The Hawaiian Discovery by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter (review by Kristi)

the hawaiian discovery.jpg

About the bookEllen Lambright mourned when her best friend, Mandy, moved from Indiana to Hawaii. But now Ellen has received the Amish church’s permission to go to Hawaii and help Mandy through challenging times. Rob Smith works on the Williams family’s organic farm, far from his past mistakes and burning regrets. When Ellen befriends Rob, the attraction is mutual, but her commitment to the Amish faith stands between them. Could a heartfelt discovery lead to forgiveness, reunion, and love? Or is Ellen’s destiny waiting for her in Indiana?

Find out in this sequel to The Hawaiian Quilt from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

Publication Date:  June 1, 2018

Publisher:  Shiloh Run Press

Genre:  Amish fiction

 

My thoughtsAfter finishing this book and struggling to find the words to review it I decided to go back and read my review of the first book in the series, The Hawaiian Quilt. I found it surprising that a lot of the feelings I have for this book are the same as I had for it. While I enjoyed The Hawaiian Discovery, I didn’t love it. (Same for the first book.)

In my review of The Hawaiian Quilt, I said that I liked Ellen more and more throughout the book. I really liked her in The Hawaiian Discovery because I think she embodied everything readers look for in Amish characters. She’s a good daughter, good friend, reliable, and dependable. She was everything I expected her to be. While I didn’t care for Mandy much in the first book I liked her in this book. I think this is due to the fact that she is clearly English in this book and not wavering between Amish and English. There were several secondary characters in this story but none that really grew on me.

This book takes place in Hawaii and Indiana. As with the first book in the series, I was glad for this because without the Indiana scenes this book just wouldn’t have seemed Amish at all. During the scenes that take place in Hawaii, it was oftentimes easy to forget that Ellen was Amish. I applaud the authors for trying to keep the genre and stories fresh but I think Hawaii may be too much of a stretch. During the Hawaiian scenes, I felt like I was just reading a contemporary fiction story and not Amish fiction.

Sometimes I felt like the dialogue in the book was off a bit. It was at times too formal and didn’t sound like things that friends or family would say to each other. I had the same issue with this in the first book as well. Perhaps it’s due to a fairly new author’s writing.

While I had some issues with this book the story was interesting and it was a quick read for me. While I thought the first book was geared more for young adults this book had a more mature feel to it. I believe fans of the genre and Wanda Brunstetter will enjoy this story. Happy reading!

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:  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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The Wedding Quilt Bride by Marta Perry (review by Cathy)

The Wedding Quilt Bride

Book Blurb:

The single mom’s second chance… To become one of the Brides of Lost Creek!

Widow Rebecca Mast returns to her Amish community with her son and a dream—to own a quilt shop. Carpenter Daniel King is determined to help Rebecca and revive their childhood friendship. But as he bonds with her son, Rebecca’s afraid the secret she’s been keeping will be revealed. Can Daniel convince Rebecca he’s a man she can trust—and love?

 

My thoughts:

I loved this sweet story and endearing characters in, The Wedding Quilt Bride.  Rebecca Mast and her little boy, Elijah return to her home childhood in Lost Creek to be with her family after the death of her husband.  Lige (Elijah) stole my heart from the beginning and I loved how he bonded with, Daniel.

Daniel and Rebecca have known each other since they were both young and he wants to help her realize her dream of opening a quilt shop, the only problem is, Rebecca is a changed person and she is more self-reliant now.  Daniel isn’t the same person that he was either.  The both have had challenges in their lives.

This isn’t a story where the characters fall in love within the first couple of chapters, which I enjoyed.  I liked getting to know them separately and finding out what made them the people that they became through the years.   I got interested in both of their lives and what choices they made or were going to make.

There was so much to like about this book from the endearing characters to the well written story of two people who have the experienced hurts and disappointments and most of all the prospect of second chances.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

Steal away Home by Billy Coffey (review by Cathy)

steal away home

About the book:

Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of those loves ruined him. Now he’s counting on the other to save him.

Owen Cross’s father is a hard man, proud in his brokenness, who wants nothing more than for Owen to succeed where he failed. With his innate talents and his father’s firm hand guiding him, Owen goes to college with dreams of the major leagues—and an emptiness full of a girl named Micky Dullahan.

Owen loved Micky from the first time they met on the hill between their two worlds: his middle-class home and her troubled Shantytown. Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost. And that the hardest things to say are to the ones we love the most.

From bestselling author Billy Coffey comes a haunting story of small-town love, blinding ambition, and the risk of giving it all for one last chance.

My thoughts:

I have been a fan of the authors work for a couple of years and I’m always drawn to his writing style, characters and storyline.

I admit that, Steal away Home took awhile for me to get interested in because as much as I like some sports, I’m not a fan of all sports and maybe that’s why it was a bit more difficult for me to instantly love this book.

I’m glad that I kept reading and kept an open mind because I really liked the storyline of Owen and Micky.  I can’t say that I ever experienced an attraction or even a friendship like theirs which held my interest and that’s something I always find in a Billy Coffey novel.  Even though I didn’t feel a connection to the characters, I still enjoyed the writing.

I will admit that this book moved at a slower pace than I would have liked which made it less enjoyable than I had hoped.  That may have been just my frame of mind while reading this novel but Mr. Coffey is still one of my favorite authors.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

Reunited with the Bull Rider by Jill Kemerer (review by Cathy)

Reunited with the bullrider

Book Blurb:

Goodbye rodeo, hello hometown But is this Wyoming Cowboy ready to face his past? Amy Deerson wanted to mentor a child. Her plan did not include former bull rider Nash Bolton–the little girl’s brother and guardian. It’s been a decade since Nash left town without a word, breaking Amy’s young heart.

Now they must put their painful past aside to help fragile, traumatized Ruby. If only getting over their first love were that simple.

My thoughts:

Reunited with the Bull Rider has endearing characters and an emotional storyline which I absolutely loved and made this book a pleasure to read.

There was just enough  friction  between Amy and Nash to add realism to their story without either one of them to showing  bitterness towards each other and I appreciated that given their past history.  I liked that they were mature enough to try to put the past behind them to do what was best for Ruby.  Speaking of Ruby, I adored her and her well-being became just as important to me as it was to Amy and Nash.

Overall. this is a  well written book  with selfless, caring and forgiving characters and  one I highly recommend to anyone looking for a great read.  Although this is the second book in the Wyoming Cowboy series, it can be read as a stand alone.

I received a complimentary copy from the author and was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

223 Orchard Street by Renee Ryan (review by Cathy)

223 Orchard Street

About the book:

A heartening novel of the immigrant experience—and of redemption, self-sacrifice, and the power of hope when all else seems lost.

Irish immigrant Katie O’Connor and her younger sister, Shannon, risk everything to journey to America at the turn of the twentieth century. As each woman passes into an intimidating, stirring, and unpredictable New York City, she is forced to rethink her dream of a better life. It isn’t until Katie begins serving the sick in the depressed slums of the Bowery alongside Dr. Titus Brentwood that she discovers her true calling. Meanwhile, fate directs the vulnerable Shannon down an unsettling path that could put her life at risk.

As Katie’s and Ty’s selflessness and devotion turn into something deeper, Ty must make a choice that could save one O’Connor sister at the expense of losing the other. But Katie hasn’t come this far to let go now. She’ll do anything to save Shannon and hold on to the man she’s come to love

My thoughts:

A vivid and heartbreaking story of immigrants traveling to and arriving at Ellis Island.  I found this book to be nearly impossible to put down as I became more caught up in the story of these wonderful characters.

 It was a detailed process the less fortunate passengers experienced and I can’t imagine what they must have felt like. I sometimes get nervous during a normal doctors’ visit, so I’m sure it was overwhelming for them. Although I understand the necessity of it.

Katie O’Connor is a fascinating character.  She’s filled with grit and determination as she sets out to make a better life for herself and her sister, Shannon. I had such admiration for her as life wasn’t too easy for her but she never let that stop her from doing what she felt was right. 

Ty Brentwood is the epitome of a hero in my view and quickly became someone I’d like to have on my side.  He one of my favorite male characters in recent memory.  I could easily imagine him providing the best care that a doctor could provide at that time. 

Overall, I loved how the author brought her characters to life and how she made me feel like I was a part of their lives. I felt their disappointments and cheered their successes. I loved the family dynamics and the love they had for each other.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Ms. Ryan but it will not be the last.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of, 223 Orchard Street.   All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

A Breath of Hope by Lauraine Snelling (review by Kristi)

a breath of hope

About the bookNilda Carlson has been trying to save enough money to go to America for months, so when a letter arrives, with an offer to pay her passage, she jumps at the chance. Her younger brother Ivar accompanies her, and they are thrilled to join older brother Rune and his family in the northern forests of Minnesota.

But America is not everything Nilda imagined. A terrifying experience in a lumber camp shakes Nilda’s confidence and trust in men, but a job helping a young widow raise her children and run her farm gives her a chance to build her own life. When she meets Fritz, the children’s schoolteacher, she is initially unimpressed and uninterested. His kindness and passion for learning begin to win her over, but how can she sacrifice her dreams for the future for a man she’s still not sure of?

Publication Date:  April 3, 2018

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers

Genre:  Historical Fiction

 

My thoughtsAfter reading The Promise of Dawn, the first book in this series, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. Even though I was excited to read it I was also a bit hesitant. I fell in love with Lauraine Snelling’s storytelling in the first book and was a bit worried that it was a fluke and I wouldn’t enjoy other books by her as much. I needn’t have worried though as I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more.

The author has created characters that are so realistic and likable that it is impossible to not care about them. (Yes, even mean old Uncle Einar.) I was glad to see more of Rune’s family in the story as they made their way to America and a new life. Nilda and Ivar were a nice addition to the story. There was a minor character in the book that I really liked and am hoping to see more of in future books. Even though Mrs. Schoenleber is only in the book for a very short time she really added to the story and I can only imagine the possibilities of where her character could go. It was also nice to meet more of the people of Benson’s Creek and Blackduck.

As to the story itself, it is just a really well-written, solid story of the life immigrants led as they came to America. It picks up right where the first book ended and with the addition of Rune’s sister and brother coming over it gave the story new life and new possibilities. The author has a wonderful storytelling ability and moves the story along at a nice, steady pace. I found it fun to read about the day-to-day events in the lives of these characters and how even though they struggled at times they stayed strong and never gave up hope.

This is a book I think readers will enjoy reading again and again. It’s a nice comforting read and will appeal to readers looking for a book about simpler times. I don’t recommend reading this book without reading the first book in the series. There’s a lot of things that won’t make as much sense if you skip the first book and go straight to this one. I can’t wait for the next book in the series and hope my wait isn’t long.

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

 

About the authorAward-winning and bestselling author Lauraine Snelling has over 80 books published with sales of over 4.5 million. Her original dream was to write horse books for children. Today, she writes adult novels about real issues centered on forgiveness, loss, domestic violence and cancer in her inspirational contemporary women’s fiction titles and historical series, including the favorite, Blessing books about Ingeborg Bjorklund and family.

Lauraine enjoys helping others reach their writing dreams by teaching at writer’s conferences across the county. She and her husband Wayne have two grown sons, and a daughter in Heaven. They live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a Basset named Sir Winston ob de Mountains, Lapcat, and “The Girls” (three golden hens).

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Flowers and Foul Play: A Magic Garden Mystery by Amanda Flower (review by Kristi)

flowers and foul play

About the bookFiona Knox lost her fiancé and her flower shop—but when she flies to Scotland to inherit her godfather’s cottage and possibly magical walled garden, she may lose her life as well when she’s swept into a murder investigation.

Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancé left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends.

Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late in Death at Duncreigan, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting first Forgotten Garden mystery.

Publication Date:  May 8, 2018

Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

 

My thoughtsI’ve never read a book by Amanda Flower that I didn’t enjoy and this book is no different. It has a great mix of magic and mystery and the usual quirky characters for which the author is known. Flowers and Foul Play is an entertaining read.

I was hooked on this story immediately. I thought it was interesting and the magic garden was a unique touch. The story moves along at a nice pace and there are plenty of twists and turns that kept me wondering who murdered Alistair. I also really liked that the story takes place in Scotland. Even though I’ve never been there the descriptions made me feel as if I had packed my bags and jetted off with Fiona.

As for the characters, there is the usual mix of likable and not-so-likable. I liked Fiona and Hamish though I think they may have been upstaged a wee bit by Duncan the squirrel and Ivanhoe the cat. But that’s quite alright because I love the animals the author puts in her books. They always lend a comedic touch and make me giggle. Chief Inspector Craig grew on me and by the end of the book, he was easily in the “like” column. There are a few characters I didn’t really care for but they served their purpose well of keeping me guessing as to who the bad guy was. I liked the fact we were introduced to many of the villagers as they will probably appear in future installments of the series and it was nice to meet them in this book.

If you haven’t read a book by Amanda Flower this would be the perfect book with which to start. It’s a great story and has entertaining characters and a surprise ending that will leave you wanting more. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to be released. Happy reading!!

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

 

About the author:  Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and  Agatha Award-winning 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.  In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.

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