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.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Add A Song of Joy by Lauraine Snelling to Your Reading List

...from the publisher...
In Minnesota in 1911, Nilda Carlson is torn between society life in the city of Blackduck and spending time with her family back home on the farm. Her employer, Mrs. Schoenleber, gives her more and more responsibility and experience, including recommending new opportunities for her philanthropy. Still new to America herself, Nilda focuses on the area's immigrant
community, but she'll have to fight to get her ideas accepted by the locals and donors alike. thoughts...
  A Song of Joy by Lauraine Snelling is a delightful story.  Nilda Carlson, an immigrant from Norway, has for some months, worked as personal assistant to the wealthy Mrs. Schoenleber.  She is grateful for all that she has learned and accomplished since being mentored by her generous employer.  She has mastered English is learning the ropes in a large family corporation and fits in whether it is in the boardroom or on the family's farm.  She is remarkably bright and it is her wish to give back so others who are new to the country can have some of the opportunities she has had.  When she shares her ideas to her philanthropic boss, she is met with surprising enthusiasm that eventually leads to a whole community's involvement to help the newcomers. 

I liked this book not just for the good story, but because it reminds me of how many of my ancestors came to America.  Someone came first, checked out the opportunity and sent tickets home for others to follow either one by one or in a group.  Some traveled by steerage and once they got to Minnesota, they settled together and worked hard.  My father's family spoke mostly German at home.  He went to school until the eighth grade, like Nilda's nephews did in A Song of Joy.  I admire how hard these immigrants worked the land or in other industries to support their families while building a new life in our country.  Their resilience, similar to the Carlson family, is what settled the midwest, and eventually, the western states.  I wasn't aware this was the fourth book in the Under the Northern Skies series but A Song of Joy can be read as a standalone.  I recommend this book as the story is engaging with good old fashioned characters!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Reviewing: Storm Rising thoughts...
Suspenseful and full of intrigue!  Clandestine operatives are competing to find the Book of War before other nations possess this book of all books on all wars.  The book is highly rated and written by popular author Ronie Kendig.  She has done her research and  delivered on her promise for a plot that twists, turns and entertains.  If you like fast action, this book is for you.

...from the publisher...
Mentioned in the pages of the Septuagint but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets--and dangers--never before seen on earth.

Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is finally given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as "Viorica" snatches the volume right out from under them.

Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most--freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives--entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of the past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in two-thousand-year-old words could unleash the storm of their own destruction.

Dreaming of an Early Christmas? An Amish Christmas Kitchen Will Get You Started! thoughts...

Three Beloved Amish Fiction authors have joined to bring heartwarming novellas that will get you into the Christmas spirit early.

Leslie Gould's story An Amish Family Christmas is about a family coping with grief and loss.  Shy Noelle, the youngest daughter in a large family is tasked with manning the family stall at the market where all of her baked goods are sold.  She is more comfortable behind the rolling pin than greeting customers.  It is a case of when what works for someone else doesn't work for you, she rises to the occasion.  I enjoyed seeing a young woman with potential emerge along with a new lease on life for her entire family as she sets about bringing the family together.  A chance meeting with a fellow vendor mixes things up for her in ways she will always be grateful.

Jan Drexler's An Amish Christmas Recipe Box is a wonderful story of unrequited love.  A delightful young woman bakes up a flurry of goods to sell in the family furniture store.  Two  young men working for her father play a pivotal role in this season of her life. As this story unfolded it warmed my heart. The cliche "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" plays a role in how she seeks to woo the man she believes to be the one she is to marry.

Kate Lloyd's "An Unexpected Christmas Gift has just the hint of mystery you expect from Kate's books when a lone visitor arrives on Christmas Eve.  A blizzard, a sleigh and a bit of confusion keeps the pages turning as you try to get to the bottom of this well written story of a family that comes together under circumstances nobody could have ever planned.

I enjoyed all three of these novellas and I can't pick a favorite. Each author has unique strengths that keep me coming back to their books. Rather than watch 25 days of Christmas movies, why not settle down instead with one of these novellas.  You will be happy you did.  I plan to read them again with a cup of tea and a cookie or two.

...from the publisher...

As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen.

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman's unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.