Monday, August 21, 2017

The Return - Amish Beginnings 3 - by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Cover Art

About the book:

In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear
Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family's rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans--but then she never had to. Not until the night she's taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she's developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances.

Greatly anguished by Betsy's captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans's hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

My review:

This was a fascinating book I found hard to put down!  I loved how we get Betsy'sIt was hard to fathom how terrifying it would be to live through an Indian attack where your parents were killed, then be taken captive by those same Indians.  I really felt for Betsy as she went through trial after trial but admired her, too, because she was incredibly strong.  It was interesting to learn more about the culture of the different Indian tribes and about some of the terrible events that occurred on both the Indian and whites' side.  There were some good discussions as people who wanted to eradicate all Indians were debating with those who wanted peace and who pointed out that not all Indians were attacking the white settlers.  There were also good spiritual discussions; I really liked how it was pointed out that trials teach us to rely on God.  I felt  really frustrated with Hans.  He kept making stupid decisions or saying stupid things.  Tessa also had her moments!  I also felt a bit frustrated with what the Amish church believed, especially in one instance  There was some humor, hints at romance, action and history.  There was, however, one spot where it felt like God's name was taken in vain.  There were good themes of trusting God and not letting jealousy or vengeance get a foothold.  I would say this book worked pretty well as a stand-alone.  I did read book one and there were references here to situations that occurred then, and the main girl from that story is the mother of Tessa here, so it was nice to get caught up on their lives.  I missed book two, however, and I didn't feel lost.  I would highly recommend this story if you like books about the Amish or historical books.

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Suzanne Woods Fisher
    © Dan Davis Photography

    Suzanne Woods Fisher

    Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna's Crossing, The Newcomer, and The Return in the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop's Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill...

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Name Unknown - Shadows Over England 1 - by Roseanna M. White

 About the book:

She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?
Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.
My review:
I absolutely loved this well-written story.  The characters just leapt off the page; they were funny, flawed people I wished I could know in real life.  Rosemary was tough, extremely loyal to her family and clever.  Peter was quiet, more serious, passionate about his faith and about helping others.  He also had a stutter and it was refreshing to see a character who wasn't so physically perfect.  I loved the history Rosemary uncovers as they try to figure out Peter's ties to Germany and his family's secrets.  I learned more about the events leading up to World War I and how royals from different countries were related. There were some sweet romantic moments and also some exciting ones as someone was threatening Peter and you weren't sure who.  There were some great conversations and letters about God and it was wonderful to see Rosemary's journey from being so distrustful of a wealthy man to great respect for him as she got to know who he really was.  It was fun to see the famous names of authors pop up in the story.  I'm excited for the next book in this series!  I highly recommend this one!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.


About the author:


Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Find out more about Roseanna M. at http://www.roseannamwhite.com.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ties That Bind - The Amish of Summer Grove 1 - by Cindy Woodsmall

Ties that Bind by Cindy WoodsmallThis was a wonderful, fascinating story! Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves to bake and wants to open a cafe to help her large family have a little more breathing room financially. She and her twin brother have been saving for years toward that goal. She's just started dating a man she could get serious about and her life starts to feel like it's all coming together. Suddenly, she runs into Quill, the man she loved as a teenager who had left the Amish community behind along with her good friend. It's been five long years and she finds out that he's been helping people leave the Amish and someone in her family is next.

Quill had his reasons for leaving, ones he still can't share with Ariana. He wants to protect her, though, and soon is asked by her parents to dig into the circumstances surrounding her birth. He wants Ariana to trust him again, but knows that when the truth comes out, he may lose it forever. As he digs for the truth, he also tries to help Ariana figure out a way to earn the rest of the money so she can close on the cafe. He knows she'll need that victory to deal with the truth that's coming to light about her connection to a girl named Skylar Nash.

There were a couple unique aspects that really made this book stand out. Most Amish books don't deal with the negative aspects of Amish life so to show a man who not only has left the Amish, but is also helping others leave was interesting. The situation with Ariana and Skylar was fascinating, too, but I won't reveal what that was about! I really liked Ariana and her twin, especially the situation with his unrequited love for a certain girl. Both Ariana and Quill had a strong faith. I liked the interesting conversations they would have. Quill was really an upstanding guy who put other people ahead of himself. There were some cute romantic moments. I'm excited to see where the series goes! There were so many fascinating situations to be resolved. Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors of Amish fiction. I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.        

This whole series is now available!  Book three was just released on Tuesday and they're all wonderful.  My reviews of the other two books were also posted on my blog this week.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wonderful! Fraying at the Edge - The Amish of Summer Grove 2 - by Cindy Woodsmall

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About the book:

Family, community, faith, and love.
These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life.
When they are pulled to pieces,
will anything familiar remain?

The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?

At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.

New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?
 
Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

My review:

I loved this fascinating book!  Talk about a culture shock for both girls!  Ariana goes from a loving, very conservative family and community to angry parents who want to throw her in the deep end of Englisch life.  I really felt for Ariana and her confusion and angst about dealing with everything.  I loved how she had to work through the legalism and understand why is she doing the things she's doing.  Why does she obey the Ordnung?  Did God really command them to do or wear certain things or not do or wear them.  Are we questioning what we're told by our pastors and others in authority and measuring it against the Bible, not just taking their word for what God said or meant.  I could relate to her struggle with being judgmental.  Sometimes it's hard to see people do certain things that are wrong morally or even just seem stupid to you and not judge them.  However, only God has the right to judge.  I used to see things as more black and white, just like Ariana, but as I've gotten older I see the gray more and more.  There was also a situation she got herself into because she was too naive and Quill had some great advice about not being too nice to someone who was trying to use you so that you aren't using your good sense or being wise.  I really enjoyed Cameron, her step-sister; she was pretty funny and brutally honest.  Skylar was a bit hard to take as she was struggling with her addiction and wasn't particularly pleasant to be around.  I also felt sorry for her, however, to go from a pretty easy life to one of such physical labor and none of the entertainment she was used to.  I liked getting the different viewpoints of Quill, Ariana and Skylar.  I liked seeing Ariana grow both as a person and in her spiritual life and also see how her relationships with her family and Quill evolved.  You definitely have to read the first book in the series before this one, though there is a handy summary of the first book at the beginning of this one.  There's also a glossary and a list of main characters.  I highly recommend this book if you like Amish stories or just a unique tale of two girls trying to find where they belong.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Book three just released yesterday!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gathering the Threads - The Amish of Summer Grove 3 - by Cindy Woodsmall

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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.


Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

My review:

I loved this well-written, fascinating story.  You definitely have to read the first two books before this one as the characters and situations are continued from them.  I loved Ariana and Quill and I liked Skylar, too, and it was fascinating to see how all three dealt with impossible situations.  I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to go from the Englisch world to the Amish one and how confused Ariana felt as she started to question what she'd been taught, especially about submitting to church authority when it felt like it didn't match with submitting to God's authority.  She started to think for herself instead of just blindly obeying what her parents and bishop said.  In a way, I think we all have to deal with that as we grow up and start to think for ourselves.  We have to decide if we're going to follow God ourselves and think for ourselves and not just follow along.  There were some wonderful discussions about this and other aspects of the Amish faith and faith in general.  I was glad to see loose ends tied up but also sad to see the series end.  I was excited to find out the whole truth about Frieda and why Quill had to help her leave the Amish.  Skylar started out a brat but had a wonderful transformation and there was some romance involving multiple couples.  There was a suspenseful situation Ariana and Quill were involved in that was pretty exciting.  I was very happy about the ending!  I have never been disappointed in one of Cindy's books.  They all have such interesting plots and are well-written.  I highly recommend this series and can't wait for her next book!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wonderful! My Review of 'The Captivating Lady Charlotte' - Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace 2 - by Carolyn Miller

The Captivating Lady Charlotte

About the book:

Her heart is her own--but her hand in marriage is another matter.

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.
William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte's father's pick, not the young lady's own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return--and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte's sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.
Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean, and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

My review:

Carolyn Miller has done it again!  This was another wonderful, well-written story in the Regency Brides series, set during one of my favorite time periods with characters that leap off the page!  I really felt for Charlotte during this whole book.  Her mother was incredibly annoying, always criticizing and pushing her to be better, do better.  She also says rude things to everyone, all the time.  Not only that, but Charlotte is dealing with trying to discern which man is the right one for her.  There's rumors flying around about William and she's not sure what to believe.  For Williams' part, he really struggles to trust after being betrayed by his deceased wife multiple times.  I was a little frustrated with her later in the story, that she didn't just ask him and get everything out in the open.  You can't enter a marriage with secrets and huge doubts and expect it to be healthy.  The romance was wonderful;  I loved getting his and her viewpoints.  I also liked that throughout the story Charlotte learns more about what love truly is, that it's not just a feeling like a giddy rush, but the qualities that make up real love, such as patience, perseverance and weathering the storms of life together.

It was fun to see Charlotte's perception of William change as the story went on, both of his physical appearance and his personality, as she got to know who he really was.  There was almost a gothic feel to the book as William's house used to be an abbey for monks and bad and mysterious incidents kept happening.  I loved the spiritual message in the book, that God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, even the hard and heartbreaking things.  It's a good reminder to trust.  That was also the main theme in this story, learning to trust God and each other.  The book worked great a as a stand-alone; however there were some characters from the first book who appeared here and there's some back story that's helpful to know.  I've absolutely loved both books in the series and I hope there's many more to come!  I highly recommend this book!

I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eye-Opening! 'Praying with Eyes Wide Open' - by Sherry & Kevin G. Harney

Cover Art

About the book:

Often we view prayer as an activity reserved for a certain time, in a certain place, offered in a specific way. But Scripture encourages us to pray continually. This exhortation is an opportunity for prayer to permeate every aspect of our lives--when we're alone or in a crowd, when it's quiet and when it's chaotic, when we feel like it and when we don't.

Praying with Eyes Wide Open shows us how to make continuous prayer a natural part of our lives rather than something on our daily spiritual checklist. It helps us encounter God in new ways as we learn to

- open our eyes to see his presence and the world around us
- open our ears to hear his voice
- open our hearts to experience freedom and power as we pray
- and open our lives as we pray for and with others

Do you want a richer, more transformative prayer life? This fresh take on conversing with your Creator is just what you need.

My review:

This was an interesting book that opened my eyes to new ways of talking to God and the positive effects this will have.  She talked about praying with your eyes open, but also many more topics related to prayer.  I never thought much about praying with my eyes open before, except to feel guilty if I started looking around during prayer time at church.  I did pray sometimes as I drove or during other times where it was better or safer to have my eyes open, but I never really thought about the benefits.  The author points out that praying continually, sometimes with eyes open, allows us to develop a deeper relationship with God because we can spend more time with Him.  It's also incredibly important to view God as He truly is, someone who's incredibly loving, forgiving and patient with us.  If we see Him that way, we'll want to spend time with Him.  If we view Him as an angry or aloof God, we either won't want to pray or we'll pray out of duty.

She described different ways God speaks, such as through the Bible, other people, circumstances, etc.  If you want to hear from God, she suggested some steps to take, such as removing distractions and asking God to speak.  She described some hindrances to hearing His voice, such as being too busy or never learning to recognize God's voice.   She also talked about different kinds of prayers.  I really liked a story she heard from Brennan Manning about a priest visiting his uncle in Ireland who looked into the morning light for 20 minutes, then began to skip along the shore of the lake with a big grin on his face.  When his nephew asked him why he looked so happy, he said that his "Abba is very fond of me."  Sherry said for years she missed the fact that God liked her and was fond of her, even though she knew He loved her.  I think that's something I didn't really get for a long time either, until I read the Shack and then was reminded here.  This book had a lot of great information and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in prayer.

I received this book free from Baker Books in exchange for a honest review.

 The Authors

  1. Sherry Harney

    Sherry Harney

    Sherry Harney is an author and a speaker who serves as the leadership development director at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. She is also the cofounder of Organic Outreach International. For over two decades Sherry has spoken for local,...
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  2. Kevin G. Harney

    Kevin G. Harney

    Kevin G. Harney (MDiv, Fuller Seminary; DMin, Western Theological Seminary) led Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center, Michigan, through a U-Turn experience from 1993-2006. He is currently senior pastor of Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. Harney...
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