Miles from Nowhere by Amy Clipston

miles from nowhere

 

It’s Thursday and time for a #tbt review!!  I have decided to share a review for one of Amy Clipston’s older books.  This was my first YA novel of Amy’s to read and I wasn’t disappointed.  Here’s my review and Happy Thursday and Happy reading!!!!

 

For Chelsea Morris life is perfect. It is the summer between high school and college and things couldn’t get any better. She has great friends, a part-time job she likes, a wonderful boyfriend, and to top it off, she was just named head costumer for the local theater’s production of Grease. She even has an assistant!

Things begin to change though when Chelsea’s friends and boyfriend are stuck working a lot of hours at their jobs and she finds herself alone or at the theater. There she meets Dylan, one of the actors in the play. Dylan could be described as the bad boy of the theater and he sets his sights on Chelsea. Even though she is warned about Dylan’s reputation from many people she is drawn to him. What starts out as an innocent friendship soon changes into a summer Chelsea won’t forget. The once responsible Chelsea soon finds herself making decisions she knows aren’t right but can’t seem to stop herself. Her family and friends notice the change in her but she shrugs it off to have her summer of fun. Can she stop her downward spiral before it’s too late?

I was given an advanced copy of this book to read and must admit I was a little hesitant at first. After all, I’m not exactly a young adult and I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this book much or at all. Just a few pages in my mind was made up–I loved this book! This book captured my attention from the first page and I couldn’t put the book down. When life interrupted my reading I couldn’t wait to get back to reading to see what was going to happen next.

Miles from Nowhere is a great story told as just the right pace to keep the reader interested. The characters are well developed and authentic. The book has a good message that is delivered in a way that isn’t preachy or overbearing. Amy has a way of writing that makes you care about the characters and what is happening in their lives.

Miles from Nowhere is a good read for the young adult and not-so-young adult alike.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion which I have provided.

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray (review by Cathy)

Her Secret

About the book:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

My review (4 stars)

 

When one of my favorite authors releases a new book, I wonder if it will be as good as I anticipate. As usual, Ms. Gray didn’t disappoint this reader as she has crafted a solid storyline,with a slightly unusual Amish family.  The Hilty family has secrets and I went back and forth trying to decide which character the author is referring to in the title.

There were times when I really wanted Hannah to let her guard down but then as I read more of the book,I would change my mind and silently urge her be even more cautious.
I enjoyed the times she was able to relax, make new friends and get involved in her new community.  The secondary characters were easy to like as they tried to befriend Hannah.

I often wondered throughout the story what it would take for this family to form close friendships with their neighbors and sadly, it took a situation that had me on the edge of my seat to find out.

This is a stand alone as are the subsequent books in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of Her Secret through Lit Fuse publicity Book Tours and have given my honest opinion.

 

About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Litfuse Landing Page

 

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison (review by Cathy)

A Harvestt of Thorns

 

About the book:

 

A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.
Eight thousand miles away, at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage of the fire in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach farther than he could ever imagine – and threaten everything he has left in the world.
A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution of conscience in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe.

My review (5 stars)

When a fire breaks out in a factory in Bangladesh, the aftermath is felt as far-reaching as the United States.  As well it should since the garments the workers are making is from an American based clothing company.
I’ve been aware of “sweat shops” for many years, but reading this book and having the atrocities brought to my attention once more was very eye-opening.  My heart was broken for the characters in the factory as they faced unsafe working conditions, verbal and in some cases physical abuse.   Young girls that worked in order to help their families pay bills that worked such long hours bent over sewing machines was hard to fathom.
I loved Cameron, the general council for Pesto Corporation even though at times I questioned some of his actions.  The company is thrown into damage control with him leading the way.  As he grapples with his own demons, he travels to meet with those in charge of the factory trying to make sense out of how certain  other factories became involved in the manufacturing of Pesto’s clothing.
Joshua, a journalist that receives information about the investigation was also another character that I liked quite a bit.  He too, is facing some personal problems which added to my interest of him.
What really made reading this book interesting to me is the lengths that corporations will go to in order to make a profit no matter what.  It’s all about their bottom line.   I’ll be more mindful of that fact when I shop and where things are made.
This book will definitely make you think and even if it’s not something that you would normally read, I really recommend it.
I received a complimentary copy of A Harvest of Thorns from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

Marrying Jonah by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

marrying jonah

About the book:  Life isn’t always as simple as it seems for the Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma. Neither is love. . .
“Everyone in town knows that Sarah Yoder is enamored with Jonah Miller, even though he s been with his girlfriend, Lorie, for years. But all that changes when Lorie runs off with another man. Inconsolable, his faith in love shattered, Jonah resists everyone s attempts to ease his pain until the unexpected happens one night.
Jonah is filled with confusion. Sarah is not the woman he yearns for, yet he asks for her hand in marriage, if only out of honor. Still, he worries, can they live in harmony if their vows are built on a lie? As Sarah seeks spiritual advice, Jonah tries to look toward the future and finally begins to see her for who she really is: A beautiful, strong-willed woman whose heart is pure and belief is true. But will it be too late for him to prove that he wants to be her husband?

Paperback, 352 pages                                  Published March 28, 2017 by Zebra

 

My review:  I would give this book six stars if I could. This book kept me up way past my bedtime and I kept telling myself “one more chapter” or “10 more minutes” then I’m putting it down. Finally, I did put the book down. When I finished it. At 1:30 in the morning. I’m not quite sure when the last time this happened to me but when it does I believe the book is 6-star worthy.

Amy Lillard has just gotten better and better with her Wells Landing novels. Marrying Jonah is my favorite of the series. This story was different than most about the Amish life. I felt like I got a true glimpse into the Amish lifestyle and their way of handling situations and their outlook on things. That’s not to say that everything is perfect and rainbows and sunshine, though. Things are far from perfect for Sarah and Jonah. This couple is trying to make a life together because of the actions of one night and things aren’t working out all that well. It was so easy to feel the character’s shame and reluctance to make things right even thought that is what was expected of them. It was easy to like both of these characters and empathize with them throughout the book.

At times this book was a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I think that was part of what kept me reading “just a little bit more”. I just couldn’t put the book down not knowing how things would work out for this couple. Amy has such a way of lifting the characters emotions off the page and into the reader’s heart. At times I forgot this was a fictional story and fictional characters. They all seemed so real to me.

This book is a must read. Believable characters and a powerful story combine to make this book a quick, yet emotional read. Definitely a book for the keeper shelf and one to read again and again.

I received a free copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940’s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.

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The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott (review by Kristi)

the hollywood daughter

About the book:  From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker and A Touch of Stardust, comes a Hollywood coming-of-age novel, in which Ingrid Bergman’s affair with Roberto Rossellini forces her biggest fan to reconsider everything she was raised to believe

In 1950, Ingrid Bergman—already a major star after movies like Casablanca and Joan of Arc—has a baby out of wedlock with her Italian lover, film director Roberto Rossellini. Previously held up as an icon of purity, Bergman’s fall shocked her legions of American fans.
Growing up in Hollywood, Jessica Malloy watches as her PR executive father helps make Ingrid a star at Selznick Studio. Over years of fleeting interactions with the actress, Jesse comes to idolize Ingrid, who she considered not only the epitome of elegance and integrity, but also the picture-perfect mother, an area where her own difficult mom falls short.
In a heated era of McCarthyism and extreme censorship, Ingrid’s affair sets off an international scandal that robs seventeen-year-old Jesse of her childhood hero. When the stress placed on Jesse’s father begins to reveal hidden truths about the Malloy family, Jesse’s eyes are opened to the complex realities of life—and love.
Beautifully written and deeply moving, The Hollywood Daughter is an intimate novel of self-discovery that evokes a Hollywood sparkling with glamour and vivid drama.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages                    Published March 7, 2017, by Doubleday

 

My review:  I enjoy stories about Old Hollywood and this book will be added to my list of favorites. A mix of unique characters and an interesting story set among the background of 1940’s Hollywood made this book a quick read.

I liked how the author combined fact and fiction in this book. She took the events of Ingrid Bergman’s life and created a story around it that tells about a young girl’s journey from childhood to young adulthood. I found it fascinating to read about the way that Ingrid was idolized and then torn down by the very fans who thought she was perfect. It was a unique look into the world of Hollywood and the way stars were treated in this time period.

There is a family dynamic to this story that I found interesting. I enjoyed reading how Jessica interacted with both of her parents. Her mother seemed to be a devout Catholic while her father could be described as a casual Catholic. The way the parents treated Jessica was different, too. Her mother seemed to be more strict and wanted Jessica to remain a child longer while the father wanted to treat her as more of a grownup.

The story has a good pace to it and was easy to get interested in and stay involved in from beginning to end. I loved all of the descriptions of the settings and the time period. It really added to the story and made me feel a part of it all.

Movie fans or fans of old Hollywood are sure to enjoy this story. It is easy to read and even more easy to enjoy. Definitely a book for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien, who has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. As Kate Alcott, she is the author of The Dressmaker (a New York Times bestseller), The Daring Ladies of Lowell, and A Touch of Stardust. She lives in Washington, D.C

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Upon a Spring Breeze (Every Amish Season #1) by Kelly Irvin (review by Cathy)

Upon a Spring Breeze

About the book:

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.
Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.
When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?

My review (4 stars)

There are so many things to like about this book, such as the sweet protagonist, Bess.   The pain  of losing her husband, Caleb became unbearable for her at times which is quite understandable.  The way she chose to deal with her grief was completely understandable.
I could also understand how Aiden felt which made me like him and I really wanted him to get through to her and try to help her cope with what she’s going through.  Given that he had always had feelings for her, it made things a bit difficult for him in keep  his true  feelings hidden and attempt to be just a good friend.
A few widows  in the community were so sweet and supportive of Bess and that was of my favorite part of the story.  I love strong female friendships and  the author obviously does, too.
What I didn’t care for at first, were  most of the male characters.  I know from reading other Amish  fiction  that there are rules to be followed, but some of the men were a bit too much for me.    I was always mindful that they had Bess and her son’s best interests at heart which made their actions a bit easier to understand.
Kelly touches on many subjects in this book which I won’t mention because  I think the reader should have the opportunity to  find out for themselves.
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith (review by Cathy)

The Amish Widower

 

About the book:
After the devastating loss of his second wife, Seth Hostetler believes a lasting love is beyond all hope. A year has passed, and his mamm and sister are determined to see him happily married once again. But how can he open his heart to another woman when their relationship could end in tragedy?
On an outing with his family, Seth comes across an Amish potter hard at work and jumps at the chance to take a seat at the wheel. He takes quickly to this creative outlet, pouring his long-buried emotions into each piece he shapes. Unfortunately, the fancy nature of his art draws the disapproval of his district’s leadership.
His work puts him in the path of Leah, an Englisch woman employed by the Amish to sell their wares to tourists. Despite her aloofness, something about her speaks to Seth’s wounded soul. But what is he to do when the things he wants most threaten to pull him away from the life he’s committed to live?
A compelling novel of second chances and the power of God to redeem hearts and dreams, set in the inviting Amish community of Lancaster County.
 My review (4-stars)
This book has it all, great characters and a storyline that pulled me in from the first page. The pace is steady and describes the grief that Seth is going through and how it affects  much of his life.  It was hard to imagine anyone suffering so much loss at the age of 26 as Seth did.
I loved the excitement he felt when he first took a seat the pottery wheel and how he used that as a form of therapy to help him cope with his loss and the many changes in his life.  There were plenty of changes within his family.  Siblings getting married, his parents having decisions to make and his aging grandmother’s health.  I absolutely loved his grandmother!  She and Seth were my favorite characters, although there wasn’t a single character that I disliked.   With a message of faith and forgiveness the healing begins and that’s a message I always like.
There are a few twists in the book which added the perfect touch to The Amish Widower.
I recommend this book to readers of both Amish and Christian fiction.
I received a complimentary through Netgalley and have given an honest opinion.