The Amish Quilter by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (review by Kristi)

the amish quilter

About the bookA gifted young quilter… a successful artist… the life-changing revelation that threatens to tear them apart…

Linda Mueller lives an orderly, uneventful existence, content to divide her time between creating the beautiful quilts for which she is known and working at an Englisch fabric shop.

Idealistic to a fault, Linda has never found a man worth marrying—until she meets Isaac Mast, a newcomer to Lancaster County and a talented painter. As they bond over their respective crafts, Linda is drawn to Isaac’s kind ways, humble spirit, and intriguing personality, and soon the seams of her carefully-constructed world begin to loosen.

With Isaac’s help, she explores the story of her late grandmother, also a gifted artist. But when an astonishing truth comes to light, Linda faces a grave decision, one that could destroy any hope of a future with Isaac. Will their dreams of a life together completely unravel? Or can she find some way to stitch them back together again?

Publication Date:  May 1, 2018

Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers

Genre:  Amish fiction

 

My thoughts: First off I have to say that Chip MacGregor should be given an award or medal or maybe even have a statue put up in his honor. Why? He’s the mastermind behind the awesome writing duo of Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. I can’t imagine (nor do I want to) a world without stories by these two. So a big THANK YOU from this reader to Mr. MacGregor for bringing together two great authors and giving us readers fantastic stories such as The Amish Quilter.

I enjoyed this story. I thought it started off a bit on the slow side and there is a slew of characters to remember and keep track of. All in good time though I easily knew who was who and their part in the family. Linda, the main character, is extremely idealistic and this gets her some lectures from her family. She doesn’t back down though and has a good idea of what she wants in life and what the “perfect man” is. I thought it was great that she wasn’t meek and mild and willing to bend under the pressure from family and friends. She may have come across as a bit naive at times but that’s ok because she is young. It gave her character so much room for growth and I’m glad the authors let her grow throughout the story. Isaac was a great balance to Linda’s character and I liked that she got to know him as a person before she found out about his past. It set their story wonderfully and made it easy to relate to them.

I love the writing style of these two authors. It almost seems as if the two become one person while writing because it’s impossible to tell who wrote what. Sometimes the flow is a bit off in co-authored books but not with these two. This story has a great flow to it and a perfect balance of past and present. The story changes back and forth enough to keep readers engaged. The subject of being Amish and artistic was interesting. Sometimes Amish fiction can have a bit too much fluff to it but this story goes beyond the perfect life that so many seem to think the Amish lead. I’m glad the authors chose to go below the surface and show the imperfect lives of the Amish. It really creates a depth to the story and makes it more authentic.

Simply put this is a must-read book. (But then again, so is any book by these two authors.) Grab a copy of the book, get a refreshing drink, and find a nice cozy spot to spend a few hours reading. Once you start this book you won’t want to put it down. It’s definitely on my keeper shelf, and I can see it on my top ten list afor 2018. Happy reading!!!

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

 

About the authorsMindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and has received numerous literary honors, including two Christy Awards and RT Book Review Magazine’s 2012 Career Achievement Award. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

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Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and Christy Award winning author of twenty-two novels. She received her MFA from Portland State University and teaches writing at Warner Pacific College. Leslie enjoys traveling, hiking, and history. She and her husband, Peter, are the revolving-door parents of four children and three cats.

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Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt (review by Cathy)

Things I never told you

About the book:

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine–as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside her opinionated oldest sister, Johanna, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope that a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them . . . until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans and her future. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.

My thoughts:

I was expecting an emotional story and that’s exactly what I got!   The more I read, I felt as if I knew the characters and felt their pain and sadness over losing a beloved daughter and sibling.

The relationships between the sisters is realistic which made the storyline interesting.  My favorite sister is definitely, Jillian.  I found her to be much more relatable and one I had genuine sympathy for, even though she was stronger than I had originally thought.  The sisters have a distinct personality which made each of the young women unique.  They each are successful in their chosen careers and live their lives as best as they can.

The story moved at a nice pace and held my interest throughout.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Ms. Vogt and enjoyed it so much that I look forward to reading more of her work.

Overall, this is story of a family tragedy and learning to forgive not only yourself but others, too.  It’s one of new beginnings as you come to terms with your past and learning that you aren’t responsible for decisions made by anyone else.

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

 

 

 

 

Room on the Porch Swing (Amish Homestead #2) by Amy Clipston (review by Cathy)

room on the porch swing

About the book:

Ever since her best friend died six months ago, Laura Reihl has vowed to make each day count. And that means she should probably break off her relationship with Rudy. They’ve been together for so many years, and his friendship means the world to her. But she knows friendship doesn’t come close to the fireworks of true love, and she’s not really feeling the fireworks.

So when Savilla’s widower, Allen, asks her to help him take care of the baby Savilla left behind, Laura jumps at the chance. Maybe the change of scenery will help her gain perspective on her relationship with Rudy. And she’d do anything to help Allen out—he’s always been a good friend to her, and he’s Rudy’s best friend as well.

When she arrives at Allen’s house, though, she finds a man she barely recognizes. Allen is distraught over his wife’s death, blaming himself for not taking her to the doctor soon enough.

As Laura helps Allen work through his grief, she remembers just how easy he is to talk to. And she discovers an attraction she’s never felt with Rudy. She can’t be falling for Allen, can she? It would be a betrayal to the two people she’s care most about, Savilla and Rudy. But if she denies her feelings, is she betraying herself

 

My thoughts:

This is one of my favorite books by Amy Clipston. The storyline is one of pure selflessness from family and friends as they help newly widowed, Allen care for his infant daughter.  I expected that the Amish community would in fact do just that, what I didn’t expect was Laura giving of her time so freely and putting Allen and his daughter, Mollie’s needs before her own. 

I loved that Laura treasured her friendship with Savilla, her deceased friend and Allen’s wife.   As the story unfolded, I started to see how much Savilla meant to the characters and how much friendships play an important part in the community.  I also started to see that Rudy just wasn’t a person that has too much consideration for other people’s feelings.  I’m interested to see if he’ll be the next book in the series.

The relationship between Laura and Allen seemed natural which was something that I really liked and I loved Mollie.   

Overall, I found the story both heartbreaking and heartwarming.  The characters are endearing and will cross my mind occasionally.   

I received a copy from the publisher and was not required to write a give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

Room on the Porch Swing by Amy Clipston (review by Kristi)

room on the porch swing.jpg

About the book:   Ever since her best friend died six months ago, Laura Reihl has vowed to make each day count. And that means she should probably break off her relationship with Rudy. They’ve been together for so many years, and his friendship means the world to her. But she knows friendship doesn’t come close to the fireworks of true love, and she’s not really feeling the fireworks.

So when Savilla’s widower, Allen, asks her to help him take care of the baby Savilla left behind, Laura jumps at the chance. Maybe the change of scenery will help her gain perspective on her relationship with Rudy. And she’d do anything to help Allen out—he’s always been a good friend to her, and he’s Rudy’s best friend as well.

When she arrives at Allen’s house, though, she finds a man she barely recognizes. Allen is distraught over his wife’s death, blaming himself for not taking her to the doctor soon enough.

As Laura helps Allen work through his grief, she remembers just how easy he is to talk to. And she discovers an attraction she’s never felt with Rudy. She can’t be falling for Allen, can she? It would be a betrayal to the two people she’s care most about, Savilla and Rudy. But if she denies her feelings, is she betraying herself?

Publication Date:  May 8, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish Fiction

 

My thoughts: I started reading this book on my lunch break and the opening scene was so intense and I was so interested in it I was almost late going back to work. (That’s not really a bad thing though, right?) I couldn’t wait to get home to dive into the story again. However, once I was able to get back to the story I found that it had lost that spark I found it in earlier. I found the story to be predictable and nothing really surprised me on the journey to the end.

Laura was a caring character and I liked that she wanted to honor her deceased friend by taking care of her infant daughter. Taking care of the daughter leads to taking care of the baby’s dad and it’s easy to see where this story is headed. There isn’t a lot of drama or dramatic events but just the day-in and day-out lives of the widower, the friend, and the baby. I feel like there should have been more interaction and conflict between Rudy and Laura. There never really seemed to be a bond between the two that made me care if they stayed together or not. A bright spot in the story is Laura’s twin, Mark. He added charm and life to the story and I can’t wait to read his story. It should be interesting as he is quite the charmer!

Even though I didn’t love this story I still love Amy’s writing. She has that ability to pull readers into a story and make them a part of it. Her descriptions made the story come alive and made it easy to picture things as they happened. Amy Clipston is one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to read her next book.

I received a free copy 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 three spoiled rotten cats.

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Review, Interview and Giveaway by Meghan M. Gorecki (by Cathy)

Amongst the roses

 

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing, Amongst the Roses last month and fell in love with the fantastic characters and wonderful storyline. I posted my review on the blog earlier and have provided a link to it:  Amongst the Roses (Keystone Legacy,#1) by Meghan M. Gorecki (review by Cathy)

Meghan

Interview with Meghan:

Cathy:  Meghan, how long have you been writing and what was your first published book?

Meghan:  I’ve been writing since I was nine years old with the girlhood version of Amongst the Roses. My first published book was God’s Will, that I wrote/rewrote/overhauled/edited between ages thirteen and twenty before finally self-publishing it.

Cathy:  When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

Meghan:  In high-school. I knew becoming any kind of author—traditionally published or indie—wouldn’t exactly pay all the bills, J , so I ended up finding a fantastic day job to support the writing, and slowly but surely started to own the title of author as I rewrote God’s Will and made plans to publish it.

Cathy:  Amongst the Roses is the first book in Keystone Legacy. How many books are in the series?

Meghan:  So Keystone Legacy is my historical imprint. Any historical story will fall under this, but as far as Amongst the Roses, it will have a sequel. And potentially a third book that may just end up being a novella—that will be down the road apiece though. J And Annelise’s story.

Cathy:  Do you need absolute quiet when you’re writing or do you listen to music?
If you listen to music while writing, what do you listen to?

Meghan:  It depends on the day, LOL. I have a Spotify playlist with songs rich in meaningful lyrics to the themes and emotions of the book, but I also like to listen to period drama movie soundtracks or synesthesia worship music if I really need to focus and crank out the words.

Cathy:  Out of any character that you’ve created in any book that you’ve written, do you have a favorite? If so, can you share that with us?

Meghan:  That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child! LOL J I’d probably say Merry from Wrapped in Red, my holiday novella. She’s the character that was easiest to write, by a long shot, out of anything I’ve ever written. She’s salty-sweet and stronger than she believes.

 

Amongst the Roses Giveaway

In addition to Meghan answering my questions, she is kindly  giving away an eBook copy of, Amongst the Roses to one lucky winner on our blog!  To enter, please leave a comment with your email address.  Winner will be contacted on May 4th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

About the book:

 

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston

Local volunteer fire fighter Leon King agrees to repair his ex-girlfriend Susie Bontrager’s grandparents’ antique rocking chairs for her future home with her fiance and is forced to acknowledge that his feelings for her have not quite gone away. As Susie spends time with Leon, she begins to recognize she is marrying the wrong man for all the wrong reasons.

 

The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman

Decades after inheriting her great grandmother’s cedar chest, Emma Fisher decides to pry it open only to discover a beautiful love story in the form of letters between her great grandparents. But as Emma immerses herself in their story, family secrets are revealed, and she must decide whether to share them to preserve family history or honor her great grandparents’ decision to leave them hidden.

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller

For the past two years, Shane Broyles has felt God leading him to join the Amish. He’s staying with his friends Noah and Ivy Schlabach in Birch Creek, OH, where he is reunited with Lucy Fisher, an old friend of Noah’s family. Shane and Lucy have never revealed their feelings for each other, but when they stumble upon an antique Bible at a flea market, they feel drawn to each other and to the mystery of the contents found within.

 

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irvin

Iris Beachy serves as a midwife in her district where she longs for a family of her own. When her friend’s brother Mahon Kurtz seeks her help in delivering the baby of two young teenagers who have sought refuge in their town, they begin to see each other in a different light. Unprepared for parenthood, the young couple leave their baby girl behind in an antique crib quilt resembling the one destined for Iris when she becomes a mother. Mahon and Iris come together to take care of the baby as they try to find her parents, and they begin to see new possibilities for their future.

 

My thoughts:

Another collection of wonderful stories by four of my favorite authors.  I have been a fan of their work for many years and they continue to impress me with their talent with each and every book of theirs that I read.

The Heirloom’s that meant so much to their characters became just as cherished to me as I read each novella and became involved in their lives and communities.

I absolutely loved The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman! This is the first dual time line of hers that I’ve read and I can say that my only criticism is that I wish that the story lasted longer than it did.   It is beautifully written and her characters are most endearing.

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston is another one in this collection that I loved.  The story of Leon and Susie is compelling and moved a great pace.  Amy never disappoints and she really poured her heart into this one.

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller really is fantastic.  I was so happy to reconnect with one my favorite characters, Cevilla.  She is playing matchmaker once again and this time she’s decided that Shane and Lucy should be together.  I loved this sweet story so much.

The Midwife’s Dream is the last book in this collection and is just as wonderful and well written as anything that I’ve read by this author.  I really enjoyed the story of Mahlon and Iris.

Overall, I think that this is one of the best collections of novellas that I have read. Each of the authors work reminded me once again just how talented they are why I love their work so much.

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

 

My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado: Millie’s Resolve by Rebecca Jepson (review by Kristi)

Colorado Springs

About the bookJourney now to healing spa town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 1885
Where the past and present collide and a woman is on the precipice of unexpected love.

Millie Cooper, fisherman’s-daughter-turned-nurse, flees a painful entanglement with the wealthy Drexel family who summered near her childhood home in Nantucket, only to encounter them again six years later in Glenwood Springs. The serenity of Millie Cooper’s mountain hideaway in a town with healing springs is disrupted when she faces caring for the elderly mother and the expectant wife of Stephen Drexel, the man she’d once loved—at the request of John Drexel, the man who’d kept them apart. Will

Millie forgive the wrongs she feels were done to her, or will she come to see them as a blessing in disguise that lead her to greater joys?

Publication Date:  May 1, 2018

Publisher:  Barbour Books

Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction

 

My thoughtsI’ve heard authors say that some books write themselves. As a reader, I have said that some books read themselves. That’s the case with this book. I started reading this book with the intention of just reading a chapter or so to “get into” the story and soon found I was halfway through the book in just one sitting! Warm, realistic characters in a story that was both heartwrenching and heart-stopping made this book easy to read.

While some aspects of the story sounded familiar to other romances I’ve read the author totally made this story her own. I loved her writing and the way that the shift in the relationship between Millie and Katherine happened in a way that was so subtle that I can’t pinpoint the exact spot it took place. It’s just so natural and suddenly you realize that things have changed between the two. I also liked the way she kept me wondering exactly what was going to happen. I knew the ending I wanted to the story but she kept me guessing as to whether I was going to get it or not. I loved the complexity of the relationships between the characters. It made the story seem so real. The pace of the story is great and kept me turning pages as quickly as I could.

The author has created some really well-developed characters in this book. Some I liked more than others. Millie, I liked instantly while it took some time to warm up to John and Katherine Drexel. I’m still not sure if I really liked Stephen or not but that’s ok. He’s not a bad character, just not my favorite.

This is a book that will definitely be added to my keeper shelf. I can easily see myself rereading this book because the story is just so good and the writing is excellent. This is Rebecca Jepson’s debut novel so I can’t go looking for more to read from her but I will be adding her to my “must-read author” list. I’m hoping there will soon be more to read from her!

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

 

About the authorRebecca Jepson is a homebody who loves a good book, a cup of freshly ground coffee, and all things autumn. She is the author of A Highbrow Hoodwink, a novella included in the ECPA bestseller, The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection. In addition to writing, she works as a paralegal and volunteers in various ministries at her church. She lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband, Mike.

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