Friday, November 23, 2018

Searching For You By Jody Hedlund Is the Final Stop in The Orphan Train Series

 All Aboard for the Final Stop On the Orphan Train! 

 ...from the publisher....
 Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he's in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help? thoughts....

I couldn't wait to read this book!  This series is wonderful and while I didn't want it to end I wanted to know what happened to Sophie Neumann after she was separated from her sisters.  Like so many children in New York in the late 1850's, Sophie and her two sisters became orphans.  Times were desperate and many lived and worked in squalor.  Jody Hedlund introduced the series with her novella An Awakened Heart and I was  immediately hooked.  Each sister has her own story on the train and along the way the lives of many are changed.  Searching For You is Sophie's own story.

Sophie is the youngest of three sisters but has every ounce of sheer determination as her older sisters to survive in the cruel world that surrounded her.  She was charged with the care of little Olivia and Nicholas who were left in her family's care after the death of their mother.  When her sisters found work she cared for them. When she was separated from her sisters she took full responsibility for them.  After that, they became her world.

When circumstances became too dangerous, she left New York on the Orphan Train with the children and her friend Anna.  They were determined to stick together no matter what happened.  Sophie promised she would do the right thing for the children she loved.  Just older than a child herself, she had given of herself fully to Olivia and Nicholas.

Reinhold Weiss, a former close friend of Sophie's family in New York plays a prominent role in our final story.  He had been in love with her sister Elise before she left New York when she found a job in Illinois.  When Marianne was in Illinois searching for  Sophie the year before he offered her his protection with a marriage proposal.  Now, little Sophie was before him, but she was not so little anymore.  I am not sure if Sophie or Reinhold was more surprised to see the other!  It was a very long way from the tenements of New York to a growing farm in Illinois.

Jody Hedlund's writing ties this book up neatly and leaves no questions unanswered for the series.  The characters are well developed and it is easy to get hooked on their situations  immediately.  Jody's careful research and attention to detail gives a telling glimpse into the lives of how it must have been living as an orphan riding the orphan train to places unknown.  I recommend this book with 5 stars. 

 About the Author....
Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she's learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she's not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Tradtion Began in The Christmas Heirloom A Special Collection of four Holiday Novellas

Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through The Generations each have a voice as different as each woman whose story is told. The Christmas Heirloom written by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas and Becky Wade will capture your imagination as you follow its history. At once it is a rich treasure and in another moment it may be lost forever.  As I get older and am reminded of my heritage, stories such as this warm my memories like a cup of fine tea shared among friends.  I hope this collection will find its way into your hands as this wonderful season rich with holidays begins. 

....from the publisher...

In Kristi Ann Hunter's "Legacy of Love," Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman's grandson, a man far above her station.

A beautiful amethyst brooch is a treasure for  ... and  an heirloom passed through generations from mother to daughter.  Sarah was a blessing to an old and largely ignored woman. From the moment they met they connected, mostly because Sarah saw her as the person she always was,not as the old woman nearing the end of her life. 

....from the publisher...
In Karen Witemeyer's "Gift of the Heart," widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

Ruth treasured the brooch she received from her mother and was holding it in trust for her daughter.  What a wonderful story of love and devotion.  Coming with nothing but her strength and courage she touched the lives of many.  I particularly enjoyed this story for the generous spirit Ruth  had for all she met. If there is a story to be told about a hard working woman, Karen Witemeyer is the one to write it. In the west, when a woman was all alone, she either rolled up her sleeves and found a way to support her family or floundered. 

....from the publisher...
  In Sarah Loudin Thomas's "A Shot at Love," Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

I enjoy reading Sarah Loudin Thomas's books and it was good to get a second glace at some characters from the sound of rain. Fleeta is such an unusual young woman the way she can out shoot most men at the turkey shoot.  She is following her dreams and doesn't want anything like a brooch send romance her way.  Her innocence is both delightful and bittersweet.  I liked this novella for people that came alive in true Sarah Loudin Thomas style. Rich with the poignancy of West Virginia in the 1950's where people were doing their best with what they had.  Yet still, that brooch was treasured. 

....from the publisher...
In Becky Wade's "Because of You," Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

The brooch made it to present day Christmas season.  Becky Wade's approach is in tune with the younger generation. The brooch makes its way into Maddie's hands in an almost irreverent manner.  Maddie's mother seemed a bit sheepish when she admitted she had forgotten it in with some of her old things.  Fortunately, Maddie loved the brooch and found it just in time...or are all the stories of this brooch just coincidence? To find out for sure, pick up a copy in time for your Christmas reading season. 

I received a copy of this book with no obligation to write a review but as with all books I enjoy, I just can't keep a good thing to myself!