suspect her of foul play.  She finds that her father has been alive for years (recently died) even though her mother told her he died.  As she unravels his life story, she finds that she has siblings - and they don't initally like her.  Coast Guard Lt Alec Bourne seems to believe Libby's story and her innocence.  That is all I'll reveal of the story -- you have to read it to find out the rest.

Colleen Coble writes a fast-paced story with action, dialogue, great plotline, etc.  The story is multi-faceted and you quickly become emotionally involved with Libby and you want the story to end well!  There are several conflicts within the story and they are all resolved by the end.  If you read Ms. Coble's Rock Harbor series - you'll love this story because Bree and her search dog appear in this story :-)  I look forward to the next book in this series - Rosemary Cottage comes in July 2013 !!!

NOTE:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.  I was in  no way obligated to give a positive review.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Bride Wore Blue

by Mona Hodgson

Book Description
At last, the sisters are reunited! The youngest Sinclair, the family“ baby”, is moving from Maine to Cripple Creek, Colorado and joining Kat, Nell, and Ida. But Vivian is a young woman with a will of her own, and made some decisions back in Portland that have begun to haunt her. Will she be able to live up to the expectations of her three perfect and now happily-settled sisters?

The sisters warmly welcome Vivian to the mountain west, but the wild-and-woolly mining town isn’t ripe with opportunities for a respectable young woman. The youngest Sinclair sister is determined to make her own way, so when she’s off ered a job as a hostess in a sporting house, she takes it, thinking the position is appropriate for a tainted, unlovable woman like herself. Although she’s convinced she’ll never be asked to entertain privately, Vivian keeps her employment a secret from her sisters, knowing they’d be mortified—as will Carter Alwyn, the kind and godly sheriff ’s deputy who’s sweet on her.

Vivian is descending into a life of secrets, lying to the very people who love her and could help her heal from her mistakes. Will an outpouring of grace remind her that she is still God’s beloved and that her past can be washed as clean as Rocky Mountain snow?

My Review
I really enjoyed getting to know the Sinclair sisters through the author's book and look forward to reading future books in this series.  Her writing is true to the era, but easy to read and easy to visualize yourself in Cripple Creek in the late 1800s.  Vivian and her sisters are very believable characters and the story is interesting although the theme of the book, as so many Christian novels, is one of guil/shamet, forgiveness (one's self), finding grace and finding love again. Of course, the love story was a bit predictable but I still enjoyed reading it and would recommend it for lovers of historical fiction.

Read an excerpt here. 

NOTE:  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.