Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Fantastic New Series by Leslie Gould!

           "Amish Promises"
              By Leslie Gould

A statement on the back cover of this book, says it all!! "Journey down a quiet lane in Lancaster County where love and heartache and friendship and healing meet". I have loved all of Leslie's previous books, but this new one is so unique, that I believe it is the BEST yet. It touches on unusual subjects that you usually do not encounter in Amish fiction and deals with them in a sensitive, respectful manner. You certainly don't expect a military family to settle in an Amish community . 

"Amish Promises" is book one in a new series, entitled, "Neighbors of Lancaster County". This is a book that we all need to read! There is an underlying message throughout the book that reminds us that we are all different from one another in one way or another and need to be understanding , loving and kind to all of our neighbors, exemplifying the love that God gives us! 

Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home in Lancaster County. Their goal in this move is to find peace and quiet. Shani is thrilled to have Joel back from Iraq, however, he is not the same person that he once was, and desperately needs time to heal, emotionally and physically. The quiet countryside appears to be just what he needs. They can't imagine that they would have any difficulties with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, however, things get off to to a bad start when their son is involved in an accident that injures one of the Lehman boys.

Eve Lehman has run her brother's household since the death of his wife. She has accepted her place in life, to help her brother's family thus becoming an old maid. Tim Lehman is a strong willed Amish man who appears stern and does not accept changes easily. He warns her, as well as his children to stay clear of the new  neighbors. After all, Englischers just bring trouble, and try to lure you away from your faith. Despite this, Eve finds herself drawn to Shani and the two women begin to form a strong friendship based on faith and family. Life is quiet and going well, when everything appears to fall apart. Joel's single, handsome army friend, Charlie arrives on the scene!! Daily life is NO longer calm, as Eve finds herself attracted to this kind, goodlooking man. Complications arise!! Battles in between the neighbors arise.  Can an Amish woman keep her faith and lifestyle while pursuing a relationship with an Englischer??

My attention was captured on the first page of the book and continued until the very last page. I found the characters to be realistic and so well described, that I easily identified with them . I felt Shani's hurts and challenges! I lived Eve's life alongside her, as she encountered confusion in her personal faith as well as difficult family problems. I must admit that  two men in the story frustrated me to the point where I wanted to shout at them and shake them to wake them up. Typical men, I thought!!! No patience!! Now, that is true involvement in the story!! 

The plot advances quickly with twists and turns arising at the most unexpected moments. The problems that appeared caused me to seriously think of my own life . Do I accept the differences in others in a Godly fashion? How can I improve? Although this book deals with the Amish , we all encounter the same kind of difficulties with others.  

I applaud Leslie Gould's success in writing a book that is truly different from other Amish books. Addressing PTSD, a military family in turmoil, plus an Amish family experiencing their own difficult life experiences, then joining them together in a relationship takes a special talent. All I can say is WOW!!!

I highly recommend this book to all readers. To those who think that Amish Fiction is predictable, try this one!  Leslie has stepped out of the mold!! 
Definitely a five star book!!

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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

God Calls Us To Do Something Greater Than Good!

  "From Good To Grace"

Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel

    By Christine Hoover

I think that this book describes how most of us feel, we never do enough and in fact are not enough!  All of our lives we attempt to be good- a good wife and mother, a good employee, a good friend, a good Christian, but do we ever achieve what we desire??
We find out that we are indeed living the gospel of goodness, but that is not what we REALLY want! Goodness is a gospel without grace and really the value is a big fat nothing!!

Christine Hoover uses her own life experiences as well as Scripture to examine what God really wants from us. We start asking "What does God want FOR me?" before we ask that good old question, "What does God want FROM me?" This succeeds in giving us a huge feeling of relief, freedom and hope. We will begin to worship God with true joy, rather than that of obligation or duty. The result is a fantastic feeling of joy!

I must say that I rarely read nonfiction, but upon being offered this book for review purposes, I felt that it was one that I NEEDED to review. It appealed to me as a woman, wife and mother. It is definitely a great book!! I think that we, as women, always have  a somewhat worthless feeling, and often think "Can I ever be good enough?" Yes, we do our daily tasks and attempt to trust God but do we ever feel GREAT?? How do we ever break out of this?? 

Christine uses her own struggles and life experiences along with scripture to show us how God can set us free from our never ending question of goodness. She clearly gives us ways to  change our mind set, we are asking the wrong question!! This talented author helps us discover how God wants us to live a life of freedom by being exactly who we are and accepting that that is truly enough. 

This is a book that all women should read! Practical, easy to follow, well explained struggles and how to be successful! When overwhelmed with life's circumstances affecting your faith , this book shows you how to improve your walk with the Lord.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

How Far Would You Go to Discover the Truth??

     "finding me"
By Kathryn Cushman

What would you do if you discovered your life was a lie?? When I read this question on the back cover of this book, it really made me think! What would I do??? I really don't know, however I know I would be confused, terrified, and my faith would definitely be tested. This is the case of the main character, Kelli. 

Synopsis: All of her life, Kelli Huddleston has been told the story of a fire- a fire that had killed her mother and two siblings when she was still an infant. After her father had died, she uncovers an unbelievable secret. There is clear evidence of another story , completely different from what she had believed for years. There were newspaper clippings about a boat accident that killed a young father and his infant daughter. Kelli soon realizes the story of her life has been fiction. NOT one bit of truth!

How far should Kelli go to discover the truth??? With a few family pictures in hand, which might be those of her real family, Kelli crosses the country to Tennessee determined to uncover the truth about what happened twenty years ago in a small town. But this trip threatens to open doors to the past that will hurt many people . Would it be better to leave it shut??  Kelli's plans for the future become jeopardized. She is faced with a choice that will change her life forever. Should she  keep investigating or go back home to her old life, one that is no longer real???

 Kathryn Cushman has the wonderful ability to describe her characters in a realistic way so that you immediately identify with them. I could feel Kelli's every fear, challenge and hurt. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her that everything would be alright. I questioned, why would she ever have been told such lies?  What would I have done if put in her situation??

The plot is well developed with many twists and turns. Just when you believe that you have answers to the mysterious situation, there is a new fact that comes up to change the whole outcome. I was engrossed from the first page to the last. The world passed me by as I kept my nose in the book until I had reached the last page. 

This book made me really search my soul - what would I do if I learned that my life was a lie?? Would I still be able to function? Would I be able to love those who had lied to me???

The book does make you think! It is clearly a five star book!!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, April 17, 2015

Amish Fiction at its Best!!

            "The Love Letters"
              By Beverly Lewis
Beverly Lewis writes with passion and an outstanding knowledge of those commonly called  the "Plain People".  Her understanding of their faith and lifestyle has been reflected in all her books. This new one was no exception. 

Marlena Wenger does not have an easy life, free from problems. She is taking time out of her personal life, including her courting time,  to care for her aging grandmother who lived some distance away. Her grandfather  passed away and the dear old lady is having a difficult time coping with daily routines. She is suffering such grief that the family feels that she needs to have someone with her until she comes to terms with her now lonely life. It falls to Marlena, the kind granddaughter , to  come to the rescue. Leaving her own home and boyfriend is not easy for this young lady. It is beyond her how things will work out for the best.... then a tragedy adds to the challenges. 

Marlena's life takes another unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby.  Fortunately, it will just be until Luella returns home from the hospital and is stronger. But, worries increase. How can she take on a baby?? She is not yet a mother and her days are already a challenge to  get through. While  being responsible for  her Mennonite grandmother , miles from her Old Order Mennonite beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect. Yet, Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as her plans begin to slowly crumble.

The characters are well described and realistic. They have problems just as you and I do. How they deal with them, often differs as they strive to remain true to their faith and lifestyle. You feel the fear and pain that Marlena experiences as her life unwinds before her eyes. Others are not always what we believe them to be and she discovers this in a difficult way. 

The plot is well developed and has just the right amount of twists and turns to hold the readers' interest. Although at times, I felt it was slow moving , this pace gave me time to reflect on the characters and events.

 The message of faith in God and holding on to it in all times came through loud and clear. God's plan for our lives often differs from the our's . A person must be willing to listen to that still small voice. Often God's answer to requests is to wait, a difficult task. Marlena learns her lesson well. What a great example of a good Christian, she is!

I would recommend this book to all lovers of Amish Fiction.

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

A Brides With Style Novel

    "Every Bride Needs a Groom"
          By Janice Thompson

Small-town girl Katie Fisher is planning her wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn't managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't enter a contest in Texas Bride magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right? But when her boyfriend breaks up with her and takes a job in another town--the very same day Katie wins her dream dress--her world is turned upside down. Should she claim her prize? And will the hunky former pro-basketball player who runs the swanky Dallas bridal shop--yeah, you read that right--catch on to her humiliation if she does?

I must say that I really did not think that I would enjoy this book . It appeared light and frivolous. However, once again, I was proven wrong!!!  There was humor involved in this seemingly light tale, however the true meaning and depth of the story blew me away!  

Small town girl, Katie Fisher is busy planning the wedding of her dreams, a true fairy tale event. The BIG problem here, is that her boyfriend hasn't yet popped the question!  But, that doesn't  deter Katie from entering a contest in Texas Bride magazine. She just can't resist  attempting to win the first prize: A one of a kind designer wedding dress made just for the winning entry! Katie is positive that her boyfiend is about to propose any minute now! She will be ready !!

To Katie's surprise, this young man takes a job in another town and breaks up with her-- on  the very day that she wins her dream dress!! Her world is turned upside down!! Dare she go to Dallas to claim her prize , with no groom now available??  Will the handsome pro basketball player running the wedding shop discover the truth??

Janice Thompson is a new author to me, however, after reading this book, I will definitely be watching for her next novel.  This compelling tale kept me hooked from beginning to end. The characters are well described and so realistic that you catch yourself defending them in every problem in which they find themselves. You feel the excitement as well as the worries of Katie as she begins her unusual adventure in Dallas. Her challenges and disaappointments tug at your heartstrings , even as you hold back the giggles at how the somewhat quirky character reacts to feelings and events. 

The plot moves quickly with unexpected twists and turns. Humor is pulled from the situations that we get ourselves into. The reader gets a real look at the wedding business and all it entails. 

This book is definitely worthy of five stars!  A great read full of fun and adventure!!

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The True Cost of Independence!

 "The Legacy"
  By Dan Walsh 
 Gary Smalley

As the critics are calling it, this book is definitely an emotionally gripping conclusion to the Restoration Series. As we grow up and mature, we all strive to become independent. This is not always an easy path, as the main character in this book, Doug discovers. Life can be a rocky road, with bumps that seem neverending. A true roller coaster ride with extreme highs as well as extreme lows!! Doug finds this out the hard way, as many young people do.

For years, Doug has been drifting away, from his family, faith and old friends. His parents have been trying to reach him before his falls too far. His friend, Christina, who has already experienced and survived her challenges, hopes that what she is seeing online isn't true. But, when one is young, sometimes hitting bottom is the only way to feel the need to grow up. 

Just as it seems everything is calming down a bit, Doug's life takes a turn that tests the faith and patience for both his family and his friend, Christina, who happens to have growing feelings for him. This young man writes her off as not worth his time, keeping her off balance. Will Doug's crisis clear his vision and help him realize there are the BEST things right in front of him?? He has it ALL . He just has to accept and follow God's plan for his life! Not an easy thing to do!!

As always, these two authors, have realistically portrayed the characters, making them easy to identify with. You immediately become engrossed in their lives and their challenges and tragedies become your own. As we have all gone through our youth, you can empathize with them , in fact, making you want to help them fight their inner battles. 

The plot is one that grabs your attention from the first chapter and keeps it until the final page of the book. Growing up is NOT easy! Just when you think that Doug may be getting his act together, a surprising twist is thrown in, to complicate his life even more. 

Forgiveness, faith and second chances are clearly visible throughout the story. God has a plan for each of us. It is up to us, whether we will accept it or not. God is always ready to forgive us, but can we forgive ourselves???

A fantastic conclusion to the Restoration Series!!

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Crime Never Sleeps!"

             "Buried Secrets"
             By Irene Hannon

If you enjoy reading Romantic Suspense, as I do, this is definitely a book for you!! Intriguing suspense from start to finish!! 

After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department. A call for assistance brings detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales--and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

I thoroughly enjoyed this riveting book from start to finish! This is the first in a new series entitled "Men of Valor", a fantastic start!!  It is one which immediately sets hearts aflutter with a theme of suspense, murder and yes,  a great romance. In fact, I believe the theme of love overcame all others. 

Upon reading the first chapter, I was drawn into the situation. The two main characters, Lisa and Mac, are ones with whom you can easily identify. The sparks of romance are evident from the moment they meet! They are so well described, that you immediately become part of the story.  You want to ask one question: Why would a secret be so deeply buried for so many years???  What kind of people could do this and why???  Irene Hannon has the talent of unfolding relationships in unusual ways. You know this is a couple meant for each other, however, can they make it work, with all of the obstacles in the way?? 

The intriguing plot kept me glued to the page from beginning to end of the book. With twists and turns occurring in the most unexpected places, hearts are set racing as the roller coaster ride continues until the final plunge at the end of the book. The author made me realize how a deeply hidden secret can shatter lives when it suddenly comes to the surface. Are secrets ever good???  
Irene Hannon is certainly a talented author of inspirational fiction. She capably carries her message of importance of faith throughout a spellbinding tale of romance and mystery.

Definitely a five star book!! Eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

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