A Treacherous Mix (Ozark Mountain Trilogy #3 by Kathy Herman (review by Cathy)

About the book:A Treacherous Mix

When twenty-four-year-old Hawk Cummings wakes up by Beaver Lake at sunset, all he remembers is a dream about a spider that spewed venom. Then he realizes that Kennedy—the young woman he broke every vow to have an affair with—is gone. He rushes to her house only to find it empty. No furniture. No pictures. No sign that anyone lived there.

Ashamed and confused, Hawk decides not to report anything to the sheriff. Then Hawk realizes that someone else in town knows what happened to his lover. He begins to fear for Kennedy’s life—and his own.

My thoughts:

I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I first saw it because this is a new to me author.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked the storyline and the characters.  This is the third book in the, Ozark Mountain Trilogy and I found it is written so thoroughly that I knew who the characters were and their relationship to each other without having read the first two books.

The plot in this book is pretty terrific and kept me engaged throughout.  I loved that the  friends and family of Hawk rallied around him and cared so much about what he was going through.  They don’t shy away when he did things they didn’t approve of but they certainly are in his corner no matter what.

The Cummings family are hard workers, enjoy their family dinners and are strong in their faith.  Who wouldn’t want to be in a family like that?

Ms. Herman blends family ,faith, mystery and suspense perfectly in this novel which is exactly the kind of book I love to read.   If you are already a fan of his author or looking for a new to you author, then I recommend this book to you.

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

 

 

 

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Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton (review by Cathy)

Hurricane Season

About the book:

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

My thoughts:

I became a fan of this author after reading, The Hideaway.  I had been eagerly anticipating reading this book and I was certainly not disappointed.

I loved the story of the two sisters and their lives.  Betsy seemed the most settled with her husband and their farm where  she manages the daily operations.  She was my favorite of the sisters even though I liked Jenna too.   It is pretty easy to like and respect Ty.  He’s a hard worker who truly loves his wife.  That is something that I liked about this book, a married couple that love and care about each.   It was pretty refreshing for a change.

The story progressed at a nice pace and held my interest from beginning to end. Ms Denton is one of the best at character development and writing that flows effortlessly drawing the reader in and making them care about what will happen next in her novels.  This is a quick and easy read making it perfect for the last days of summer.

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

 

Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber (review by Kristi)

cottage by the sea

About the bookA seaside town helps one young woman rediscover hope and healing in a brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

After tragedy strikes, Annie moves in to the summer cottage where her family vacationed when she was a child. Soon Annie finds herself making new friends, even developing a romance with a quiet and mysterious painter. And as she becomes part of the community, Annie learns that the surest way to heal is by making a difference in the lives of those around her.

Publication Date:  July 17, 2018

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, General Fiction, Womens Fiction

 

My thoughts:  As a longtime fan of Debbie Macomber, I was less than thrilled with the last two books I read by her. Always willing to give her another chance though I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did because this book is classic Macomber with all the things I love about her books: down-to-earth characters, realistic situations and a realness to the story that makes it worth reading.

This book was easy to get into. When tragedy strikes Annie’s life readers are taken along on her journey to a new normal and a new life. The tourist town of Oceanside appealed to me and some of its inhabitants, though quirky, were all realistic. It was fun to meet everyone and discover the town right along with Annie. I love that Macomber creates characters that readers can care about.

While the story has a serious tone to it the author included enough lighthearted moments to balance everything out. The story moved along at a good pace and I was never bored while reading the story. I was kept wondering what Annie was going to do and how it was going to affect her newfound friendships. I was a bit worried that the ending was going to be rushed but Macomber wrapped up everything in her typical fashion leaving me satisfied with the story. I would definitely like to see more books set in this town and be able to catch up with these characters again.

I definitely recommend this book. It is Macomber at her best. This book is so quick and easy to read that it would be great as a weekend or vacation read. Or a great anytime escape.

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 authorDebbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2018, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include Cottage by the Sea (July) and Alaskan Holiday (October). Macomber is also releasing a new cookbook titled Debbie Macomber’s Table: Sharing the Joy of Cooking with Family and Friends (April). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.

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A Simple Singing (The Sisters of Lancaster #2) by Leslie Gould (review by Cathy)

a simple singing

About the book:

For years Marie Bachmann thought of herself as the “good” daughter. She was the most loving to their mother, the most dedicated to their Amish way of life. But when a Mennonite farmhand, Gordon Martin, shows interest in her she can’t help but be flattered–until her mother sends her off to Florida. While there, Marie begins spending time with bad-boy Eli Jacob, the bishop’s son from back home.

When Gordon shows up in Florida to volunteer in a homeless shelter, her life becomes even more complicated. At the same time her aunt begins telling her of a Civil War-era ancestor and the woman’s uncommon bravery . . . a story that begins to work at Marie’s heart.

Marie hopes returning home may simplify life, but Eli soon follows. As Marie grapples with whether she should court Eli or leave the church for Gordon, the story of Annie Bachmann shines a light on what God has for Marie’s future.

My thoughts:

Amish and Historical fiction  with a dual time line!  Why yes, I do love all three, especially when they’re as masterfully combined as they are in this novel.  With the authors descriptive storytelling and her strong character development I quickly became caught up in the lives of Marie Bachmann in 2013 and Annie Bachmann in 1863.

Marie was difficult for me to like at first because I perceived her to be self-righteous but I soon realized that she wanted what other women her age and in her community wanted which is a husband and family of her own.   She had been the perfect Amish daughter, never leaving her family unlike some of her siblings, helping out in her district when needed, but she still hadn’t received the marriage proposal she wanted.

I started to like Marie so much more when she went with her Aenti Suz to Pinecraft and learned more about her ancestor, Annie.  I loved Annie from the moment I met her and wished that her story had been a stand alone because I loved the time period, her selflessness and her bravery.  The author wrote both time lines so that they connected beautifully and I was more than satisfied with both of the protagonists stories and felt they were complete.

I want to mention the other element of this book that I liked and that is the Mennonite friends and neighbors we meet in Lancaster County and Pinecraft.  There are several secondary characters that were interesting and I enjoyed getting to know them, too.

The other thing I can say about this must read book is that it will definitely be on my top ten favorites this year.

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Patriot Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower#4) by Kimberly Woodhouse (review by Cathy)

The Patriot Bride

Book Blurb:

Faith Jackson and Matthew Weber are both working covertly to aid the Patriot cause. But will they be willing to sacrifice all for their fledgling country?
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Spies Work Together for the Patriot Cause
Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict.

When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith

My thoughts:

The story of Faith Jackson and Matthew Weber is sweet, a little dangerous and so good!

I liked Faith when we meet her as a little girl although the prologue is sad it also shows her character as being sharp, adventurous  and strong. Qualities that  she needed when she became a spy.

Matthew was the perfect partner for her because he is a gentle and caring man. Together he and Faith were interesting and I looked forward to their meetings. I liked that the author gave then plenty of interaction with other characters including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Overall, The Patriot Bride is a  very good read.  I liked the female friends that were loyal to Faith and I enjoyed their afternoon visits with each other but the one character that I absolutely adored was her butler, Clayton. He was funny and the one character that totally surprised me.   I liked both the historical and faith storylines making this one for the keeper shelf.

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

 

 

 

A Simple Singing (The Sisters of Lancaster County #2) by Leslie Gould (review by Kristi)

a simple singing

About the bookFor years Marie Bachmann thought of herself as the “good” daughter. She was the most loving to their mother, the most dedicated to their Amish way of life. But when a Mennonite farmhand, Gordon Martin, shows interest in her she can’t help but be flattered–until her mother sends her off to Florida. While there, Marie begins spending time with bad-boy Eli Jacob, the bishop’s son from back home.

When Gordon shows up in Florida to volunteer in a homeless shelter, her life becomes even more complicated. At the same time her aunt begins telling her of a Civil War-era ancestor and the woman’s uncommon bravery . . . a story that begins to work at Marie’s heart.

Marie hopes returning home may simplify life, but Eli soon follows. As Marie grapples with whether she should court Eli or leave the church for Gordon, the story of Annie Bachmann shines a light on what God has for Marie’s future.

Publication Date:  July 31, 2018

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers

Genres:  Amish Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Dual Timeline

 

My thoughts:  Oh, how I enjoyed both of the stories in this book! Leslie Gould is a master at dual timeline stories and each one I read from her is better than the last. This book with its modern day and Civil War-era stories is wonderfully written and if I had to use one word to describe it I would simply say perfect!

I really liked the way this book was set up. First, we get to meet Marie, the main character in the modern day story. She is likable and relatable. She is trying to be the perfect Amish daughter but isn’t really happy. Then when we have spent enough time with Marie to feel like we know her then we are introduced to Annie, the main character in the Civil War story. Annie is another strong character and I liked her just as much as I did Marie. There are several supporting characters in the book and there wasn’t really one I didn’t like. They are all well-developed. It was easy to forget they were fictional characters.

As much as I liked Marie’s story I think Annie’s was my favorite. I like reading about the Civil War and I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing it to life. Not since reading Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind or John Jakes’ North and South series has an author made me feel as if I was experiencing the war right along with the characters. In fact, Gould’s descriptions of Annie’s arrival in Gettysburg took my breath away. It was so easy to picture everything she described and to feel the emotions Annie did. I feel like through her words I knew what it was like to be there and see the horrors of the war. It was really interesting to read how the Amish played a part in the Civil War.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a quick and easy read with two great stories wonderfully tied together. I will advise you to set aside some time to read this one though as once you start reading it’s a hard book to put down.

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:  Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and Christy Award-winning author of twenty-two novels. She received her MFA from Portland State University and teaches writing at Warner Pacific College. Leslie enjoys traveling, hiking, and history. She and her husband, Peter, are the revolving-door parents of four children and three cats.

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The Hope Jar (The Prayer Jar #1)by Wanda Brunstetter (review by Cathy)

the hope jar

About the book:

What happens when making an elderly Amish couple very happy means going along with a lie that gets bigger by the day?

Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them.

Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle’s budding faith— but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love?

My thoughts:

My first opinion of Michelle Taylor was less than favorable to be honest.  I thought about her character as the story unfolded and I completely changed my mind about her when I remembered she had escaped an abusive relationship.   I  understood her need to leave a bad situation, but I was sad that she would resort to misleading the elderly Amish couple that mistook her for the granddaughter they had never met.

The situation they found themselves in was almost beneficial to the three characters.  It gave Michelle the sense of belonging that she needed and it gave the Lapps someone to care for and dote on.  I don’t excuse what she did, but it brought some happiness to the older couple.  As Michelle slips into her role of, Sara Murray (the Lapps real granddaughter) she goes about life on the farm and the Amish community, where she finds what she’s always wanted, love and acceptance.

I think that this is a great start to the author’s new series.  There are interesting characters that we meet in the, Hope Jar that piqued my curiosity.  The real Sara finally makes it to the farm to meet her grandparents for a short time and I desperately want to know the story of her deceased mother.   Ezekiel and Brad are two more characters that I liked very much and can hardly wait to see what the author has planned for them. As for Michelle?  I associate that saying, “Home Is Where The Heart Is” to her and think she will make amends for her dishonesty and mistakes she made.

The Hope Jar is well worth the read which I why I recommend it to other readers.

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