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.

...my 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

 ...my 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!

 ...my 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.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Healing Jar By Wanda E Brunstetter A Heartwarming Story of Love and Healing

...from the publisher...
Lenore Lapp is an Amish schoolteacher in her late twenties still living at home with her parents and grandparents. She thought love had passed her by until she meets Jesse Smucker, a widower with a baby daughter. She quickly falls in love with them both and accepts Jesse’s proposal of marriage, but Jesse breaks off their engagement when he realizes he can’t marry only for convenience.
Resigned to living single, Lenore throws herself into caring for her elders. While working in her grandmother’s garden, she digs up an old jar. Will Lenore find healing for her broken heart and solve long-buried family secrets by reading the note contained inside?

 ...my thoughts...
The long awaited conclusion to Wanda E. Brunstetter's series, The Prayer Jars, is here! The Healing Jar is Lenore's story.  One day in the barn, she found the long hidden prayer jar, and found solace in the words tucked inside. The mystery of this jar and another, found on a shelf in the dark basement, piqued the interests first of Michelle, then Sara. Now Lenore sits in wonder at these words that seem to coincide with her own thoughts and feelings. At the discovery of a third jar, the mystery begins to unfold as the discovery of who started these jars hidden for so long.

Carefully written, complex lives of a seemingly simple world are upturned and will never be the same.  It is just like me to start a new book late at night, and I found myself unable to put it down.  I enjoy Wanda E. Brunstetter's books for the way she makes her characters come to life.  The Healing Jar is a fitting title for a book that touches the heart of this extended family.  I laughed, cried and found wisdom in this book.  I have a feeling that many a prayer jar will be started as more people read this wonderful series.  I am sad to see this series end, but look forward to more books written by this beloved author.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Add A Perfect Silhouette to Your Reading List

...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?

...my 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.

..my 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.

...my 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.