The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher (review by Kristi)

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To purchase a copy click here.

About the book:  Restless and adventurous, Ruthie Stoltzfus is right on the cusp of leaving her Amish home. Secretly, she’s earned her GED, saved her money—but she can’t quite set her journey into motion. Just as everything falls into place, along comes Patrick Kelly.

Patrick is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time is of the essence and every moment is to be cherished—especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.

Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back—and Patrick Kelly is in his way.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred—and the promise of hopes fulfilled.

Paperback, 336 pages               Published October 4th 2016 by Fleming H. Revell Company

 

My review:  The Devoted was my third trip to the Stoney Ridge community. What a community this is! The folks of Stoney Ridge aren’t the perfect Amish people you probably have in mind and Bishop David has his hands full keeping the community in line.

Even though the book description says the book is about Ruthie and her indecision to stay Amish the book has several different storylines going. There is the mystery of the guest at the inn, Luke Shrock and his bad boy ways, the hinting of the community losing its closeness, Ruthie’s indecision to stay Amish, and the Canadian newcomer who wants to become Amish, Patrick Kelly. There is a lot going on in this book. I think my favorite of all storylines was Patrick Kelly. He was a breath of fresh air and the reason I kept reading the story. He was such a calming factor in a community gone awry.

I enjoy reading about the quite imperfect characters Suzanne Woods Fisher has created. I think sometimes people think the Amish lead the perfect lives and have no problems. Suzanne shows readers that the Amish have problems that are the same as ours even though they lead a much different lifestyle. They also face problems that are unique to their communities and she showcases that well, too.

My only issue with this book is that I felt a lot of the storylines were not brought to a close. I thought this was the last book in the series but perhaps (and hopefully) I’m wrong. I want to know what happens to Patrick and Ruthie and Jesse and Luke and others. Does the community stay close or do they continue to drift apart?

Fans of Amish fiction are sure to delight in The Devoted. Readers who are looking for fiction that seems realistic will enjoy this story too because, as I mentioned earlier, Stoney Ridge isn’t a perfect community. Grab a copy and take a trip to Stoney Ridge today and enjoy your stay.

I was provided a free copy of this book and all opinions in this review are mine. I was not required to write anything positive.

 

 

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About the author:  Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

 

Blog Stops

October 18: cherylbbookblog

October 18: Blogging With Carol

October 18: Mary Hake

October 19: Reading Is My SuperPower

October 19: Simple Harvest Reads

October 20: Singing Librarian Books

October 20: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

October 21: Seasons of Opportunities

October 21: Daysong Reflections

October 22: Back Porch Reads

October 22: Southern Gal Loves to Read

October 23: Lighthouse Academy

October 23: The Power of Words

October 24: Bigreadersite

October 24: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

October 24: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

October 25: Artistic Nobody

October 25: Donna’s BookShelf

October 26: Pause for Tales

October 26: Christian Chick’s Thoughts

October 26: Bukwurmzzz

October 27: Splashes of Joy

October 27: Bibliophile Reviews

October 28: ASC Book Reviews

October 28: Vic’s Media Room

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October 29: Jeanette’s Thoughts

October 29: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

October 30: A Baker’s Perspective

October 30: Book by Book

October 30: Quiet Quilter

October 31: Two Girls and a Book

October 31: Blossoms and Blessings

Giveaway

 

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To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of The Devoted and an iPad Mini 2 16GB! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a60b

 

A Heartwarming Holiday (review by Kristi)

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About the book: This holiday season, warm your heart with 15 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 15 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

There are five connected books in A Heartwarming Holiday. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually. A Heartwarming Holiday will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters (no cliffhangers), for more than 1200 pages.

Book 1: Once Upon a Holiday by Anna Adams, Anna J Stewart & Melinda Curtis:
Three former college roommates start a business to bring the magic of the holidays to everyone in Christmas Town.

Novella 1: Once Upon a Thanksgiving by Anna Adams, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 2: Once Upon a Christmas by Anna J Stewart, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 3: Once Upon a New Year’s Eve by Melinda Curtis, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Book 2: Holiday Heroes by Leigh Riker, Tara Randel & Cari Lynn Webb:
Three former Navy SEALs come together to restore an outdated resort.

Novella 1: Thankfully Yours by Leigh Riker, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 2: Cooking Up Christmas by Tara Randel, Barnes and Noble bestselling, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 3: Countdown to Romance by Cari Lynn Webb, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Book 3: 24 North Pole Lane by Carol Ross, Amy Vastine & Cheryl Harper:
Romance is being delivered to 24 North Pole Lane this holiday season.

Novella 1: Hers by Thanksgiving by Carol Ross, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 2: Peace, Love, and Baby Joy by Amy Vastine, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 3: Never Say Never on New Year’s by Cheryl Harper, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Book 4: Magic Moments by Tara Taylor Quinn, Shirley Hailstock & Liz Flaherty:
Three different times, three different stories. They all bring magic to Christmas Town.

Novella 1: Christmas Past by Tara Taylor Quinn, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 2: It Only Happens in Christmas Town by Shirley Hailstock, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 3: The Magic Stocking by Liz Flaherty, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Book 5: Nutcracker Sweethearts by Dana Mentink, Roz Denny Fox, & Amie Denman:
As the stage production of the Nutcracker unfolds in Christmas Town, three couples find love with the help of a little holiday magic!

Novella 1: Thanksgiving Duet by Dana Mentink, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 2: Christmas Curtain Call by Roz Denny Fox, Harlequin Heartwarming author

Novella 3: Set for New Year’s by Amie Denman, Harlequin Heartwarming author

If this boxed set appeals to you, look for our previous holiday anthology: A Heartwarming Christmas.

Kindle Edition 1200 pages      Published October 11, 2016 by IndieWrites, Inc.

 

My review:  This was my first visit to Christmas Town and also my first time reading a collection such as this. The fifteen novellas are separated into groups of three with the three novellas in the set having a common theme. Not normally one to like novellas since I like a more in-depth storyline I have to admit I found this collection charming.

There is pretty much something for everyone in this collection. My favorite stories have to be the ones with the animals. I love a good story that includes animals and love, even more, those stories with somewhat misbehaving animals.

This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and to find new authors to enjoy throughout the year. Fans of the holiday season and fans of novellas will be sure to enjoy these clean romance stories.

Silent Night, Star-Lit Night by Ruth Logan Herne (review by Cathy)

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About the book:

Welcome to Heywood, Oregon where three lost women find healing, hope and love under the bright light of the town’s old Star Inn this Christmas season.

Jed Taylor knows how to cowboy up on the range, and on the sales’ floor of his family’s rapidly growing western and ranch store in Central Washington, which is exactly where he would normally be a week before Christmas… but when he heard Mia O’Loughlin was planning a trip north, pregnant and alone, Jed’s promise to her late husband kicked in. More Grinch than grace, he boarded a plane and headed to the coast, determined that his best friend’s widow wouldn’t make the long trek alone.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this, widowed, pregnant and all alone on the West Coast.

E.R. nurse and Red Cross emergency responder Mia O’Loughlin had always taken life in full stride, but losing her deployed husband the week before she realized they were expecting their first child knocked her off-kilter. With Christmas and her due date approaching, all she can see is getting back home to Kittitas County for the birth of her child… their child… and seeing her failing Grandpa Joe one last time. Determined to do it on her own, she reluctantly allows Jed to accompany her, mostly because the gruff cowboy showed up and won’t take no for an answer.

But when a blizzard grinds their progress to a stop in Northern Oregon, the light from an old inn beckons them into a town hunkered down to ride out the unexpected storm. With the help of the inn’s wise and wonderful “angel,” Mia realizes the old white church has been turned into a shelter. She insists on leaving the inn to help those forced out of their homes and off the highway. As she and Jed improvise to provide comfort to others, they begin to see that facing this once-dreaded Christmas together could be the very best way of all.

My review:

What a lovely Christmas story with wonderful characters and a beautiful setting!  I liked Mia and felt so bad for her being a widow and expecting a baby.  It was such a difficult time for her and with the holidays approaching, she wanted to go home to see her grandfather.  I found Jed to be a good traveling companion for her and liked getting to know both as they started out on their journey.

Their stay at the Inn was a pure delight to read and I kind of wanted to stay there sometime in the future.

Ruth Logan Herne has become one of my favorite authors with her ability to craft likeable characters and storylines that are heartfelt and well written.  In this book, she does it again in this charming book.

I received a copy from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

 

Abducted (Pacific Coast Private Eyes,#3) by Dana Mentink (review by Cathy)

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About the book:

When the high school sweetheart she never expected to see again bursts through the door of her medical mission clinic, nurse Sarah Gallagher can’t hold back her shock. But Dominic Jett isn’t there to catch up. He’s trying to save a life, and the thugs on his tail will stop at nothing to catch him.

Now abducted and imprisoned on a remote island, Sarah and Jett become pawns in a tug-of-war between a powerful drug lord and a devious madman. And their only chance for survival is working together to find the valuable painting the dangerous men are searching for. But with someone trying to kill them at every turn, can they locate it in time to keep their reunion from turning fatal?

 

My review:

I just must say that I had some heart racing moments while reading this book!   As a fan of the Pacific Coast Private Eyes series, I knew this book would be thrilling, but Dana Mentink kicked it up a couple of notches in this one.   It’s nice when high school sweethearts are reunited, but when Jett and Sarah are reunited, it’s not the best of circumstances!

From the minute Jett bursts through the clinic the action begins.  Sarah wasn’t expecting to see him in her clinic and she certainly wasn’t expecting what happens next.  Things are about to get tense and you won’t want to put this book down. Strong characters and a fantastic storyline made this an awesome read.  If you’ve read the first two books in this series, you’ll love this one.  If you haven’t read them, I think you’ll love them!

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

 

 

 

 

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck (review by Cathy)

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About the book:

It’s been five years since Avery Truitt and Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom fell in love. But he broke her heart with no explanation.

Fast forward to present day, and Colin is Brighton’s most eligible bachelor now that cousin Stephen has married. When Avery’s father dies of a heart attack, she puts her life on hold and returns home to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to help Mama with the family restaurant. But Mama misses Avery’s sister Susanna, who lives four thousand miles away in Brighton Kingdom—and is expecting her first child. So, Mama insists she and Avery spend the Christmas season in Brighton.

Colin and Avery are going to see each other a lot while she’s visiting. But she can’t forget the way he hurt her, and he didn’t expect his feelings to still be so strong.

Avery is torn between considering a future in Brighton and taking a coaching job in Georgia, and Colin is finally pushed to pursue what he wants. Is it too late to convince Avery that she is his true love? And even if he does, will she make it to the chapel on Christmas Day to give him her heart?

My review:

The cover caught my eye as soon as I saw it.  I’ve read a couple of the other books in this series and was curious about this one.

I’ve always liked Madeline and Hyacinth and find they add just the right amount of humor to the story. I liked this storyline probably a bit better than the others I’ve read in this series.

I was happy that Mrs. Truitt made the decision to spend time away from work and spend time with her family in England.  The pageantry of the Harvest Celebration which is the start of Christmas Season was written beautifully by the author.

It was also a chance for Avery to see Colin again even though she wasn’t too happy at the thought of facing him again.

There have been changes in both of their lives which leaves Avery wondering if there’s a possibility of a happy ending for them.

This was a fun read and could easily be enjoyed by the younger reader.

A nice addition to this series.

I received a complimentary copy as part of the Booklook Blogger Program and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

The First Gift by Ruth Logan Herne (review by Cathy)

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About the book:

Bringing to mind classics like Catherine Marshall’s Christy, society’s standards are put to the test and a Northern Appalachian town comes together to save a neglected child in Ruth Logan Herne’s new romance, The First Gift.

This poignant novel tells the story of five-year-old Cassie Carruthers, who lives in a bug-infested shack in the hills of Western New York’s Southern Tier. Her mother has died and Cassie spends her days fending for herself while her alcoholic father drinks himself into a stupor.

But Cassie’s isolation has not gone unnoticed in the tightknit community of Phillipsburg. When a concerned neighbor alerts the county, the community sets a plan in motion to rescue the neglected little girl. Through fundraising efforts, Cassie is tucked into the kindergarten classroom of independent, beautiful Kerry McHenry. Kerry has her work cut out for her in dealing with Cassie’s depressed father, but despite the child’s loveless start in life, she soon reveals herself to be an intelligent, eager student. Moreover, she possesses a resourcefulness that has saved her life more than once—and will be called upon again.

Kerry McHenry is nobody’s fool. She sees her own tough upbringing in Cassie’s dire situation, so she works tirelessly to guide the young girl, trying to help her become everything that God wants her to be. At the same time, she finds herself torn between a commitment-phobic pediatric oncologist from a nearby town and Phillipsburg’s widowed deputy sheriff, a complicated man who is still angry with God.

As the stakes grow ever higher and the characters’ lives intersect in unexpected ways, each will face a true test of faith—and come face to face with indisputable evidence of God’s love.

 

My review:

An absolute gem of a book!   As I read the acknowledgments, I became emotionally invested. The author is very open about her personal life and also quite thankful to those who’ve helped her. She wrote one of the most stirring novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

Cassie was in such desperate need of the basic comforts that others take for granted and that was heart wrenching.  She was a resilient little girl and that made me love her even more throughout the book.

I loved seeing how kindhearted people in the community offered her light in the darkness that surrounded her and letting her know she was loved.

Kerry was a character that I really liked and the role she played in Cassie’s life filled me happiness.  I admired her spunk and her strong conviction.  I liked the love triangle with Kerry, Jake and Ryan.  I didn’t care too much for Ryan at first, but he did have some redeeming qualities that I admired. 

Ruth Logan Herne is becoming one of my must read authors.  This book moves at a wonderful pace, has well developed characters and the author writes from her heart.

A definite 5 star and must read book.

I received a complimentary e-copy of The First Gift through Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

Author Spotlight~ J.L. Brown

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Hi!  Kristi here…

About a month ago I was lucky enough to come across J.L. Brown’s debut novel, Don’t Speak. (Click on the title to see my full review.)  As one who doesn’t expect much from debut novels, I have to say I was completely blown away by this book.  The writing was excellent and the story was gripping and in the moment with this being election season.  This book exceeded my expectations and even before I had finished the book J.L. Brown was on my “must-read” author list.

I was so happy and excited when J.L. agreed to an interview for our blog. I know authors are extremely busy so I would like to extend a great big thank you to J.L. for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.  I would also like to give big thank you to Audi Brown for helping make this possible.  I hope you enjoy getting to know J.L. Brown as much as I have, and now, without further delay, the interview.

 

KM:  Don’t Speak is an absolutely awesome book.  How did you come up with the story, and how long did it take you to write the book?

J.L.B.:  In 2010, my wife told me that since I read so much, I should write a novel.  In my best Michael Jackson voice, I said, “I’m a reader, not a writer.”  That night, I had a dream about the plot of my novel.  Five years later (including a two-year hiatus), I finished Don’t Speak.  Most of the characters and plot survived the journey, as well as the ending.

 

KM:  Is there a little J.L. Brown in Jade Harrington?  I felt like I was connecting with you through this character.

J.L.B. I am an Army brat, former basketball player, and martial artist, but that’s where the similarities between Jade and me end.  Jade’s a badass.  I wouldn’t want to play her one-on-one in basketball.

 

KM:  I really liked the way you told the story in third-person except the killer’s chapters were in first-person.  Why did you write the story this way?

J.L.B.:  From the first draft, I wrote the killer’s viewpoint from first-person.  I didn’t realize at the time that was unusual.  I experimented writing it in third-person, but I didn’t find it as powerful.

(Kristi note:  I’m glad she kept it that way.  It makes the story more unique and powerful.)

 

KM:  When can we expect the second Jade Harrington book?  How many more are there in the series?  (A lot, I hope.)

J.L.B.: Good question.  My goal is to publish book #2 in the first quarter of 2017.  I envision a lot of books in the series.  At least twenty.

 

KM:  What do you find the most challenging when it comes to writing?

J.L.B.:  Time.  I wish I had more time to write.

 

KM:  Do you outline your stories or just let the characters dictate the story as it goes?

J.L.B.:  I outline about 100 scenes before I start writing.  The scenes change during the writing process, and my characters will sometimes take the story in a different direction, but I know from the beginning how I want it to end.

 

KM:  Do you have a routine when it comes to writing?  Do you have a set time to write?

J.L.B.:  I write almost every day.  I used to have a set routine of writing 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. before work (and I’m NOT a morning person), but now I write after work for two to three hours and most of the weekend.

 

KM:  Who are your favorite authors?

J.L.B.:  Wow. There are so many.  Some of them, not in any particular order, are:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, E.M. Forster, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Leo Tolstoy, Ken Follett, Harlen Coben, Pat Conroy, Herman Wouk, Ann Patchett, Patricia Cornwell, Phillip Margolin, and Scott Turow.

 

KM:  What types of books do you like to read and what is your all-time favorite book?

J.L.B.:  I read a lot of thriller and spy novels, but I also enjoy reading books in other genres:  narrative nonfiction, sci-fi, historical fiction, literature, biographies.  My favorite book of all time is War and Peace.

 

KM:  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

J.L.B.:  Like most endeavors, if you want to be successful, you have to put the time in.  And never, ever, give up.

 

Those sound like great words of advice for writing or anything in life, and great words to end our interview with.  Again, I would like to thank  J.L. and Audi Brown for making this interview possible.   I am anxiously awaiting the next Jade Harrington novel.  (And the 18 that follow it.)  If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Don’t Speak, you can do that now by clicking here.  J.L. Brown has graciously made the ebook version FREE now through election day.  Don’t forget to connect with J.L. Brown on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.   Happy reading!!

~Kristi