Cathy’s Top 10 of 2015

Cathy’s Top 10 of 2015.

I have read some amazing books this year.

I discovered some new to me authors and of course my favorite authors have continued to write great books that I have loved.

Below are my picks for my top 10 books I read during 2015

10.  A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

A Respectable Actress

This book had romance, mystery and historical fiction. I quickly became caught up in this story.

 

9. Her Brother’s Keeper(Amish Secret’s #1) by Beth Wiseman

Her Brother's Keeper

Multifaceted and fast paced.

 

8.  Christmas in Paradise by J.E.B. Spredemann

Chridtmas In Paradise

In true Spredemann style, a book that is Christian based and very well written.

 

7. The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

The Girl from the Train

A new to me author that wrote a beautiful and heartwrenching story.

 

6. Murder, Plainly Read(Amish Quilt Shop Mystery #4) by Isabella Alan

Murder Plainly Read

A perfect example of a cozy mystery.

 

5. The Decision(Prairie State Friends,#1) by Wanda Brunstetter

the decision

A wonderful beginning to a wonderful new series.

 

4. Whisper’s in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Whispers in the Reading Room

A pure joy to read. Wonderful settings and character development.

 

3.  The Bishop’s Son(The Amish of Bee County #2)by Kelly Irvin

The Bishop's Son

Captivating and Poignant. Kelly has become one of my favorite authors.

 

2. A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn(Amish Brides of Pinecraft, #3)by Shelley Shephard Gray

A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn

Characters that will steal your heart! Especially Frankie a sneak and a troublemaker. He’s a Beagle, so it’s okay.

 

1. The Forgotten Recipe(Amish Heirloom Book 1) by Amy Clipston

The Forgotten Recipe

Amy Clipston is at her finest in this book and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.

 

There were so many wonderful books released in 2015 that I read, but the top 10 were ones that truly stood out to me and made me a very happy reader.

I’m looking forward to 2016 to see what my favorite authors will release and to discover new authors.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading everyone!

 

Kristi’s Top 10 of 2015

As 2015 comes to a close I like to spend a few moments looking back at all the books I’ve read this year.  There have been a lot–82 to be exact.  I have found new authors this year and read books by authors who are on my must read list.  Below are the best of the best, the top 10 books I read during 2015.

 

10. Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund.  Jody was a new to me author and an instant addition to my must read authors list.  This book was so good I just couldn’t put it down.  I couldn’t read fast enough to see what would happen to the characters.  Hearts Made Whole review

 

9. A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer.  I have discovered that Karen Witemeyer books are as fun to read as the covers are to look at.  This book was a good, clean read that kept me entertained from beginning to end.AWorthy Pursuit review 

 

8. My Brother's Crown

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould.  Two authors who I love to read teaming up to write a book set in 1685 France equaled a definite must-read.  This book didn’t disappoint.  Rich in detail, this book transported me to a different time and place.  My Brother’s Crown review

7. Beyond All Dreams

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden. Any book that has a main character who is a librarian is going to be a hit with me.  This was a sweet romance that hooked me on page one and wouldn’t let me go until I had finished the book.  A book I would love to read again one day.  Beyond All Dreams review

6. The Sound of Glass

The Sound of Glass by Karen White.  Amazing story!  This book was another “couldn’t put it down” read this year.  Rich in character development and detail this story grabbed my attention from the beginning.  The Sound of Glass review

5. deception on sable hill

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray.  If there’s one thing I love more than Shelley Shepard Gray’s Amish fiction books it’s her Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series.  I waited months to read this book and thankfully as a member of her street team I was able to read the book before its release date. This book was everything I hoped it would be and included one of the best lines I have read in a book all year.

Sable Hill facebook quote Deception on Sable Hill review

 

4. an empty cup

An Empty Cup by Sarah Price.  This book wowed me.  The storyline was excellent and the writing was fantastic.  I read a lot of Amish fiction and this book is one of the best I’ve ever read!  An Empty Cup review

3. The Gift

The Gift by Wanda E Brunstetter.  No top 10 list would be complete without Wanda E. Brunstetter.  One of the first authors in the Amish fiction genre, Wanda’s books never grow old or stale.  Her writing is just as good today as it was with her first book.  This book was well-written and a quick read.  Definitely one for the keeper shelf.  The Gift review

2. The Golden Braid

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson.  This is a YA novel and I’m certainly not a young adult.  I received this book from the publisher to read and review. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book that was marketed as “YA”.  Keeping an open mind I set down with this book and was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved this telling of the classic story of Rapunzel, with a twist.  Before I was even finished with this book I was ordering more YA books by this author and can’t wait to read them.  A must read for young adults and not-so-young adults. The Golden Braid review

1.the forgotten recipe A Reluctant Bride

The Forgotten Recipe by Amy Clipston                                                                        A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

Yes, a tie for first place.  I have been trying to choose between these two books for awhile now and just can’t.  Both books are deserving of the number 1 spot.

Amy Clipston has opened up her new Amish Heirloom series with a wonderful story of love, loss, and moving forward.  Great stories are to come in this series.  Amy has given us a clue in the form of a certain little article of clothing that is blue.  That’s all I’m telling you other than you need to pick up this book. Once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down.  I read this book in one day! This is Amy’s best work to date!! A Forgotten Recipe review

Kathleen Fuller has written a gripping tale of an Amish family that isn’t perfect and has secrets you wouldn’t believe.  A Reluctant Bride shows us that the Amish don’t live the perfect lives so many think they do.  This was another book I read in one day.  This was the first book of Kathleen’s that I had read and it definitely won’t be the last.  I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.  A Reluctant Bride review

Hopefully these two ladies won’t mind sharing the top spot on my list.  They have both written wonderful stories that are entertaining and thought provoking.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store with these two authors in 2016.

 

So there you have it.  My top 10 (ok, there’s 11 because of the tie) favorite book of 2015.  There were a lot of other great books I read this year and, believe me, it was hard narrowing down the list to just 10 (ok, 11).  I can’t wait to get started reading for next year’s top 10 list!

Happy reading!!!!

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden (review by Kristi)

Beyond All Dreams

From Goodreads: Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.

Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for themselves?

My review: This sweet but sometimes rocky romance is set in the US Capitol during the late 1800’s. The characters were instantly likable and I felt as if I known them forever. I liked that there was an instant attraction but it wasn’t a strong one and that the main female character was independent and could take care of herself. I also enjoyed the fact there was a natural progression to the relationship between the two main characters. Nothing felt forced or rushed but as just in real life there are ups and downs and rough patches in relationships.

This story was easy to read. I was hooked by the end of page one and couldn’t put the book down. Elizabeth Camden was a new-to-me author and I will definitely be looking for more of her books to read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck (review by Kristi)

The Wedding Chapel

From Goodreads: An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.

When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.

Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.

My review: This book intrigued me from the very beginning. I do love a book full of secrets and scandal. I was also intrigued by the way this story was told. Two different stories that are intertwined and told in different decades proved for some very good reading.

There are four main characters in this book: Jimmy and Collette, whose story takes place in 40’s and 50’s, and Taylor and Jack, whose story takes place in the current day. I enjoyed reading about the Taylor/Jack marriage. There was a tension between the two that leaped off the page. Jimmy’s character was ok, but nothing could compare to Collette. Her character was my favorite. She was easy to relate to. I also liked her spunk.

The author did a great job of describing the scenes in this book. Whether in Manhattan or Heart’s Bend, 1940’s or today, the story is full of detail. The wedding chapel scenes were so well described that I felt as if I was there.

The telling of a love story sixty-four years in the making couldn’t be easy to write. The author was consistent with the characters throughout the book. The story had several twists and turns and at one point I had an “aha” moment where I thought I had everything figured out. I love it when this happens and I can read on and see if I was right.

This was my first book by this author and I purchased more of her books before I had finished this one. She has a wonderful writing style that pulls you into the story and keeps you there until the last word is read. Fans of romance and love stories that span decades are sure to love this book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.

 

The Midwife’s Choice(at Home in Trinity #2)by Delia Parr(review by Cathy)

The Midwife's Choice

From Goodreads:

Martha Cade is a midwife in the town of Trinity in 1830s Pennsylvania. In a time when the traditional ways of medicine are constantly being questioned by new doctors fresh from medical school, Martha tries to balance her life’s calling with the demands of her family. Recently reunited with her estranged seventeen-year-old daughter, Martha finds herself torn between guiding her child and allowing her to be an adult. And the town of Trinity itself is fraught with secrets: as a midwife, Martha knows which families are troubled, which wives are unhappy, and which husbands have crossed the line from discipline to abuse… As Martha struggles with the conflicts of being a mother, a midwife, and a woman, she learns the greatest lessons of all–that hope can shine even in the darkest hours, and that faith has a way of making the impossible possible.

 

My review:

I really like Delia Paar’s books and this one was one of my favorites by her. I love the town of Trinity and the strong sense of community.

Martha Cade is a midwife in this delightful town in the 1830’s. Times were pretty tough for her, but she was pretty tough herself.

Victoria, Grace’s daughter has returned home and it’s not quite the homecoming that Grace had anticipated, but at least she knows that Victoria is safe. The relationship between Thomas and Martha is so very sweet.

There are secondary characters that will steal your heart, too. The way the town rallies around a young woman that’s been treated badly was heartwarming.

The strong faith and friendships that Ms. Parr has created in her characters are believable and a joy to read.

This is a definite 5 star book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.

 

 

Carry Me Home(Blue Wren Shallows #1)by Dorothy Adamek(review by Cathy)

Carry Me Home

From Goodreads:

Finella Mayfield hates two things: liars and thieves.

And she’s determined to marry a man who’s neither. Chasing her dead father’s dreams, the twenty-year-old English bride arrives in Australia in 1875 for an arranged marriage.

Anticipating her future as village preacher’s wife, she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal.

But instead of her fiancé, Finella is met by Shadrach Jones, a poor farmer sent to collect her from the busy Melbourne pier. This is not what her father planned.

And it’s only the beginning of the unraveling of Finella Mayfield ~ the bride with no groom. All Shadrach Jones longs for is rows of mustard and chicory. He’s busy growing a farm near the Phillip Island fishing village of Cowes, and caring for Molly, his simple sister. Far from the brutal life they remember with their ex-convict father, Shadrach’s building something new. But he’s also made a promise to a dying friend.

To collect and marry the English girl destined to never be a preacher’s wife. Can Shadrach convince Finella she has a future with a farmer? Can he convince himself, knowing his family secrets will haunt their future? Carry Me Home ~ Book 1 in the Blue Wren Shallows series. An Australian historical romance set in the pioneering era of the 1870s, on Victoria’s majestic Phillip Island.

 

My review:

I was very surprised and delighted to discover such a well written debut novel. However, that is exactly what I discovered from the first page to the very ending.

There were many aspects of this novel that appealed to me! The time period, the arranged marriage, the setting of Australia and I loved the book cover.

Finella Mayfield is a strong character that knows what she wants and what she won’t tolerate. I enjoyed her travels and her Everlasting journal.

Shadrach Jones and his sister Molly are characters that were engaging, too.

The settings, the dialogue and the strong faith make this a book that you’ll want to read again.

It’s a beautifully written story with well developed characters that I truly cared about.

Ms. Adamek made me a huge fan with Carry Me Home and I look forward to reading more of her work.

This definite 5 star book.

I recieved a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.
 

 

 

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay(review by Cathy)

The Bronte Plot

From Goodreads:

 

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals.

When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change. In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change. Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

My review:

This is the first book I’ve read by Katherine Reay, but it won’t be the last!

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and settings.

Lucy is one of my favorite characters in the book which as it should be since the story focus’s on her career, relationships and the changes she must make.

I can honestly say that I wouldn’t do some of the things she did but,she’s sweet and harmless. She meant well and that’s all I’ll say about that!

I really liked the relationship between James and Lucy. I felt like they were good together and made a great couple.

I adored Helen(James grandmother). The journey that she invited Lucy to embark upon with her was amazing. The author made me feel like I was a traveling companion with them as they made their way across England.

The literary references and discussions Lucy and Helen had were so enjoyable to read. It was wonderful to read about characters that love to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.