Sunday 31 March 2019

Book Review: We Hope For Better Things

From the Back:

The past is never as past as we'd like to think
When journalist Elizabeth Balsam is asked to deliver a box of old photos to a relative she didn't know she had, the strange request seems like it isn't worth her time. But as she explores her great-aunt's farmhouse with its locked doors and hidden graves, she soon discovers just how dramatically some of the most newsworthy events of the previous two centuries shaped her own family. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding.

Take an emotional journey through time--from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to Michigan's Underground Railroad during the Civil War--to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.
My Reflections:
The bonds of the past run strong and true in this debut novel by Erin Bartels. What a start for this new authour, I was wowed by her ability to weave a trio of timelines together absolutely seamlessly. We go from the Civil War to the Civil rights Movement and the Detroit riots in 1967 and then moving to the present day. I loved this! 
Normally I'm not a huge fan of a myriad of timelines, I usually get hopelessly lost and confused along the way. Erin Bartels, however, has a way of penning her novel to make her reader very comfortable with this transition, actually I found it very easy to read and thoroughly enjoyed the history and depth in which Bartel must have gone to research these events in our history. 

I was swept away from page one to the very end. The writing is fresh and the subject matter though at times painful and raw, was executed in a way that offers hope and love and encouragement for the future! 
I can't wait to read more from this authour, and will definitely be looking for her next book.

If you are looking for something new with raw authenticity you won't want to miss this one!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Erin Bartels
Erin Bartels is the author of We Hope for Better Things and has been a publishing professional for 17 years. A freelance writer and editor, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women's Fiction Writers Association and is former features...
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Saturday 30 March 2019

Book Review: Mending Fences

From The Back:

Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.
Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him. He has been allowed to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, he must make a sincere apology to each person he's hurt. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused isn't so simple. It's gut-wrenching.

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm, and Luke's clumsy efforts to befriend her only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge. 
My Reflections:
This is book one in Susanne Woods Fisher's newest series titled, "The Deacon's Family." I am loving the turn these Amish tales have taken. They are not portrayed the same at all. I don't know why the change, but I sure hope that it actually reflects a more accurate representation of the Amish people in reality. 
Not to say that there are no set rules and faith guidelines to follow, but the characters in recent books have been more able to test the waters in their lives without such harsh retribution. This is a welcome surprise!

I loved everything about this novel from the characters to the plot twists. very well written, and so much fun to read! The healing in this story was a balm to my soul, how beautiful to watch a story of redemption unfurl before your eyes. 
How can you not cheer on Luke, he wants to change and wants the respect of his people, but earning proves to be a little more challenging than he anticipates. Throw in a few events that turn things upside down and you have a touching story, that not only keeps your attention but also throws a curveball into the normally predictable Amish storylines we have come to expect, 

Brilliantly done! Can't wait for book two. 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty books, including Mending Fences, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop's Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also...
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Saturday 23 March 2019

Book Review: A Faithful Gathering

From The Back:

When Each Tomorrow Brings Unexpected Challenges,
Can She Keep Hoping for the Future She Envisions?
Leisel Bachmann left her Amish roots and beloved sisters to pursue a career in nursing without a second thought. She and her English boyfriend, Nick Jordan, have big dreams for their future, but those dreams come crashing down when her sister Marie is diagnosed with cancer.

Soon nothing is going as she planned--not her state boards, not her first nursing job, and certainly not her relationship with Nick. As she becomes increasingly discouraged, her aunt shares the story of Leisel's grandfather during World War II and the struggle he faced between returning to Lancaster or being with the woman he loved.

Peace and direction for the future are difficult to find, and when Nick leaves Pennsylvania to pursue an unexpected career path without talking it through with Leisel, she is faced with impossible choices. Will she stay in Lancaster, close to her family and the traditions of her past? Or will her grandfather's story encourage her to embrace a life of love and service in an uncertain future?
My Reflections:
This is the third and final book in the series labelled "The Sisters Of Lancaster County" Leslie Gould is a fantastic authour she always pens her books with interesting facts and an array of complex characters. You never find yourself wandering through the pages of her novels. T
his book is taken on slightly different than her others, The main character, Liesel is at a crossroads in her life she is in a very vulnerable position and must choose how the rest of her life will play out (as much as anyone can.) I enjoyed the dual storyline Aenti Suz is wise and a fantastic storyteller! Many life lessons and tidbits of wisdom can be gleaned at the knee of a wise elder. I adored how relationships were a center point to this story though true to life they bore strain and conflict, such strife is the way of bonding, faith building and strength in may hard-won relationships.
I found many interesting facts along the pages of this story many centring on the Amish lifestyle and how they conducted themselves in war times. I attend a Mennonite church and have heard some stories, but it was nice to delve a little deeper into what the men did during the war.
Al in all this is a fantastic read, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good Amish novel!
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc

Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. She is also the author of numerous novels including two Lancaster Amish series. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland...

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Book Review: A Desperate Hope

From The Back:

Eloise Drake's prim demeanour hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her. A mathematical genius, she's now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town--but he needs Eloise's help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he'd lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.
My reflections:
I adore this authour. I was genuinely looking forward to this novel with keen yearning, however, this one was a disappointment. 
I found I didn't enjoy most aspects of both characters. I absolutely despise numbers and Eloise is in her utter happy place when confronted with spreadsheets, tallying and figures of all kinds... Alex Duval set me off right from the get-go as well. He and Eloise have a tryst as young teenagers and the moral compass of this whole affair is not resolved in any way. He is beaten and sent on his way, but the fact that they had intimate ties is never addressed as a sin. This is supposed to be clean Christian fiction, I feel It is not on that basis. I would have hoped for some kind of mention that he regretted intimacy before wedlock, but no sadly not. There is no mention of it, then as adults, there are inappropriate moments as well. OK so I am not perfect, no one is. I get that, but this is Christian fiction, is it not? Should there not be a standard set?
This alone right off the mark made me go...meh! But being the avid reader I am I tried to look past my character pickiness and delve into the fascination of the polt. It sounded so good. A small town on the brink of destruction by the mighty hand of New York, for the mere need for water storage, it seemed intriguing, and I was hopeful. I did enjoy the small town spunk and the strong emotional pull of the plot, I didn't, however, enjoy the drama of it all. It was too tense. Perhaps I am in a mood and was looking for something a little more sedate, as my life is drama city right now, but on these facts alone I just could not sink my heart into this novel as hard as I tried. 
If you are looking for a drama, love numbers can overlook Biblical truths that you may find this book to your satisfaction. I am looking forward to Camden's next novel as I truly do love this authour!
Elizabeth Camden
Elizabeth Camden ( is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a...
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Monday 4 March 2019

Book Review: The Warrior Maiden

Book Description

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a fresh reimagining of the classic Mulan tale.
“When it comes to happily-ever-afters, Melanie Dickerson is the undisputed queen of fairy-tale romance, and all I can say is—long live the queen!” —Julie Lessman, award-winning author
She knew a woman was expected to marry, cook, and have children, not go to war. Can she manage to stay alive, save her mother, and keep the handsome son of a duke from discovering her secret?
When Mulan decides to take her father’s place in battle against the besieging Teutonic Knights, she realizes she has been preparing for this moment her whole life—and that her life, and her mother’s, depends on her success. As the adopted daughter of poor parents, she has little power in the world. If she can’t prove herself on the battlefield, she could face death—or, perhaps worse, marriage to the village butcher.
In her disguise as a young man, Mulan meets Wolfgang, the German duke’s son who is determined to save his people even if it means fighting against his own brother. Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier who seems to be one step away from disaster at all times—or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.
From rivals to reluctant friends, Mulan and Wolfgang begin to share secrets with one another. But war is an uncertain time and dreams can die as quickly as they are born. When Mulan receives word of danger back home, she must make the ultimate choice. Could she be the son her bitter father never had? Or would she become the strong young woman she has been created to be?
This fresh reimagining of the classic tale takes us to fifteenth-century Lithuania where both love and war challenge the strongest of hearts.
My Reflections:

This authour always hits the perfect blend of fairytale and fictional delight for me. I absolutely adore sharing these books with you and with my teenaged daughter. Honestly, I could go on forever, but I will stifle my accolades and get down to the review.

The premise of this book was of course loosely based on Mulan, but so cleverly done it captivates from page one. Dickerson nestles her character in the midst of a well defined Medieval series, and does so seamlessly!
Though it is supposed to resemble the favourite story of Mulan, it takes on its own blend of uniqueness and multidimensionality. 
Desperate to escape a disappointing and mundane future Mulan radically decides to cloke herself in men's clothes and stand with the rest of the army in the place of her dead father. To be honest she is partly doing it to save her "mother" from a life of hardship. However, the pull of adventure and the escape from a marriage to an old smelly guy helps seal her decision as well. 

Wolfgang was another fantastic character, determined to do the right thing and try and protect his rebel brother. He is definitely a knight in shining armour in more ways than one!
I loved his interactions with Mulan, his confusion to his feelings, the reveal that he is actually a she. Wow, it was perfect!

I can't wait for the next installment of this series. The intermeshing of the stories is what makes this authour so special. Though these are rated YA fiction, I think anyone would enjoy this author's work! 
So don't stop at this one, go out and check out all the titles penned by Melanie Dickerson!

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