Showing posts with label Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romance. Show all posts

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Awakening Avery - Laurie Lewis


Genre:  Adult, Romance

Source: I received a copy from Bookfunnel. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Grief is different for everyone. For the main character in this book, it is obvious that she is stuck.  She is a famous author who can’t seem to move forward because she is still grieving the loss of her husband a year before.  Her grown children are worried for her. As she tries to move forward she finds herself swapping houses with a gentleman who knows all too well what grief is like. He had to raise his daughters on his own after he lost his wife. I loved this for many reasons. I live in Sarasota, Florida and was familiar with many of the places in the book.  This was not a mushy, gushy romance. I hate those. Instead we find two people dealing with the loss of their spouses. They are also dealing with grown children who always think they know best. I loved how Gabriel changed. He realized that all he had done by raising his daughters on his own was spoil them. When he decides to swap houses with Avery it means kicking his daughters out of the house as well, where they will need to learn to stand on their own two feet. This is a great book, with a great message and one I recommend.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Beyond the Storm by Carolyne Zane

I was on Spring Break this week. One of my goals was to catch up on reading. That didn't go as planned. However, I spent several days reading and below is one of those books. Unfortunately for me, when reading about quilts, whether fiction or not I start thinking about quilts. This is why my reading goal didn't get met.  I got side tracked and planned an entire quilt for my bed and a throw for my mother-in-law. However, I loved this series. See my review below

Genre: Christian, Romance
Source: I purchased a copy 

The idea of this story was great from the beginning. It is the story of a tornado that ripped a town apart. But, it is much more than that. The storm could also be seen to represent the storms or trials in our lives. Through the making of a quilt made from scraps of fabric found by the local hairdresser after the storm. We see how each piece of fabric helps make sense of the tragedy and the part the person played in the lives of those in the town. Creating the quilt, putting it together piece by piece is the way we have to put our lives back together after we weather our own life storms. The center patch belonged to a man who made Jesus a part of his daily life. It is the interconnectedness of those he touched along with the interconnectedness of the quilt pieces that make this such a wonderful book. The book doesn’t come off as preachy. It is a demonstration of a life lived the way Christ would want us to live life. Just another reminder that in life’s storms we need to turn to and rely on God. He is truly the only one who has control. This is the first book in this series and was by an author I was not familiar with. I am looking forward to reading the others in the series.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Twisted Road to You by Barbara Longley


Genre:  Adult, Romance, Suspense
Source: I was given a copy to be reviewed, the opinions expressed here are my own.

I am trying to clean out my personal library and my e-reader.  I am not sure how long I've had this book. Something about it appealed to me way back when I purchased it or agreed to read it for the author.  I don't read a lot of romance. I don't like, nor have I ever like mushy, gushy romance. However, give me a book where both parties fall in love while overcoming major obstacles and I am there.  

The two characters are both suffering from a type of PTSD. Wes is a former marine. He watched one of his men die and blames himself because he was thinking about how his wife had dumped him while he was away from home. Carlie is a single mom of a young boy. Her ex-husband is in prison. They moved changed their names and did everything right to protect themselves from the man who almost killed her.
Wes eats breakfast every day at the diner where she works. It is obvious to everyone around them that Wes has feelings for her. 

One day we goes for his breakfast and doesn't see Carlie. The owners who have taken her under their wing tell him about her past. He sets off to make sure she is okay. He sees her and her son being held by her ex.  He manages to rescue them, but her ex gets away.  His mission from this point forward was not to fall in love, even though you know that is what is going to happen, but to protect her and her son.  Like I said, this is not a mushy-gushy romance. The twists and turns are what will keep you moving through this book. The sad thing to learn after reading this is that there were other books before this one in the series.  Definitely going to read them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf

Genre: Adult, Christian, Historical Fiction

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

simplest terms this is a creative retelling of the story of Esther from the Bible. The author has taken some creative liberties that do not destroy, but enhance the original story. We see Esther as a woman who reluctantly marries a man she never would have because of their differences in beliefs. The author took this opportunity to explore the love between Esther and the King. This is important because during that period in history we know that the King had many wives. Yet we see how much he loved Esther.  The author also shows the king as a wise man and a kind man.  Haman is a man with a hate for Jews and a grudge against a Jew the King likes named Mordecai. Mordecai is the uncle of Esther. In this book Mordecai is shown in a different light. His reasons for Esther’s marriage to the king come across as self-serving. The Bible shows him as a calm and peaceful man who is very loyal to the king. If I had one complaint that would be it. However, this was not enough to take away from the book. It is well written  and I really enjoyed it.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Forged Lines by J.T. Bishop

Genre: Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller, Romance
Source: I purchased a copy. The opinions expressed here are my own

This is the next fantastic book in the Red-Line: Fletcher Family Saga.  When I started the book, I was a little confused. You have a police officer watching the skies for  UFOs. They make fun of her at the station and call her VT.  Then we switch to a dinner party. It was at this point I started having trouble remembering who is who. I had read and reviewed the last book back in January.  Then we have the event that sets everything into motion. The house where the dinner party is taking place is blown up. From that point on, I was oriented and hooked once again by this author.  The officer known as Vee has been tasked with looking for any other victims or survivors at this house fire. She comes across injured Jasper, who is babbling about his pills and his ship. A part of Vee wants to believe him but knows he has to be delusional. 
You have an alien race that has been fighting a battle within their own ranks. Within their culture, you have the Reds and the Greys. They have blended in and even married into the human race.  This has created some very unique problems. Hiding among them is the "High Child." He needs to go back to Eudora and take his place as leader. There are those who want him stopped and will stop at nothing to make that happen. You need to read this book to see what role Vee will play in this story. That was a great little twist I enjoyed immensely.
The book is jam-packed with action. You aren't sure who they should trust. Every time I thought I had figured out who was good and who was evil, something else was thrown at me, and I realized again, I didn't know. Once I got to the third or fourth chapter, I had to finish the book. My husband kept telling me to sit back in my chair. I get so into a book I scoot to the edge of my chair.  If you have not started or heard of this series, you must. It was wonderful. You won't be disappointed.  

About the Author

J. T. loves stories that explore a character’s unique abilities and origins. It’s the thrill of the unknown that continues to inspire her stories. What if extraterrestrials did walk among us? It’s a theme she finds intriguing and provides a wealth of inspiration for her books.  Drama, angst, passion, and humor all add to the fun. A little bit of romance doesn’t hurt either.

J.T. graduated from Southern Methodist University with a major in Marketing. She’s worked in the corporate world as a project manager as well as a Customer Service Manager. She tried teaching for a while and took a course in teaching children how to write. That course reignited her passion that began in high school when she and her best friend would write stories featuring themselves as the main characters. It was fun to do, but it took years before she got serious. But, when the right idea came along, and inspiration hit, she was ready to run with it.

J. T. enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling whenever she can, and spending time in nature (despite the heat in Texas). Getting up in the morning with a cup of coffee, ready to write is the start of a perfect day. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Only Charlotte by Rosemary Poole-Carter

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

This story takes place after the Civil War. Lenore James is a woman who has out-lived three husbands. Financially she is in a great place. She is wll aware of what is going on in society around her. When her brother Gilbert, a doctor loses his wife and child he loses a large part of himslef. Lenore invites him to come live with her and open a practice in New Orleans. Gilbert is willing to take those cases where the main doctor in town feels he won't profit much. This doesn't bother Gilbert since he is more about taking care of the patient and not worrying about the money. 

Gilbert is called to a house to care for a young child who has a terrible cough. He is immediately drawn to the child's mother, Charlotte Eden. Charlotte is married to awealthy architect. Gilbert's sister remembers her when she worked making hats. It is obvious to Lenore that her brother has fallen for Charlotte. The Mystery comes in when Gilbert is asked to remove Charlotte's dead body. I won't say anything more since I don't want to give anything away.

We see a society where those who are in power and have lots of money rule. Women have no rights and if some people had their way there would be slavery again. The author has told a story in the flowery and flowing way it would have been spoken in that time period. For some this may be a hindrance. It took me a couple of chapters before I was comfortable with this aspect. However, it actually put me in the time period. This author has a way of helping the reader visualize everything around them. I love a book that draws me in and carries me around twists and turns to the point I don’t see the ending coming. I love the historical aspect of this book. For me the emotional factor was a plus. I could feel how much Lenore felt she needed to protect her brother’s heart. I could see how Gilbert fell hard for Charlotte from the beginning. I agreed to read this book because there was the mystery aspect and it was historical fiction. I got so much more than I bargained for from reading this book. I highly recommend anything by this author.

About the Author
Rosemary Poole-Carter explores aspects of an uneasy past in her novels Only CharlotteWomen of MagdaleneWhat Remains, and Juliette Ascending, all set in the post-Civil War South. Her plays include The Familiar, a ghost story, andThe Little Death, a Southern gothic drama. Fascinated by history, mystery, and the performing and visual arts, she is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she was a long-time resident of Houston, where she practiced her devotion to reading and writing with students of the Lone Star College System. She now lives and writes by the Eno River in Durham, North Carolina

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Write Honor by Anna Dynowski

Genres:  Adult, Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

The first thing I have to say is that I absolutely loved this book from the very beginning. I was pulled in emotionally right from the start. A book that can grab me emotionally and hold me all the way through is a winner in my book.  Krysia Barciniak is hurting. At the age of sixteen she has a child that she gives up for adoption. There isn’t a day that she doesn’t feel that empty hole in her heart. It is one thing to know that God forgives you for something and another to forgive yourself. As a romance writer she has decided to leave the romance to her books. She was betrayed once and wants no part of love.
 Connor Tierney had the best of life. He had a loving wife, a beautiful daughter until he lost his wife in an accident. A year has gone by since his wife’s death. He feel’s his daughter’s pain of loss. He knows that his daughter needs a mother, but he doesn’t want a wife. He decides to compromise. He takes a job in Harmony Village. This is where his daughter Brenna’s biological mother lives. He can’t give Brenna her mother back so maybe he can let her biological mother into her life as a sort of substitute. However, the townspeople and a certain cat named “Cupid Cat” have other ideas.
I loved this. You rode the emotional rollercoaster with the characters, yet felt the strength in their faith that whatever happened in their lives was because God wanted it.  I have to be honest and say I don’t usually read romance. However, there are a few authors who write romance in a manner I love to read.  This author is one of them.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Christmas Wish by Engy Neville

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

Amy McKinsey is living her dream. In Manhattan. Working for one of the most popular lifestyle magazines in the country. Dating the perfect man, Richie Hendricks, III.
Her charmed life couldn’t be better. Christmas was gearing up to be everything she hoped for and more.
Until everything falls apart.
The dream job becomes a battle to the death when her old nemesis—and former boss—joins the team, determined to ruin her. Worse, her perfect man all but disappears when he’s forced to take over the family business.
What else could life possibly throw in her path?
In this touching and inspirational story, Amy must learn that true happiness lies in unexpected places, and only she can forge her own destiny. 

This held a lot more promise than I thought when I first began this book. I don’t read a lot of  romance books because so many of them are too mushy for me. This had that Hallmark feel once I got into it. In the beginning I was frustrated with the main character Amy. She took a giant step and moved from one coast to the other leaving behind a cheating boyfriend and an abusive employer to arrive in New York City and her dream job.  Then when she is asked out by a really dreamy guy she suddenly thinks that she isn’t worthy of someone like Richie.  I figured she would be a lot stronger with her relationship. I do understand the trust issue when your feet have been knocked out from under you.    What kept me reading, especially after her past shows up on her doorstep was the growth that I saw in Amy.  She redeemed herself. The things that irritated me were things that I saw in my own self. It hit too close to home. I realized when faced with a challenge we can move forward if we remember our past to help us become stronger instead of letting it hold us back.  I would definitely recommend this book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mine by A.N. Senerella

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

When I started reading this book I wasn’t real sure I was going to like it. First I need to say that I very seldom read romances of any kind. Unless there is some mystery to it, I just don’t care for them. What kept me going was Foster. Some of the things he said and did came across as too creepy. I couldn’t figure him out at first. Brady was a character I didn’t like too much. It wasn’t because of the way the author wrote his character. I didn’t like Brady because he came across as shallow. As an adult I can look back to when I was a teen and remember guys like Brady. Sierra would have driven me crazy. I had a friend like her in school who was my polar opposite. That is probably why she was my best friend. Mitchel gave me the feeling from the beginning that something was wrong. I never new how to take him. At times he seemed weak and at times he seemed so strong.  The book was definitely full of some twists. It was a clean read which I really enjoyed.  This is one I would definitely be willing to put on my shelves at school with the warning that they need to wait until the can spend four or five hours to read it. Once they start it they won’t be able to stop reading. That’s how it was for me.  I had never heard of this author before, but I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by this author. I am definitely going to recommend this to my fellow teachers for their classroom shelves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspence
Source: I received a copy from Netgalley to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother's hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn't be bothering them anymore...ever. Still their lives would never be the same. 

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother's mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts...and wants. 

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack's brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth....

My Thoughts:
This book is all about secrets and the effect they have on those keeping them. Madeline and Daphne haven't spoken for years. However, when they reconnect it is like they have never been apart. They are bound together by a past secret that has come back to haunt them. Jack has his own secret and while trying to protect Madeline finds himself falling for her. This is an edge of your seat, suspenseful romance. If you are into the mushy, gushy type of romance don't bother picking this up. The suspense, twists and turns kept me reading. I really didn't know how it was going to turn out until the end. That made this book especially wonderful for me. This is definitely a book I'll recommend.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dying to Dance by Jamie Cortland

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

From Goodreads:
Char and Diana Mansville, two sisters in their early twenties, lose their parents in a tragic accident. Finding themselves on the brink of financial disaster, they re-locate to southwest Florida to live with their aunt, a beautiful and wealthy ballroom dancer.
Once there, they meet handsome and charismatic Roland Donovan, who is a sociopath and involved in a deadly insurance scheme. Stricken by Diana's beauty and charm, he sets his focus upon her and relentlessly begins his pursuit of her.

My Thoughts:
The book starts out describing the tragic death of Char and Diana. After the loss of their parents they move to Florida to stay with their aunt.  Once established the two sister/writers go their separate way. Diana finds a condo not too far from her aunt and begins ballroom dance classes. Char moves to the East coast to live with her grandfather, windsurf, write and take ballroom dancing. As the book progresses we find  that Diana's former boyfriend is a private investigator who has been working a case that takes him back to Florida and Diana. 

There is quite a bit going on in the story. We find the two sisters meeting deadlines with their editors, starting new books, all the while taking competitive ballroom dance classes. I was surprised by the ending.  I thought I knew what was going to happen but was pleasently surprised to realize I was wrong.  This is a good book and one I would recommend to those who likesuspense, and romance that isn't mushy and full of sex.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Seascape Trilogy by Vicki Hinze

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my ow.

Beyond the Misty Shore
Welcome to Seascape Inn. Here you will meet the inn keeper Hattie, T.J. MacGregor and Maggie Wright. I would say these three are thrown together, but that wouldn't be true. T.J. MacGregor is a recognized artist. Seascape is very familiar to him. He finds himself drawn back there after his the death of his fiancee, Carolyn. He needs the time and this place to heal. There is a problem though, every time he tries to leave he can't. He struggles against something until he passes out. He has been stuck there for nine months.

Maggie has been looking for T.J. for quite some time. She blames him for the death of her cousin Carolyn. When she sees a painting T.J. did, that was supposedly in the car with Carolyn when she died, Maggie is sure he is guilty. After all that could be the only reason the painting is there. Since she can't find him, and the painting seems to  be calling her she drives to Seascape Inn.  There she finds T.J. She has witnessed first hand T.J.'s inability to leave. She knows how uncomfortable her being there makes him and she does everything possible to make him more miserable. That is until she finds that she is not only becoming friends with him, but developing true feelings for him.

The inn itself is one of the characters. Hattie seems to know what is going on but chooses to let things unfold they way they need to for the good of all. Vicki has done a wonderful job of connection all things in a manner that leaves you wanting to read the rest in this series. I love the way the book is written, If you've read any of my other posts you know I am a fan of romance only if there is mystery or something else tied to it. I've never gone in for the mushy romance stories. Maybe that is why I find Vicki's books so intriguing. There is something here for everyone, so come and join us at Seascape Inn.

Upon a Mystic Tide
This is the second book in the trilogy. In this book we meet psychologist Bess and her investigator husband John. The biggest problem here is one that is so ironic. Bess and John are in the process of a divorce. You would think that Bess, as an on air radio psychologist, who gives out advice daily, wold be able to find a way to straighten out her own marriage. You would think that John who has been over zealous in trying to solve a case would have gotten the clues that his marriage was in trouble. But, neither of them did this. For many this may be a sticking point. For me I see it as a way of setting this wonderful story up. I chalk it up to the fact that they were working so hard to keep other people from knowing the truth about them that they were blinded to solutions. John still loves Bess and both of them end up at Seascape Inn. Bess end up there after seeing the painting in a gallery and John follows her to square some things away. Hattie and the townspeople we met in the very first book are there to add the local color and flavor to the book. Of course a lot of this would not have happened if it hadn't been for John, the resident ghost helping things along. After all he is the one who made things known on air during one of Bess's shows about her divorce, something she'd kept secret not only from her listeners but also from her boss.

Like the first book, it is packed with emotions and the hope that things will work out for our two main characters. But, as you read you see Bess kicking the whole journey. Will their relationship be healed? This is a book you must read to find the answer to the question, because I won't give it away.

Beside a Dreamswept Sea
This book is so different from the first two, even though it maintains several similarities. In this story we find Bryce, a widower visiting the inn with his three children. Bryce is emotionally broken. You know how much he loves his children because he sleeps in the hallway just in case his daughter has a nightmare, he can be there for her. There is almost a bitterness left from his relationship to his deceased wife. The second character is Callie, a recently divorced woman who fought hard to get her ex-husband to pay her alimony. She ends up at the inn determined to never marry again. After all, who would put themselves through that kind of anguish again?

This book is the one I related to the most. My husband and I both went through divorces vowing to never marry again. We had both been raked over the coals with our first marriages. The funny thing is we knew each other while we were married to our former spouses. When my husband moved back to town and went to work for my father we just kind of clicked. For me this was terrifying. There was no way I was ever going to marry again, yet I did.  I know that is how both of these characters felt.

All of the charm from the first two books is found in this one. For me with my personal experiences it resonated with me. However, I have absolutely no problem recommending all three books in this trilogy to readers. It is a series you will want to read over and over again.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Curious Beginning – Deanna Raybourn

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review

Let me start off by saying that I am picky about literature set in the Victorian period. Often it comes across as very stuffy. This is not the case with this book. Veronica Speedwell is the main character. After the death of her “aunt”,  her life is suddenly turned upside down. She is almost abducted. Baron Maximilian von Stauffenbach convinces her that she is in danger. He also tells her he knows who her mother was and promises to tell her all. He places her with a friend named Stoker. Unfortunately before he has the chance to give her any information he is murdered. Veronica and Stoker flee in an effort to find the truth. They are to stay ahead of those trying to find them by joining a traveling circus, friends of Stoker’s.

Veronica and Stoker have a very strange relationship. They seem to take pleasure in making digs at each other. Veronica is definitely able to stand up for herself. She is very confident. This isn’t something you often see in females in the Victorian era. I loved her sarcasm. I loved how flustered Stoker would get because Veronica was not like other women of the time period. She would actually speak her mind and expect Stoker to accept it. This is the beginning of a romance. I liked the fact the author deviated from the normal Victorian romance. There are secrets from Stoker’s past that aren’t resolved in this book. This leaves the reader anxiously waiting for the next book in this series.  This is a great start to this series.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Intriguing Books by Michael Phillip Cash

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.

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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

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. I had to come back and add something to this review. It kept bugging me that I felt a connection to this book but couldn't think of a specific connection.  It has been a month since I first wrote this review and realized the connection. I have done quilting in class with students for several years as part of my Language Arts/History Units. A few years back I changed schools and we had to do community service projects. I was new and thought it would be great to have students sign up to make baby quilts for a local pregnancy center. I had about six students actually sign up for only one day. This was a three day event, one day for each grade level. Suddenly I had a class full of kids. Those who had not signed up for anything or were put in ISS because of behavior issues were walked to my class. Some of the teachers taught multiple grades so I knew I would have some of these kids all three days. Most of them had never even held a needle before. Since I'd already cut the fabric all they had to do was sew the blocks  together. I had a sewing machine at school so after school each afternoon I went over their stitches.  I had such an mixed group of kids and that is what reminded me of this book.  I had a couple of kids who were your tough gang members, except when they got in my class and I told them if they worked hard and finished their quilt they could give their quilt to their mom for their new sibling. I got some of the best work out of those tough kids. I had a couple of pregnant teen girls and a couple of kids who were always picked on and bullied so they figured they'd hide out in my room. I had a couple of kids who couldn't do any of the other service projects because of medical issues.  In those three days we made thirty-three baby quilts and seven kids got to take them to family members. Two of the kids had their church call me to see if I was willing to donate some to them for their needy closet.  To me this was service in action. The best story of this time was the young kid who was real tough acting, always in trouble. They had him in a behavior disorder class. He sat right next to me because he seemed to be a leader, not the good kind.  He talked to me about his family life. He came back each day and I learned a bit more and we talked about ways to handle the situations at home, a non-caring, drug addicted mom.  He was raising his younger brother. The next year when I did this project he stayed again. He was no longer in behavior classes, he was in advanced. He graduated with scholarshps to three different colleges.  Why? He said he learned how to cope with things by sitting in a class and working through things while sewing. That was the connection I had with this book and why it resonated with me and why I MUST recommend it to everyone.

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. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Supernova by Braxton Cosby

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

Braxton Cosby has kept the action and thrill of this book at a thrilling pace.  The story continues where it left off.  William had made the decision to love and protect Sydney instead of killing her. Sydney learned Noella her best friend had also been a bounty hunter, sent to kill her.  Now they have all bonded together.  To round out the group, the onboard system known as IMPI has agreed to also help.  As he evolves, learning more and more human characteristics Sydney gives him the human name "Bill".  William is sure his father has sent a fleet to take them all out.  What William was unaware of, was that his father and his kingdom was under attack.  There are evil plots all around them.  Another team has been sent to earth to  get rid of all of them. One of them is William's best friend.  When he disposes of the other two, will he be able to convince his friend Arrion to join him? Sydey's godfather Henry and his girlfriend, astronomer Jasmine have been brought in to the situation. You would think with all of this protection that things would be going smoothly.  Sydney, who has never had an illness or sickness in her life suffers a broken bone. Then there are the mood swings.  What is happening to her and will whatever it be, end up killing her?  There is enough suspense within these pages to keep you turning non-stop.  Can't wait to read the next one.

Final Three Jerry Eicher Found Reviews

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

My Dearest Naomi – Jerry and Tina Eicher

I absolutely love when stories are based on real events.  When younger, Jerry and Tina were separated while he taught in a Mennonite school.  They wrote to each other almost daily.  This story is a set of letters that the two main characters Eugene Mast, an Amish school teacher, and Naomi Miller write to each other. They were engaged to be married.  Eugene finds himself separated from the woman he loves while he teaches at a Mennonite school.  The letters speak of all kind of things, such as the everyday mundane chores.  It doesn’t matter what your loved one is doing. You want to know everything that went on in their day.

If you like reading letters or diaries you will enjoy this book.  If you are looking for a straight up novel then this might not be for you.  I am one who loves diaries and memories written in a series of letters so I really enjoyed this book.  As a teacher I enjoyed reading about Eugene’s experiences teaching.  The book also has some wonderful poetry throughout. We also get a look at some of the differences between the Amish and the Mennonite.  I believe a final reason I enjoyed this book is the same reason I enjoy Amish Romance novels.  There is none of the mushy-gushy things most “romance” novels are made of.  I have never liked them.  They seem fake to me.  To me this simple life through letters shows true love.

My Amish Childhood – Jerry Eicher

I often wondered about Jerry’s life. He was raised Amish, yet he is so unlike so many I have come to know. He lived I an Amish community in Canada. His parents decided to move them to Central America, the country of Honduras.  One thing we learn is that the Amish community in Honduras wasn’t as rigid as a lot of Amish communities.  I have learned by living just a few blocks up the street from an Amish and Mennonite community in Sarasota, that they are nothing like those in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. There were a lot of cultural differences for him to adjust to as well. When I read that his neighbors considered stealing from each other okay, I was reminded of countries like Brazil where cheating is often considered okay in the business world.

Jerry had an issue with stuttering and was bullied for it as well.  I found it quite humorous to find out he got even in many ways and never really got caught.  One thing I really enjoyed were the pictures sprinkled throughout.

Susanna’s Christmas Wish – Jerry Eicher

Life as a newlywed is tough for all newly married people. For Susanna and Herman it is tougher because she married Herman after the one man she truly loved, Matthew,  left the Amish Community.  To make life more difficult she tries to convince both herself and her new husband that they truly do love each other. Then there is the culture clash. Herman’s family doesn’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.  Her family had always celebrated on the date the English celebrated. In his culture they celebrate it on the 6th of January. Since they are married he expects her to adapt to his culture since they are now one. She goes to her sister’s house to help with Thanksgiving and learns Matthew has returned. When they go for Thanksgiving he is still there and that creates more stress.  Matthew is stirring up trouble. Herman is so insecure in his marriage and then his mother gets involved.  What is Susanna to do except rely on her faith in God to get her through this touch time, and to save her marriage.  This is a wonderful novella.  It is great no matter what time of year.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Emma Raber's Daughter Series by Jerry Eicher

Katie Opens Her Heart 

This is one of those books that creates such a roller coast of emotions in the reader.  We meet Emma Raber a widow and her daughter Katie.  Emma has withdrawn since the death of her husband. The problem with this is that she is also forcing her daughter to withdraw from society. This causes Katie a lot of pain in so many ways.  She misses out on activities other girls her age participate in.  Her mother squashes all attention paid toward her by the boys.  Katie loves her mother and has always been obedient.  While working at Byler’s store she becomes friends with some of the Mennonite girls.  They invite her to some of their activities and she disobeys her mother and goes with them. Not only is she hanging out with the Mennonites she has a big time crush on Ben Stoll.  No one in her life thinks he is right for her.

Another story line running through this is that of Jesse Mast.  He is a widower with five children.  His oldest daughter Mabel has pretty much stepped into her mother’s shoes. Her dad decides he needs a wife and his kids need a mother.  He asks Emma to marry him and she turns him down.  Ruth Troyer is another widow and is trying to work her way into their lives. Jesse’s children don’t like Emma or Katie.  They’ve heard the talk about how strange they are.

Will Katie switch to the Mennonite faith? Will Jesse find a wife and mother for his kids? Will Emma ever allow herself to love again?  I suggest you read this book to find out.

Katie’s Journey to Love

In this second book in the series Jesse and Emma are married and a new issue has arisen.  While most of the children are beginning to accept Katie and her mom. Mabel, the oldest at age sixteen had taken care of things
including her father, after her mother’s death.  She feels like she is being pushed out.  She is mean and nasty to Katie and Emma.  I hated the things she said and did to Katie and Emma, but I could understand somewhat why she felt the way she did.  Even though Jesse and Emma are discouraging a relationship between Ben and Katie, she is sure they will get married one day.  She is also still going to group activities with her Mennonite friends.  They invite her to go to Europe to study her Amish roots.  She can’t afford it until someone mysteriously pays her way. Katie goes and not only does she learn so much about the Amish in Europe, we are taken on this historic trip.  Jerry has done an excellent job of sharing this historical information with the readers in a way that makes it interesting and not boring. While in Europe Katie learns that Ben has been arrested.  I recommend you read this book to see if this family can find peace in all areas of their lives.

Katie’s Forever Promise

In this final book we find Katie with two boys after her. The first is Ben. He is trying to win her back and seeks her forgiveness.  The other is a man named Norman. This is a problem since Mabel likes Norman as well.  The author showed a side of the Amish that most Amish fiction doesn’t deal with.  We see once again that the Amish face a lot of the same temptations and issues the rest of us face.  We who are not Amish have built this fa├žade for the Amish.  I think we have built it based on the fact that they set themselves apart from the rest of the world, so that must mean they don’t have the same problems.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  
I felt sorry for Ben.  It didn’t matter that he had changed. There were so many in the community that refused to forgive him or believe he had changed.  This irritated me.  When I was a child some of my relatives had an issue with something my dad had done.  It didn’t involve any of them yet they chose to judge him.  Since I was living with my relatives at the time and my parents and sisters were coming for a visit, I was told they didn’t know if they could forgive him for what he had done.  My response to them was, since they weren’t involved in the situation it wasn’t their place to forgive him, that was God’s job.  I wanted to shout this to Ben’s community.  We often forget that God is the one who is in control of ultimate forgiveness.  I liked the way he relied on God to get him through his situation.  Will Katie and Ben get together?  What about Mabel and Norman?  You didn’t really think I was going to tell you everything did you?  You really must read this entire series.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Surprise Finds After Purging My Office

Most people do Spring Cleaning in the Spring.  I have to wait until I'm out for the summer. I've been working on cleaning up my office.

My office consists of a 4 foot fold out table with various necessities on it (light, portable shelf, writing utensils, basket with paperclips, etc). To the left of my table/desk is a 3 foot space. Against that wall is a bookcase that is approximately 2 feet wide and  6 feet tall.  To the right of my table there is a 4 foot space. Against that wall is another book case that is approximately 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall.  I collect books, notebooks, etc.  I decided when school was out that I would go through my book cases and get rid of what I didn't need.  For books that meant those that everyone in the house had read and couldn't go on my shelves at school.  That process took me two days as I made sure I had also posted reviews for them on my blog.  We took three boxes of books to Goodwill.  One box was from the bookcase in my mother's bedroom.  She also purged her books.

The next item would take me almost a week.  Since I have a massive amount of notebooks of all varieties I had to go through and purge them.  I started with my composition notebooks and then moved on to my spiral notebooks.  I bring home tons of composition notebooks every year.  If students leave them in my room then I cut out the pages they wrote on and bring the rest of them home.  If there are only a few pages (which is what I hope for, because that means they actually used it the way they were supposed to in my class), then I cut the remaining pages out and put them in an envelope style folder.  These make great pages for grand kids or for note taking.

Next comes the spiral notebooks. This will eventually be followed by my binders. Yes I have a collection of them as well, thirteen to be exact.  Some of them have writing courses in them (3). Some of them have arts and craft ideas and patterns. Some have other types of writing, bits and pieces I have collected.  I purge them every year.  If I haven't used the idea or I have the same idea in multiple places I get rid of them.

While going through my spiral notebooks I started finding little gems.  I am really bad about skipping multiple pages to write a book review.  Unfortunately life gets in the way and I forget I wrote it and it goes unpublished.  I found nine unpublished reviews of books by Jerry Eicher.  So I am going to post the first three here today.  I will post three more tomorrow, and the last three on Sunday.    They weren't the only ones I found.  I will be sprinkling them through the next month along with books I continue to read.  I am continuing my reading challenge through the month of July to try to catch up on the books that authors have sent me and I got behind on.  There are other's that are not on the list.  See I also have to purge my email list.  I go through my "Books to Review" Folder and delete books I've reviewed and forgot to delete the email, and then mark down the ones I still need to review. I know my list will grow longer. If you want to see my 'Summer Reading Plans" list just go here.  Without further ado here are my review for today, his Fields of Home Series.

Genre: Adult, Amish Fiction
Source: I received copies from Harvest House to facilitate my reviews. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Missing Your Smile by Jerry Eicher
I've read several books by this author and think he is one of the best Amish Fiction Authors out there. That might be because he was raised Amish. This is why his books ring true.
In this story we have a young Amish girl, Susan Hostetler, who has decided to become English. Her reasons are simple. She was to marry Thomas Stoll, until she caught him kissing her best friend. She runs off to New Jersey where she gets a job working in a bakery and living above it.  She is trying hard to blend both of her worlds.  She is trying to stay true to her faith and the values she has learned growing up Amish, yet blend in with her new English world. She loves working for Laura and her son Robby.  Robby is good at listening to her and she is good for trying to straighten him out.  When a young unmarried pregnant girl named Teresa comes into the bakery, Susan's new life runs into her old life.  Teresa has not had the best home life and she wants her baby to have a chance in life.  To her that means she having her baby adopted by an Amish couple.  Since the only Amish person she knows it Susan, she asks for her help. Susan agrees to help her.  One of the things that irritate me was that Teresa's boyfriend wants nothing to do with her until she gets rid of the baby. I wanted to smack Teresa upside the head and scream at her, do you realize that he is a piece of garbage if he feels this way?  Susan takes Teresa back to Indiana with her.  Even though her parents are kind and caring to Teresa, that doesn't mean the rest of the community will be.  This is a well thought out book.  The conflict is real. You don't have to be Amish to have similar conflicts. The ending makes you pine for the next one in the series.

Following Your Heart

This is the second book in the series. In this book Susan takes Teresa and her son Samuel back home with her where Susan's parents welcome her.  Unfortunately not does.  The Deacon has forbid her to attend the church.  I think this more than anything else ticked me off. You want to bring people to God but you aren't part of our church so find God somewhere else.  That is how I felt about the Deacon.  I found it aggravating that Thomas would be so petty when he can't get Susan to come back to him that he would try to hook Teresa up with an older man who is willing to marry her for cleaning and cooking, not for love.  I did love the fact that the Deacon's son is attracted to Teresa, even though it goes against his dad.  Who and what will win out?  You must read this book and find out.

Where Love Grows
This is the final book in this series. What an excellent way to end the story.  Teresa has found true love and someone to be a Godly father to her son Samuel.  This fulfilled her wish to raise her son Amish.  Susan on the other hand has given Thomas another chance.  Once again he blows it. We learn he was more interested in Susan's father's farm than in Susan.  This turns out okay because Susan is being pursued by another man. The question is will Susan allow herself the luxury of letting someone else into her heart.  This book had another conflict that involved a secret that Susan's father had kept for a long time. No I'm not going to tell you what the secret is or how it is resolved.  I suggest you read this entire series from beginning to end.  Jerry writes realistic characters with realistic problems.  We see that the Amish have some of the same kinds of problems we have.  Often times we set them p on a pedestal and don't really see them as having the same faith based struggles that we do.  However, this is not true.  They struggle just like you and I do. So I highly recommend you read this series and I also recommend you come back tomorrow for another group of books by Jerry Eicher.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Me and Mom Fall For Spencer by Diane Munier

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

From Goodreads:
The house next door to Sarah and her mother Marie has been vacant since the murder that happened there when Sarah was ten. Their neighbor, Frieda, was like a second mother to Sarah and she died brutally and th eighborhood never recovered. No one has lived in Frieda's house for seventeen years. Imagine Sarah's surprise when it finally sells to an on-line buyer. She looks through the thick growth separating her house from the other and a wild man looks back. He's not exactly wild. He's thirty-seven year old Spencer Gundry. Once he shaves the beard and gets a haircut, he's not hard to look at. Well Sarah's mom doesn't think so, and neither does she. Problem is, Spencer has a few secrets of his own.

My Thoughts:
I love books that combine mystery and romance.  That is what this book does.  This is not a boy meets girl and they fall in love immediately type of book.  They both are carrying some baggage with them that makes their relationship take time to develop. I really didn't like Sarah's mom too much. She just seemed over the top dramatic.  The old man who lived across the street from Sarah had a son. He moved out leaving the old man living in the chaos and filth he'd been living in for quite some time. I loved the way that Sarah took charge and "told" him what was going to happen and then ignored him and did it anyway.  Sarah was one of those people who had to fix and care for everyone else when she herself needed fixing.  You don't really find out why she and Spencer are the way they are until near the end.  When you learn Sarah's story your heart will really ache. You have a new understanding of her and her mom.  The revelation still didn't make me like her mom more. I still felt she was selfish and self-centered. This was a strange but interesting book.  I've enjoyed reading books by this author.

About the Author:
Diane Munier was raised as a midwestern urban kid. She spent a lot of time nosing around in the many establishments that filled the neighborhood. Love of story grew as she sat in various places--pews, restaurant chairs, barstools, and listened to the story-tellers, the keepers of the tales that patched us together. Lots of colors in the neighborhood quilt, lots of threads and shapes and patterns. It was all music ad she wondered how to capture what she was feeling; she wondered how to share it. Diane wanted a voice and to take her place in the quilt. She's currently learning to stitch some small part of it together.