Sunday, July 21, 2019

...from the publisher...

In 1850, Mellicent "Mellie" Blanchard takes a job at a mill in Manchester, New Hampshire, to help support her family. In search of additional earning opportunities, she approaches a daguerreotype shop owner with the proposal that he hire her to make paper cuttings or silhouette portraits for those who can't afford an expensive daguerreotype.

When a particularly charming customer--whose broad smile and twinkling eyes catch her off guard--asks to escort her home, the seeds of romance begin to blossom. All the pieces of her new life seem to have fallen perfectly into place, but when her new venture brings her an unexpected opportunity, she is confronted with the truth that all is not as it seems. Will Mellie, who is keeping secrets of her own, find happiness in the new life she has carved out for herself in the busy mill town? thoughts....

Judith Miller's A Perfect Silhouette hooked me from the first page.  I enjoy historical fiction, especially when it comes alive with believable characters. When I read this book I could see the shoddy boarding house, hear the looms in the factory and see how lives are changed.  The simpler times we long for were built on hard work and determination.  Life wasn't all work and the author has woven a wonderful story.

Our heroine, Mellie, was just one of hundreds of workers recruited for the booming textile industry.  The promise of steady wages to send home to her struggling family enticed her to leave everything behind and work at the mill.  Once she arrived, she learned that her housing was little more than a shared bed and the promise of a long day working in a loud textile mill. Her determination, like that of so many, developed an industry that played an integral role in our country's future. I heartily recommend this book for the story line, the well developed characters and impeccable research.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Debbie Macomber's Window On The Bay Destined to Be a Bestseller

...from the publisher...

Jenna Boltz’s life is at a crossroads. After a messy divorce from her surgeon husband nearly twenty years ago, she raised her two children on her own, juggling motherhood with her beloved job as a Seattle intensive-care nurse. Now that Paul and Allie have gone to college and moved out, Jenna can’t help but wonder what her future holds.

Her best friend, Maureen, is excited for Jenna’s newfound independence. Now is the perfect time to finally book the trip to Paris they’ve been dreaming of since their college days. But when it comes to life’s other great adventure—dating—Jenna still isn’t sure she’s ready to let love in . . . until an unexpected encounter begins to change her mind.

When Jenna’s elderly mother breaks her hip, Dr. Rowan Lancaster saves the day. Despite his silent, stoic exterior, Rowan is immediately smitten with Jenna. And even though Jenna is hesitant about becoming involved with another surgeon, she has to admit that she’s more than a little intrigued. But when Jenna’s children approach her with shocking news, she realizes that she needs to have faith in love and embrace the unexpected—before the life she has always dreamed of passes her by. thoughts... 

I predict that Window on the Bay will be a bestseller almost as soon as it is released.  Debbie Macomber is a popular writer who has the gift of hooking her reader into the story immediately.  This book is no exception.  It will appeal to the baby boomers who found empty nests where once the rooms were filled with laughter and needs to be filled.  Any woman might easily identify with Jenna and her best friend Maureen. Women who once had ideals and plans that were set aside to raise children and husbands.  While not every woman has put aside their youthful dreams, there does come a time when there are new things to discover upon entering a new stage in life.  Maureen and Jenna are still very vibrant and alive.  As each approaches new relationships and family dynamics, they are there for each other in ways only the best of friends can be.

This book was a quick read, as it was easy to get into and just as easily, I recommend it to all fans of Debbie Macomber books. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Reviewing: A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund is a wonderful story about bringing brides from England to British Columbia in 1862.  The women who boarded the Tynemouth did so not knowing what their fate would be upon their arrival.  They left all behind and there would be no turning back once the ship sailed.

Our heroine, Mercy Wilkins, knew she was just one more burden to her family if she stayed at home and wasn't going to settle for life in the workhouse or on the streets.  But marriage was definitely not in he plans.  She was a gifted nurse, with no formal training except love for others and the desire to care for the sick.  It was her talent for nursing that led the wealthy Dr. Joseph Colville to seek her assistance among the sick aboard ship.   Working side by side worked out well for some time since they both had no intention of marrying.  The best intentions, however, don't work out at times.

I like this book because at the heart of this story is a young woman who had very little that she left behind.  She saw what her parent's lives were like with little or nothing coming in to support a large family.  Poverty caused her mother to do things that Mercy never wanted to emulate in her own life.  It took courage for  her to swallow her pride and board ship.  She, like the real life women who left England to help settle the western part of our world blazed the trail for life as we know it today.  This book is Mercy's story but there were others on board that ship and not all were poor, at least not financially.  For whatever reason that led the women to seek that new life, they were all starting over from scratch, with no class or society to dictate.

Once again, Jody Hedlund has written an amazing historical novel that I recommend with 5 stars. Her research, as usual, is impeccable and the story is one that is very compelling.  A Reluctant Bride is Book one in The Bride Ships series and already, I am eagerly waiting for the release of book two, The Runaway Bride in March 2020!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tuesday Night Review: Wanda E Brunstetter's Amish Friends Gatherings Cookbook

If you enjoy reading Amish fiction and have wondered what it would be like to try your hand at making some of the delicious sounding food on their tables, look no more.  Wanda E Brunstetter's Amish Friends Gatherings Cookbook is filled with over 200 delightful recipes.    We love potlucks and this wonderful collection of recipes has earned its keep on the cookbook shelf.  A lovely tea concentrate to prepare and freeze for a summer gathering is one I liked trying.  Or, how about a nice bowl of Sweet Cheddar Popcorn, a nice switch from that bag in the microwave!  I recommend this cookbook for anyone who loves to cook and try new, and not so new recipes. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tuesday Night Review: The Brides of the Big Valley

...from the publisher...

In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love
within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own. thoughts...

Once again, three generations of Brunstetter women have brought three unique stories together in one book. I liked how each story was set in the same valley, allowing some of the characters from a previous story to spill into the next one.  I know that fictional characters are, well, fiction, but sometimes I wonder what might have happened to that person or how they may have adjusted to a trying situation.  Difficult situations are not always written about in Amish fiction yet the Brunstetter's are able to infuse these topics into their work.  These are the very things that make their stories believable for the challenges brought to bear. At the heart of each woman's story is their faith and how it renews and strengthens each of their paths as they become brides.

I recommend this book for all fans of Wanda E. Brunstetter and for those who are new to reading works written by her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter and  granddaughter Richelle Brunstetter. Together their collaborations are wonderful, while each has her own unique gifts.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Reviewing: On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I just finished reading On A Summer Tide, book one of a new series by Suzanne Woods Fisher called Three Sisters Island.  Fans of Suzanne's are familiar with her popular books about the Amish. This book is a departure from that genre and highlights the author's talents for well written fiction.

I enjoyed meeting the Graysons and learning, piece by piece through the chapters about their family dynamics and what gave  each of them their individual outlooks on Three Sisters Island.  Paul Grayson, patriarch of the family had thrown them all a curve ball when he asked them to clear their schedules to join him on the island. The journey was more than they bargained for and upon their arrival, the girls wondered if their father was going senile.

Day by day, as they breathed new life into Camp Kicking Moose, new dreams surfaced for everyone.  Perhaps there is magic in that ocean air filled with possibilities found with love, rekindled faith and a lot of listening.

There are so many surprises in the story that it is hard to not to give it all away.  I recommend this book without hesitation to those who like contemporary Christian fiction with a slight twist of mystery. 

 ...from the publisher...

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. "Moving on" is Cam's mantra. But there's a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam's full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island--a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam's surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals--and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

With On a Summer Tide, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a brand-new contemporary romance series that is sure to delight her fans and draw new ones.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers is an insightful look at women who long for society's perennial perfect body.  They long for it so much they are willing to do anything to achieve what they believe is impossible to do on their own.  Set in a remote Vermont countryside, the exclusive program promises quick transformation in a few short weeks.  The price in dollars is quite expensive but the price in human dignity and depravity is priceless.  Alice and Dephne quickly discover that there while they agreed to be filmed during the program, much more is going on behind the camera. 

This book, while showing the extremes of an expensive weight loss camp, is entertaining, yet sad at times.  It shows how tied we are to our weight because so society norm.  Having a healthy body is important.  There is, however, more than the number on the scale or the size of your thighs that matter.  What matters most is the work that is done inside of a person who seeks to lose weight.   Alice and Daphne grow as individuals along the way as they discover the impact between their relationships with their bodies and all other aspects of their lives, especially within their marriages. 

Expectations are powerful and this book provides a look beyond the scale.  Well written with interesting characters, I recommend this book to those who are contemplating  a major weight loss plan. This book is not a manual for dieters, but rather, a look at how extreme we can become when looking for a quick fix.  It shows that even if one has a major weight loss goal, to keep it in perspective and not become so serious that you forget to enjoy life on the journey. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Karen Witemeyer's More Than Words Can Say

...what the publisher says... 

After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free. No family entanglements. No disappointing those around him. Just the quiet bachelor existence he's always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away when the baker of his favorite breakfast bun is railroaded by the city council. Despite not wanting to get involved, he can't turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man's name on her bakery's deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. That person definitely isn't the stoic lumberman who oozes silent confidence whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can't even control her pulse when she's around him.
When vows are spoken, Abigail's troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. Can she put ever more trust in Zach without losing her dreams of independence? thoughts... 

 More Than Words Can Say, Karen Witemeyer's book #2 in A Patchwork Family Novel series is entertaining, heartwarming and full of surprises.  Zach and Abigail are bound to capture your  heart.  All the foibles they manage to get through make them as believable as your neighbor.  There is a depth of character, though, that the reader goes through as the story reveals more of what they have both experienced while growing up.

I found this book is as serious as it is amusing.  It shows that life can throw curve balls, but it is how you handle them that either gives you mettle or makes you bitter and withdrawn.  When Abigail is faced with trial after trial at the expense of an unforgiving former friend, she relentlessly moves forward as she prays for God's guidance.  When she is finally faced with the possibility of losing her business through a long forgotten law, she garners all resources and meets the challenge head on.  Only her head is very in touch with her heart, and as the story goes along, her heart warms to the idea that she does not have to take charge of everything on her own.  Her resilience, faith and growing love for Zach make this book one that you will want to have in your "To Read" pile.

Many thanks to Bethany House for providing me with an advanced copy of More than Words Can Say, although I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.  To learn more about  award winning author Karen Witemeyer, check out her website!  If you are like me and enjoy reading a series from the beginning, here is a link to my review of Karen's first book in the series: More Than Meets the Eye.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Thursday Review: The Inn At Hidden Run by Olivia Newport

The Inn At Hidden Run is book one in Olivia Newport's new Tree of Life Series.  I was intrigued by this book for two reasons, the first is that I enjoy Olivia Newport's work and the second is my interest in genealogy.  I was hooked from page one and the story just kept getting better.

This story parallels two distinct eras that are interwoven in ways that I never would have guessed.  Present day Meri, a young medical school dropout shows up in Canyon Mines and accepts a job she is clearly over qualified for.  The mystery surrounding her appearance and secretive manner are too much for father daughter duo Nolan and Jillian to leave alone. They are surely a team to have in your corner and they really made a case for genealogy as the center of many traits that surface time and again through generations. 

Step back into Memphis, 1878, where Yellow Fever nearly knocked out the entire population of the city.  Miss Eliza remains in the city, working tirelessly among the dead and dying.  Her courage is unflinching, especially when it comes to the orphaned children.  Her story is remarkable, and though a fictional character, Olivia Newport's research and ability to tell a compelling story take you right alongside Eliza's journey.

If you like mystery, you will enjoy this blend of contemporary and historical fiction.  The setting in a small town in Colorado makes it a good choice to sit back with a cup of tea and while away the afternoon. 

I received an advanced copy of this book from Barbour Publishing with no obligation for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Settle in At Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

...publisher's notes...
After tragedy upends her world, Jeannette Mason retreats to the tiny Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor to create a new life. Vowing to avoid emotional attachments, she focuses on running her lavender farm and tea-room--until a new neighbor with a destructive dog and a forlorn little girl.

Yet when both Jeanette and Logan find themselves pulled into the life of a tattered Christian family fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria, might they discover that love sometimes comes calling when it's least expected?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites readers back to the charming seaside town of Hope Harbor, where they are sure to find peace, healing, and a second chance at happiness.
invades her turf. But she needn't worry. Dr. Logan West is too busy coping with an unexpected family, a radical lifestyle change, and an unruly pup to have any interest in his aloof and disagreeable neighbor. thoughts.
I was waiting for Driftwood Bay to be published since reading the author's tease in Pelican Point, book 4 in the Hope Harbor series.  It is like meeting up with an old friend and catching up on their lives.  We vacation along the Oregon Coast for about a week each summer and the charm of Hope Harbor resonates with me.

Logan is new to Hope Harbor and although Jeanette has been pouring herself into her new business for over a year, she hasn't really connected with many people and that was her plan when settling in the tiny coastal town.  Irene Hannon has the gift of creating characters that she can delve into and bring out their best traits and leaves them happy for the changes.  Logan and Jeanette do not seem, at first to have any chance of becoming good neighbors let alone friends. I enjoyed the pace that their pasts emerged as they began to change.

Charlie, a constant in all Hope Harbor books, has the wisdom and insight that leaves many wondering how he can know their thoughts or what they need.  Does he have special gifts or are his words of advice simply coincidence?  Either way, he is near when least expected and knows when you "might" show up for one of his famous fish tacos.

I recommend this book with 5 stars simply because it is that good.  Hope Harbor is a special place in the heart of Irene Hannon's fans.  Just enough magic inspired by faith, love and a wonderful location to change the hearts of those who need it most.  I am already looking forward to book 6 in this series.