Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another GREAT Book by Popular Author, Beverly Lewis!"

    "The Photograph"

       By Beverly Lewis

Synopsis: "He studied the picture more closely, finding it curious that the young woman looked so boldly into the camera while wearing a white prayer Kapp shaped like a heart- the characteristic head covering for the Lancaster County Old Order Amish. Why would a devout girl have her picture taken?"
(taken from back cover)

Eva Esch fears the worse when her sister Lily disappears only a few months after the death of their mother. Deep down, Eva worries that her younger sibling has been wooed away from their Amish community by an Englischer. Yet, that alone isn't the only problem she has! She and her sisters much relocate unexpectedly, due to their older brother's wish to take over the family farmhouse. Not only is Eva dealing with the loss of her sister, but now must solve the problem of finding a place to live. 
Meanwhile, Jed Stutzman, an Amish buggy maker from Ohio, shows up in her community with a photo of a young Plain woman. Who is this girl who would dare to challenge the Amish belief that photos are NOT to be taken?? Eva is drawn to this handsome, charming stranger  who has come to live in her area.  The young woman in the picture  is certainly NO stranger to Eva!!

My Opinions: When a book by Beverly Lewis appears in my mailbox, I automatically assume that it will be a great read and this one was no exception. 

I was caught up immediately in the life of Eva Esch, a single. young Amish woman, living with her two sisters. She has certainly had her share of heartaches, losing both of her parents at an early age and now trying to keep the farm expenses paid, along with her two sisters. Money is a problem when there is no man to help. Is marriage an option?? Eva is not sure.

The characters are realistic and well developed. I was immediately drawn into Eva's life , easily identifying with her worries, fears and challenges . At times, I just wished that I could give her a big hug and reassure her that all would work out if only she would follow God's plan in her life. Beverly has the talent to endear her characters to you from the first page. They are Plain People attempting to live a simple life while dealing with the tragedies that life just naturally sends our way.

The plot moves smoothly and quickly. There are just enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested. This book is a quick easy read, but very enjoyable. 

The setting was one that was easy to picture and it became my home for a brief time. A wonderful peaceful Amish farming community where the families are close and striving to survive in the midst of trials and normal family upsets.

Fans of Beverly Lewis will love this book written in a style that is her's alone.

This book was supplied by Bethany House in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"What happens when your heart is intercepted before you even know that it's in play?"

"Last Chance Hero"
By Cathleen Armstrong

The people in Last Chance, New Mexico were very pleased. Finally, a doctor's office is being set up right in the midst of this small community. Dr. Jessica MacLeod has arrived to practice medicine and try to make a difference. Much to her surprise, there is another newcomer to town, Andy Ryan , the best athlete that Last Chance has ever laid claim to. He has come back from the NFL to coach the local high school football team. Dr. Jess gets off on the wrong foot immediately with this football obsessed town,  when she declares her dislike for the game. She has no interest or longing to attend a local game, even when the new coach is praised and worshipped by the town.

Despite lack of common interests, Jess and Andy find themselves drawn to each other. But when a disagreement over the future of an injured player puts them both on the defence, it looks as if the game is over before it gets a strong start....

I found myself engaged from the first page of this novel. It was like going to visit my old friends in this small town. It is a gentle love story with well developed, realistic characters that appeal to the reader. I easily identified with Jess and felt her every pain, challenge and joy, and also could understand the confusion felt by Andy and his despair when things got tough.

The plot moves steadily with just enough complications to keep the reader interested. The theme of hope, faith and the knowledge of having a chance to redeem oneself gently appears throughout the story.

I would highly recommend this book to all those who enjoy a sweet. light romantic read of regular people with their compelling problems who are able to find happiness in their future.

This book was provided by Revell, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

"What You Don't Know Can Kill You"

                 "Trial Run"
             By Thomas Locke

Synopsis:  Reese Clawson's work is mind-bending--literally. Her company specializes in global data analysis for an elite group of industry executives, and now a lucrative government contract is moving her into the realm of cutting-edge intelligence gathering. She is determined to crack the limits of consciousness--and in doing so, the boundaries of secrets and lies. But her experiment crashes as test subjects slide into a coma-like state. Reese is left scrambling to maintain control, drawing three disparate people into the search for answers--an adrenaline-amped thrill junkie with altered brain chemistry, an Italian scientist working on remote-viewing technology, and a math prodigy whose algorithms subvert 
computer encryption.

Will this piecemeal team prevail when a government operative is sent to investigate? As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and even time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.

With a concept so daring and writing so gripping, readers will swiftly fall under the spell of Thomas Locke's endlessly creative mind. This thrilling psychological journey into the very nature of causation and consciousness will leave them turning the pages and grasping for solid ground.

My Opinions: I was looking forward to reading this novel, as I believe that we all need to widen our scope and be open minded enough to read a variety of works, however, I found myself struggling to get involved in this story. The many characters confused me. I had to continually look back at the story to figure out who people were and what their role was in the tale. I must say that even with extreme effort, I gave up midway through the book. At the halfway point, my attention was still not engaged.

Perhaps, part of my difficulty was that the book was highly scientific and technical in nature. I was unable to identify with any of the characters nor quite understand what their part was in the whole scheme of things. The number of characters, each with his or her own story didn't seem to connect to main plot. This story may appeal to those who can deal with the technical jargon and fantasy type books. But unfortunately, it just didn't make sense to me and the more I read, the more I was confused. That being said, I believe I expected it to be more of a mysterious thriller.

 I really cannot recommend this book, at least , not to all readers. There must be an audience that this book appeals to, however, I am not one of that crowd. 

This book was supplied by Revell f and Graff Martin Communications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Now available from your local bookseller.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Marvellous Book in the Amish Fiction Genre.... with a twist!!

   "Anna's Healing"
By Vannetta Chapman

Vannetta Chapman is a favorite author of mine! I have loved each and every one of her books, but I MUST say that this one is the VERY best book she has ever written. It appealed to me on every level. Certainly not your typical Amish romance!! 

The story begins with a tornado that hits the  farming community if Cody's Creek, Oklahoma. Anna Shwartz's life is changed forever. She suffers an injury and finds herself in a wheelchair, devastated to realize that she will remain that way the rest of her life. 

Chloe, Jacob and Ruth , together, attempt to help Anna through the darkest hours that she has ever encountered. Chloe, an Englischer is a writer for a local newspaper, Jacob is a newly hired hand at her uncle's farm and Ruth is her beloved grandmother who keeps Anna true to the Amish faith with her compassion and love. 

One morning, Anna experiences the unexplainable! She finds herself able to once again walk. She is healed!! But, what happens now??? Her life is once again turned upside down as her situation becomes known in the Englisch world, as the girl who actually has experienced a miracle!! Everyone wants to know how it happened and why!!

I have loved each and every one of Vannetta Chapman's books, but I do believe that this is the very BEST one that this author has ever created!  If you are tired of the typical story in the Amish genre, of girl meets boy, this book is for you!! It is a VERY different tale, with meaning that stays with you long after you have finished reading the book. The message that God has an amazing plan for our lives comes through loud and clear. Vannetta's heart and soul shine through her writing!

The characters are well described in such  a realistic and creative way that you immediately identify with them. At once, I felt one with Anna. Every pain, worry, challenge that she experienced , became mine. The way in which the Englisch world came together with the Amish, through unusual circumstances was unique, giving us a great example to live by- accept and appreciate those that are different from us. The characters came alive, each playing a very important part of the story.

The plot moved quickly with twists and turns around every corner. This is a novel that the reader can NOT put down. You just think that there is an answer to a problem when another block is put in the way. 

The development of the plot and characters was amazing!! Do you believe in miracles?? Can God come through for us in the darkest hour??  I predict that after reading this book in Vannetta's "Plain and Simple Miracles",  you will no longer just wonder. You will believe!! 

Lovely to see an author let her faith and beliefs in God shine through her writing.

Definitely a five star book!!

This book was provided by Harvest House and the author, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Another Great Book in the Sandy Cove Series!

            "Behind Her Smile"
             By Rosemary Hines

I have enjoyed all of the previous books in this series, thus it was no surprise when I LOVED Book 6!  As I started to read, it felt as if I had come home to visit my friends. Saying that, it could be read as a stand alone, however, Rosemary's characters had endeared themselves to me in previous books and I had the great desire to find out what had happened while I was away! 

Not good enough…the words echo in Madison Baron’s mind as the darkness presses her to be thinner, more beautiful—somehow more attractive to her peers. A junior in high school, she is facing life without her childhood love, Luke Johnson, who is off to college in the Midwest. Alone with her insecurities, Madison yearns for acceptance—until Miles that is. Will a relationship with this new student on campus be the answer she seeks? And how will his resistance to her Christian faith affect her future? 

As the two of them grow closer and closer, something happens inside of Madison, and she finds herself more insecure than ever. Gazing into the mirror at her thinning face and trendy makeup, she hopes no one sees the fear behind her smile. 

The sixth book in the Sandy Cove Series, Behind Her Smile, touches hearts of young and old alike with the message of God’s redemption and love, reminding us that our true sufficiency and value come from Him and Him alone. 

Rosemary Hines has written a wonderful coming of age story that perfectly illustrates the beauty of God's grace in the forgiveness of others and the importance of applying that same loving grace toward forgiving ourselves. A true reminder of the power of love! 
~ Susan J. Calloway Knowles, Licensed Psychotherapist, Radio Host, Author 

My Feelings: This author has the ability to touch on sensitive subjects that many of us have encountered in our family lives  with compassion and understanding. The problems of our youth are examined in this tale as are the challenges of the parents of these individuals.

The characters in this book are well developed in a realistic way so that we can easily identify with them. I could feel the pain, sadness, challenges of each and every one.  We are all human and experience difficulties in our everyday lives. Rosemary does an excellent job of presenting the heartache that a parent may experience and how to overcome it. 

The plot moves quickly with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader glued to the page. Each chapter brings you a bit closer to a solution to the problems . THEN, there is a little bump thrown in to add to the interest level.

The theme running throughout this story is one that we all need to heed. God offers us forgiveness and redemption even in our darkest hour. He also gives us the ability to forgive ourselves. This is the promise of God's everlasting love.

A great read!! I highly recommend it!

This book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

  "A Reluctant Bride"
    By Kathleen Fuller

Synopsis: Sadie, a young Amish girl has declared that she will NEVER marry! While her friends courted and married , SHE was NOT going to follow their example. Content in managing the family business, she is planning to take it over when her parents retire. 
Sadie's plans are sadly interrupted when a reckless driver kills both her parents and injures her younger sister. Hospital bills mount as do worries! A pile of debt her parents left behind add to the concern! Sadie must marry to save her family.  BUT not just marry any man- the one who saw her at her weakest and walked away. 

Aden  knows what his brother did to Sadie many years ago was inexcusable. Every day since the  incident, he has had to deal with his guilt for not intervening sooner. Once again, Aden is faced with the opportunity to protect Sadie. He just can NOT let her down again! 

Working with Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn't the terrible young boy who once betrayed her. A marriage can solve her money problems, but is she ready to deal with the implications?? Now, she must save herself as well as her family.

My Thoughts: 
This book is the first in Kathleen's new series , " Amish of Birch Creek". After reading this one, I can hardly wait for the next!

The author has tackled some delicate topics in this story and done so in a caring, sensitive, understanding manner. This is not your typical Amish romance!   Bullying, involving domestic abuse is not the usual topic that you see in this genre. I have always loved the Amish genre, but it is great to read something with a different twist to it. 

The characters in this book are realistic and described in such detail that you easily identify with them. This is a "must" for me to be able to do , in order to call it a great book. If I can immerse myself in a story, becoming one with the characters, I become part of their world. I forget what is going on around me and reality passes me by. Sadie has experienced the unimaginable in the Amish community. She has kept her past a secret for a very long time, holding it all inside. I can only imagine the pain and distress this has caused. To add to her challenges, to lose parents and a sibling is so very painful. 

The plot moves quickly with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader totally engrossed. Emotions are running high. Will the Amish faith and beliefs survive these difficulties? Can there be healing and redemption when  life seems impossible?? 

Kathleen has outdone herself in this new series. Can hardly wait for the next one!!

This book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Christmas Tale

"The Gift"
By Wanda Brunstetter
I have never been disappointed in Wanda's book and this one is no exception! It is the second in the Prairies State series but could be easily read as a stand alone. Wanda' s abiltity to develop her characters in a realistic and complex way is outstanding in this novel. The two main characters are realistic , with problems such as you and I could have. They became my best friends and at times, i became so involved in their lives that I forgot they were not real !! The plot moved quickly with unexpected twists and turns ! The reader is kept guessing throughout the book. Just when you think you have the answers to their problems and challenges, another surprise awaits you. The world passed me by as I was glued to this book! Yes, my husband can attest to this fact, as meals and housework were forgotten. The theme throughout made me really think ! The past deeply affects the future. God has a plan to heal hurts and solve problems, if we only will step back and allow Him to take control of our lives. A five star book!! Eagerly awaiting the next!!
This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.