The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall (review by Cathy)

The Christmas Remedy

About the book:

When an Old Order Amish woman takes a job at a small-town pharmacy struggling to survive in a world of “big box” stores, her motive is to help her Plain community. But the advent of the holiday season brings an unusual mystery to the surface–and possibly love.

Twenty-four-year-old Holly Zook lives a unique life for a young Amish woman. Years ago, her bishop allowed her to continue her education and become the lead technician for Greene’s Pharmacy, an old-timey drugstore that looks out for the Amish community–a group largely without secure healthcare plans. She knows she can’t marry and hold onto her professional job. She’s Amish, and she can only have one or the other, so she spurns love and works toward addressing treatable diseases–like the one that claimed her father’s life.

As long as Holly continues to avoid Joshua Smucker, the one man who draws her like a warm hearth in winter, she should be fine. When something unexpected threatens Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly and Joshua must work together to unravel what’s happened and find the “missing” patient before the Board of Pharmacy shuts them down. As the snows of December arrive, with Christmas in the air, will Holly succumb to the generous spirit of the season?

My thoughts:

It’s impossible not to like Holly Noelle Zook the sweet and caring young lady working at Greene’s Pharmacy.  She has decided to do what she feels is right for her community even if it means she has to forgo marriage and children.

I was delighted by this unique storyline of an Amish woman having permission from her Bishop to pursue an education and an employment in an English family owned and operated business.  I loved that the pharmacy is small  and that the customer base is both Amish and English.  I loved Holly’s energy and the concern  she has for the health and wellbeing to all in her community but most of all I loved her passion to help others and do her best in everything she did.

This short story has a bit of romance, a tiny bit of mystery within the pharmacy but most of all, it has hardworking and kind characters that I truly cared for.  This book is perfect for the readers in your life from the young to the young at heart, so when you pick up a copy for yourself, get a few extras to give as gifts.

I received a copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

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Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof (review by Cathy)

sons of blackbird mountain

About the book:

A tale of family, brotherhood, and the healing power of love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar place?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

My thoughts:

This is the first book that I’ve read by Joanne Bischof and after hearing such positive things that were said about it, I was very excited when I had a copy in my hands.  I wholeheartedly agree that what I had heard about this book is absolutely true.

Aven traveled from Norway to care for. three bothers after the death of her husband and letters from Aunt Dorothe for a fresh start in Virginia.   She is under the impression that Thor, Jorgan and Haakon are children but she meets three grown man and finds out that Aunt Dorothe passed away a couple of months before she arrived on Blackbird Mountain.

This story is just beautifully written with flawed characters who seek peace and acceptance. Thor is one such character who has conflicts he must resolve in order to find inner peace and acceptance.  Not only is he deaf and communicates through ASL (American Sign Language) which Aven hasn’t learned, he struggles with alcoholism.  It was sad but admirable when he made the decision to stop drinking the hard cider he and his brothers  had been brewing.  I felt so bad reading this part of the story but was pleased by the outcome.

I loved the close bonds the characters formed and how they managed to become a family who cared for and looked out for each other.   There were times when I felt like I was on Blackbird Mountain,  walking around in the orchards and I could easily imagine Aven baking pies and making dinner in the kitchen.  The author truly brought her characters to life right before my eyes and I shared in their happy times while feeling sad at the altercations the brothers engaged in.

I loved, loved, loved this book and look forward to reading more of this authors work.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Freedom’s Light by Colleen Coble (review by Kristi)

freedom's light.jpg

About the book:  A young lighthouse keeper must navigate the dangerous waters of revolution and one man’s obsession with her to find safe harbor with the sea captain she loves.

Hannah Thomas believes she’s escaped Galen Wright’s evil intentions by marrying an older lighthouse keeper. Seemingly safe in faraway Massachusetts, her world is upended when John is killed in one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Hannah is allowed to continue the difficult task of tending the twin lighthouses in John’s place, though she faces daily disapproval from John’s family. She thinks her loneliness will subside when her younger sister arrives, but she finds Lydia’s obsession with Galen only escalates the dangerous tides swirling around her.

A stormy night brings a shipwrecked sea captain to Hannah’s door, and though he is a Tory, her heart is as traitorous as the dark-eyed captain. Even though she discovers Birch Meredith isn’t the enemy he seemed at first, Hannah isn’t sure their love will ever see the light of freedom.

Publication Date:  September 11, 2018

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Genre:  Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction

 

My thoughts:  As a longtime fan of Collen Coble, it pains me to write this review. I have loved every book of hers I’ve ever read whether it be suspense or historical fiction. However, this book was just one I didn’t enjoy and at times had to force myself to read.

I’m used to historical fiction books having a bit of a slower pace than contemporary fiction, but I found the pace of this story extremely slow and it seemed like the story really went nowhere fast, especially the first half of the book. The second half picked up just a bit and was more interesting than the first half but it seemed like it just took so long to get to the better part of the story. Even the characters in this story seemed one dimensional and blah. There wasn’t a single one I really liked or cared about.

While I didn’t enjoy this book I’m still a fan of the author and will be checking out her future work. Some may like this story but it just wasn’t one for me.

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

 

About the author:   USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

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The Cumberland Bride(The Daughters of the Mayflower) by Shannon McNear (review by Cathy)

The Cumberland Bride

Book Description:

Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road
In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear.

My thoughts:

The Cumberland Bride is the fifth book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series.  I’ve liked that I’ve been introduced to new to me authors in this series as is the case with this one by Shannon McNear.  I enjoyed the authors writing and her characters quite a lot, making her book a pleasure to read.

I love the spirit of Katie Gruener, her family and Thomas, who had the job of leading them and other families across the Wilderness Road to their destination.  Not as cut and dried as it sounds because he had to keep his ears open for news of a Shawnee unrest.

The dangers travelers faced in 1794 were definitely not for the faint of heart.  No, not at all and I’ll just admit that I am not a person who does outdoor type things, so my family would have left me behind.  Luckily Katie and her family were much more brave and set  out with pack mules and very little of their personal possessions.

The Cumberland bride is a great addition to this historical fiction series and as with the other books, I learned things during this time in history.  Full of adventure, danger and a little bit of romance this was one of my favorite books in the Daughters of the Mayflower series.

I received a complimentary book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

An Amish Holiday Wedding (Amish Country Courtships # 2) by Carrie Lighte (review by Cathy)

An Amish Holiday Wedding

About the book:

A business arrangement…or a Christmas proposal?

Anything’s possible with Amish Country Courtships

On the brink of losing her bakery, the last thing Faith Yoder’s interested in is courting—until Hunter Schwartz returns to Willow Creek. After hiring him to deliver her treats to a Christmas festival, Faith’s determined their relationship will stay strictly professional. But despite a secret that’s kept her single, Faith can’t help but wish she and Hunter could become husband and wife.

My thoughts:

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I fell in love with the cute couple on the cover.  I’m a fan of Love Inspired books and know the books are sweet, clean and heartwarming.  This book is certainly sweet, clean ,heartwarming and a bit humorous.

Faith Yoder and Hunter Schwartz are both easy to like and I enjoyed their story so much. They get off to a bad start when she nearly misses running into him with her bicycle.  There were no injuries to any human beings although several eggs were broken. Yep, Faith needed those eggs fill a cupcake order for her struggling bakery.

This is a super cute and fast read that has Hunter working for Faith delivering her baked goods to the Christmas Festival.  It was hard to see how these two could ever get themselves to relax and enjoy each others company.

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I certainly look forward to reading more of her work. With Christmas fast approaching this book that is a perfect gift for the readers in your life from the young to the young at heart.

 

 

 

 

Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar (review by Cathy)

auschwitz lullaby

About the book:

In 1943 Germany, Helene is just about to wake up her children to go to school when a group of policemen break into her house. The policemen want to haul away her gypsy husband and their five children. The police tell Helene that as a German she does not have to go with them, but she decides to share the fate of her family. After convincing her children that they are going off to a vacation place, so as to calm them, the entire family is deported to Auschwitz.

For being German, they are settled in the first barracks of the Gypsy Camp. The living conditions are extremely harsh, but at least she is with her five children. A few days after their arrival, Doctor Mengele comes to pay her a visit, having noticed on her entry card that she is a nurse. He proposes that she direct the camp’s nursery. The facilities would be set up in Barrack 29 and Barrack 31, one of which would be the nursery for newborn infants and the other for children over six years old.

Helene, with the help of two Polish Jewish prisoners and four gypsy mothers, organizes the buildings. Though Mengele provides them with swings, Disney movies, school supplies, and food, the people are living in crowded conditions under extreme conditions. And less than 400 yards away, two gas chambers are exterminating thousands of people daily.

For sixteen months, Helene lives with this reality, desperately trying to find a way to save her children. Auschwitz Lullaby is a story of perseverance, of hope, and of strength in one of the most horrific times in history.

My thoughts:

I experienced a wide range of emotions while reading this book.   Yes, the author through this beautifully written novel had me feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness, anger and fear as I read the horrific but true story of Helene Hannemann, her five children and husband as they’re taken to an interment camp in Auschwitz Germany.  I became  an emotional wreck when she started to hum to her children as they were being taken from their home.

Dr. Mangele was a German SS officer and a physician in the camp and when he asked Helene to run a school for the children at the camp, I felt sick.  It seemed terribly cruel even though it gave the kids some sense of normalcy and maybe even a little bit of hope. I admit that it gave me a little bit of hope to think that some mercy would be given to her family after she did such good for others.    They had been cold and hungry for so long that I wanted to believe that something good would happen to them.

Unfortunately, as this horrific time in history tells us, having mercy for anyone in the camp was not going to happen.  I loved Helene and her family so much and as hard as their story is to read, I am so glad that I did.  Mr. Escobar wrote a heartbreaking story of selflessness and courage that will stay with me forever.  I’ve read many books about the Holocaust but I can honestly say that this one is my all time favorite.   Helene had strength and dignity but most importantly she had a fierce love for her children and wanted to care and comfort them for as long as she could.

I received a copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delayed Justice (Hidden Justice #3) by Cara Putman (review by Cathy)

Delayed Justice

About the book:

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

My thoughts:

I have been eagerly anticipating the third book in this series and  I will let you know it was definitely worth the wait.

So while frantically turning the pages with nervous anticipation and a quite a few tears, I was cheering Jamie on to right the wrongs that were done to her and other innocent children in horrific situations.  No matter how powerful a person is or how much they think they are above the law, I want them to pay for what crimes they’ve committed, no matter how long that may take or how it will affect their lives and career.

There are so many layers to this story besides fighting for justice.  This is a story of healing, family, forgiveness, strong friendships and meeting your own Captain America!  Actually it turns out his real name is Chandler but the comparison is kind of perfect.  He is a true hero for Jamie if only she could find the emotional healing that is desperately needed for her to trust and realize she has so much to offer to anyone in her life.

I loved the encouragement and unwavering support Jamie was given by those close to her and I was in awe of her courage and strength in her fight to bring her story to light after her many years of suffering in silence.

This is another faced past legal thriller by Ms. Putman and one that I couldn’t put down.  The topic she writes about is not an easy one, especially given the ages of the victims however, it’s written without any lurid details and the reader gets the gist of the crimes committed.

I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of this genre until I read the first book in the, Hidden Justice series and I thank the author for  penning this eye-opening and heart pounding series which I absolutely love.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.