Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin (review by Kristi)

upon a spring breeze

About the book:  After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

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?

Published March 28, 2017, by Zondervan

 

My review:  Before I read this book I did something I don’t normally do. I read other readers reviews. This seemed to be a love it or hate it book, and some of the reviews were really negative. This made me a bit hesitant to read the book but onward I went and delved into the story.

This book isn’t about a happy go lucky Amish woman but one who goes through all the emotions after the sudden and unexpected death of her husband. With this in mind, I didn’t expect the book to be full of sunshine and roses and it’s not. To me, it was a story that was very realistic in how this young woman deals with not only the death of her husband but the birth of their first (and only) child together. That would be a lot to go through for anyone and everyone grieves differently so I wasn’t quick to judge this character. She stays with her husband’s family so they can be close to their only grandchild from him and the family seems a bit harsh but I tried to keep in mind that they were grieving too. And keeping in mind they are Amish so they probably grieve differently and are stricter in what women are allowed to do under the rules of the church. For me the characters in this book were realistic and their emotions were raw and believable. I liked Bess and really sympathized with her as a young widow and a new mother who was trying to keep on going the best she could.

I also thought the author did a great job in describing the settings in this book. Whether it was the Amish farms or the local B&B the way she wrote about the places made the words on the page disappear and the scenes so vivid in my mind.

This was my first full-length novel by Kelly Irvin and it won’t be my last. I liked the fact she created characters who were flawed and a story that everyone can relate to on some level. I liked her writing style and the fact that she pulled me into the story and kept my attention from beginning to end.

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:  Kelly Irvin’s newest series, Every Amish Series, begins with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This followest the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker’s Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop’s Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper’s Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it “a beautifully woven masterpiece.” The Beekeeper’s Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly has novellas in The Amish Christmas Gift and The Amish Marketplace, both of which were also ECPA bestsellers. She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine..

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW’s San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have two grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren.

Website   •   Facebook   •   Twitter

Advertisements

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower (review by Cathy)

Assulted Caramel

About the book:

 

Sometimes you need a sweet tooth to take a bite out of crime . . .

Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened. Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.

She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englisch developer, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble

 

My review (4-stars)

Amanda Flower has been my favorite cozy author for quite sometime.  I know when I read her books, I’m going  to get an endearing protagonist, a few oddballs, an animal or two that I’m going to love and a murder.  She didn’t disappoint.

I loved the small town feel of Harvest, Ohio and could easily imagine the characters strolling around town and going in and out of the shops.  I could even imagine Jethro, the polka-dotted pot belly pig in church.  I adored him, although I was a bit nervous when he got too close to the chocolate covered truffles.

The author injects so much humor in her writing which I love.  The mystery in Assaulted Caramel is perfect and hard as I tried, I couldn’t figure out who  killed the developer.  I was shocked to find out who the culprit is..

While I was reading this book, I  laughed, cried, consumed huge amounts of chocolate and wondered if Jethro will make an appearance in the next book in the series.  I really hope he does.

If you’re looking for a fast paced and well written book, this is one I recommend.

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

 

 

It’s time for a GIVEAWAY!

We love giveaways and we love Amy Clipston!  She has a novella releasing on September 12th, so we decided to offer a  copy of the first book of hers that we both love, A Gift of Grace will be given to one lucky winner.  The cover is beautiful, isn’t it?

A Gift of Grace

In addition to the book, we are including a tote bag and a few other surprises.

All you have to do to enter is comment, “I want to win” and provide your email address.  If we don’t have that, we will not be able to contact the winner.  Open to U.S. residents.  Giveaway ends on September 9, 2017.  One winner will be chosen randomly.

 

An Amish Christmas Love: Four Novellas (by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kelly Irvin), is the next book that we are excited about.

An Amish Christmas Love

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston

Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower (review by Kristi)

Assulted Caramel

About the book:  Sometimes you need a sweet tooth to take a bite out of crime . . .

Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened. Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.

She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englischdeveloper, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble . . .

Published August 29, 2017, by Kensington

 

My review:  Amanda Flower starts off a new cozy mystery series with a cast of quirky characters including a cat named Nutmeg and a polka dotted potbellied pig named Jethro. The little “bacon bundle” steals the show in this book and he may very well be my favorite character. I liked the mix of Amish and non-Amish characters in this book. There were enough potential suspects that I was kept guessing as to who the murderer was until the reveal.

This book is everything I have come to expect from this author. She has a great way of telling a story that is entertaining and keeps me reading even if I think I’ve guessed who the murderer is. (Though I’m always wrong…lol.) I can’t wait for the next book in this series and the chance to spend more time with these characters who quickly grew on me.

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries this book is a must read. If you’re not a fan of the genre then grab a copy of this book and give it a try. Amanda Flower has what it takes to make you an instant fan of the cozy mystery genre and her! I know you won’t be disappointed.

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:  Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.

Website   •   Facebook   •   Twitter   •   Instagram

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck (review by Cathy)

the writing desk

About the book:

Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

 

My review (5-stars)

This is one of the most touching books that I’ve read in a while.

I loved the dual time lines and the characters are superb.  The connection between Tenley and Birdie fascinated me and made me keep reading.  I seriously didn’t want to put this book down.

Birdie is my favorite character because the way she faced challenges that made me have respect for her.  She’s born into wealth and it wasn’t the norm for a young lady like her to defy her parents. She wants to write and her mother is determined to quash her dreams.   I loved that she stays focused and is unafraid to go after what she wants.  The Gilded age is an era that I find so interesting, which may have added to my  love for her. 

Tenley seemed to have it all, until she didn’t!   When she realized that she won’t be able to turn in her next book, she  made a decision to care for her mother, which was difficult for her since they’ve been estranged for sometime.  I actually started to like Blanche much more than I thought I would.  Deep down she really is a good person that tries to help her daughter.   The time they spent together is poignant and I liked seeing them reconciled. 

I loved that Tenley and Birdie each had their own story tied together in the most satisfying way.

Ms. Hauck has written an amazing book that flows seamlessly with characters that I loved.   It’s absolutely my favorite one by her so far, which surprised me, because I’ve enjoyed so much of her work. 

This is a must read in my opinion and one that I will want to read again at some point.

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

 

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter (review by Cathy)

Sweetbriar Cottage

 

About the book

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

My review (4-stars)

Sweetbriar Cottage starts out fairly strong with a promising storyline. When Noah discovers he’s still married to Josephine, my curiosity was piqued. I wanted to find out their history together and what caused their split.
I expected some misunderstandings and mistakes from both of the characters. As the story unfolds, in dual timelines, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness for both of them, but especially, Josephine.
There’s a darkness to the story that I didn’t expect, but explained so much of went wrong in their marriage.
There are some lighthearted and sweet moments they share as they’re forced to spend time together unexpectedly. The secondary characters, with the exception of one, really didn’t have too much of a storyline.
Overall, this is an emotional story about love and forgiveness, with an inspirational thread.
I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller (review by Kristi)

The Promise of a Letter

About the book:  A letter brings him back to his Amish family. It will take someone truly extraordinary to make him stay

Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don’t go as planned, Roman’s prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn’t plan to stay for long.

Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional—strange, even—Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she’s never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn’t mind. She is content being single.

But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

Published August 15, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:   Kathleen Fuller is one of my favorite Amish fiction authors and stories like the one in The Promise of a Letter is proof why. She creates realistic characters and puts them in stories that make me put my life on hold so I can join in theirs for a brief time. Yes, it’s always a brief time I spend with Kathleen’s characters because once I start reading one of her books I just can’t put it down. I get totally swept away into the characters’ lives.

Leanna is not your typical Amish woman as she is a mechanic. Roman is unsettled and almost seems lost in life. The two form an unlikely friendship when Roman comes back to Birch Creek to patch things up with his brother. I loved the chance meetings between these two characters and the genuine friendship that was formed. It all just seemed so real that I soon forgot I was reading about fictional characters.

I absolutely love Kathleen Fuller’s writing. She is a great storyteller and has a way of pulling the reader completely into the story and forgetting about anything else going on around them. Her descriptions make me feels as if I’ve taken a trip to Amish country. I enjoy reading about the characters she creates that aren’t typical of the genre yet are true to the story.

Fans of Amish fiction and Kathleen Fuller are sure to enjoy this book. This would also be a great book for someone new to the genre. While this is the second book in the series it isn’t necessary to read the first book. I do recommend the first book, though, as it is just as wonderfully written as this one. I also can’t wait to read the next book to find out what happens with Ivy! Just be sure to set aside some uninterrupted time to read this book. Once you start it you won’t want to put it down.

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:  Best-selling author of Amish fiction. Also a wife, mother, crafter, coffee addict, football fan, and chocolate aficionado.

Website   •   Facebook   •   Twitter