The Separatists by Lis Wiehl (review by Kristi)

The Separatists

About the book:  When America is threatened from within on a scale not seen since the Civil War, Erica Sparks is on the front lines reporting. But what can she do to stop it?

Star newsmaker Erica Sparks is in Bismark, North Dakota, covering the first recall of a governor in that state since 1921. Mary Bellamy, who is trying to unseat the current governor, keeps talking about going through the political process to gain more freedom for the state. She seems peaceful and level-headed . . . but with other secessionist groups making noise around the country, Erica can’t help but wonder what Mary’s goal really is.

Then Erica receives a desperate call from a woman downstairs in the lobby of her hotel. Erica goes down to meet her and discovers the woman in the ladies room with her throat slit. There’s obviously more going on here–and someone doesn’t want Erica looking below the surface.

Meanwhile, Erica’s marriage to Greg Underwood seems headed for disaster . . . and her relationship with her teenage daughter Jenny may not be far behind.

Erica feels a civil war looming in her own home, and all the signs indicate that military action will be required in North Dakota. And then she discovers that the threat to all Americans is even greater than anyone imagined. Can she find the answers to save her family and her country in time?

Paperback, 340 pages                       Published June 27, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  Erica Sparks is back! Not only is she reporting the story but she’s part of it. The Separatists is a modern day political thriller that will have you reading long into the night while on the edge of your seat.

I found this book thought-provoking and very modern day and edgy. I loved how journalism mixed with politics and how Erica was not just reporting the story but was part of it, albeit unknowingly. I found the story to be fast-paced and intense and very easy to stay involved in. There are many plot twists and turns that keep the story interesting.

This story made me feel as if I got an inside look at what it’s like to work in the media and to live the life of the top journalists. Erica tries to juggle a job that takes her here, there, and everywhere while also trying to be a wife and mother. She doesn’t always succeed and at times puts her job first but she is only human after all and it is nice to see that she isn’t perfect and has flaws and admits them. This made her more real to me and as a full-time worker and wife, someone to whom I could relate.

I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more from Lis Wiehl. I like her stories and I think her writing is smart with an edge to it that makes it stand out. This book is a definite must read for fans of political/psychological thrillers.

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

 

About the author:  Lis Wiehl is the author “Face of Betrayal,” a New York Times Best Seller.

She has also written “Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life” and “The 51% Minority: How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It.”

In addition to her written work, Wiehl is currently a legal analyst for Fox News. She has been with the network since 2001.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Wiehl is an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

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The Blessing (Amish Cooking Class #2) by Wanda E. Brunstetter (review by Kristi)

the blessing

About the book:  Return to the Troyer farm where, despite stressful changes occurring in their lives, Joel and Heidi once again open their Ohio home up to those seeking to learn about Amish cooking. This time a teenager helping her divorced dad cook for the family, a caterer needing new recipes, a food critic, a hunter looking to impress his buddies, a wife given the class as an unwanted gift, and a mailman lured in by the aroma of good cooking gather around Heidi s table. More than good food is exchanged, though, as friendships form, a romance blossoms, and hearts are healed.”

Paperback                              Expected publication:  August 1, 2017, by Shiloh Run Press

 

My review:  I have been a fan of Wanda’s since I first read her books. I am glad that she hasn’t changed the way she writes and has stayed true to what makes Amish fiction so interesting to many. Her characters are well-developed and genuine and the stories she writes are interesting. I always feel like I’m getting a real glimpse into the lives of the Amish when I read one of her books. The Blessing fits the Wanda E. Brunstetter recipe for success and is a delightful read.

The characters we meet in this book are a diverse group of people. There’s a teenager, a single woman, and a married woman with children. Plus there are three men, a single man, a widower, and a man who is divorced and living the life of a bachelor. Each of these characters has their own reason for taking the cooking classes and we discover that reason as we get to know the characters. More and more of the characters’ personalities are revealed throughout the book. We also get to know more about Heidi throughout this book and catch up with the students from the first class.

I liked the pace of this book and the fact that the story jumps from character to character throughout each chapter. It’s as if we get to stop in and visit with each one for a bit. To me this made the story move along at a quick pace and kept the story fresh.

I have to say that I just love the cover of this book. It captures Heidi’s character perfectly. The colors are calm and soothing while being eye-catching. The cover is simple yet balanced and is one of the best Amish fiction covers I have seen.

Fans of Wanda’s books are guaranteed to love The Blessing and readers new to her work are sure to fall in love with her work after reading this book. Although this is the second book in the series and I would recommend reading book one first it isn’t necessary. This book could be read as a standalone as there is enough backstory provided to catch up with Heidi’s life and not seem lost.

I was provided a free copy of this book and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has sold more than seven million copies of her fiction and nonfiction books. Wanda enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish and continues to visit their communities throughout the country. Her books have won numerous awards and topped several bestselling charts.

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A Stranger at Fellsworth (Treasures of Surrey,#3) by Sarah E. Ladd (review by Cathy)

A Stranger at Fellsworth

About the book:

Could losing everything be the best thing to happen to Annabelle Thorley?

In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she’s taken for granted are called into question.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.

 

My review (4-stars)

This is the third book in this series, but I think it can be read as a standalone.  I’ve read the other two, so you may want to read all three in order.  Having said that, I will say that I enjoyed this book quite a lot.

The family dynamics were interesting with fractured relationships and especially a manipulative cruel brother.  I admired Annabelle because she is definitely no shrinking violet!  When she and her maid left home to escape to Fellsworth, she was unsure of what kind of reception she would receive.   Two of my favorite characters were her Aunt and Uncle, they were kind and compassionate people and just what Annabelle needed.

I liked Owen for his love and concern for his daughter.   His relationship with Annabelle was natural and not rushed which I enjoyed.

Overall I liked the characters and the storyline, and felt the author did a good job of blending a bit of romance, and a touch of suspense.  The addition of the boarding school was a nice touch is always a favorite of mine, too.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was not required to write review.

 

 

 

 

Kristi’s 5 Summer Must Reads and Amy Clipston Book Giveaway!!!!

books for summer reading

My TBR pile is really more of a tower these days and as much as I would like to have all the books (20+) in that tower finished by the end of summer I know that simply isn’t going to happen.  (Unless I win the lottery and can quit my day job and read all the time.  But enough dreaming…..)  I went through my TBR tower and picked out the 5 books that are on my “Must Finish Before Summer Is Over” list.  Here they are:

 

The Gift of Love by Amy Clipston~ I’ve been wanting to read this book since I met Amy several years ago.  This book has been in my TBR pile since I received it and I just haven’t gotten around to reading it.  And I really, really want to read it.  So I have put this book at the top of my shortened, summer TBR pile and will get it read.  I can’t wait to read Amy’s story about her family and journey to getting her husband a kidney.

 

Up next is The Amish Cooking Class:  The Blessing by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I read the first book in the series earlier this year and can’t wait to find out what happens to Heidi Troyer and her new group of cooking class students.  Wanda’s books are always enjoyable and easy reads and the perfect weekend read.

 

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter is also in my summer reading stack.  Have you seen the cover of this book?  It’s so pretty and inviting and looks like the perfect book for that summer getaway that is no further than your own front porch.  I like Denise’s writing and can’t wait to read this book.

 

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron is also in my stack, too.  Kristy is a new-to-me author and this book sounds so interesting. I am a fan of historical fiction and this book seems like the perfect historical fiction read for the summer.

 

The last book in my summer reading stack is The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson.  I absolutely love her books and have been a fan since I read The Golden Braid.  I love her writing style and the fairy tale stories she creates.  She whisks me away to a different time and place with her words.  Oh, and the covers of her books are always so pretty!!!!

 

So there you have it.  Five of the books in my TBR tower that I will be reading this summer.  What’s in your summer reading TBR stack?  Any of the books in mine?  Let me know what book(s) you want to have checked off as “read” in the comments and be entered to win an autographed copy of Amy Clipston’s The Gift of Love!!!!  Be sure to include your email address in the comments so you can be contacted if you are the lucky winner!  A winner will be chosen on Thursday, July 27!  Good luck to all and as always, happy reading!!!!

Under This Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer (review by Kristi)

under this same sky.jpg

About the book:  ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~
Illinois ~ 1854
Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky struggles to make sense of the path the Lord has placed her on and finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

Kindle Edition, 301 pages                    Published April 28, 2017 by Mantle Rock Publishing

 

My review:  Fans of Janette Oke are sure to enjoy this story from Cynthia Roemer. Every day, down-to-earth characters and a story that is full of emotion made this book a quick and easy read.

I liked this story of life on the prairie and one young woman’s struggle to keep her family together after tragedy strikes in the form of a tornado. Becky is smart, strong, and tough. She doesn’t back down and gives up when times are bad. I liked these qualities and they made her a character I wanted to read more about. The way her father had to adapt to life after the tornado was well written and made it easy to understand what he was going through. I also liked Pastor Brody and thought he was a great example of a preacher during these times. Sarah was not a favorite character of mine but she made the story interesting. She’s that character you love to hate.

I liked the simple way in which this story was written. The author’s writing matched the characters and the story they were a part of. This made the story more genuine and authentic and I really appreciated this as a reader. In fact, the author’s writing made me think of Janette Oke and the Love Comes Softly series. Their writing styles are similar and both have written books that could be considered “comfort reads”. This book was entertaining, easy to read, and had a spiritual theme that was woven into the story but wasn’t over the top or too much. I found myself reading this book quickly yet slowing down a bit at the end because I didn’t want the story to end. I liked these characters and the time I got to spend with them.

This book does not read like a debut novel but one from a seasoned author. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. Cynthia Roemer is now on my “must read” list and I highly recommend her to fans of historical fiction (or anyone looking for a really enjoyable read).

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

 

About the author:  Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.

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Naomi’s Hope (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #3) by Jan Drexler (review by Cathy)

Naomi's Hope

About the book:

Despite growing pains in her 1846 Amish community in Indiana, Naomi Schrock has settled into a comfortable life in her parents’ home with her adopted son, Davey. Surrounded by family and friends, she tries not to think about the fact that she’s not at the top of any man’s list of potential wives. Yet when Cap Stoltzfus moves into the area and befriends Davey, Naomi finds herself caught between the plans she has made for her future and the tantalizing thought that Cap might be part of a life she never dared to hope for.
When a couple shows up claiming to be Davey’s true family, Naomi and Cap must unite to make the decision that will determine the boy’s future as well as their own. How can she relinquish him to these unknown relatives? And can God somehow bring wholeness to her heart?

 

My review (5-stars)

I love reconnecting with favorite characters and communities, so I was happy to find out how Naomi, her family and friends have been faring in their new community.  Naomi has been one of my favorite characters in this series.  She has matured and taken to motherhood in such a wonderful way.  Her love for her adopted son Davey, was written quite beautifully and her concerns for his safety and well-being were genuine.

It was impossible not to like newcomer, Cap, especially since he was so kind to Davey.   His character was a perfect addition and soon became one of my favorites.

I’ve loved watching the community the characters built and how they’ve flourished.  Ms. Drexler has penned a wonderful series that I think will appeal to readers of Amish and historical fiction.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary copy.

 

 

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels (review by Cathy)

my heart belongs on mackinac island

About the book:

Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance

 

My review (4-stars)

It’s impossible not to love Maude and Mackinac Island.  Maude is strong and resilient and faces challenges head on, which was a pleasant surprise.  I thought she may be a spoiled little rich girl as she was sipping a cherry phosphate on the first page.  There is so much more to her as I discovered when she goes to work as a maid at the Grand Hotel to prove to her father that she’s capable of managing the Winds of Mackinac Inn.

The description of the Island as written by the author is beautiful.  I could imagine people strolling around enjoying the beauty and relaxing.  It makes me want to visit and experience it for myself.

One of my favorite characters is Jack.. He’s very mischievous and delights in calling Maude, “Muddie”!  He’s  just a young boy full of energy and one that you don’t want anywhere near your bicycle.

I have to say that this is one of my favorite books by this author and a perfect addition to the My Heart Belong series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and was under no obligation to post a review.