Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reviewing Trading Secrets A Fun New Book for Teens

Trading SecretsTrading Secrets by Melody Carlson is a fun book for teens who enjoy Amish Fiction. Micah Knight is a teenager who has had a pen pal named Zach Miller. After corresponding for six years it is time for them to meet face to face so Micah invited him to spend Spring break with her and her father in Cleveland. There is only one hitch and it is a big one; he thinks Micah is a boy. She is going to break the news to him during his visit to her but Zach's father asked Zach to invite Micah to their farm to help with the spring planting. Now Micah wishes she had told him the truth when they began writing but she didn't want to lose his friendship.

Traveling to the Miler farm disguised as a boy was not easy and when she is found out, she is embarrassed to no end. She plans to leave more than once, only to turn back like a bad penny to spend yet another day under the Miller's roof and feeling less than welcome. Micah develops strong character as she matures during this long hard week. Although written for the teen category, I heartily recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good story set in Amish country.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm

Reading Christmas at Rose Hill Farm was like visiting family friends. The Lapps, Riehls and Zooks are famous in the circle of Amish families between the pages of Suzanne Woods Fisher's books. This book is set just before Christmas near Stoney Ridge Pennsylvania. Young Amos Lapp is soon to wed Bess Riehl. Amid preparations for the Wedding, Bess discovers an ancient rose left in a corner of the greenhouse of her late grandmother Bertha Riehl. Bess spent countless hours in the greenhouse as a girl beside her grandmother and good friend Billy Lapp.  Unable to identify this rose, a rose rustler from Penn State comes to the farm to look at the rose. A bigger surprise than the rose is the rustler who turns out to be Billy Lapp, who left the community abruptly four years ago, breaking Bess' heart as he left.

The study of the rose, this re-connection with Billy and upcoming wedding plans with a patient Amos in the middle leave Bess in a turmoil. Billy, in the meantime doesn't make it easy for her, making it clear he wants that rose identified so he can go back to his life among the English. He makes it clear that he has no plans to visit the Lapp farm or see his father and brothers. 

I learned a lot about roses in this story. I didn't know that there was as much research into the history of roses nor that there were so many details to account for. I have carried on the tradition of other perennials in my family so I can appreciate how important these studies must be.

I could add so many things to this review but I do not want to spoil anything in this poignant story. I will say that I have found another Christmas book that I will add to my Christmas traditions.  I truly enjoyed it.  I hope that Suzanne will continue to write about these lovable characters.

The Christmas Cat for Your Christmas Reading List

I recently read The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson for review. The story is about young Garrison Brown and his unlikely task of finding homes for his grandmother's six cats after she passes away.  The will is unconventional and there is strict criteria for each adoptive cat owner.
The Christmas Cat
While he is looking for new homes for the cats, Garrison stays at his Gram's home. He is severely allergic to cats and must wear a mask and keep his bedroom barricaded in order to be comfortable. The home has many memories for Garrison since he came to live with his grandmother after his parents died. It was only after Garrison left for college that she got her first cat to fill the void he left in the house.

The story is heartwarming as we meet the people who are connected by these cats.  From Ruby, the widow next door to the young and pretty Cara each has their own story as they touch Garrison and help him find his true calling.

This is a nice story for an afternoon by the fire with a cup of cocoa and a cat at your feet!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Surprised By Love by Julie Lessman in Review

I recently read an advanced copy of Surprised by Love, the third installment of The Heart of San Francisco Series by Julie Lessman.  I enjoyed getting more involved with the McClare family of San Francisco, California, circa 1904.

Surprised by Love, Heart of San Francisco Series #3   -     By: Julie Lessman
This book centers on 18-year-old Megan who is just returning after a year in Paris.  When she left home she was a chubby, four-eyed girl whose heart had been tromped on more than once by cruel classmates who saw only the outward shy Meg.  One in particular, Devin Caldwell her nemesis and chief taunter, is one who is bound to eat crow when he meets her again as a beautiful debutante.

Bram Hughes is ten years Meg's senior, a close family friend and attorney in Meg's uncle Logan's firm and Megan's closest friend and confidante.  She is hardly recognizable to him after growing into such a beauty poised with charm, confidence and sporting contact lenses, something else altogether new.

One of Meg's dreams is to become an attorney and she has accepted an internship offer at the District Attorney's office. It is during her second week on the job that Meg discovers that Devin Caldwell is the nephew of Andrew Turner, District Attorney.  He does not recognize Megs and has a bit of crow to eat once he finds the truth. Can she trust him to be who he says he is after years of tormenting her?

The book is a good study of character and forgiveness. Oh there is another romance in the story as well as the continuation of cleaning up the  Barbary Coast. It would spoil the fun if I shared it all but I hope I have teased you well enough to pick up a copy of the book  and get to know more about Megan and the McClare family. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reviewing At Bluebonnet Lake

I hear Bluebonnets are brilliant in Texas and after reading At Bluebonnet Lake I would love to see them firsthand in the spring.  Amanda  Cabot has a talent for getting us to read more into her characters. This book is no exception. Kate Sherwood is on track to make partner with Maddox and Associates, the Advertising and Consulting Agency where she worked. She lived and breathed her job and was never far from her phone or laptop.

Sally Fuller, Kate's grandmother has a desire to return to Texas to visit Rainbow's End, a Christian Resort she and her late husband Larry stayed at more than forty years ago.  When Sally recovers from a health scare with her heart, Kate is persuaded to spend a month at Bluebonnet Lake. A whole month away from the office with promises to check her messages frequently, Kate feels reluctant when she and Sally drive through the gates at Rainbow's End.

To Sally, it seems just like it did when she came with Grandpa Larry. To Kate, it seems like a deceptive ad campaign where the best kept secret was how it really looked. After checking in, they find a young man repairing one of the window screens.  Inside, the cabin has not television, no phone and definitely no internet connection for her laptop. Dread settles into Kate as she realizes that her promise to stay in touch with the office just may require a lot more creativity on her part.

When the handyman who fixed their screens joins their table at dinner, Kate suspects that the employees must sit with the guests for meals. There is much more to Greg than Kate realizes yet she can't put her finger on it. Joining Greg at the table is Roy Gordon who appeared to be the same age as Sally.  As fate would have it, Roy is attracted to Sally immediately.  Greg remains a mystery. He is between jobs, which worries Kate. He cares little about technology and the need to be connected 24/7 to their job like Kate.

The story is an old lesson on finding what is important in life with a little less predictability. I enjoyed the story and how the characters were developed. The small town with a broken down resort nearby will win you over. If you enjoy reading Amanda Cabot's books you won't be disappointed with At Bluebonnet Lake.   And....if you have read other books by Amanda, you will be rewarded when a carousel spotted between the pages.