Under This Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer (review by Kristi)

under this same sky.jpg

About the book:  ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~
Illinois ~ 1854
Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky struggles to make sense of the path the Lord has placed her on and finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

Kindle Edition, 301 pages                    Published April 28, 2017 by Mantle Rock Publishing

 

My review:  Fans of Janette Oke are sure to enjoy this story from Cynthia Roemer. Every day, down-to-earth characters and a story that is full of emotion made this book a quick and easy read.

I liked this story of life on the prairie and one young woman’s struggle to keep her family together after tragedy strikes in the form of a tornado. Becky is smart, strong, and tough. She doesn’t back down and gives up when times are bad. I liked these qualities and they made her a character I wanted to read more about. The way her father had to adapt to life after the tornado was well written and made it easy to understand what he was going through. I also liked Pastor Brody and thought he was a great example of a preacher during these times. Sarah was not a favorite character of mine but she made the story interesting. She’s that character you love to hate.

I liked the simple way in which this story was written. The author’s writing matched the characters and the story they were a part of. This made the story more genuine and authentic and I really appreciated this as a reader. In fact, the author’s writing made me think of Janette Oke and the Love Comes Softly series. Their writing styles are similar and both have written books that could be considered “comfort reads”. This book was entertaining, easy to read, and had a spiritual theme that was woven into the story but wasn’t over the top or too much. I found myself reading this book quickly yet slowing down a bit at the end because I didn’t want the story to end. I liked these characters and the time I got to spend with them.

This book does not read like a debut novel but one from a seasoned author. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. Cynthia Roemer is now on my “must read” list and I highly recommend her to fans of historical fiction (or anyone looking for a really enjoyable read).

I received a free copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.

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Naomi’s Hope (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #3) by Jan Drexler (review by Cathy)

Naomi's Hope

About the book:

Despite growing pains in her 1846 Amish community in Indiana, Naomi Schrock has settled into a comfortable life in her parents’ home with her adopted son, Davey. Surrounded by family and friends, she tries not to think about the fact that she’s not at the top of any man’s list of potential wives. Yet when Cap Stoltzfus moves into the area and befriends Davey, Naomi finds herself caught between the plans she has made for her future and the tantalizing thought that Cap might be part of a life she never dared to hope for.
When a couple shows up claiming to be Davey’s true family, Naomi and Cap must unite to make the decision that will determine the boy’s future as well as their own. How can she relinquish him to these unknown relatives? And can God somehow bring wholeness to her heart?

 

My review (5-stars)

I love reconnecting with favorite characters and communities, so I was happy to find out how Naomi, her family and friends have been faring in their new community.  Naomi has been one of my favorite characters in this series.  She has matured and taken to motherhood in such a wonderful way.  Her love for her adopted son Davey, was written quite beautifully and her concerns for his safety and well-being were genuine.

It was impossible not to like newcomer, Cap, especially since he was so kind to Davey.   His character was a perfect addition and soon became one of my favorites.

I’ve loved watching the community the characters built and how they’ve flourished.  Ms. Drexler has penned a wonderful series that I think will appeal to readers of Amish and historical fiction.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary copy.

 

 

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels (review by Cathy)

my heart belongs on mackinac island

About the book:

Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance

 

My review (4-stars)

It’s impossible not to love Maude and Mackinac Island.  Maude is strong and resilient and faces challenges head on, which was a pleasant surprise.  I thought she may be a spoiled little rich girl as she was sipping a cherry phosphate on the first page.  There is so much more to her as I discovered when she goes to work as a maid at the Grand Hotel to prove to her father that she’s capable of managing the Winds of Mackinac Inn.

The description of the Island as written by the author is beautiful.  I could imagine people strolling around enjoying the beauty and relaxing.  It makes me want to visit and experience it for myself.

One of my favorite characters is Jack.. He’s very mischievous and delights in calling Maude, “Muddie”!  He’s  just a young boy full of energy and one that you don’t want anywhere near your bicycle.

I have to say that this is one of my favorite books by this author and a perfect addition to the My Heart Belong series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and was under no obligation to post a review.

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White (review by Kristi)

A Name Unknown

About the book:  Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

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 concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

Paperback, 428 pages              Published July 4, 2017, by Bethany House

 

My review:  This book took me awhile to get into but once I did I couldn’t pull myself away from it. The storyline was intriguing and the characters interesting. Oh, and there’s a massive library! And for someone who loves to read this was an added bonus!!

It was easy for me to relate to both Rosemary and Peter, the two main characters in this book. Both have secrets and it was fun to see how they were revealed and how each responded to the uncovering of the other person’s secrets. I found both characters to be complex and well developed and I felt like they were real and not just fictional characters made up in the author’s mind.

The time period that this story takes place in is also interesting. I don’t really come across many books set in the time around WWI so this was a different experience for me and I enjoyed the historical details of the story. I enjoyed the setting as well and the descriptions the author used to describe the places inside and out. It made me feel as if I were there.

I feel like this book would appeal to a wide audience. There’s mystery, suspense, and romance. All wrapped up in a historical setting that history buffs can enjoy. I can’t wait to read more about these characters and their friends and family.

I received a free copy of this book and was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

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My short list of Hot Summer Reads for Cool Relaxing Days by Cathy

I’m going to be honest here and admit that I can read pretty much anytime and anywhere, but since it’s been in the 90’s here in Maryland, I really just want to stay inside with a good book and a cold glass of unsweetened tea.

I know that many are planning a summer vacation to a favorite destination, or perhaps visit a state you’ve never been to, or even a different country. No matter if you’re  traveling or staying home, I hope you have a fantastic summer and that you have plenty of books to read!

Check out the books I’m looking forward to reading and perhaps some of you are, too.

 

 

To Her Heart

About the book:

With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided that the truth doesn’t tear them apart first.

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father’s name. One man holds the key to Sy’s success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville’s society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he’s found his tutor. Only, he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra Jamison’s fiancee—and what has broken her heart.

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both. Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for? And when Sy’s roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility and honor?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn’t count on is having to wager her heart to do it.

Set against the real history of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation and the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers ensemble, To Wager Her Heart is a stirring love story about seeking justice and restoring honor at a time in history when both were tenuous and hard-won.

 To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander.  Is  the third book in Belle Meade Plantation series has been on my radar for a while.  The cover is gorgeous and I know the story will be wonderful.    Releases on August 8th

 

The Promise of a Letter 

About the book:

A letter brings him back to his Amish family. It will take someone truly extraordinary to make him stay.

Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don’t go as planned, Roman’s prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn’t plan to stay for long.

Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional–strange, even–Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she’s never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn’t mind. She is content being single.

But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller is the second book in An Amish Letters series.  I have been a fan of this author for a few years and loved the first book in the series, so I’m pretty excited to read this one. It sounds so good, doesn’t it? Releases on August 15th

 

Assulted Caramel

About the book:

Sometimes you need a sweet tooth to take a bite out of crime . . .

Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened. Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.

She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englisch developer, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble . . .

Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop Mystery)by Amanda Flower is the first book in her new series. I know when I read a book by my favorite cozy author, it’ll be a real treat. Her sense of humor coupled with her quirky characters keep me chuckling.    Releases on August 29th.

 

An Amish Christmas Love

About the book:

Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman

Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston

Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.

Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin

As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn t give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He s found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discover: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly s prayers for a Christmas love be answered?

Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid

When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?

An Amish Christmas Love is a collection of  four novellas written by four  of my favorite Amish authors.    Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin and Ruth Reid always tug at my heart with their characters and their stories. . I know when I read this book, I’ll be transported to the communities they write about it.  Releases on September 12th. 

If any or all of theses books are on your list, make sure to preorder them as soon as you can.  Enjoy your summer and visit us soon because we’ll be busy reading and reviewing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport (review by Cathy)

Gladden the Heart

 

About the book:

When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna’s intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.

Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith.. Now they must grapple with whether love is possible…even if they come to different conclusions.

When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

 

 

My review (3 stars)

I found this book to be quite interesting, I’m familiar with revivals and the popularity of them when preachers traveled to reach many people who may have not have access to a church in their towns.
What made me like this book as much as I did is the premise and the characters. At times I was sad for Noah. The community treated him as an oddity which was horrible, but at the same time I could understand why they did. It was not their way of worshipping and it frightened them.
The pace of the story moved a bit too slow for me and I would have liked to have more focus on Susanna’s and Adam’s relationship. I enjoyed reading about how they dyed cloth and wanted more of that story. The secondary characters were interesting and I did learn about sleeping preachers which I hadn’t been aware until this book.
I have been a fan of the author for a couple of years and will definitely read more of her work and recommend Gladden the Heart to readers of Amish Fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

 

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels (review by Kristi)

my heart belongs on mackinac island.jpg

About the book:  Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance?

Paperback, 256 pages                        Published July 1, 2017, by Barbour Books

 

My review:  While the My Heart Belongs series has so far taken readers out to the rugged West for adventures the newest installment has us visiting the popular vacation spot of Mackinac Island. While the island seems like a peaceful vacation destination there is a lot going on and never a dull moment to be had.

I am really loving this series of books and the fact that they are about independent, intelligent and strong women. Carrie Fancett Pagels continues that theme in this story. Maude is described in the book as intelligent and courageous and I believe those words describe her perfectly. I liked that she wanted to prove herself to her father and wouldn’t let anything stand in her way. She has a bit of a stubborn streak in her that most females can relate to. Maude was a very likable character. There was a bit of mystery around Ben, a.k.a Frederich, and that made him such an interesting character as I read through the story to find out who he really was. He was a complex character and was the perfect match to Maude.

I enjoyed all of the descriptions in this book. They made me feel as if I were there on the island with all the characters. It was easy to imagine people going about their lives on the island and to also imagine the rich vacationing there.

If you have enjoyed the other books in this series you are sure to enjoy this one. It isn’t necessary to read the other books though as they all stand on their own. This is a great book for fans of historical fiction and those looking for books about strong, independent women.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

 

About the author:  Carrie Fancett Pagels is an ECPA bestselling and award-winning author of Christian historical romance. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! She resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which is perfect for her love of history. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time!

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