A Dream of Miracles(An Amish Wonders Novel)by Ruth Reid(review by Cathy)

A Dream of Miracles

About the book:

Mattie Diener can barely keep it together. A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son’s mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her.

Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won’t rest until she finds his Mrs. Right. Despite Bo’s worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling.

When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible—not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo’s dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?
My review:

Ruth Reid has written a wonderful story about a difficult and sad situation that I would never have expected to occur in an Amish community.  Mattie Diener is a character that I genuinely liked and my heart went out to her during her son’s illness.  I also liked Bo Lambright and felt as torn as he did during his investigation of this sweet young woman. I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to Mattie, her children and Bo.  Would the truth ever be discovered as to what was causing this little child’s illness?

Although, this is the third book in the series, it felt fine to me as a stand alone.  It’s not your typical Amish fiction novel, but that made reading it much more real to me.  Ms.  Reid tackles a very difficult subject, but does it very well.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Courtship Basket(Amish Heirloom Book 2) by Amy Clipston (review by Cathy)

the courtship basket

About the book:

Years ago, a picnic basket brought two hearts together. For Rachel and Mike, history may be about to repeat itself.

Rachel Fisher is devastated when the young man she’s loved for years leaves her to date her best friend. Her heart is broken, and she has all but given up on love. Determined to keep her mind off the pain, she starts teaching at an Amish school for children with learning disabilities.

Since his father became ill, Mike Lantz has been overwhelmed with the responsibility of providing for his family and caring for his six-year-old brother, John. When John joins Rachel’s class and she learns that his mother is deceased and his father sick, she desperately wants to help the family, even with something as simple as a meal. With her parents’ old picnic basket, Rachel begins sending food to the Lantz family. As the weeks go by, John’s grades start to improve, and the attraction grows between Rachel and Mike.

They can’t deny that their friendship is growing toward something more, but both of them are hesitant to risk a more serious relationship. The last thing Rachel wants is another heartbreak, and Mike is worried about providing for his loved ones. Will the two be able to reconcile their past hurts with new hope for the future?

 

My review:

If you’ve been searching for a book with characters that you’ll love, flows at a wonderful pace and holds your attention throughout, then I highly recommend The Courtship Basket.

Amy Clipston continues to “Wow me “with her talent in this second book in her new Amish Heirloom series.  Rachel and Mike are two characters that I adored.  The way they begin communicating with each other through six-year-old John’s daily classroom journal made me smile!  The trust that developed between Rachel and John seemed very natural and realistic.  All of the friendships were built slowly and added to my enjoyment.

It was the simple act of caring for her students and her community that made Rachel extend support and friendship to the Lantz family.  The food that she so lovingly and thoughtfully prepares and delivers to the family in a simple basket brings joy to a family that hasn’t had too much of that recently.  I love how Amy brought the Fisher and Lantz families together.  It’s truly the best book that I’ve read this year.

I cannot wait for the third book in this series.  I’m anxious to find out what secrets mamm has. She seems to have a few!

I received this book from author and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

A Simple Vow by Charlotte Hubbard (review by Kristi)

A Simple Vow

About the book: Housed in a rustic red barn, the Simple Gifts crafts shop celebrates the talents of the Amish of Willow Ridge–and the faith that inspires them. For the acceptance of simplicity opens the path to love.

As far as Edith Riehl is concerned, the baby twins thrust suddenly into her arms are a heaven-sent gift. Unable to conceive, she longs to be a mother with a home of her own. She’s going to abide by her promise to handsome Asa Detweiler to take care of them while he looks for their real father. And even if her domineering dat Cornelius refuses to countenance Asa’s suit, she can only pray the bachelor’s honesty and persistence will uncover the truth–even as he’s kindled an impossible hope for a love of her own . . .

Asa can’t understand why anyone would think he would be so dishonorable as to father babies and then abandon them. He’s determined to clear his name–but Edith’s caring ways also inspire him to help heal her wounded spirit and earn her trust. In the face of heartbreaking deception, he and Edith must find the strength to understand, forgive . . . and claim their own hearts’ joy.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages                     Expected publication: May 31, 2016 by Zebra

Purchase on Amazon

My review: Charlotte Hubbard is a fairly new to me author. This being the second book of hers I have read I had an idea going in that the book wouldn’t be the typical Amish fiction I was used to reading. I was right, too. This book has many twists and turns along with a story not often (if ever) found in Amish fiction.

Let me start off with the one thing I didn’t like in the book. Too many characters. I found it difficult keeping them all straight in my mind while reading. I must say that even at the end of the book I was having trouble remembering who went with who and their backstory. I realize this series is a spinoff of another series and maybe had I read that series first the number of characters would have been a non-issue.

This is a fast-paced read. Things happen quickly from beginning to end. The author did a great job of writing in all the twists and turns in a way that keeps the reader engaged in the story. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the father of the Riehl sisters that isn’t resolved in this book. I’m interested to see what develops in this storyline in upcoming books.

If you like Amish fiction I believe you will enjoy this book. Especially if you’re looking for a bit of a different story with an unusual mix of characters. This is a perfect weekend read.

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

About the author:  Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard (a.k.a. Naomi King) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.
 Visit Charlotte’s website for all the latest news and updates

A Simple Vow (Simple Gifts #1) by Charlotte Hubbard (review by Cathy)

A Simple Vow

About the book:

Housed in a rustic red barn, the Simple Gifts crafts shop celebrates the talents of the Amish of Willow Ridge–and the faith that inspires them. For the acceptance of simplicity opens the path to love. As far as Edith Riehl is concerned, the baby twins thrust suddenly into her arms are a heaven-sent gift.

Unable to conceive, she longs to be a mother with a home of her own. She’s going to abide by her promise to handsome Asa Detweiler to take care of them while he looks for their real father. And even if her domineering dat Cornelius refuses to countenance Asa’s suit, she can only pray the bachelor’s honesty and persistence will uncover the truth–even as he’s kindled an impossible hope for a love of her own . . . Asa can’t understand why anyone would think he would be so dishonorable as to father babies and then abandon them.

He’s determined to clear his name–but Edith’s caring ways also inspire him to help heal her wounded spirit and earn her trust. In the face of heartbreaking deception, he and Edith must find the strength to understand, forgive . . . and claim their own hearts’ joy.

My review:

I’m always excited when Charlotte Hubbard has a new series! I was super excited about this one because I wanted to return to Willow Ridge. Ms. Hubbard creates characters and communities that you care about, and in A Simple Vow she has achieved that once again.

For those of you that have read the Seasons of the Heart series, you will recognize several characters. There are new and interesting characters blended very nicely in the story. I absolutely adored Edith Riehl and her sisters. They are warm and caring young ladies that want to help others and are determined to do just that. Especially when Edith makes a simple vow to Asa Detweiler. Asa is a wonderful and honorable character that I really liked. Edith’s father Cornelius is an intriguing and infuriating character! I look forward to finding out more about him!

The book is filled with twists and turns and amazing characters that held my attention from  the first page until the very end. I am eagerly anticipating the second installment in the series.  I highly recommend this book to readers of Amish and Christian fiction.

I received a copy of A Simple Vow from Netgalley  and have given my honest opinion.

The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston (review by Kristi)

the courtship basket

About the bookYears ago, a picnic basket brought two hearts together. For Rachel and Mike, history may be about to repeat itself.

Rachel Fisher is devastated when the young man she’s loved for years leaves her to date her best friend. Her heart is broken, and she has all but given up on love. Determined to keep her mind off the pain, she starts teaching at an Amish school for children with learning disabilities.

Since his father became ill, Mike Lantz has been overwhelmed with the responsibility of providing for his family and caring for his six-year-old brother, John. When John joins Rachel’s class and she learns that his mother is deceased and his father sick, she desperately wants to help the family, even with something as simple as a meal.

With her parents’ old picnic basket, Rachel begins sending food to the Lantz family. As the weeks go by, John’s grades start to improve, and the attraction grows between Rachel and Mike. They can’t deny that their friendship is growing toward something more, but both of them are hesitant to risk a more serious relationship.

The last thing Rachel wants is another heartbreak, and Mike is worried about providing for his loved ones. Will the two be able to reconcile their past hurts with new hope for the future?

Click the cover below to purchase from Amazon

 

My review:   Amy Clipston is at the top of the list when it comes to authors of Amish fiction.  Her writing is fantastic and she creates realistic, genuine, and imperfect characters for readers to fall in love with.   The Courtship Basket is a perfect example of Amy Clipston’s superb storytelling.

Rachel and Mike embody everything the Amish are known for: caring, helpful, family-oriented.  I couldn’t help but like these characters immediately and hope they would get the happy ending they deserved.  It was nice to “catch up” with characters from the first book and meet new ones in this one.

One of the characters in the book has kidney disease which is an issue near and dear to the author’s heart.  She did a wonderful job of writing about this health issue in a way that made it an important part of the story but not overwhelming.  There was a good balance between the romance aspect of the story and the health issue aspect.

A storyline written around a mysterious blue onesie continues on from the first book. Personally, I love the secrecy around this article of baby clothing.  It adds another level of reality to the story.  The Amish aren’t perfect and don’t have perfect lives and the author does an excellent job of showcasing this.

One of the things I love most about the author’s writing is that she doesn’t repeat things from one book to the next.  She gives you just enough information to know what’s going on while keeping the story fresh and entertaining.

With each book she writes, Amy Clipston grows as an author.  She creates complex characters you can relate to in settings that are realistic. If you haven’t read one of her books yet you are missing out.  The Courtship Basket would be a perfect book to start with.  While it’s the second in the series it can be read as a standalone.   I would highly recommend getting the first book though because it’s fantastic, too!  Grab a copy of each and set aside some time to read.  Once you get started reading you won’t stop until you have reached “the end”.

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

About the author: Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and three spoiled rotten cats.

Visit Amy’s website for all the latest news and updates.

Like Amy’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date.

Follow Amy on Twitter 

 

 

 

Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman (review by Kristi)

Finding Starlight

About the book: A Tale of Unexpected Friendship and Old Hollywood Glamour

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging–a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she’s surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingEnue who lives in the nearby mansion.

Kendall Joiner wants Lauren’s help uncovering the old woman’s secrets. In return, she’ll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren’s tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

Paperback, 304 pages         Published May 3, 2016 by Bethany House Publishers
                                                             Purchase on Amazon

 

My review: I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book. The dress is gorgeous and the lighting used makes one want to pick the book up and dive right into reading it. The description of the back cover was just as interesting as the front cover so I had high hopes that I would enjoy this book. I’m happy to report the book lived up to my expectations.

Lauren and Charlotte are two strong female lead characters who have their own personal scandals in common. Even though Charlotte was a bit on the grouchy side she was easy for me to empathize with. The more we learn about her through the flashbacks to her youth the easier it is to understand why she’s the way she is. I thought Frances was a breath of fresh air and she was immediately a favorite character of mine.

I enjoyed the way the story was written in present day with flashbacks to Charlotte’s youth. This really brought the story to life for me and I found the mix of new Hollywood and old Hollywood to be an enjoyable part of the story. Even though I’m not one much for sewing or fashion I did enjoy these aspects of the story and thought the author did a wonderful job of describing the gowns worn in the book.

One of the things I really liked about this story was the lack of a romance. A romance is hinted at but it is in no way a main part of the storyline. This is just a really well-written story about two women whose lives cross paths at just the right time.

If you enjoy stories about strong women facing trying times or like reading about fashion and Hollywood I believe you would like this book. It is a quick, easy, and entertaining read.

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

About the author: Kathryn “Katie” Cushman is a graduate of Samford  University with a degree in pharmacy.

She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women’s Fiction.

She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh.

Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California

Visit Kathryn’s website for all the latest news and updates.
Like Kathryn’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date.

An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller (review by Kristi)

an unbroken heart

About the bookAn argument. A crash. In an instant, Joanna’s world is changed forever.

One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?

After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler.

Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt.

Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father.

If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?

Paperback, 304 pages                        Published March 15, 2016 by Thomas Nelson

 

Click the cover below to purchase on Amazon

 

My review: The first book by Kathleen Fuller that I read was, ironically, the first book in this series. I read it in a day or two while on vacation last year. I fell in love with her writing while reading that book and was anxiously awaiting the release of this book. Thankfully, as a member of The Fiction Guild, I was sent a copy of this book to review. Would this book be as good? Would the writing and the story just blow me away? Would I still be a fan of the author when finished reading this book? The answers: Yes. Yes! and YES!!

I love the way the author set this story up. I liked reading about Joanna and Andrew when they were young and then “fast forwarding” to the present and how their relationship progressed. In my opinion, this really pulls the reader into the story and makes them feel as if they really know the two main characters. Andrew was so kind and sweet to Joanna that I perhaps developed a bit of a crush on him. Many times during the story I wanted to reach into the pages and give him a hug. Not often do I feel that attached to a character. Even the secondary characters in this book are well-developed. The author knows her craft and creates believable and realistic characters.

There is so much emotion in this book, too. I found myself brought to tears one minute and laughing out loud the next. The author has a way of writing that makes you feel the emotions of the characters in a way that fully immerses you in the story. I truly enjoy the way she inserts bits of humor to lighten up what could be a thoroughly sad story.

The story is told at just the right pace to get you interested and keep you engaged in the story from beginning to end. Everything happens at just the right moment, too. Nothing is rushed or too slow. There is just the perfect amount of buildup for every major plot development.

I highly recommend this book. Even though it’s the second book in the series it can be read as a standalone. I don’t suggest that though because you will miss out on a wonderful read if you skip the first book. Please don’t miss out on a great story. Grab this book (and the first in the series), a refreshing drink, and find a comfy spot to sit and read for awhile. Once you start reading this book you won’t be putting it down!

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

About the author: Kathleen is the best-selling author of over thirty books, including the Hearts of Middlefield Series and the A Middlefield Family Series. She lives with her husband and three children in Northeast Ohio. Kathleen loves to hear from readers.

Visit Kathleen Fuller’s website for all the latest updates and news!

Like Kathleen Fuller’s Facebook page.

Follow Kathleen Fuller on Twitter