Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Ruthie Stoltzfus cannot wait to get out of boring Stoney Ridge and the quiet Amish ways of her family, and make a difference in the world. She has earned her GED in secret, and now just needs to figure out exactly what she wants to do with it.
Patrick Kelly has just arrived in Stoney Ridge, planning to spend a month learning the Amish ways, and eventually join their way of life. He enlists Ruthie to help him learn Penn Dutch and his quiet ways of seeing the good in the Amish ways of life may sway Ruthie in her descision.
Luke Schrock is Ruthie's next door neighbor/on again off again romance. It's off at the moment, but seeing Patrick Kelly arrive in Stoney Ridge lights a fire under Luke and he will do anything to win her back. If only he could stay out of trouble long enough...

One of the things I really like about Fisher's stories is that instead of just following one person's tight story line, she is really following the story of an entire neighborhood so we have known the people in this story a long time! We have watched them grow up in her other books and now we get to see the decisions they will make as they face their futures. Many different characters and side plots wind their way through her stories and I love that! I also love the realness her characters have. Their struggles and thoughts are relatable and there is always something to learn.

I would highly recommend these books to Amish fiction lovers and even if you're not, I'd say give them a try. They are out of the ordinary. But go back and read some of her other books from Stoney Ridge first so you get to know the characters and town a little more before you dig into this one!

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Book Review: Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

Publisher's Description:

Doing a good deed never felt so bad

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn't particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses--a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn't last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs' concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves--because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

My Review:
This is the second book in the "Hidden Springs Mysteries" series by Gabhart and it was even better than the first one. A lot more excitement and a faster plot in this book and I was pulled into the story from the very beginning. Though I had a good guess from the beginning "whodunnit", I was still turning pages quickly to find out what was going to happen next. I also appreciate that while there were hints at romance here and there in the series, Gabhart takes her time working towards it and it does not at all overshadow the main plot of the book. Looking forward to the end of the series!

Thank you to Revell publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Book Review: Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Publisher Description:

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love?

Nothing slows Lillian Avery down--not her personal challenges and certainly not America's entry into World War II. She finally has a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The demands of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling?

As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

My Review:
This is the second book in the "Waves of Freedom" series and while it follows some of the same characters as the first book, I think this would be ok as a stand alone read. I did enjoy the first one though, so I would also recommend going back and reading the first one at some point. I really like that there is a bit of history, a bit of romance, and a bit of danger in these stories. It makes for an interesting read while not leaning too heavily on any one area to move the story along. Thunbs up from me :-)

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Book Review: The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher's Description:

It was a well-laid plan--but it wasn't her plan . . . 

It's all her grandmother's fault. For the last few months, Abigail Stoltzfus has helped her father with his genealogical research, hoping that breaking through a client's brick wall would also break his melancholy. But now her intrusive grandmother has set her sights on marrying off Abigail and insists she come to Stoney Ridge, where there is a plethora of eligible bachelors. 

Except that Mammi is mistaken. There are no eligible bachelors in Stoney Ridge, barring one, and he's all wrong. Dane Glick has the wrong last name and the wrong relatives--including the bishop who is at odds over a church matter with Abigail's uncle, minister David Stoltzfus. 

As the conflict grows, setting family against family, it's becoming clear that the path to a solution may lead to a Quieting--a removal of a church leader. But for which one? And when Abigail stumbles onto a curious connection during her genealogical research, it could help David solve one problem--but will it create another?

My Review:
This is part two of "The BIshop's Family" series, so I would highly suggest going back to read the first book in the series before beginning this. In fact, it had been a while since I read the first one, so I went back to re-read it before I started just so I would have more of a clue what was going on. I love that Fisher is never in a hurry to have a happily ever after senario. The characters in her books from Stoney Ridge might be in two or three different series before their story gets fully told, which is why I can never pass up one of her books. You really become invested in they story and want to find out what is going on in that little community! You will not be disappointed in this one. Usually, Amish fiction is not my cup of tea, but even if it is not yours either, I would suggest giving Fisher's writing a try. A wonderful story teller :-)

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review. 

Book Review: Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

I'm a little behind on my book reviews lately due to being out of the country so be prepared for a couple in a row here to play catch up!

Publisher's Description: State Police Detective Evie Blackwell is launching a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes in Illinois. While looking at old evidence for a couple of missing-persons cases in Carin County, she pulls out a few tenuous leads—with startling implications.

I am so on the fence about Dee Henderson's new style of writing. So I hmmm-ed and haaaaaw-ed about even requesting this one to review. Honestly, it was better than some of the other new ones I'd read. It still features a lot of the same people that she has written about before so I would suggest reading her other books first just to get a good idea of who some of the main characters are.
Because the story follows cold cases, there is really not much action, but a lot of dialogue, interviewing and tedious police work (probably more like real life than the exciting page turning crime books but still...). I thought the cases were interesting, but the people are just so introspective and serious that I felt like it needed a bit of excitement to carry it forward a bit.
If you've read Dee Henderson's newer books and liked them, then I'm sure you will also enjoy this one!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book Review: The Reluctant Duchess

Brice Myerston has had a hard year. Beginning with a dramatic situation trying to save his good friends from a madman, followed by the death of his father, leaving him the new Duke of Nottingham, he certainly does not need any more complications in his life. On top of his new duties, he has also agreed to take the fire eyes into his possession - two priceless jewels that many would kill for.
On a trip to Scotland with his family, he hopes to find a little respite from all the chaos. But when he meets, heiress, Rowena Kinnaird, he feels that voice of God telling him that she is someone in need of help.
Lady Rowena Kinnaird has been the victim of abuse all her life, but after enduring the worst possible kind of abuse, she is desperate to get away from her home before she is doomed to live a life of violence. But surely this flirtatious Duke is not the answer! How could she possibly trust someone with easy smiles, but seems to have secrets of his own. In fact, he may end up putting her in more danger than ever!

This is the second book in the Ladies of the Manor series. I had read the first book a while ago and after just looking at all the people involved in the story, I definitely felt the need to go back and give the first book another read. There is a lot of stuff you need to know from the first book that relates to this story, so definitely pick up that one first (The Lost Heiress).
Once you have finished the first book you will love this one. I love this time period and the story of someone learning to trust after the ultimate betrayal. There are lots of great page turning moments and nail biting parts too! Highly recommend - even better than the first one!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of the this book to review.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Playing the Part by Jen Turano

Lucetta Plum has always had an air of mystery about her. The famous actress is known for slighting her admirers, despite the reputation of actresses of that time. But when one fan's admiration turns to something a little more dangerous, Lucetta must flee the city and find somewhere safe to hide.
It's a good thing that Lucetta's friend, widowed society matron, Abigail Hart has the perfect place to hide. And luckily for Abigail's matchmaking habit, that place is with her handsome but reclusive grandson, Bram.
But things at Bram's strange and gothic castle are not as peaceful and safe as they hoped for! Between ghostly sightings and midnight riders, Lucetta wonders if this place is really any safer, and if Bram can be trusted despite his very handsome face and kind ways. With so many secrets between them, can Bram and Lucetta find friendship, safety and perhaps something more?

The one thing that slightly frustrates me about Jen Turanos books is that they are not called a series, even though, I really feel like you need to read her previous two books before you read this one. The three books together follow three friends and I feel like even though you could probably pick this book up and read it by itself, you would be missing all the time getting to know the characters in the other books.
This book is lots of fun and while I kinda knew where it was going the whole time (I actually knew from the hints in the last book), it still had lots of great funny parts and twists in the plot. It was probably my least favorite from the stories of the three friends, but I still read it in a few hours and enjoyed it :-) A good book to pick up for a lighthearted, fun read.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan

Rachel Matthews has lost everything. After her parents death, she and her brother couldn't keep up with the taxes on their beloved childhood home and ranch and while her brother is away trying to earn enough to get it back, she has run out of money to keep herself housed and fed. Feeling like she has no other choice, Rachel gets a job at the local dance hall.
Wealthy cattle baron, John McIntyre is pretty surprised when he receives a letter from a good friend asking him to rescue his sister from a life at the dance hall. So despite his having no time for women of ill repute, John sees it as his duty to help a friend in need and fetches the lovely Rachel from the saloon. When Rachel discovers that this so called rescuer also holds the deed to her family's home that her brother is working so hard to reclaim, sparks fly and drama ensues :-)

This is the second book in the Virtues and Vices of the Old West series. I have read the first book in the series and you will not have to have read the first book at all to be able to read this one. It is a stand alone novel, just set in the same setting.
What's funny about this book is that the story is very steady and while it keeps moving, it doesn't really feel like there is really one hugely climatic event on which the story hangs. And that is not even really a bad thing - a slowly building friendship and regard with events that tie in with life in the old West along the way make for a nice read. It probably wouldn't stand out to me as one I would read over and over again, but it was entertaining all the same.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Book Review: Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Olivia Edwards runs a bodyguard agency which is a little different than most - all of her employees are women. Coming from a variety a backgrounds making them an elite team, the women excel at their job. But when one of Olivia's team members is almost killed on the job, Olivia needs to step in herself and oversee this dangerous case.
Wade Savage, radio talk show host and psychiatrist, has a stalker. While being a handsome widower who is good at listening to people has drawn his fair share of admirers - this one is different. When innocent gifts turn threatening and start including those he loves, Wade knows he needs to put his life and maybe heart in the hands of Olivia Edwards.

It's been a while since I read a book by Eason, and I really enjoyed it. While I was fairly certain I had figured out who the bad guy was after a while, it doesn't diminish from the story line - in fact it makes you turn pages faster as you are hoping the main characters will figure it out soon! I also like that while there is a bit of romance mixed in, it's not overbearing and most of the time, the case is foremost in people's thoughts, not how attracted they are to each other (which has annoyed me in other books of the same genre).  Looking forward to the next book in the series!

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Review: Thin Ice by Irene Hanon

Christy Reed has had a very hard year. First losing her parents in a car crash and then her sister to a house fire. Though she has held on to her faith, her life is only starting to feel normal again. That is, until a letter arrives addressed in  her dead sister's hand writing. The note inside claims that her sister is still alive, and though she is instructed not to include the authorities, Christy devises a way to contact the FBI without alerting the kidnapper.
Special Agent Lance McGreggor is assigned Christy's case and it seems the more he digs, the more questions surface. Way more questions than answers. Can they find answers to their questions before time runs out for Christy's sister and maybe even Christy herself?

So I have a love/hate relationship with Hannon's books. Well maybe not that strong, but I do always feel conflicted when I review her stories. I think she writes a good mystery and is able to keep the action going well. I really do not enjoy her romance writing part of the tale though. They all seem to follow the same formula. Strong woman needs help. Strong male immediately is attracted to her and she to him and they "try" to fight their feelings til the end of the case. It wouldn't bother me if they started to like each other toward the end of the book or something but especially at first, I wish it was more to do with the case than the romantic feelings. So I give the exciting, mysterious case part a thumbs up, and the romance part a thumbs down.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of the this book to read and review.

Book Review: Undaunted Hope by Jodi Hedlund

Tessa Taylor has made some pretty huge mistakes in her past, but she is still young and by moving away and becoming a teacher, she is hoping to put the past firmly behind her and embrace a future free from drama.
Tessa arrives in a mining town in Upper Michigan, ready to  make a difference in the lives of the families around her, but comes up against an obstacle right away - they were expecting a man. When the superintendent gives her permission to stay until spring, Tessa knows she will need to work extra hard to prove she can do just as well as a man.
She loves her students, and they begin to love her back, especially two children intent on seeing her become their new mother. But another man in town has also shown interest in Tessa and she is caught in the middle of a fight for her affections. To add to the drama she is trying to escape, it seems someone has been watching her movements. So much for a drama free move. As Spring draws near Tessa will find she has more than one fight on her hands.

This is the third book in the Beacons of Hope series. I have not read the first on but I did read the second so I knew the backstory to Tessa's life before she became a teacher. I think that it would be worth reading that before starting this one. Though I thought the previous book was ok, I really enjoyed this third story a lot. I read it in 4 hours - it was a fast moving plot with lots of points of interest. Romance, redemption, danger, and history of the life of mining towns. I would recommend this one to readers of historical fiction for sure!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to read and review.