Upon a Spring Breeze (Every Amish Season #1) by Kelly Irvin (review by Cathy)

Upon a Spring Breeze

About the book:
Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.
Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.
When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?
My review (4 stars)
There are so many things to like about this book, such as the sweet protagonist, Bess.   The pain  of losing her husband, Caleb became unbearable for her at times which is quite understandable.  The way she chose to deal with her grief was completely understandable.
I could also understand how Aiden felt which made me like him and I really wanted him to get through to her and try to help her cope with what she’s going through.  Given that he had always had feelings for her, it made things a bit difficult for him in keep  his true  feelings hidden and attempt to be just a good friend.
A few widows  in the community were so sweet and supportive of Bess and that was of my favorite part of the story.  I love strong female friendships and  the author obviously does, too.
What I didn’t care for at first, were  most of the male characters.  I know from reading other Amish  fiction  that there are rules to be followed, but some of the men were a bit too much for me.    I was always mindful that they had Bess and her son’s best interests at heart which made their actions a bit easier to understand.
Kelly touches on many subjects in this book which I won’t mention because  I think the reader should have the opportunity to  find out for themselves.
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith (review by Cathy)

The Amish Widower

 

About the book:
After the devastating loss of his second wife, Seth Hostetler believes a lasting love is beyond all hope. A year has passed, and his mamm and sister are determined to see him happily married once again. But how can he open his heart to another woman when their relationship could end in tragedy?
On an outing with his family, Seth comes across an Amish potter hard at work and jumps at the chance to take a seat at the wheel. He takes quickly to this creative outlet, pouring his long-buried emotions into each piece he shapes. Unfortunately, the fancy nature of his art draws the disapproval of his district’s leadership.
His work puts him in the path of Leah, an Englisch woman employed by the Amish to sell their wares to tourists. Despite her aloofness, something about her speaks to Seth’s wounded soul. But what is he to do when the things he wants most threaten to pull him away from the life he’s committed to live?
A compelling novel of second chances and the power of God to redeem hearts and dreams, set in the inviting Amish community of Lancaster County.
 My review (4-stars)
This book has it all, great characters and a storyline that pulled me in from the first page. The pace is steady and describes the grief that Seth is going through and how it affects  much of his life.  It was hard to imagine anyone suffering so much loss at the age of 26 as Seth did.
I loved the excitement he felt when he first took a seat the pottery wheel and how he used that as a form of therapy to help him cope with his loss and the many changes in his life.  There were plenty of changes within his family.  Siblings getting married, his parents having decisions to make and his aging grandmother’s health.  I absolutely loved his grandmother!  She and Seth were my favorite characters, although there wasn’t a single character that I disliked.   With a message of faith and forgiveness the healing begins and that’s a message I always like.
There are a few twists in the book which added the perfect touch to The Amish Widower.
I recommend this book to readers of both Amish and Christian fiction.
I received a complimentary through Netgalley and have given an honest opinion.

Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble (review by Kristi)

because-youre-mine

About the book:  Alanna has been plagued by tragedy. So it should come as no surprise that in the beauty that surrounds Charleston, all is not as it seems.

When her husband is killed by a car bomb while their band is on tour in Charleston, Alanna doesn’t know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but the one thing she knows for sure is that she can’t lose the last piece of Liam she has left.

Their manager offers her a marriage of convenience to gain her U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution . . . but her doubts begin almost as soon as she arrives at Barry’s family home, a decaying mansion surrounded by swamp.

To make matters worse, Liam’s best friend survived the car bomb. She’s never really liked Jesse and now she can’t seem to get away from him. When he takes Liam’s place in their band, it’s almost more than she can bear.

But then things start happening. Things that could easily cost Alanna her life—or the life of her unborn child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is there something much more sinister at work?

Paperback, 336 pages                      Published January 10, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  What I was hoping to be a “pull-me-in-and-don’t-let-go” read from Collen Coble ended up being a bit of a flop. Collen’s books are known to be quick reads with stories that have enough scare factor to them that I feel the need to get up and close the blinds. This book lacked this quality. In fact, there wasn’t a scare factor for me as much as a creepy factor.

I liked the premise of this book but once I started reading I felt like I had read this story before. Especially when they got to the estate outside of Charleston. I didn’t really feel a special closeness with the main character and at times wondered what she was thinking. She seemed to waiver between missing her late husband and having the hots for her manager/new husband. And he just made me feel like I needed to take a shower and wash the creepiness off me.

While it may seem that I just didn’t really like the book that is not the case. Even though some parts of this thriller were easy to solve there was enough going on to keep me interested and turning the page. This is a good book but just not my favorite from this author. It didn’t seem to be written in the same high-caliber way her other books are. This book just lacked that something her other books have.

If you are an established Collen Coble fan then give this book a go. If you haven’t read any of Colleen’s books I wouldn’t recommend this one as an introduction to her as her other recent books are much better. Not a bad book, just not the best from this author.

I received a free 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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Written in Love by Kathleen Fuller (review by Kristi)

written-in-love

About the book:  When a postal error creates pen pals of two young Amish people, can they put behind their past mistakes to see the bright future God has written for them?

 

Jalon Chupp has a past he isn’t proud to claim. He’s worked hard to overcome his youthful mistakes, and he has recommitted himself to his faith. When he receives a sweet note included in a piece of misdirected mail, he can’t help but write back. Soon, the letters he receives from Phoebe are the highlights of his days, and with a hopeful heart, he suggests they meet in person.

 

Phoebe, too, looks forward to every single one of Jalon’s letters. Living with her overbearing aunt, Phoebe doesn’t have too much to look forward to. But when Jalon suggests they meet, she panics—although she has shared some of the deepest longings of her heart with him, she hasn’t been entirely truthful about her past. But when Jalon shows up at her aunt’s doorstep, everything is revealed. And she can only pray he’ll forgive her for holding back the truth.

 

In order to reach beyond the errors of their pasts, both Phoebe and Jalon must put their faith in something—or Someone—bigger than either of them could pen.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages                   Published March 14, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  I’ve never read a Kathleen Fuller book I didn’t love. Written in Love is a wonderful addition to my “Kathleen Fuller books I love” list. A unique story told in an original way made this story interesting and riveting. This was a book I just could not put down.

Written in Love tells the story of Phoebe and Jalon who meet when Phoebe accidentally receives a letter Jalon had sent to someone else. The two form a friendship of sorts by becoming pen pals. The book starts out with a series of letters written between the two. I loved the unusual way this story began. It was a neat way of being introduced to the characters and getting to know them.

The storyline of this book is great. I enjoyed the realness of it. Not everything is rosy for these two and this made me like them even more. They struggle with their friendship and different things in their lives but this just made the story more real for me. This book showcases the fact that the Amish don’t lead perfect lives and they have struggles and issues just like everyone else.

In her typical way, Kathleen Fuller has written a book with characters who are realistic and a story that is compelling and heart-wrenching. This is a must-read book for fans of the genre.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Best-selling author of Amish fiction. Also a wife, mother, crafter, coffee addict, football fan, and chocolate aficionado.

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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review by Cathy)

Chilbury

About the book:
“Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!”
As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead ‘carry on singing’. Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir”, the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.
Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit — a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past — we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life.
In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the home front, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.
My review (5-stars)
One of the most cleverly written books I’ve read in quite sometime. The author introduces her readers to the characters by using letters and diary/journal entries.
There’s a lot going on in the village of Chilbury and it requires the women to come together as most of the men have gone off to war.
From the choir, to everyday life they find themselves engaged in each other’s lives in ways they never imagined.
The age groups of the characters were wide-ranging and added different perspectives.
I found myself drawn to different characters at different times, making it difficult to have a favorite due to the issues each faced.  From young love to finding love later in life, abusive relationships and  other scandalous behavior this book touches on many realities.
There’s so much going on in the village that I kept reading as fast as I could because the story is interesting and held my attention throughout.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be the last.
It’s a different from what I normally read and I’m glad I chose it.
I received a complimentary copy of The Chilbury Ladies Choir from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

Not a Sparrow Falls (Wyldhaven 1) by Lynnette Bonner (review by Cathy)

not-a-sparrow-falls
About the book:
Take the next stagecoach to Wyldhaven, where the coffee’s perked hot, the shriff likes his apple pie fesh from the oven and adventure invariably waits around the river bend.
Schoolteacher Charlotte Brindle is relieved that her long journey from Boston to Wyldhaven is about to come to an end. And then the bullets start flying! As she sprawls on the floor of the coach and curls her arms around her head, she wonders whatever in the world possessed her to give up the civility of a Boston school for the promise of adventure on the wild frontier?!
Her fellow passenger, an elderly man named Patrick Waddell, has obviously angered the men outside. And he has no intentions of going down without a fight—or without a bargaining chip!
Sheriff Reagan Callahan grinds his teeth in frustration when Patrick Waddell emerges from the coach with the tiny slip of a schoolteacher as his hostage. Reagan’s perfectly planned-out capture has just been shot to smithereens. What had the town’s founder been thinking when he hired a woman like her? A petite and prim woman was not the kind of teacher Wyldhaven needed. He should be back at his desk drinking coffee! Instead, he now has to mount a rescue!
My review ( 5-stars)
Charlotte Brindle is spunky, funny and  indignant which made her a pure joy for me to read. You can’t blame her for being indignant because who wouldn’t be after being taken hostage?  Add that to the fact that she feels mislead about the town of Wyldhaven and it was easy to understand her characters feelings.
She also possessed an inner strength that I admired especially given her upbringing and  background making me like her even more than I expected to.
Sheriff Callahan really had his hands full with what is going on in town with the Waddell gang and he certainly didn’t expect or appreciate the complication of Charlotte in the tiny town.  He’d like for her to go back to Boston and she’s undecided.  They are at odds which lends humor to the story.  I liked him so very much.
There are plenty of secondary characters that are equally interesting and I look forward to finding out more about them in future installments in this new series by Lynnette Bonner.  I have to admit that this is the first book I’ve read by her, but it certainly will not be my last.
If you like sweet historical novels than I recommend this one.
I received a complimentary copy of  Not A Sparrow Falls from the author and have given my honest opinion.

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (review by Cathy)

The Wedding Dress

 

About the book:
Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?
Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new-shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”
Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history-and its new bride-begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.
My review (4-stars)
A perfect story for a relaxing week-end read.  Yes, I actually did read this over a week-end as I became caught up in the story of Charlotte and the vintage dress she finds in a trunk at an estate sale.
I loved how the story unfolds and the connection of the four young women. The author has a knack for blending modern-day characters with characters from the past and weaving a lovely tale as Charlotte discovers more about the wedding dress and those that owned it before her.
I found myself drawn to Emily’s character and looked forward to learning more about her. The other characters were well written and interesting so perhaps it was just the time period that made me eager to read her story.
The Wedding Dress is well written, entertaining and  a lovely story.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.