Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lawyers Never Lie by Teri Kanefield

Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I have read several of Teri's books. She is very adept at writing multiple genres. I really enjoyed this book.  My father worked construction for years.  He and his brothers owned their own company in Indiana. When I got out on my own and started looking for my own place, I looked with a critical eye. My father had taught me well.  I had a parent this last year who could definitely identify with Eric and Cassie.  They were having their floors re-done.  The job was botched. They ended up in a motel for four months and are still in the throes of a legal suit. It was traumatic enough to my student that she used the experience as her Tropicana Speech topic. 

Reading this story made me realize what Cassie and her husband did right and what they did wrong when searching for a contractor. He seemed to have all the correct credentials.  When they asked for references he took them to a house that was being worked on  and showed them the work he'd supposedly done. They checked with the Better Business Bureau and they checked his license and everything seemed to check out.  When things started to go downhill, they didn't react the same way others had.  This meant the contractor Tom had to take things to another level.  I've never seen anyone so crooked.  He hurt so many people.  The lessons that Eric and Cassie learned when a long way.  This not only affected them, but their children as well.  While dealing with all of this, Cassie had started her new job as a lawyer, her children were in middle school, and since I teach middle school I know what kind of issues that can bring on its own. Through all of this, their children seems to learn from what their parents were going through and was able to apply the lessons to situations in which they were involved.  I loved the way each of the twins tried to find themselves.  At times it was very funny the way they interpreted what they said to their parents and how their parents responded to them.  I would highly recommend this book just like I have all of her others.  She is an excellent writer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Good Intentions by Pembroke Sinclair

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Katie has been through Hell—literally—and discovered that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.  In fact, she kind of enjoyed it.  She got to be with Josh, found out about her past, and discovered who she wanted to be as a person.  Katie didn’t care that her actions went against social norms.  She was happy.

But things are changing—again.  Wes has come back into her life, and that can only mean trouble.  His presence threatens to unravel her new-found happiness.  She can’t allow that.  She won’t let him back in.  Yet, Katie can’t push him away.

Thrown back into a state of confusion and uncertainty, Katie is once again forced to pick sides, and in the process, she may lose herself.

My Thoughts:
This is the last book in "The Road to Salvation Series".  In the first book in the series Katie has always liked Wes. He's comfortable.  He has never seemed to reciprocate those feelings. So, when Josh enters her school she is drawn to this bad boy. She learns that all she has known about Wes and what she has learned about Josh is enough to blow the mind.

The second book Katie is drawn more into the dark side.  A part of her finds Josh's souls stealing appaling, yet a part of her, having stolen her first soul find the power something she is beginning to crave.

This brings us to the final book in the series.  Katie has had this love hate relationship going on with Wes.  At this point she doesn't feel she can believe anything he says.  She is liking this dark side? Why?  I am not going to spill the beans on that. Let's just say that Lucifer has some inside knowledge about her that you don't want to miss. The question is, at the end of it all who will be left standing with their soul, and who will be cast into hell?  Will her friends and family be able to survive the consequences of her choices and will she even care?

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! I loved the way it ended. It was all neatly tied up yet was set up so there can be more books if the author decides to go that way.  This is a series you really need to read.

About Pebroke Sinclair

Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming--the home of 56 nationalities--it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Youngtimer: Adventures In Time by Glynnis Rogero

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Carly is this super smart, nerdy girl who has been recommended to skip two grades.  She decides to do everything in her power to get lower grades so that she can stay at that school with her best friends Patti.  This is just one of the adventures Carly creates in this book.

When Carly's grandfather passes away he leaves her a mysterious letter and wooden box.  The instructions tell her not to open the box until she reads the letter.  She has always been her grandfather's favorite.  She even had a secret knock that allowed her, and her alone,  into his garage/workshop.  She places the box under her bed where it stays until her best friend Patti finds it and pulls it out. She has been asked by her grandfather to wait until she is eighteen to open it.  But, as Patti points out that is six years away. What her grandfather has left her is tucked away in a corner of his workshop. Carly can hardly believe he has left her a time machine.  Carly tries it out while her friend is there in case something goes wrong.  Then she talks her friend into going on a trip.  But, what happens when Carly uses the machine to try to fix a family problem and changes things?  The tension was taut enough I kept thinking, don't do that....what happens if...

Parts of this story reminded me of the movie "Back to the Future" where Marty has to be careful how he changes things because it could have dire consequences.  This is Carly's situation.  Will she make the problem she has at home better or worse?  This is a must read book.  It is full of humor and situations that my middle school students would definitely be able to identify.  I will definitely recommend this book to them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Intriguing Books by Michael Phillip Cash

Witches Protection Program – Michael Phillip Cash
Genre: Adult, Humor, Suspense
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

In the beginning of the book I felt sorry for Wes.  Everyone wants their family to approve of them. It seems that everything Wes tries to do, ends up in failure.  Add to this his dyslexia and you see why his father is so disappointed in him. I hated the idea that his father compared Wes to the rest of the family. After his latest mess up he is assigned a new partner named Alastair, and placed in the ancient and secret Witches Protection Program, where he is to protect the good witches of New York from the bad witches. This is hard for Wes because he has never believed in witches. His first assignment he has to protect a good witch named Morgan from her aunt. Morgan Pendragon is the heiress to the Pendragon Cosmetics Company. Her aunt is trying to use a spell on cosmetics to wreak havoc on the world. One thing that set this book apart from the author’s other books was the use of humor.  Michael is a very versatile writer and it shows in his ability to sprinkle humor throughout to hold your attention. All of his characters are well developed.  I loved the idea that his setting was New York, because it is such a diverse city.  I would say that this is a book you won’t be able to put down once you pick it up, so make sure you make time for just that reason.

The After House – Michael Phillip Cash
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Out of all of Michael’s books, I have to say this one is probably my favorite.  First, I love ghost stories.  I don’t mean those that are full of horror and gore.  But, ghost stories in general.  I always have and always will.  In this story we start off with Eli, a whaling captain who finds himself in trouble. The whale they have harpooned has turned on them all and destroyed their ship. Then we switch to the present where we find Remy and her daughter moving into a 300  year old house that just happened to have belonged to Captain Eli.  Remy is divorced from her cheating and abusive husband.

Captain Eli is not happy that Remy and her daughter Olivia have moved in. They are nothing like the last renter who painted scenes of whaling on the walls. He was able to do this because Eli whispered in his ear at night.  The Captain tries to scare them away.  Olivia can see him and she kind of takes things into her own hands.  The Captain changes his tune and actually begins to protect them because in real life, someone is trying to kill Remy.  Throw into all of this the mayor of the town who has started dating Remy and you have the ingredients of a great story.  I could definitely tell you so much more. When I love a story I have a tendency to do that and spoil it for everyone. So, I will stop right here and tell you that you really must get this book and read it. If nothing else you really want to find out who is trying to kill Remy and what really happened to Captain Eli and his cabin boy.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Loser by Jerry Spinelli

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Source: I own it

From Goodreads:
From renowned Newbery-winning author Jerry Spinelli comes an incredible story about how not fitting in might just lead to an incredible life.

Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his had with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet and falls down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He does't know he's not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff's differences show that any name can someday become "hero."

With some of his finest writing to date and great wit and humor, Jerry Spinelli creates a story about a boy's individuality surpassing the need to fit in and the genuine importance of failure. As readers follow Zinkoff from first through sixt grade--making this a perfect classroom read--and watch his character develop, it becomes impossible not to identify with and root for him through failures and triumphs.

My Thoughts:
Out of all of Jerry Spinelli's books, this is probably one of my very favorites.  We get to know the protagonist as a young child who is anxious to learn. He sees learning as wonderful.  When the teacher told him how much time they would be in school he loved it.  I think that was what made me fall in love with Donald Zinkoff. His quirky behavior told me that in the right hands he would come out on top  Unfortunately, as a teacher I've seen some like the one he had who didn't like him because he wasn't quite as smart as other ids. She honestly thought Donald did things because he was trying her patience on purpose.  He was branded a loser but didn't realize it until he got older.  When that reality hit him it crushed him. However, when the book ends and Donald does something than many would see as heroic in his attempts would brand an example of what a loser he was, I always asked my students how they saw him now. It is funny that 99% no longer so him as a loser. Why?  You really need to read this book.  I try to start off my year reading this book to and with my students.  I want them to understand that I have no losers in my class Everyone is different and therefore when we embrace those differences then everyone can be a winner.  This is a book I am always recommending and will continue to recommend.  It is one of my favorite yearly rereads.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Mixed Bag of Children's Books

Just as Special by 3Evoke
Genre: Children, Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a book that was written to encourage children who have no father at home. However, it could work just as well for those who have no mother. The idea behind the book is to start a conversation with children and let them know that they are special whether they have one, two, or multiple parents. Mason sits on his porch watching his best friend play with his father and wonders why he isn't as special. His mother comes to get him for lunch and the conversation they have lets him know how special he really is.  Mom doesn't tell him about the people in his life she encourages him to talk about all of the different men in his life who help and encourage him.  This should be a book that is read in every home, not just single parent homes.

Not Just a Princess by Mary Lee
Genre: Children, Picture Book
When Mia's dad wakes her up saying, "Good morning, Princess!" Mia decides she doesn't want to be a princess. She wants to be a jungle animal, a pirate and so much more. Children often feel defined y the pet names we give them. This book encourages them to be who they want to be every day.

Princess Nancie by Leela Hope
Genre: Children, Picture Book
Pricess Nancie loved to create mudpies and other messes.  What she hated most was being told she had to wear nices dresses. She decides she doesn't like all the rules so she walks out on her balcony and tells her people there will be no more rules.  When her kingdom falls  into chaos will she see the error of her ways?  This is such a great and simple book for teaching children why it is important to have rules.

Wanoo the Sorcerer by Francois Bissonnette
Genre: Children, Picture Book

Naloo the young Eskimo girl who lives in Nunavut goes to visit her friends the Zirons. When she arrives she meets up with Wanoo the young sorcerer. Three year old Wanoo has gotten much better at his magic since learning from the 170 year old Tarzi.  The most valuable lesson Wanoo learns from Tarzi is that no matter what you try to do you must practice and persevere even when you feel you are not making much progress This is what I really like about this author's books, the encouragement children get, the small life lessons from each book.

My Pet Raptor by A.J. Cosmos
Genre: Children, Picture Book
A.J.Cosmo is another of my favorite children's book authors.  He has a fun way of teaching a lesson to children without them knowing they are learning a lesson.  In this book a young boy is followed home by a Raptor. He begs his mom to let him keep it since he wants his own pet.  His mom finally tells him he can as long as he takes FULL responsibility for all of its actions. He agrees.  This are okay for a very short time. As each thing the raptor does gets bigger and bigger things.  The boy soon realizes that maybe a raptor is not a very good pet.  He then must decide what to do with him so that everyone is happy.  A great book for teaching responsibility, not only for owning a pet, but also for learning how to make decisions about what pet would be best for your family.

Sharks by Rose Leo
Genre: Children, Nonfiction, Picture book
Rose Lee has brought to children the life of sharks.  In her informative book she tells the reader about the different kinds of sharks, their looks, habitats and what they eat.  This book is great if you just want to share a book with a child or for the child's first foray into researching sharks. I found the book to be very informative and a pleasure to read.  I definitely recommend this nonfiction book.

Two Great Amish Books

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club – Wanda E. Brunstetter
Genre: Adult, Amish Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

When we think of quilting classes we think of several things. First, we may think of the Amish who are well known for their beautiful hand-stitched quilts.  We may also think of a group of ladies, and occasionally a few men taking a class to learn how to make a quilt.  Never, until I read this book would I have thought of a group of quilters like Wanda Brunstetter has assembled in this book. This quilting class is a group of the biggest misfits I’d ever seen.

Emma Yoder is a widow and has been receiving financial assistance from her family.  She decides to offer a six week quilting class to help pay her own way.  What she gets is not necessarily what she was expecting, but what God knew she needed. 
Star Stephens hides her true self under her gothic look.  Her grandmother knew the true her and signed her up for the quilting class a couple of days before she died.  Her grandmother had always been there for her. She was the one person in her life she could count on. She decides to attend the paid for class to honor her grandmother.
Then we have Jan Sweet a tattooed biker who has lost his license for driving under the influence.  He has a lot of issues and it is his probation officer who tells him to find an outlet for his anger. He figures this is the creative outlet that will help him.
Next we have Pam and Stuart Johnson. The have signed up for the quilting class as part of their counseling. They’ve been told to find something to do together. Stuart wants to go camping, which Pam hates so she gets him to agree by telling him if he goes to the quilting club with her she will go camping.
Ruby Williams is a preacher’s wife.  She is trying to find something that doesn’t involve the church to help her de-stress.  Yes, those who work for the church need an outside life as much as those who don’t work for the church.
Finally we have Paul Ramirez.  He is a widower left with a very young baby.  His wife had started a quilt for their daughter but never got the opportunity to finish it. She was killed in an accident.  He thinks he can go to the class and have someone finish the quilt.  He decides that this is something he needs to learn how to do.
Emma quickly learns she will have her hands full. But if God wanted them there then she would help them. Through this story we see how God used her to help them stitch the remnants of their own lives back together.  Emma also has some issues.  She has a pesky neighbor named Lamar who likes her.  She does everything she can to discourage him. When she gets sick he takes over her class and she learns that there is more to him than just a pesky neighbor.

This was such a fun book to read.  Everyone who reads this book can see themselves or part of themselves in at least one of these characters.  Definitely going to recommend this book.

Sarah’s Garden – Kelly Long
Genre: Adult, Amish Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a great romance.  Sarah was a shy young Amish girl content to work in her garden.  God had definitely given her a gift with it. When her sister gets pregnant it becomes Sarah’s responsibility to run their produce stand.  This is not easy considering she is very shy. It became even more difficult  she met the new community veterinarian. He was not an Amish vet. The Amish community welcomed Grant and he worked for them taking care of their animals as a service to them just like his father had taken care of the people in their community.  It isn’t long before Grant and Sarah start to fall in love.  This is not a good thing because it means Sarah will be shunned if she continues.  Her parents try to persuade her to move on to a relationship with Jacob, a young Amish man who has had feelings Sarah for years. Sarah tries to tell Grant that things will not work between them. Grant mysteriously leaves the area.  Will he return? Is there hope for them as a couple?  You must read this book to find out. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Believe and Know by Cathy Bryant

Genre: Christian Devotional
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Whether you are looking for a Bible study to help you guide others, or a Bible study to help you seek answers you may have, Cathy Bryant has provided that in this Bible study guide. She states that this book is for Truth-seekers and so it is.  She also speaks to the two types of people who will read this book. The first is the type who believes first and just wants confirmation and the second is those who feel a need to understand before they can believe.  Both will get out of this book what they put into it. It is my prayer that you spend time with this book and the scriptures. You may not yet know what you want out of this book. Read and pray and be assured God will open your eyes and show you what you need.

Cathy has stated as has the scriptures that unbelief keeps us from a right relationship with God.  In Mark chapter 9 verses 14-29 we read about Jesus’ disciples trying to cast the demon out of a young boy. When they could not the father was very frustrated.  He came to Jesus who witnessed the demon possession of the boy and removed the demon. The father was confused by why his disciples could not deliver his son.  It was because of their unbelief.  When Jesus told him that belief was needed the father responded that he believed and then asked the most important thing ever, “help my unbelief.”  We who are Christians are quick to say we believe, until hardships arise.  Then we are quick to criticize and accuse God of ignoring us.  Maybe the real issue is we are having difficulty believing and need to ask God to help us with our unbelief.  After all we are human.

Another thing that came out was in this quote found in the Kindle version section 15.3/82: “It is the same for our non-believing friends and loved ones. We must lay aside the holier-than-thou attitude that demands they believe like we do Instead we must love them unconditionally, pray for them persistently, and treat them with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)”.  How often do we act or talk down to non-Christians or those who have fallen away as if we are so much better and holier than they are? If you say, ‘I never have’ then you are lying to yourself.  We’ve all done this.  It is a big turn off and will push people away instead of bring them in.

I recognize this in myself when recently I learned a very good friend of mine, with whom I’d shared a strong Christian friendship, had married.  The problem for me with this was that she married another woman. I wanted to pray for her because I knew that this relationship was wrong.  I could not simply because at that point I had the attitude that I didn’t understand (and I don’t) how this could have happened to a Christian.  That wasn’t where my problem with prayer was.  What came next was an issue with pride. I assumed it happened because I was a better Christian.  Oh how God will slap us down when we become so holier-than-thou. 

Cathy also asks us to look for evidence of God’s supreme existence and more.  Cathy talked about those who don’t believe in God. She made a valid point that if she is wrong then she’s no worse off for believing is something that didn’t exist whereas, the other way around, the non-believer proven wrong is doomed to spiritual death.
I asked a very good Mormon friend who was raised Southern Baptist a question one day. She was talking with me about not believing in the rapture. She told me her parents prayed for her constantly because they felt she was wrong.  I asked her what would happen if the rapture I believe in happened and she was left behind. Her response was that she would pray that she would live long enough to repent.  I’ve heard the same thing from a Jewish friend whose daughter became a Christian. She believes we Christians have set up a very nice religion.  I asked her the same question I’d asked my Mormon friend and her response was the same.

I would encourage you to get and read this book.  Study it.  Use it to help you reach out to those who don’t know the Lord.  If you are one of my followers who don’t believe in Christ then get and read this book to prove me wrong.  This is what one of my Messianic Jewish friends did. He studied the Christian Bible to prove a friend wrong and found God in doing so.

.  I have recently added an “Inspirational” Genre to my classroom and will place a copy of this on my school shelves for those who wish to delve deeper into their beliefs. I will highly recommend this book to everyone I meet

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Christmas in July: A Log Cabin Christmas

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Christmas, Inspirational
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a collection of nine wonderful short stories by nine wonderful authors. They all take place in log cabins, in different states,  in the 1800s. There are several reasons I loved this book. First it deals with log cabins which I think are some of the most romantic buildings ever. The stories all happen in my favorite time period in history. If I could go back in time that would be the time period I would wish to live in. The final reason I loved this book was because it was written by nine extremely talented writers, a few I was unfamiliar with, which gave me the opportunity to experience their writing. Each short story is about fifty pages long. I’ve had the book for quite some time.  Whenever I wanted to read something but had limited time I would pick the book up.  For me reading a book of Christmas stories is just as special in July as it is in December.  So let’s talk about these nine stories. 
I have to say “Snow Angel” by Margaret Brownley was my favorite.  Miss Parker comes west to teach in this one room school house. A lot of the parents don’t have a lot of faith in her ability to survive there. When she and three children are stuck in the school house due to a blizzard, the sheriff must go out to find them. They all end up stuck there. They all  have personal issues that make this at times a heart-wrenching and at times a hilarious story.
     I’ve read many books by Wanda Brunstetter. In “The Christmas Secret” while preparing the house for a Christmas Eve wedding, bride-to-be Elizabeth finds a journal that holds a secret. The secret is enough to make her run away. Now it is up to the groom-to-be to find her and together work things out.
     “Christmas Traps and Trimmings” by Kelly Hake gives you an idea of what life was like for women in the early 1800s. They had little say over their lives. Mina has been promised to a cousin in marriage. She sets off for American with her nurse in search for Sam her guardian and find themselves in an earthquake.  This story shakes up their lives in more than one way.
     “A Star in the Night” by Liz Johnson is another one I loved.  I am very familiar with Franklin, Tennessee. This is set during the Civil War. A Yankee soldier is found near Cora’s cabin in Confederate territory. Cora is dealing with the horrors she has seen in this war while she and her grandfather nurse this man back to health.  With their hearts entwined can there be a happily ever after for them?
     “The Courting Quilt” by Jane Kirkpatrick shows the lengths unmarried women would go to in finding a husband. Richard is a traveling salesman and partners with Mary to help sell her goods.  One of his tactics has him convincing women he will propose to them if they “meet the test” as a quilter.  From this you know things are going to be hopping.
     “Under His Wings” by Liz Tolsma is the story of two people who find themselves in a unique situation. Adie cooks for the lumber camp and lives in a cottage with her father. This is her protection. Noah is working to save money to go to seminary and become a preacher. Then Adie’s father is killed in an accident.  She is fair game for all of these men as the only female in camp.  Noah is there to protect her if she will only allow him to, even if it is a marriage of convenience.
takes place in the Minnesota North Woods in 1875. Beth Sorenson is convinced that she can only be a minister's wife and Todd Rambek, a mere blacksmith, will never do. After all her family has been ministers and wives of ministers for several generations and as a minister's wife she can be in service. The Christmas program that Beth is putting together can only be done by her, no one else is capable of doing it right. But when the unexpected happens and everything seems ruined can Beth learn a valuable lesson in service and see what is right in front of her? Or will Beth drive away those who care for her with her attitude?
     “The Dogtrot Christmas” by Michelle Ule takes place in Texas. While a man is off to war his land is sold without his permission.  He returns to finds a brother and sister building a dogtrot cabin.  If you don’t know what this is the look it up. It is quite fascinating and resourceful.  Luis must learn to forgive and Molly may just be the one to help him heal.
brother-in-law Manuel or will peace elude him? Can Molly's kindness help a soul damaged by war?
     “A Grand County Christmas” by Debra Ullrick takes place in Colorado. This is a story of loss yet we find God’s goodness through this loss. Widower Amadeus finds Awyna freezing and starving outside his cabin.  She’d been out looking for food and got lost.  She stays with him and his three children and his mother until the weather breaks. She returns home only to find she’s lost everything. But, sometimes the loss of one thing leads us to what great thing God has for us.
     “Christmas Service” by Erica Vetsch is one of those stories that can step on your toes.  I remember telling my parents I felt God calling me to be a missionary.  I was sure I was going to be a missionary like the many I’d grown up learning about. This seems funny because I was such a shy person.  I asked a missionary how I could have been so wrong when I became a teacher.  That missionary told me that missionaries come in all kinds of packages and for me it was the package of a teacher.  So when I read this story about Beth who believes she needs to marry a preacher because that is the only way she can serve God I got tickled. She had a great man, Todd, a blacksmith in front of her that wanted to court her but she couldn’t see it for her own blinders.  Sometimes God has to allow drastic things to happen to open our eyes.

This book is filled with stories that show God’s infinite love for us as we bumble along in life.  It doesn’t matter that these stories took place in the 1800s because they are just as appropriate to today. You know the saying, same situation different setting.  I definitely recommend this book and would not wait until Christmas time to enjoy it. We should celebrate the true meaning of Christmas year round.

Two Amish and a Shaker

Sit back and prepare to enjoy these three books.  Although you might look at the covers and think that they are all Amish fiction, you will be suprised to learn that the last one is about the Shakers.  If you aren't familiar with them you can do do things. One look them up on the Internet and three read my review which will give you some insight.

The Missing – Beverly Lewis
Genre: Adult, Amish Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the second book in the “Season’s of Grace” series. Grace Byler is dealing with so much in her life.  Her mother mysteriously left and didn’t tell anyone why.  Something had been bothering her for quite some time.  Grace is trying to help her father and around the house.  Then there is Heather, a young English woman who finally confides in Grace.  He lost her adoptive mom to cancer and now she has cancer. Her father wants her to take chemo like her mother, but she prefers to try naturopathy. She learns she was adopted from an Amish family and would like to find more. 
Grace’s father is a quiet man and confused with his wife’s behavior. Their bishop is threatening to shun her if she doesn’t return soon.  One thing Grace’s father is pretty sure of is that his in-laws know something about why Lettie left, but won’t speak of it. Grace breaks up with Henry and finds she suddenly has the attention of another young man named Yonnie.  There is even a problem with this situation. Her best friends has eyes for Yonnie and is upset with Grace.

In my opinion Grace was aptly named. She handles all of these situations with grace.  Nothing is resolved by the end of the book, yet you get a pretty good idea where this is heading and what some of the outcomes will be. Beverly Lewis has once again done an excellent job of creating a situation that will capture you and hold you until the end of the series.  I definitely recommend this book.

The Mercy – Beverly Lewis

Genre: Adult, Amish Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you haven’t read the first two books in this series “The Thorn” and “The Judgment” I would suggest you do.
Briefly you have Rose Kauffman who was taking care of her mother after a buggy accident.  You have her sister Hen and her five year old daughter Mattie Sue. Hen had married an Englisher and then gone back home during which time her husband began divorce proceeding that threatened her custody of her daughter. Then there was her husbands car accident.  Rosie and her boyfriend Silas have had an on again, off again relationship.  Then there is Nick, the bishops adopted son who came from the English world and seems to have left for it again after the bishop’s son Christian is killed in an accident. Does Rosie love Silas or does she love Nick? Does Silas love Rosie or does he love Rehbeka?  All of that drama and more happened in the first two books. 

In this third book in the series, Beverly Lewis has tied up all of the loose ends. Rosie’s mother is finally going to have the back surgery that will hopefully alleviate the terrible pain she has been in for years.  Rosie is still having relationship issues. She turns Silas loose, but now there is another guy in the picture named Isaac.  Then Nick returns. Because of all that went on with the Bishop’s sons, he has been “silenced”. I found it inspiring that it was the Bishop God used to reach Hen’s husband.  He had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with the Amish and their ways. After being temporarily blinded and having to stay in the Amish community, thing have changed.  So now you are wondering what exactly has changed yes?  Well this is where I tell you that once again Beverly Lewis has done an excellent job of storytelling and that you really must read the book to find out how all of these conflicts were fixed or not.  This is another highly recommended series by a great author.

The Gifted  - Ann H. Gabhart
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Imagine growing up in a world where you can see God’s beauty all around you and follow your heart.  Now imagine that world is crushed by the death of a loved one.  Jessamine Brady lived in that world with her grandmother until the age of 10. When her grandmother died the Shaker community took her in.  This is where I really had to pay attention. I’d heard of the Shakers but really didn’t know anything about them.  I thought they were like the Amish.  Boy was I wrong.  I felt their beliefs were way out there, especially their belief about remaining celibate.  Men and women were equal in all ways.  They stayed separate.  They considered marriage  and procreation a sin.  I kept wondering how a people could get so messed up.  Jessamine remembers her life outside of the Shakers.  When she and her sister find a man in the woods and bring him back because he is injured, things change.  They are immediately drawn to each other. Tristan had lost his memory. When he gets it back he tells no one hoping to find out who tried to kill him.  However, the closer he and Jessamine get the more the Shakers are ready to send him packing.  That is exactly what happens and Jessamine goes with him. Tristin’s parents have made a marriage arrangement to save their finances.  Will Tristin and Jessamine stay together? If he leaves will she stay in this world or go back to the Shaker world?  If you want these answers you will definitely need to read the book for yourself.  It was definitely a different take on religion. The author did an excellent job of presenting the history of that time period.