Act of Valor by Dana Mentink (review by Kristi)

act of valor

About the book:   She saw something she shouldn’t have…A True Blue K-9 Unit storyWhen airline employee Violet Griffin encounters several suspicious passengers, she’s thrust into the crosshairs of a drug smuggling operation. NYPD officer Zach Jameson and his drug detection beagle, Eddie, can tell this is no small-time threat. Someone’s gunning for Violet, and after recently losing his brother, Zach refuses to lose her, too…especially now that she’s gone from friend to the woman he’s falling for.

Publication Date:  May 7, 2019

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

Genre: Suspense

Series:  True Blue K-9 Unit, #2

 

My thoughts:   Not to be a book snob but I usually tend to shy away from anything that is published under the Harlequin imprint. I tend to not like the ever-present formula of guy and gal meet, have strong disliking of each other, something happens, they fall in love. However, Dana Mentink has totally changed my mind. Her books published under Love Inspired Suspense don’t follow that formula and are ones I just can’t put down.

Act of Valor is the second book in a series from different authors. Not having read the first book I had no problem picking this book up and being immediately pulled into the story. I found the two main human characters likable and Eddie, the canine character, was full of charm and humor. He added some much needed comic relief to a story that was fast-paced and intense. With the author’s writing, I felt like I was part of the action on the streets of New York City!

I definitely recommend this book. It’s a quick and easy read and a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. I didn’t intend to read this book as quickly as I did but once I started it I just couldn’t put it down!

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

 

About the author:   Dana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, two ACFW Carol Awards as well as a Holt Medallion.

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The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis (review by Kristi)

the tinderbox.jpg

About the bookWith her Amish parents’ twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise–the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.

Sylvia’s bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda’s relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia’s recent engagement to the preacher’s grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

Publication Date:  April 2, 2019

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers

Genre:  Amish fiction

 

My thoughtsA longtime fan of Beverly Lewis I have found her more recent books either a hit or miss. The Tinderbox is definitely a hit with me. This book grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept it until the very last page. The Tinderbox is a book that’s not to be missed.

The storyline of this book intrigued me as it’s one I don’t think I’ve come across in the genre. And as much as I love the Amish fiction genre I have to admit that I find it to be a bit “same old, same old” at times. So I was interested in this story about what happens when secrets are uncovered and how it affects not only the family but the community. Not to spoil anything for future readers of the book but there are parts of the story that made me feel as if I were really getting an unfiltered look into the Amish lifestyle.

There was one aspect of the story that I found odd though and that was the inability to tell if the story was modern day or set back in time like maybe the 1950’s or 60’s. It wasn’t until there was mention of an Uber driver that I could tell the book was a current day read. This doesn’t distract from the book in any way but it was just something I found a bit off.

I can’t wait to read the conclusion of this family’s story in The Timepiece which will release later this year. I’m hoping it will be just as attention-grabbing as The Tinderbox, a book I couldn’t put down.

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

 

About the authorBeverly Lewis, raised in Pennsylvania Amish country and both a schoolteacher and an accomplished musician, has been an award-winning author for over a dozen years. Her acclaimed novel, The Preacher’s Daughter, was a 2006 Quill Book Award finalist in the romance category. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including USA Today and The New York Times. She and her husband, David, live in Colorado.

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A Welcome at Our Door by Amy Clipston (review by Kristi)

a welcome at our door

About the book:   In the final installment of Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead series, Cindy Riehl finds herself searching outside of her community for fulfillment and, with the help of a special friend, realizes what she was looking for was right in front of her all along.

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl siblings—has watched her brothers and sister find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever be like it once was.

When one of the Riehl cows escapes to visit another cow down the lane, Cindy chases after it and meets a handsome Englisher named Drew. As they become friends and eventually much more, she is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. She is suddenly faced with difficult choices that threaten to upend her world.

Will Cindy find happiness of her own? And will she ever be able to overcome her grief and find restored comfort in God and her community?

Publication Date:  May 7, 2019

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish fiction

Seires: Amish Homestead #4

 

My thoughtsAmy closes her latest series with the story of Cindy Riehl. Cindy is the youngest of the Riehl children and has been struggling with joining the Amish church. This struggle has been highlighted in previous books in the series so it was nice to finally discover what would happen in Cindy’s life.

I enjoyed this story and found it to be a quick read. Knowing a lot of the characters in this book from reading the series it was like meeting up with old friends and finding out what was going on in their lives. Amy has the gift as a writer of making readers forget they are reading about fictional characters instead of living, breathing people. In addition to catching up with the human characters in the book, we are also introduced to a cow named Cucumber and a dog named Bruce who brought a bit of fun to a story that had its fair share of sadness.

Although I loved the story I would have liked to see a bit more conflict and struggle between Cindy and Drew as they decided what path their lives should take as far as being Amish or not. It seemed as if they were just a bit too agreeable when it came to the big decisions of their lives and were a bit too willing to just go along with what the other one wanted. I would have liked to have seen a bit more as far as the decision making for what would be a tremendous life change for either of them based on the decision they ended up making.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read and one that will be going on my keeper shelf. Fans of the genre are sure to enjoy this story from one of the best authors of Amish fiction. This book could be read and enjoyed as a standalone and would be an awesome way to introduce someone to Amy’s books.

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

 

About the author:  Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.

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An Amish Reunion: Four Stories by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin (review by Cathy)

an amish reunion

Book Description:

Their True Home by Amy Clipston

When Marlene Bawell moved from Bird-in-Hand ten years ago, she was in the deepest of mourning for her mother. Now they have moved back so her father can seek employment after being laid off. To help save money, Marlene works at the hardware store owned by Rudy Swarey’s father. She knew Rudy growing up and didn’t think much of him—because he was so immature! But just as she starts to realize how much Rudy has changed, her life is once again turned upside down. Will Marlene ever have a chance to find her own true home?

A Reunion of Hearts by Beth Wiseman

Elizabeth and Gideon Beiler experienced one of life’s most tragic events. Unable to get past their grief, the couple abandoned their Amish faith and went in different directions, though neither could bear to formally dissolve the marriage. When their loved ones reach out to them to come home for a family reunion, Elizabeth has reason to believe that Gideon won’t be there. Gideon also thinks that Elizabeth has declined the invitation. Family and friends are rooting for them to reunite, but will it all be enough for Elizabeth and Gideon to get past their grief and recapture a time when they were in love and had a bright future ahead of them?

A Chance to Remember by Kathleen Fuller

Cevilla Schlabach, Birch Creek’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is surprised when Richard, a man from her Englisch past, arrives in Birch Creek for a visit. While he and Cevilla take several walks down memory lane, they wonder what the future holds for them at this stage of life—friendship, or the possibility of something else?

Mended Hearts by Kelly Irvin

At eighteen Hannah Kauffman made a terrible mistake. Her parents and members of her Jamesport Amish community say they’ve forgiven her. But she feels their eyes following her everywhere she goes with eighteen-month-old Molly. Thaddeus, Molly’s father, escaped this fate by running away to Jamesport. Now that Thaddeus is gone, Hannah’s old friend Phillip is stepping up to be by her side. He has waited patiently for Hannah to realize just how much he cares for her. But when Thaddeus returns after two years, Hannah can’t deny the love she feels for him. Does the fact that Phillip has waited patiently for her all this time mean that she owes him something? Can she trust either one of them? Can she trust herself? She has repented and been forgiven by the One who is most important—her heavenly Father. But is she willing to risk making more mistakes by opening herself up to love?

 

My thoughts:

I am a huge fan of the four authors in this collection and have read most everything they have written so I knew I would enjoy each of the four stories. I normally don’t have a favorite in these collections but in this one my absolute favorite was penned by Beth Wiseman. I absolutely adored Elizabeth and Gideon Beiler In a Reunion of Hearts.
Their story was the most moving to me and I rooted for them to find the peace and happiness they truly deserved.

One of the other things I liked was reconnecting with characters crafted by Amy Clipston in, Their True Home and Kathleen Fuller in, A Chance to Remember. Admittedly I haven’t always liked Rudy Swarey but Ms. Clipston managed to do what I thought would be impossible by making him likeable so kudos to her for making that happen! I’ve always loved Cevilla Schlabach and I loved her storyline so much. Kelly Long always captures my heart with her writing making her one of my favorite authors.

All of the stories are poignant with characters who you will love,making this collection one I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions are my own.

 

With Winter’s First Frost by Kelly Irvin (review by Kristi)

with winter's first frost

About the bookFrom bestselling author Kelly Irvin comes the fourth and final book in the compelling Every Amish Season series.

Will the long, cold winter prove to be Laura and Zechariah’s season of renewed purpose and love sweetened with age?

Laura Kauffman has been a widow for eight years–since her husband of forty-five years passed away in his sleep on Christmas Eve. She tries to keep herself busy with her nine children, fifty-two grandchildren, and twenty-eight great-grandchildren. But she can’t stop wondering: What does God expect her to do with her days now? Has her usefulness been expended? Why leave her to carry on alone? Those are questions she can’t answer until a friend suffers complications during childbirth and needs someone to help care for her newborn twins and three older children. The twins’ great-grandfather, Zechariah Stutzman, a widower himself, seems to need some upkeep as well. Suddenly, Laura has her hands full, and the long winter days don’t seem so long.

Zechariah suffers from Parkinson’s disease. When his wife died of breast cancer two years earlier, his children insisted he live with one of his grandsons and their growing family because of his disease’s progression. He’s not allowed to drive, chop wood, or build fires. He feels he has outlived his usefulness. Then Laura comes along and seems determined to change that.

Both Laura and Zechariah must seek God’s will to find the purpose for this season in their lives. They have to be willing to trust and to accept that second chances for romantic love are possible–even probable–when they give control of their lives to God.

Publication Date:  February 5, 2019

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish fiction

Series:  Every Amish Season, 4

 

My thoughtsWith so many Amish fiction books focusing on the younger Amish and their rumspringa, courting, and marriages it is refreshing to come across a book like With Winter’s First Frost. Kelly Irvin has penned a relevant and realistic story about the older generation of the Amish and the issues they face whether it be arthritis, Parkinson’s or just not feeling needed so much anymore. And at times, even being treated like a child.

This story was so believable for me and the situations the characters were in weren’t just ones limited to the Amish. This book could have easily been about characters of any faith or walk of life. I did enjoy the glimpse into how the Amish care for the elder family members and how the elders viewed their place in the family and district. Also interesting to me was how they applied the bann to a member of the district when it was needed.

This was a quick read for me because the author did such a wonderful job of telling the story and creating characters I cared about. It was easy to empathize with Laura and Zechariah as they navigated the winter season of their lives and feelings for each other. As always I love the author’s writing style and the pace at which she tells a story. There is plenty of time to get to know the characters but at the same time, I’m never bored with the story.

This book is simply a must-have for fans of Amish fiction. While it is the final book in the series it can easily be read as a standalone. From the lovely front cover to the last page this book was a wonderful read!

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

 

About the authorKelly Irvin’s newest series, Every Amish Series, began with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. The second book, Beneath the Summer Sun, will debut in January 2018. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows 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.

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The Memory House by Rachel Hauck Review (by Cathy) +Giveaway

The Memory House

About the book:

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.

Click her to read an excerpt

 

About the author

Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.
Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.
Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.
A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.
At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

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My thoughts:

Every time I read a novel written by Ms. Hauck I am blown away by her superb story telling and her compelling characters.  The Memory House is another example of this authors incredible work.

I absolutely adored the four main characters and the seamless transition of their storylines is fantastic.  As a fan of dual timelines this is one of my favorites because I loved each time period and couple which surprised me because I usually prefer one time period or characters in this type of novel.  I may have had one little guy that I was drawn to named Beetle Boo but when you read this book, you’ll understand why this little pup stole my heart.

The characters are flawed,, the losses they experience are heart wrenching but time and faith are the path to healing.  I will think of the characters for a long time and will read The Memory House again because it’s just that good.  I highly recommend this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to write a favorable review.  All opinions are my own.

 

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The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah E. Ladd (review by Kristi)

the governess of penwythe hall

About the bookCornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811
Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

Publication Date:  April 16, 2019

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Genre:  Historical Fiction, Regency

Series:  Cornwall #1

 

My thoughtsI feel like sometimes authors just get everything right. This is one of those times. Sarah E. Ladd’s newest book is just perfect. From the characters to the story to the descriptions she uses everything just came together for a wonderful story and was easy to read and hard to put down.

From the very first page, I was hooked on this story. The characters are presented in a way that makes them realistic and made me want to get to know them more. I enjoyed the relationships between the many characters and the different personalities of them all. It made it so easy to forget these were fictional characters. As to the story itself, I loved the plot and the pace. The story is an interesting one and moves along in a way that kept my interest and kept those pages turning.

I love the author’s writing style and the way she describes places and events that make me feel as if I am there in the story right along with the characters. Reading one of her books is always a wonderful experience because of the detail she includes. In this story, I felt the chill of the rain and the wind on my face as well as those hot, humid days during the drought.

If you’re a fan of Sarah E. Ladd you are guaranteed to love this story. If you’ve never read one of her books then this one is a great one to try. You won’t be disappointed.

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

 

About the author:  Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She holds degrees in public relations and marketing and lives in Indiana with her family and spunky Golden Retriever.

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