Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review of "Huckleberry Christmas"

Review of Huckleberry Christmas

by Jennifer Beckstrand

20257075

Now that they've happily married off two of their grandchildren, Anna and Felty Helmuth are ready for their next matchmaking challenge. What better way to celebrate the most heartwarming of seasons--and make Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, the place for unexpected love. . . A difficult marriage has left the Helmuths' widowed great-granddaughter, Beth, finished with wedlock. She's content to live with them and make a life for herself and her toddler son. But once she turns down handsome Tyler Yoder's proposal, it seems only fair to encourage him to find a suitable wife. Trouble is, his gentleness and generous ways are showing her how joyous a real meeting of hearts can be. . .

After a failed courtship, Tyler thought the best he could hope for in a wife was mere companionship. But spirited Beth is the one he longs to protect, and hold close. Earning her trust is the hardest thing he's ever had to do. And soon, both will discover that forgiveness and understanding are gifts that only rekindled faith--along with the happiest of holidays--can bring.

MY REVIEW:  Caroling in the snow and a hayride with hot cocoa....what could be better?  It sounds like the perfect Christmas celebration to me!   Beth and Tyler are Mammi Anna's latest matchmaking pair as Mammi is sure that they belong together but there's a problem.   Beth endured an emotionally abusive husband and she does not feel that she can trust another man not to treat her the same way or worse.   Tyler is in love with her and proposes but she turns him down.   Beth has found a way to provide for her and her little red-headed cutie with her sewing and feels that she does not need a man to come in and ruin it all.   
I loved this Christmas book!   I felt like I was right there with the characters as Tyler made bacon-pancakes for Beth and Toby.   Little Toby adores Tyler and calls him "Mommy".   Beth has a strong sense of family and loyalty and this is something that is very important to me as well.  Beth is a very spirited, opinionated character and she is hard not to love.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   I think I need to go and find some huckleberry jam and biscuits and coffee and pretend I'm back there!   Care to join me?  
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Jennifer Beckstrand

from goodreads.com author's bio:
I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years. I now write Inspirational Amish Romance. My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam's Quilt are all now available. Kate’s Song was the #1 Romantic Religious Fiction download in the Free Kindle Store in August of 2012, and Rebecca's Rose and Miriam's Quilt both spent time in the top 50 Religious Fiction books on Amazon.com.

I have six Amish Romances in the works with Kensington Books. The first book, Huckleberry Hill, will be released on January 7, 2014. Huckleberry Hill is set in Wisconsin on a little hill in Amish country.

The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.

Romantic Times gave Huckleberry Hill 4 1/2 stars, calling it "A sweet romance with a lot of heart that offers a new, refreshing take on the...matchmaking trope. The storyline is feasible, the characters are well written, with both their strengths and weaknesses on display. Readers will treasure this series and put the first outing on their keeper shelf."

I have four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and two adorable grandsons. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with my husband and one son still left at home.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review of "The River"

Review of The River

by Beverly Lewis


She looked once more at the dreaded river. Since Anna's death, it had been such a barrier . . . a place and a moment she could not seem to move past.
            
A line I can't move beyond...
The River 

Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents' landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn't entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.

Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can't undo?

MY REVIEW:  Beverly Lewis is such a treasure among Amish fiction authors and The River certainly lives up to the high expectations I held as I read.  Tilly and Ruth both left the Amish after the drowning death of their young sister and they are asked to return by their brother to attend their parents' wedding anniversary celebration.  Their brother, Melvin, also shares with them the fact that their daed may not have long to live.   He refuses to agree to having a pacemaker inserted. 
The young women discover that they aren't the only ones with issues, secrets, and trouble forgiving oneself and others.  I was entranced by Tilly and Ruth's story and the journey they take near the river that claimed their tiny sister's life.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   It held my attention and brought me to tears of sadness and joy.   Get a copy and enjoy the journey.  
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


About the Author:
Beverly Lewis
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Gene Photography

Beverly Lewis

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is the New York Times bestselling author of more than ninety books. Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide. A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Beverly to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with The Shunning, which has sold more than one million copies and was recently made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. In 2007The Brethren was honored with a Christy Award. She has been interviewed by both national and international media, including Time magazine, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Beverly lives with her husband, David, in Colorado. Visit her website at www.beverlylewis.com for more information.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review of "Swept Away"

Review of Swept Away:  Quilts of Love series

by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven


22483808

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don't always go as planned. Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer's granddaughter. Still, it doesn't take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn't what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life and her heart forever.

MY REVIEW:  Quilts can warm our bodies and our hearts and this book about a special quilt certainly warmed my heart.  Who doesn't adore a sweet, matchmaking grandma too?   Sari is determined to have her granddaughter, Sara Jane, and her handyman, Andrew, marry.  But they are not quite so cooperative in her efforts, even though they are falling for each other.   Both are having a bit of trouble with the whole marriage idea.   You will want to read this one to find out if  Grandma Sari is successful in matchmaking.   Grandma Sari has Alzheimer's and many who are caretakers of their own relatives with this awful disease will be able to relate to the painful moments of forgetfulness.   The Appalachian Ballad quilt has an integral part through out the entire story and sounds absolutely beautiful.  I would love to see pictures of one.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Cindy Loven

Cindy Loven lives in Arkansas with her husband and her 21 year old son,  boxer and cat. They are advocates of educating parents about the dangers of the choking game, after loosing their youngest son to this game. 
Active at church, she  participates with the ladies group, the media team and volunteer for extra projects.
Her dream is to someday write and illustrate a children's book.

Image of Laura V. Hilton

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor's wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.
Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love. Surrendered Love and Awakened Love. A non-Amish book Swept Away will release November 2014 from Abingdon Press. She is contracted for another three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport, releasing in November 2014 (The Snow Globe), June 2015 (The Postcard), and November 2015 (The Birdhouse). A Christmas Amish book, A White Christmas in Webster County, will release in September 2014. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review of "Alaskan Sweethearts"

Review of Alaskan Sweethearts

by Janet Tronstad
21942752

North to Dry Creek series---book 1----Hunter Jacobson wants no part of his grandfather's matchmaking. The lone cowboy is certain that's what the old man is doing when he trades part of their Montana ranch for Scarlett Murphy's claim to an old Alaska gold mine. Or is he running one of his legendary scams on the sweet single mom? A trip to Dry Creek, Alaska, reveals the truth&;and brings Hunter and Scarlett face-to-face with a past family feud and a vulnerable present. But surprisingly it's the future that intrigues Hunter most and ;if he can get Scarlett to make him her groom.

NORTH TO DRY CREEK: The road to Alaska is paved with love.

MY REVIEW:  I chose to read this book and review it because my nephew who is in the Army is stationed in Alaska with his family and they are enjoying all the beauties of Alaskan living.   I love watching shows about Alaska and the beautiful scenery.   The story begins in Montana and ends up in Alaska as the family decides to go back to Dry Creek, Alaska to the mine.   Hunter may not be so interested in his grandfather's matchmaking but he does seem highly interested in the lovely young single mom, Scarlett, and her adorable little boy, Joey.   He helps Joey overcome some of his fears.   Scarlett is having a hard time trusting others after the things her ex-husband did.  She is living in fear of her life.  I won't spoil the story for readers so I will stop there to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.   It did have descriptions of lots of the beautiful Alaskan and Montana scenery.  It also had just enough mystery to solve to satisfy my love of suspense as well as some good old-fashioned romance.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Janet Tronstad

Janet grew up in the wide open spaces of rural Montana and now lives in the urban spaces of Pasadena, California. She's used both of these locations in her books. Her Dry Creek, Montana series numbers over twenty novels now and her Pasadena books, The Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches, number four.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review of "Quilted by Christmas"

Review of Quilted by Christmas

by Jodie Bailey

22725292

A grandmother’s last wish is to communicate God’s love through an Irish chain quilt.

Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches.

When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?

MY REVIEW:  I love Christmas stories and I also love quilts, and this story incorporates both of these elements to create the perfect novel.  Jemma, Taryn's grandma, is a spunky and lively little lady who brightens the story up greatly.   Taryn holds a secret which leads to a dilemma for her with Justin and Jemma.  Can she overcome the hold of the past and finally tell her secret? or will it keep her from forgiveness and true happiness?  
This is an easy-read and one that you can curl up in a big chair with a blanket and a fireplace and just enjoy every word.   I don't have a fireplace so my heated blanket had to suffice but it worked for me.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to others.   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Image of Jodie Bailey

Jodie Bailey is Tarheel born and bred. After fifteen years as a military spouse, she's proud to be a retired military spouse settled back in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. She is the author of the military suspense novel Freefall and is a contributor to Edie Melson's devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home. She was a 2010 finalist in the Spacecoast Authors of Romance Launching a Star competition for her unpublished romance Going in Circles. While not working on her next novel (also a military suspense), she teaches middle schoolers to love writing as much as she does (if she's lucky that day and they're actually listening...). Jodie loves to bake, ride the Harley with her husband, and fish the Outer Banks with their daughter. You can find her on the web at www.jodiebailey.com.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review of "For They Have Sown the Wind"

Review of For They Have Sown the Wind
by Alessandro Perissinoto and translated from Italian by Cindy Stanphill

22588525
Giacomo Musso, a thirty-five-year-old teacher, is led by love, or perhaps by chance, to incarceration in the maximum-security wing of the Novara penitentiary. He protests his innocence while holding the newspaper with a photo of the mutilated corpse of his wife. Out of desperation, Giacomo decides to tell the story of his life—that is, the series of events that inevitably led him to this cell. Their marriage was not a red-hot love affair, but rather something that grew slowly and steadily—a love meant to last. He and his wife, Shirin, decided to move back to Molini, the town in the Piedmontese mountains where Giacomo was born, when he grew homesick. Shirin wanted to move to Molini because she needed the security of Giacomo’s roots after escaping from Iran. But even in Molini, she remained a foreigner, treated first with intrusive curiosity and then with mistrust. This nonbeliever, this atheist made the mistake of turning to the elaborate religiosity of her compatriots. Now nothing is left of her or of their love, except for the memories Giacomo writes down in his diary in the hope that perhaps he can create a better ending to the story.

MY REVIEW:  I wanted to read a foreign novel that was translated to English and this book sounded intriguing to me.   It was interesting to a point and then the details seemed to overpower the interaction between the characters and there were long portions where there was no interaction between the characters.  The story did include prejudice against the main female character simply because she was Iranian.  She did nothing to deserve the prejudice except her physical appearance as she dressed English at that time.   The hatred and animosity eventually drove her to leave her husband and begin to live and dress as an Iranian female.  Giacomo was in prison from the very beginning of the book for supposedly killing her.  I wanted to resolve the question of whether in fact he had killed her.  That issue was never resolved for me in his journal and description of the photographs he had in his possession while in his prison cell.  The book left me confused and irritated due to this fact.   I do not recommend this book.  It was well-written and for that reason I rate it 3 Stars, but I did not like the book.
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Meet the Author:

Alessandro Perissinotto

A lecturer at the University of Turin and the author of several reviews, Alessandro Perissonotto made his fiction debut in 1997 with the detective story, L'anno che ucicisero Rosetta (Sellerio), which was followed by La canzone di Colombano and Treno 8017 (Sellerio, 2000 and 2003).  In 2004 he published an epistolary noir with Rizzoli entitled, Al mio giudice (Winner of the Grinzane Cavour Prize in 2005 for Best Italian Fiction), followed in 2006 by Una piccola storia ignobile (Rizzoli), a series on the psychologist Anna Pavesi,who returns in L'ultima notte biana and L'ultima notte bianca and L'orchestra del Titanic.  In 2008 he released La societa dell'indagine (Bompiani), followed by Per vendetta (2009).  His works have been published in several European countries and in Japan.  He is a contributor to La Stampa in Turin and IlMattino in Naples.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review of "Wonderful Lonesome"

Review of Wonderful Lonesome

by Olivia Newport

20448038

In a struggling Amish settlement on the harsh Colorado plain, Abbie Weaver refuses to concede defeat to hail, drought, and coyotes, even as families begin to give up and return east. The biggest challenge of all is the lack of a spiritual shepherd and regular worship. When Abbie discovers the root of a spiritual divide that runs through the settlement, she faces her own decisions about what she believes. She must choose between a quiet love in her cherished church, passion with a man determined to leave the church, or imagining her life with neither.

MY REVIEW:  Abigail, or Abbie, Weaver is quite dedicated to her Amish faith and the struggling Colorado settlement.   She is making a quilt with pieces from each family in the settlement and praying for them as she stitches.   Many begin leaving the settlement though.  They have no Amish bishop and none will even visit them.   They are all "wonderful lonesome" for the fellowship of the worship service and the guidance of a bishop.   Jake, a Mennonite minister, arrives in the settlement and even camps out at one of the cabins to care for the animals on the farm of one of the Amish couples where the husband is quite ill and confined to his bed.   But Abigail is not sure that one can be saved outside of the Amish faith.   She encourages the people to stay and she desperately wants the community to flourish.   She has two men who care for her deeply.   What decision will she make?  Will the settlement take root and grow or will it die?  This is a 5-Star Amish fiction!  
I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport lives in Colorado and has two twenty-something adult children.  She is fascinated with the Amish settlements that struggled over one-hundred years ago to make a go of it.   She has invested considerable time and effort into researching these communities.