Sunday, January 19, 2020

Two Steps Forward

from the the publisher...
Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life 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 her son, 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? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon's Family series.

my thoughts...
Two Steps Forward is one of those books that will keep my thoughts captive for many days and when I reread it I will enjoy it just as much.  All of the characters in Stoney Ridge are like old friends.  You see them again from book to book as another member of the community's story unfolds.  So it is with Two Steps Forward Jimmy Fisher returns from being an Amish Cowboy in Colorado.  He was an incorrigible lad when he was introduced in The Keeper, book one of the Stoney Ridge Series.  What he didn't think of for mischief, nobody else could imagine.  Now he was home and life would never be the same. His dogged determination to prove what he can do is just the opposite of what anyone expected.
 Suzanne Woods Fisher is a master story teller.  She has a way of hooking you into a story from the moment you turn the first page.  Her characters, like Jimmy Fisher, are entertaining but have a lot of lessons to give us all. In Suzanne's books a lot of difficult topics are intertwined into the story.  While reading Stitches In Time Suzanne introduced the topic of foster care in Amish homes.  Luke Schrock, newly appointed deacon wished to fulfill beloved Amos Lapp's wish to empty the system by finding homes for those children.  Knowing the impact of that system on his own wife, Luke has been diligent in keeping his promise.  While Two Steps Forward is focusing on Jimmy and Sylvie, there is a larger issue at hand.  Luke and his wife Izzy are championing the cause of unwanted babies.  Recent issues out in the English world seem remote yet closer than one would suspect.  Rather than sitting back and being passive about the issue of unwanted babies, the community is united in finding ways to help one baby at a time.

This book is funny, it is entertaining and it leaves the reader something to think about before the book is closed.  Things are never what they seem and people will surprise you when you least expect it.  I could wax on about this book for a long time, but then, why give the story away when you can enjoy it yourself?  It will put your mind on things that are happening in the world today that impact all of us, no matter where we live.

5 stars for this book and the entire Deacon's Family series by Suzanne Woods Fisher!  Many thanks to and Revell for the opportunity to review this book.  The opinions offered regarding this book are mine alone.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Seconds To Live by Susan Sleeman - Fast Paced and Heart Pounding Suspense`

...from the publisher... 

When cybercriminals hack into the US Marshals' Witness Protection database and auction off witnesses' personal details to the highest bidders, the RED Team led by FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. But before he can even get started, the first witness is targeted and barely escapes with her life. Sean believes Phantom, an obsessed hacker who previously outwitted the top minds in the field, is behind the attack, and Sean needs this witness's help, as she's the person who has come closest to discovering Phantom's identity.

Trouble is, she's a witness under the care of US Marshal Taylor Mills, and Sean is reluctant to work with the captivating marshal who knows his deepest secrets. But Phantom claims he knows where the witness is hiding and will kill her, so to stop the hacker, Sean and Taylor must work through their personal pain and learn to trust each other. . . . The seconds are ticking down before someone dies. thoughts...
From the moment I opened Seconds To Live I was hooked.  I haven't read anything by Susan Sleeman before and believe me when I say that I was pleased to find this author.

Cybercrime hits the  U.S. Marshal's Witness Protection Database in a big way. It is a race against time to capture a high profile hacker who is out for revenge.  There are no second chances for his victims and he seems to see anyone who has had the slightest encounter with the RED team of experts assigned to bring him in. These are the things I enjoy about suspense novels.  It is edgy and keeps the reader coming back for just a few more pages.  A few more leads to another chapter and pretty soon it is after 1:00 in the morning!

The main characters are pretty closed off at first and as the story unfolds, so too does the character development of Sean and Taylor.  I liked this book for the story and the team who worked so hard together, under difficult circumstances.  It gave me an even greater respect for those members of law enforcement who are honest, hard working and dedicated to their jobs. 

I was given a copy of this book  for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers but the opinions expressed here are mine.  Seconds To Live is Book One in the Homeland Heroes series.  I am already looking forward to Book Two.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Of Literature And Lattes, An Up and Coming Hit for Spring 2020

...from the publisher...
Katherine Reay returns to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke,
under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup then move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.
Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.
With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances. thoughts... 
At first, I wanted to read this book because the title intrigued me.  Katherine Reay is a new author for me and I have to admit I enjoyed her style.  Of Literature and Lattes is a wonderful story of how one truly can come home again, but it won't be easy.  Alyssa is a complex character who had her world turned upside down when her job seemed to dissolve like a cube of sugar in her latte.  Silicon Valley was supposed to help her make her mark in the world.  It was only coming home and resisting that ever abundant humble pie when she found all of the things she longed for when she left this life behind.  Stripped of all her layers, she had to begin again.

Jeremy's dream of opening a premier coffee shop in Winsome seemed an opposite journey than the one Alyssa experienced.  Everything was going to right itself.  When his grand re-opening didn't wow the town, he regrouped and made some improvements to get to that next level.  Sometimes, we have exactly what we need in front of us although we often just can't see that.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons, first and foremost, the characters are complex, just like real life.  They had some things to work out and I felt their pain.  I also soared along with them on the good days.  Both Jeremy and Alyssa exemplified how difficult relationships can be.  They also prove that it is what you do about those complications that matter.

I can easily recommend this book for anyone who likes well written fiction with believable characters.  The ending will be so worth the read. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Add Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse to Your Reading List

...from the publisher...

For Havyn Powell, growing up on her grandfather Chuck Bondrant's dairy outside the 1904 gold-rush boomtown of Nome, Alaska, offered all she needed. She had the love of her mother, two sisters, and grandfather. But now, at 23, Havyn realizes the stability of her life may soon vanish. Havyn is determined to find a way to keep the family together, but her grandfather's health is declining and everyone seems to be holding secrets from each other, including the handsome, dark-haired stranger who recently arrived.

John Roselli arrives in Nome looking for a steady, consistent job. He has grown tired of the promises of getting rich quick and just wants an honest job with honest pay. His grandfather once knew a Chuck Bondrant, and so when John arrives at the dairy, he's quickly offered a job--and a path to more if he wants it.

Havyn's plan for helping out the family means using her beautiful singing voice and her sisters' musical talent at a local roadhouse. They're an immediate hit, and it looks like her plan will be a success. But the spotlight brings with it dangerous eyes that covet Havyn and are jealous as she and John grow ever closer. But will they realize the peril before it's too late thoughts...

Fans of Tracie Peterson will enjoy Forever Hidden, because of her experience writing rich novels set in Alaska.  Collaborating with Kimberley Woodhouse for this new Treasures of Nome series enriches the story with her musical background.  The book is filled with the three Powell sisters who are woven together as a musical tapestry that plays an integral role in the family's survival when their grandfather has a stroke. 

Moving to Alaska after the death of their father meant something different to everyone in the family.  The  impact was profound, as forgiveness and trust are woven throughout this story.  As a reader, one has the privilege of seeing and understanding each character.  In fiction, as in life, we react to things because of our life experiences.  It is when we are open to seeing situations with fresh eyes that we begin to understand, forgive and trust.  

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy well written historical Christian fiction.  I particularly liked the setting in the Alaska gold rush heyday.  This book begs for a sequel or two, because every sister has a story to tell!  

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Monday, November 18, 2019

Trading ChristmasTrading Christmas by Debbie Macomber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book a ways back and found it turned into a Hallmark movie. They did a credible job on the movie, all things considered. That is not always the case. However, the book is so much better! This is a good one to read when you need a break from all those holiday preparations. Get ready for some good laughs.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Roll of Drums by Jan Drexler

I enjoy reading any book by Jan Drexler.  She is thorough in her research and develops interesting characters.  The Roll of the Drums (The Amish of Weaver's Creek #2)  intrigued me because it is set in Civil War times.  The Amish are pacifists and the war is remote from this community.  However, when it infringes on their lives, they manage to use their spiritual nature to resist the renegades who come to scavenge their farms and livestock.

I enjoyed how Jan developed Gideon and Ruby, who are the lead characters of the story.  I truly wondered how their story would end and it was neatly woven into the story until the end.  As this story unfolded, I was thankful to have the opportunity to read this book. Amish fiction is not for everyone, yet, when well written , the reader forgets that they are reading about the Amish and simply reading about people's lives. Look for Jan's books wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Reviewing: Stitches In Time by Suzanne Woods Fisher

 ...from the publisher...
New to Stoney Ridge, schoolteacher Mollie has come to town for a fresh start. Aware of how fleeting and fragile life is, she wants to live it boldly and bravely. When Luke Schrock, new to his role as deacon, asks the church to take in foster girls from a group home, she's the first to raise her hand. The power of love, she believes, can pick up the dropped stitches in a child's heart and knit them back together.

Mollie envisions sleepovers and pillow fights. What the 11-year-old twins bring to her home is anything but. Visits from the sheriff at midnight. Phone calls from the school truancy officer. And then the most humiliating moment of all: the girls accuse Mollie of drug addiction.

There's only one thing that breaks through the girls' hard shell--an interest in horses. Reluctantly and skeptically, Sam Schrock gets drawn into Mollie's chaotic life. What he didn't expect was for love to knit together the dropped stitches in his own heart . . . just in time.

Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the little Amish church of Stoney Ridge for a touching story of the power of love. thoughts...

I have been waiting to read more of Luke's story and Stitches In Time was worth the wait.  Suzanne has developed a wonderful community over time and it is always like visiting with friends whenever I pick up her books.  Through the years I have seen such changes in her characters, just as we see among our friends and family members.  Luke has certainly grown from being the epitome of the neighborhood bad boy to an unlikely choice as deacon. As unlikely as that seems, it is only natural for one to wonder: will he succeed or live up to the expectations of many who are waiting for him to fail.

This story is entertaining while giving us a serious look at how life can be for children raised within the foster care system.  Parenting comes in many forms, whether through traditional families or a growing norm of children living with absent parents.  The choice to foster a child is commendable, yet not an easy road, especially for people like Mollie, who wants children so badly yet gets much more than she bargained for with the 11-year-old twins.  My mother had twin girls and she often said that "What one didn't think of the other did" and these two take that to a new level.  In the end, all comes together as the Amish community of Stoney Ridge embraces new ground when challenged by Luke to open their hearts and homes to the displaced girls. 

I recommend this book to those who enjoy contemporary Amish fiction.  True, the Amish reportedly live a simple life, but the issues they face are not as simple as it appears.  After all, human nature is a great equalizer in a complex world.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Reviewing: Hope's Highest Mountain by Misty M Beller

...from the publisher...

Ingrid Chastain readily agreed to accompany her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. She never could have anticipated a terrible accident would leave her alone and badly injured in the wilderness. When rescue comes in the form of a mysterious mountain man who

Micah Bradley left his work as a doctor after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. But his self-imposed solitude in the wilds of Montana is broken when he finds Ingrid in desperate need of medical attention, and he's forced to face his regret and call on his doctoring skills once again.

Micah can't help but admire Ingrid's tenacious determination despite the severity of her injuries, until he learns the crate she brought contains smallpox vaccines to help quell a nearby outbreak. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine--with or without his help--he has no choice but to accompany her. As they set off through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains against all odds, the journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known.  
tends her injuries, she's hesitant to put her trust in this quiet man who seems to have his own wounds. thoughts...

Misty M. Beller's Hope's Highest Mountain is a well written and compelling story. The premise of the book is not one I normally select but the description and setting caught my eye. The author drew me in within the first few pages. I could feel Ingrid's wariness as she submitted to this strange man's care.  He was so different than anyone she had ever met.  Micah was a reluctant caregiver who overcame his own self doubts and made healing Ingrid's injuries his priority.  Again and again he took up her challenges, first providing for her care and then forging a difficult path to deliver the vaccines.  I felt the cold and shivered as Ingrid and Micah traveled under less than ideal circumstances through the mountains.

Throughout their journey Micah was tested.  His courage and willingness to stretch his will to care for Ingrid was inspiring, considering his long held feelings of guilt over the deaths of his wife and daughter. Micah is my favorite character in this book.  Ingrid's determination, while admirable, wasn't practical, considering her injuries and the terrible weather conditions for travel. However, Micah risked even more as he tirelessly planned and carried out their journey to the mining town.  It was dangerous. She was severely injured and the two combined made the journey all the more treacherous. The inner turmoil for him was just as much a struggle. He escaped to this life of solitude for the very reasons she was tasking him with.

This book is for the reader who likes adventurous journeys with that little added touch of romance.  I have not read and of Misty M Beller's books before, but this will no doubt not be the last.  Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to read this book for review.  My opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Saturday Night Review: The Timepiece by Beverly Lewis

,,,from the publisher...
As the only daughter, Sylvia Miller of The Tinderbox has always held a special place in her Old Order family, one Adeline Pelham jeopardizes when she shows up at the Millers' Hickory Hollow farm. It isn't that Adeline means to be a threat, but her very existence is a reminder of the painful secret that has so recently upended the Miller household. And withthis Englisher--into their midst.

Despite the Millers' unexpected hospitality, Adeline is well aware that she's treading on Sylvia's turf, and she feels guilty about doing so when Sylvia is grappling with issues of her own. Not only is Sylvia trying to rebuild her trust in her father, but she's uncertain what to make of her once-promising engagement to Titus Kauffman, who hasn't pursued her since she confronted him. Adeline wishes she could help Sylvia, but she's not sure that either she or Sylvia is ready for that level of closeness in their relationship.

Can God make something good come out of the mistakes of the past? Or does Adeline's
arrival mark one too many surprises for the Millers and their Amish community?
Sylvia and her mother still struggling to come to terms with that news, this is a challenging time to welcome an Englisher--especially thoughts....
I usually anticipate the release of Beverly Lewis' books and after I read the last page of The Tinderbox, I eagerly waited for the arrival of The Timepiece. The Miller's are once again under scrutiny. Sylvia, who thought she was her father's only daughter, didn't relish getting to know Adeline, the daughter he didn't know he had.  She was also unsure if she would marry Titus, the cautious son of Amos Kaufman, the strictest preacher of her church district. This is one of those stories that gives us a glimpse into human nature to see that all we need to see isn't on the surface.

The Miller family, except Sylvie, warmly welcome Adeline into their family.  There have been so many changes and she wasn't prepared for the addition of a sister, especially from the Englisch world. The dynamics of the newcomer in addition to learning more about her father's life before joining the Amish seem to impact her the most.  As her time to become baptized draws near, she must decide her future.  Adeline, for her part, is becoming more intrigued with this quiet life as she too, prepares to return to her college studies and her fiancee Brandon.  She too, has questions as she learns more about her father, Earnest and the surprises she finds in her late mother's journal.

Amidst all this, is Rhoda, Earnest's wife and Sylvia's mother.  She is a quiet force to reckon with as she guides them along with love and wisdom.  This story is about a resilient family whose faith strengthens them to bring about forgiveness, and the discovery of joy.  Beverly Lewis wove together a wonderful story that proves that faith, patience and time can bring forth many blessings.  I recommend this book to all fans of Beverly Lewis, but also to new fans to pick up and enjoy. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Christmas In Winter Hill, Melody Carson's Annual Christmas Book Is Delightful!

...from the publisher...
Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn't always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, "Where's the snow?" Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista's Christmas spirit before the big day?

Bestselling author Melody Carlson invites you to spend this holiday season in a town you'll never forget--and never want to leave. thoughts...
 Every year I look forward to Melody Carlson's annual Christmas book, wondering if she will be able to top the previous year and that in itself is a good recommendation.  However, the one reason her annual books are so memorable is that they are all different.  If she has a cookie cutter format like you see in those made for television Christmas movies, I have not seen it.  From The Christmas Joy Ride to the Christmas Angel Project, her stories are fresh and evoke fond feelings for the Christmas spirit.  Perhaps, because they nudge us to think of those caring feelings we have for others. Perhaps because she can touch the heart of the human spirit.

If ever one wanted a new start, moving from sunny Phoenix to Winter Hill, in Eastern Washington is about as fresh as you can get considering the weather, culture and small town life. For someone with an aversion to Christmas, the town's preoccupation with Christmasville had Kristen wondering if she rushed into accepting this new job. To make it more difficult, her daughter found everything about Winter Hill delightful.  I found the story entertaining and easy to read.  I am certain that this little town is thinly disguised as Leavenworth Washington, a delightful little town where Christmas is their middle name.  The fact that my hometown is mentioned a couple of times in passing didn't hurt either. All that aside, I believe the message within the covers of this quick read is simple: honesty and integrity are never out of date.  If you enjoy good-hearted stories, this one is for you. I highly recommend it.