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Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review~Gathering the Threads


About the Book:
Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, Will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together—or completely rip them apart?

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 

Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.
 


About the Author:

Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of nineteen works of fiction and non-fiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.

What I Thought:
From the time I opened my first Cindy Woodsmall book, I have been a fan of her work, and she is one of my favorite authors. There is something about the way she crafts a story that pulls me in and keeps me engaged until the very last page. The characters are so believable, and I feel like I know them as I read through the story. Once again, all these things are true in her latest novel, Gathering the Threads. This is the third book in the author's series The Amish of Summer Grove.

Although there is a very thorough summary of what happened in the first two books at the beginning of Gathering the Threads, I highly suggest reading the first two books, The Ties That Bind and Fraying at the Edge, first. The series follows Ariana as she discovers that she comes from a different world than she was raised in, and the conflict of being torn between those two worlds. There is a strong sense of being yourself as well as following God's path for your life. It was very interesting how it wasn't just Ariana who changed after being exposed to the Englisch world-both her Amish and Englisch families and friends were affected. They all were more open to other ideas than the ones they had believed all their lives.

I highly recommend reading Gathering the Threads! The Amish of Summer Grove series is fabulous!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review~Here and Gone by Haylen Beck


About the Book:
Audra just wants to reach California. She's finally found the strength to flee her abusive husband and make a fresh start for her two children. With little Sean and Louise in tow, she has carefully made her way across the country, taking back roads and avoiding attention.
So when an unsettling local sheriff pulls her over in the middle of the Arizona desert, Audra works to hide her nerves and keep calm. She has to. But then he pulls a bag of drugs she's never seen before out of her trunk, and nervousness turns into panic. She thinks the worst has happened. Unfortunately, she's wrong. The worst is yet to come.

About the Author:
Haylen Beck is the pen name of internationally acclaimed, prizewinning crime writer Stuart Neville. Neville won the Los Angeles Times book Prize for his Serena Flanagan detective series set in Belfast, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. His Haylen Beck novels are set in the United States and inspired by his love of American crime writing.

What I Thought:
When I read the description of this book, it sparked my interest. But, since I knew nothing of the author, I hesitated. Let me tell you I am so glad I decided to read Here and Gone by Haylen Beck! This is one of those nail-biter stories that made me not want to sleep at night so I could keep reading! The subject is every parents nightmare-losing your children. But how that happens in this story is just crazy. It is full of twists and turns. I really enjoyed how it was written from different characters' perspectives. This made me feel that I had a better understanding of the characters. If you are looking for a book you won't be able to put down, you've found it-Here and Gone by Haylen Beck.

I received a copy of this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review~The Beloved Hope Chest




About the Book (from the back cover):

When Mattie packed her hope chest, she put away the heartache of her past. But as her daughters begin to unpack it, she discovers a healing more powerful than she ever hoped for.
Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.
But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?
Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it's a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it's past time to share it.

What I Thought: 

The Beloved Hope Chest is the fourth book in author Amy Clipston's Amish Heirloom Novel series. The first three books, The Forgotten Recipe, The Courtship Basket, and The Cherished Quilt, were all based on the three Fisher sisters. I enjoyed reading all three of them. In The Beloved Hope Chest, the focus is on Mattie and Leroy Fisher, the girls' parents. It goes back in time to their childhoods and early marriage.

The Beloved Hope Chest is by far my favorite of the four books. The story was so deep and moving, it really touched my emotions. Poor Mattie had such a promising future, and then to have so much loss and grief. This story could be inspiring to someone who struggles with grief, thinking there is no way they could ever live a normal life. Mattie lost so much, but with faith in God and the love of her family and friends, she pulled through.

I highly recommend reading The Beloved Hope Chest, as well as the other three books in the series. These books can be read on their own, but I enjoyed reading them in the order they were published. At the back of the book are discussion questions, making it a great book for a book club.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review~The Divide


About the Book (from the back cover):
 In this gripping conclusion to The Alliance, nearly six months have passed since Leora Ebersole's Old Order Mennonite community fled to the mountains for refuge after an attack destroyed the power grid and altered life as they knew it. Since then, Leora has watched and waited for news of Moses Hughes, the young Englischer pilot who held off invading looters long enough for everyone to escape. Unsure Moses even survived, Leora has begun to warm to the affections of Jabil Snyder, who has courted her patiently. But she struggles to see herself as the bishop's wife, especially when she learns that Moses is alive and has now joined a local militia.

An unexpected encounter in the woods deepens Leora's crisis, as does a terrifying new threat that brings Moses' militia into the community's shaky alliance with the few Englischers left among them. When long-held beliefs are once again put to the test, Leora wrestles with the divide between having faith and taking action. Just how much will her shifting landscape change her?


What I Thought:  
The Alliance was a book I really enjoyed. I'm a big fan of Amish/Mennonite fiction, but the storyline of the EMP made the book something completely different from anything I've read before. The Divide was just as enjoyable as The Alliance, and the change of setting, up in the remote mountains, made it really fascinating.

Author Jolina Petersheim is a talented storyteller. She was able to pack so much into this story! So many emotions, conflict, romance, and just plain survival. The Divide is the kind of book you just don't want to put down-riveting. Faith and God are the main themes the story revolves around, and the characters struggle with trusting God to see them through. I highly recommend this book, but suggest you read The Alliance first. 

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book Review~His Guilt


About the Book: 

A suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.


Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay...
Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn't believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.


Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta's is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. But what hurts most is Neeta's sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?
About the Author


Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.
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What I Thought:

His Guilt is the second book in The Amish of Hart County series by Shelley Shepard Gray. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Her Secret. Sometimes in a series a second book doesn't live up to the first-not in this case. His Guilt was just as exciting and kept my attention from start to finish. Taking place in Kentucky, these stories aren't your typical Amish fiction setting of sprawling farms and farmhouses. Also, the books are a bit more edgy in their topics. Her Secret was about a stalker, and His Guilt is about women being attacked. As always, God and faith in Him is a central theme.

I read His Guilt quickly, because I wanted to find out how it ended!  Ms. Gray always does such a great job with making the characters easy to relate to, like you know them. She is also great at keeping you guessing until the very end. This is a great mystery, with some romance as well! My heart broke for Mark, as he had such a rough life so far. I highly recommend His Guilt! The books in this series are individual stories, so you don't have to read them in order. At the end of the book is a P.S. section with facts and questions for discussion.

Read more reviews of His Guilt at Litfuse.  Learn more about the author and this book, including purchasing information, at her website.

*Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review and Author Giveaway~ A Letter from Lancaster County



About the Book:
Two sisters get a second chance at life and love.
Angela—Her mother’s untimely death, a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with her sister, Rose, and regrets over what might have been haunt her. Despite being a wife and mother, she feels she has little to show for her life.
Rose—Still single, she longs for a husband and children. But Angela has all that and still isn’t happy. Rose wants to be closer to her older sister, but she and Angela couldn’t be more different. Both strong women, will their sibling rivalry ever end?

When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit Aunt Silvia, their mother’s Mennonite sister, in the heart of Amish country. This vacation could provide the opportunity both sisters need to sort out their issues. And yet instead of finding a new way of connecting with each other, Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose’s romance with a new beau.
Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their hearts and relationship as only He can.

About the Author: 


Kate Lloyd is a bestselling novelist whose books include "A Portrait of Marguerite" and the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy. A native of Baltimore, she enjoys spending time with friends and family in rural Pennsylvania and is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband.

What I Thought: 
A Letter from Lancaster County was an enjoyable read. It was not as saturated with Amish as most Amish fiction is. The main story takes place in Amish country, but is about two sisters visiting their aunt, and the different issues they are encountering in their lives. Amish people are intertwined in the story, as the girls' mother grew up among the Amish. Their mother's recent death has left the girls curious about her life before she became their mother.

I enjoyed the way A Letter from Lancaster County was written. It was written from both sisters' points of view, both Angela and Rose. The chapters alternate between the two sisters. The girls are very different, and so it was interesting to hear each of their interpretation and feelings of the same event. The story moved along at a good pace, not losing my interest at any point. There is much emotion, from grieving and sibling rivalry to romance and jealousy. Trusting God to guide towards healing is an important theme to the story. At the back of the book are discussion questions.

Read more reviews at Litfuse. Visit the author's website to learn more about this book and others, and to purchase your own copy.

*I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

AUTHOR GIVEAWAY!!
.
Will their sibling rivalry get in the way of these two sisters' chances at life and love? Find out in Kate Lloyd's new book, A Letter from Lancaster County. When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit their mother's Mennonite sister in the heart of Amish country. Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose's romance with a new beau. Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their hearts and relationship as only He can.

Celebrate the release of Kate's new book by entering to win her Two Sisters, Two Winners Giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of A Letter from Lancaster County
  • A Kindle Fire
Another grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of A Letter from Lancaster County
  • A queen-size Amish quilt

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 27. The winner will be announced July 28 on the Litfuse blog.