The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck (review by Cathy)

The Wedding Shop

About the book:

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the 1930s, and Cora is taking the reins at her family’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. Brides come from far away to be doted on by Cora and her family while they find the perfect wedding dress. Meanwhile, Cora has found her true love, Rufus, a riverboat captain. Cora counts the days until his return from the river, and she continues to wait for him as days turn into months and months turn into years. When he finally returns, she receives the shock of a lifetime: he is married to another. Nursing her heartbreak, she must find a way to continue pouring her heart into the hopes and dreams of the brides who visit her shop, all while wondering if she will ever find true love or if it has passed her by.

In present day, Haley has finished her time as a soldier, and suffering from PTSD, wants nothing to do with the heartbreak of this world. She sets off for Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, and in order to honor the memory of a fallen friend, she takes on the task of reopening an abandoned and long-forgotten wedding shop. Perhaps through helping others, she can forget the pain and disappointment in her own life.

Haley isn’t looking for love, but when her friend’s former fiancé becomes involved in the shop’s renovations, they both find that healing and restoration can perhaps happen in their lives too.

My review:

This is my absolute favorite book by Rachel Hauck.  The characters are wonderful and the storyline held my attention throughout.  Cora was my favorite character and I looked forward to when the dual time periods and story focused on her and her family.  Her love for her wedding shop and the brides to be added such style and grace in my opinion.

Haley has loved the Wedding Shop since she and her friend played in the abandoned building as children.  When she returns home to River Bend, she needs to decide what she wants to do with her life.  I liked Haley so much, but I found I liked her even more when she begins spending time with Cole, a friend from her childhood.  They had a special bond that added depth to their relationship.

Cora and Haley are from different time periods, but the two of them have a common bond which makes their stories so interesting and endearing.  They both have an inner strength and courage to make the changes needed to make their lives full and happy.  Their families play an important role in each of the women’s lives.

I loved the town of River Bend and its residents, especially Birch Good.  Birch is a steady and loyal friend to Cora and he’s such an amazing character, that he felt real to me.

I gave The Wedding Shop 5 stars and recommend this book to both young and older readers.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

 

 

Plain Choice by Sarah Price (review by Kristi)

plain choice

About the book:  Amanda’s husband, Cuban pop star Alejandro, believed he was doing right by his wife when he left her on her parents’ farm in the familiar shelter of Lancaster’s Amish community. Amanda, however, has other ideas. Unwilling to sit idly by and hide from the paparazzi, she follows her husband to Europe for the start of his world tour to find out if their marriage can be saved once and for all.

When the two reunite, it’s plain to see that their love is stronger than their differences. But as they travel together, Amanda is surprised to discover that her own fame is beginning to match her husband’s. Now she must struggle to bridge her Amish upbringing and a new, unasked-for role in the public eye. As other unexpected tensions challenge their bond, can Amanda and Alejandro keep their promises and make space for her faith, his fame, and a growing love?

Kindle Edition, 338 pages                           Published March 29, 2016 by Waterfall Press

 

My review:  There comes a time when every author needs to say goodbye to the characters they have created and loved and written about. I feel like Sarah Price was way overdue to bid farewell to Alejandro and Amanda. A fifth book wasn’t really needed in the series as it didn’t add to the story or the characters.

As I’ve stated in other reviews of books in this series, I thought the premise for the story was interesting. World-famous rapper meets Amish girl in unusual circumstances, they are attracted to each other and the story proceeds from there. However, this couple’s story progresses in ways that I didn’t find believable in the other books and continued on through this one.

First, I can’t recall any other celebrity’s spouse becoming as famous as them just because they are married. This was an unusual aspect of the story but I found the way it progressed to be too far-fetched and believable. While Amanda claims to be of the Amish faith she sure didn’t act like it and too easily gave in when it came to wearing the dresses picked out for her and having her makeup done, having a personal assistant, etc.

Another thing I thought odd was the way Amanda decided that it was ok for Viper to dance the way he did with the dancers and act the way he did with her. He seemed to use her for his benefit and didn’t really seem to care for her in a way that displayed love. She seemed more like a mother figure or servant to him instead of a wife using the Bible as the reason why. This just didn’t sit well with me. Are Amish women that easily swayed? And the way he didn’t listen to her about Enrique was just too dismissive for me. I would certainly keep on my husband if his friend was making me uncomfortable

My biggest problem with these two characters was the way they treated Isadora, Alejandro’s daughter. Amanda seemed critical of the way he didn’t interact with his daughter but was willing to leave her with her own family as she went off halfway around the world to be with her beloved Alejandro/Viper and then worried about whether or not that was the right thing.

This story seemed to be too long and drawn out. A lot of the story seemed to be the day to day lives of the two while on tour in foreign countries. After awhile the story didn’t seem new or interesting but just the same old thing over and over again. I found myself bored while reading this book.

While I still enjoy Sarah Price’s writing style and applaud her for thinking outside of the box when it comes to Amish stories I think this one was way too far out of the box for me. I prefer my Amish fiction to be centered more on their strong sense of family and community and also their strong relationship with God.

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

 

About the author:  The author of over 30 novels, Sarah Price publishes with Realms, an imprint of Charisma House and Waterfall, an imprint of Brilliance Audio.

Her book, An Empty Cup, was #3 on Amazon Top 100 eBooks in January 2016.

Connect with Sarah Price:    Website   •   Facebook   •   Twitter

Amy Clipston Interview ( with Cathy) and Giveaway

Amy

The delightful and super talented Amy Clipston kindly agreed to answer some questions that I asked her.

Now, keep in mind that she is a wife and mother, has TWO full time jobs, has Book Signing events and she makes herself available to her many readers!   I’m beginning to suspect that she is Superwoman!

So, let’s get to know Amy!

Cathy:    I’ve enjoyed all of the novellas you’ve written and have always been curious as to how they come together. How are authors chosen to contribute to the novellas and does the publisher choose the theme of the book?

Amy:  My publisher chooses the authors and the themes. The authors then submit a synopsis to the editor, and we’re careful not to duplicate plots or character names.

Cathy:   I know you like movies and music. Do you have a playlist for when you’re writing or does music distract you when you’re writing?

Amy:  When I first was published, I needed complete quiet when I wrote. I couldn’t stand music because it would break my concentration. Now I enjoy listening to music via my ear buds while I write. The television and surrounding conversations are distracting, but music actually helps me write. I have a couple of playlists, but it depends on my mood. Sometimes I need hard rock and other times I need something more soothing, such as Daughtry or Taylor Swift. I suppose I’m a moody writer.

Cathy:   Being the movie buff that you are have you ever considered writing a screen play?

Amy:   I actually have no idea how to write a screenplay. I would have to take a class, and I don’t have time for that right now. It would be fun, though!

Cathy:   I’ve loved the Kaufmann Amish Bakery series, Hearts of the Lancaster Hotel and your latest, Amish Heirloom. I’ve thought at least one or all of them would be a great Hallmark movie. If you were given an opportunity, would you have a preference as to which one?

Amy:   I would positively love to see one of my books made into a television movie. What a thrill it would be to see it on Hallmark Channel! I would be happy if any of my books were made into a movie, but I think my favorite is The Cherished Quilt, book # 3 in my Amish Heirloom series. Of course, I’m not picky! Any of the books would make me happy as a television movie.

Cathy:    Do you prefer to write a series or a stand alone?

Amy:    I prefer writing a series because it gives me the opportunity to explore more than one character in series. I enjoy writing each character’s story through the series.
Thank you for having me on your blog!     

Thank you so much, Amy for being on our blog.  You are kind,  talented and you’ve been such a blessing to me!

Have you “liked” Amy’s authors page?   This is where she posts new book releases, contests, upcoming events and other fun things.

http://www.amyclipston.com

It’s time for a giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive one of Amy’s books and a few surprises.  To enter just leave a comment telling us your favorite Amy Clipston book.  Don’t forget to leave your full email address so  you can be contacted if you win.  Winner will be notified via email on September 4th, 2016.  Giveaway limited to residents of the US only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like a Bee to Honey (The Honeybee Sisters #3) by Jennifer Beckstrand (review by Cathy)

Like a Bee to Honey

About the book:  Affectionately dubbed The Honeybee Sisters in their Wisconsin Amish community, the three Christner girls are devoted beekeepers who are coming-of-age—and discovering the sweet surprise of love…
 
Shy, skittish Rose Christner is more comfortable tending to the beehives on the family farm and keeping her aunt’s unruly cats in line than attending social gatherings with the rest of the die youngie. A childhood trauma and secret shame keep her heart under lock and key, and Rose just can’t accept the sweet attention she’s receiving from a handsome neighbor. But the more she shies away from Josiah Yoder, the more their families sneakily plot to bring them together. And when a vandal who’s been plaguing the Honeybee Farm starts targeting Rose, Josiah’s steadfast protection—and patience—just may lead her into his waiting arms…

 

My review: I’ve loved this series and am sad to see it end. I’m happy with the way it ended though and loved seeing Rose mature and become a strong young woman. Josiah is my absolute favorite character in the book. He’s always been so patient and tender with Rose and he’s been my favorite throughout the series.
Of course Aunt B is back and up to her usual antics. She always manages to raise a few eyebrows with her less than conservative behavior. She’s been the one person that will go to great lengths to protect the Honeybee sisters throughout their lives. She’s truly a selfless person and just a very unique character.
This has been a fun and sweet series by Jennifer Beckstrand. The Honeybee Sisters is suitable for both young and older readers.
I received a copy through Netgalley for my honest opinion which I have given.

Plain Return by Sarah Price (review by Kristi)

plain return

About the book:  Amanda Beiler, a young woman raised Amish, is determined to make her marriage to internationally beloved Cuban singer Alejandro Diaz work. Since they spend more time apart than together, she decides to join her superstar husband in the spotlight and accompany him on his South American tour.

Despite their deep love for each other, the pressures of maintaining Alejandro’s fame and the media’s constant hounding begin to take a toll on the young couple. When someone from his past makes a startling appearance during the tour, Amanda is forced to face not only the complexities of his hedonistic past—and the unexpected responsibilities that accompany it—but also her own desire to return to a simple life rooted in devotion to family and God. As Amanda’s needs start to conflict with Alejandro’s obligations, the couple must decide if their love is strong enough to save their new marriage.

Kindle Edition 284 pages                       Published October 20, 2015 by Waterfall Press

 

 

My review:  I’ve read this series from the very beginning and have alternated between ” this is too far fetched” and “could this really happen?” I thought the premise of the series was interesting – A Cuban-American superstar, Alejandro/Viper, and an Amish girl, Amanda, meeting and being attracted to each other and then falling in love. The more I read about this couple though the more conflicted I am with the entire story.

Alejandro absolutely drove me nuts in this book. He seems to be all about himself and is, well, a jerk. It seems like he only wants to use kind words and show Amanda affection when it benefits him. He also doesn’t seem to care about her feelings and beliefs as he wants to parade her around and use her to benefit him and his career. He never seems protective of her as she is always being shuffled off to security guards. He is only protective of her when she is putting his “brand” in danger. Ugh! Get over yourself Alejandro/Viper. Another thing I noticed is it’s very hard to almost impossible to see where Viper ends and Alejandro begins. If he cared one bit about Amanda he would tone down the whole “ladies man” persona.

Amanda really grows in this book. She slowly loses the naive Amish girl persona and grows into a woman who stands up for what she thinks is right. I must say I think it’s been a long time coming and I was happy to see her character become more mature and strong.

The already complicated lives of these two only get more complicated when they get to South America for Viper’s tour. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but I will say this is where we see most of Amanda’s strength and character growth. This is also where we see Alejandro begin to be at his worst.

If it sounds like I don’t like the book that is so not the case. Sarah Price has done a wonderful job of taking two very different people from two very different walks of life and showing readers what happens to them as they try to form a life together. I think she did a wonderful job of representing the life of each character and showing the readers just how opposite these two are. Her writing style makes the story flow easily and the pace of the story kept my interest from beginning to end. This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what happens in book five in the series. I have to find out if happiness or heartache awaits this couple.

Fans of traditional Amish fiction may not enjoy this story as it isn’t the usual storyline for the genre. I do think we will see Amanda get back to her Amish roots in the next book (or I’m hoping so anyway). Readers who don’t mind a not strictly Amish storyline should enjoy this story as it’s Amish lifestyle meets the glitter and glam of superstardom.

 

About the author:  The author of over 30 novels, Sarah Price publishes with Realms, an imprint of Charisma House and Waterfall, an imprint of Brilliance Audio.

Her book, An Empty Cup, was #3 on Amazon Top 100 eBooks in January 2016.

 

Connect with Sarah Price:    Website   •   Facebook   •   Twitter

Love Impossible by J.E.B. Spredemann

Love Impossible

About the book:

Life as Sarah once knew it no longer exists. When she is thrust into an impossible situation, she turns to God for help, but her prayers seem to go unanswered. When those closest to her offer advice, she feels she must do what is right. But there’s one problem. She can’t determine just what the right thing to do is.

As years of deceit unfold, Sarah knows she must make a choice. Will she ultimately heed the advice of her loved ones, or will she choose an entirely different path that could result in losing everyone close to her?

 

My thoughts:

This is a very unique story and kudos to J.E.B Spredemann for writing it.

I had such empathy for Sarah. Nothing in her life is what she believed it to be and she’s faced with making some very difficult and life changing decisions.

I won’t give too much away, because I want readers to find out just how conflicted Sarah is after she discovers the deceit she’s lived with for so many years. I will say, that I expected her to feel much more conflicted when faced with making decisions for herself and her families. Her strong faith was what made her choose the path that was right for her.

Jathan and Mark are two very important and different characters that added different elements to the story. At times, I found Mark to be rather frustrating, but given the unusual situation he faced, it was understandable.

This is truly a different Amish story and one that I recommend to all ages.

I received a complimentary copy from the author and have provided my honest opinion.

 

The Amish Christmas Kitchen-Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand and Lisa Jones Baker (review by Cathy)

Amish Christmas Kitchen

A dash of joy brings everything together . . .

Something’s always baking in an Amish oven, and at Christmastime, all the ingredients for joy are at hand. Wrap yourself in the warmth of the Amish home—and the Plain peace of hearts joined by love. Each story includes a recipe from the author!
 
BAKING LOVE ON ICE MOUNTAIN
Kelly Long
Newly married, Clara Mast and Daniel Kauffman have little to give but love during their first Christmas season together. But generous hearts are always willing to be creative in this “Gift of the Magi” inspired story.

THE CHRISTMAS BAKERY ON HUCKLEBERRY HILL
Jennifer Beckstrand
When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .

THE SPECIAL CHRISTMAS COOKIE
Lisa Jones Baker
A charity auction, an unexpected friendship, and a stubborn spirit combine in an unusual courtship. But for Emma and Jonathan, overcoming obstacles is just one of the lessons to be learned about special blessings this holiday season.

My thoughts:

Three very charming stories written by three very talented authors. I didn’t have a favorite in the collection as they were equally appealing in their own way. I will admit that as I usually do when reading about the Matchmakers and Huckleberry Hill, I did laugh at Annie and Felty and their tenacity at finding a spouse for their family members.

Overall, this was a book that I enjoyed and recommend to readers of Christian and Amish Fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.