“A Road Unknown” by Barbara Cameron

Elizabeth is at a crossroad. She’s been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings, but Elizabeth Bontrager can’t decide which road to take. Goshen has its charms and pressures, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, sounds . . . well, like paradise. And it’s also home to her Englisch friend, Paula. Decision made. Elizabeth is Paradise bound.
But will the small town live up to its name? When Elizabeth meets Paula’s friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. And the same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love?
 
Elizabeth doesn’t just take an unknown road in this book, but a most unique one, as well!    Forget trying to decide if she’s going to be Amish or English – she’s going to live Amish but in an English house and work in an Amish business and date both Amish and English!  While it might sound confusing, it really wasn’t – but the reader definitely hops between both worlds.
 
Yet it was really a fun read.  Elizabeth doesn’t spend as much time mentally trying to figure out her life spiritually or philosophically as she does just taking the next logical step.  Because these steps have put her in a rather unusual predicament, watching her navigate the sideways current makes for a great story.
 
Elizabeth was definitely someone I’d like to get to know, but Saul Miller, on the other hand, is a bit different.  At first he sounds like a ‘player,’ the kind of guy whom you’d really want to see put in his place.  As time passes, however, he comes across as a guy who has his head on straight but has just now figured out what he wants – and is going after it.
 
I flew through this book.  It’s an easy read, pretty light-hearted and smoothly written.  With such likeable characters and a flickering romance, you can’t help but want to see a happily-ever-after at the end of the book, and Cameron won’t disappoint you.
 
 

Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the Everything Weddings on a Budget Book and Her Restless Heart: A Woman’s Longing for Love and Acceptance. Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.

 
Learn more about Barbara at: http://barbaracameron.com
 
I received a free copy of A Road Unknown from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“A Promise Kept” by Robin Lee Hatcher

 

 God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.

What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she’d misunderstood.

Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?

Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption,A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher’s emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.

A Promise Kept is a powerful story of redemption on many levels.  Although neither Allison nor her daughter wanted to walk away from Tony, they each had to – and then, although neither was ready, God brought him back into both lives again.  American culture dictates that we finish with things and dispose of them, that if they don’t suit us or are difficult, we set them aside and move on; but that is not what God asks us to do, and Allison was obedient to God’s calling.

This story follows Allison’s journey of grief, independence, obedience, and forgiveness.    None of the life changes she made were easy, and A Promise Kept makes that very evident.  I enjoyed watching as she transitioned from one state of mind into another, healing all the way.

With that said, although I could see her softening attitudes towards Tony, her return and complete forgiveness of his previous actions still felt sudden.  It felt as if the journey ended too abruptly, and I would have preferred for the storyline to keep moving at a slower, less dramatic pace; but, having read a bit of the author’s story, that would not have been realistic.  While it definitely shakes up the reader’s comfort level, the ending that Hatcher chose is one that only God, and not we imperfect humans, would choose, which makes it the perfect ending.

For me, the far and away best part of the story was Emma’s parallel one.  I loved the notion that another member of Allison’s family had similar struggles, faced them, and won.  The journals made a great tool for traveling back and forth between eras, and for history nuts like me, it made the faith lessons even stronger and more interesting.

A Promise Kept is definitely a departure from the faithful but romantic novels that Hatcher usually writes.  While it is still faithful and romantic, it is deeper and … edgier … somehow than her other works.  That just might make it the best one.

Read other reviews in this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy now. 

 
 
Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Learn more about Robin at: http://www.robinleehatcher.com 
 

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. 

“A Little Irish Love Story” by Amy Fleming

A Little Irish Love Story  -     By: Amy Fleming
 

 What do you get when you mix a couple craving love, Nazi concentration camps, rich Irish landowners, and crazy chemists?  You get a book called A Little Irish Love Story, but it’s a most unusual story.

The scene opens with Anna, camp survivor, following her mother-in-law Sarah to her Irish hometown Adare.  At this point I figured it was going to be a historical-fiction version of the Ruth and Naomi story and settled in to watch out for Boaz – but while the wealthy relative soon came on the scene, he was no confident kinsman-redeemer.

Henry is rich and lonely.  His shyness appears to be his biggest issue, but you soon find out that there’s more.

As Anna and Henry start to dance around each other, interested but unsure of how to proceed, unreality reared its ugly head – at least for me.  After all that Anna had survived, she was so quick to move on?  After decades of being afraid of approaching a woman, Henry was jumped at the chance to date Anna?  Then, as their situation changes, they seem to run hot and cold alternately.  This certainly adds to the drama of the story, but when the crazy chemist pops up, the storyline got plain creepy.  

At this point I wanted to put the book down.  It felt almost as if I were reading a fantasy book at that point, and one that was rather unbelievable, as well.  If not for having promised this review, I might have put the book down, when suddenly things started looking up.  Still strange, but much more interesting and possible, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

By the end of the story I felt as if those strange parts were worth it.  The author was surely going to make an amazing point about real, true, Biblical love after all, right?

Well, she did – but not with whom I expected.  The final resolution of the love angle fell rather flat with me, between all of the hots and colds and running away and letting go.  I wanted the ending that happened – but I wanted it built up more.  More resolved.  More details figured out.  More ends tied up and wounds healed.

Instead it ended rather suddenly, just as most of the action happened.  Is the story well planned?  Detailed?  Well written?  Theologically sound?  Yes to all.  Is it suspenseful? Could I easily put the book down?  Yes and no – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened – until I did.  

The premise is actually quite fascinating.  I enjoyed the parallels and the ideas behind the characters – but they weren’t fleshed out enough for me to feel as if they were real, and while I felt quite a part of their stories, it needed more.  More detail.  More interaction.  A different pace to the interpersonal resolutions.

I think it really boiled down to Anna’s reaction to her time in the camps.  Because her reactions to that part of her story didn’t make sense to me, I had trouble relating to the rest.  Maybe you’ll have a different perspective.

I received a free copy of A Little Irish Love Story in exchange for an honest review.

“A Light for my Path” by Davis Carman

A Light for My Path: An ABC Book Based on Psalm 119
 
A Light for my Path is not your ordinary kids’ book.
 
It’s repetitive in nature, true.  The pages take you through the English alphabet, with colorful drawings of nature, on which each page is featured an animal that starts with that letter and a word that describes God’s nature.  The animal is usually then also found, smaller, on the following page.
 
 
My Big Helper loved discovering those patterns.
 
My Little Man was intrigued by the animals themselves.
 
Both want to go research the animal found on the ‘n’ page, as it’s one that is very unfamiliar to us.
 
They commented that they liked the book.  They thought it was a good book as it taught them about God’s character.
 
Upon a first read, though, that could be the end – unless you were prepared to go deeper.  If you’re not sure how, there are suggestions at the beginning of the book, and here are a few of my own.
 
This book provides the opportunity to be used as a teaching guide with children elementary aged and younger.  You could refer to this over and over again when reading through scripture or coming upon life events when you want to compare the occurrence in front of you to God’s character.  What does that scripture say about God?  How could you see this event?  Does it line up with His character?  Is this something that needs to be investigated more?  I can see asking these questions and more with my kids as different circumstances arise to help them learn how to evaluate events and see them through Jesus’ perspective.
 
A Light for my Path also takes the alphabet theme just a bit further.  In the back of the book is Psalm 119, which is an acrostic poem in Hebrew.  The poem is written out with the Hebrew letter for each stanza found at the top of the page.  I know exactly zero things in Hebrew, so this was interesting to me – and to the kids.  
 
If you’re interested in a book for casual reading, this is probably not your best choice.  With only one word that changes from page to page, it’s not exactly action-packed.
 
But if you’re looking for a book that you can use over and over, in several different ways, to inspire, teach, and instruct your children in the ways and character and creativity of God, well … then A Light for my Path is perfect.
 
I received a free copy of this book from the Mosaic Review Forum in exchange for an honest review.

“A Big Year for Lily” by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Lily Lapp’s family has settled into their new home in Pennsylvania, but life still holds big changes and big steps for Lily. Good changes, like once again living close to her beloved cousin and best friend, Hannah. Bad changes, like a mean girl who plays tricks on her. And no change at all where Lily would most want one–Aaron Yoder sits near her in school and relentlessly teases her. Surprises are in store for Lily as she learns, with Mama and Papa’s help, to manage the ups and downs of growing up Amish.

The third of four charming novels that chronicle the gentle way of the Amish through the eyes of a young girl, A Big Year for Lily gives children ages 8-12 a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Amish—and lots of fun and laughter along the way. It combines Mary Ann Kinsinger’s real-life stories of growing up Amish and the bestselling writing of Amish fiction and nonfiction author Suzanne Woods Fisher. With charming line drawings in each book, this series captures the hearts of readers young and old.


Lily is back, and she’s better than ever!  We loved the newest installment of the Lily Lapp series.  Within a week of receiving the book, my daughter read it twice – and is working her way through the series again.  Any book that will encourage a love of reading like that is a winner in my book.

A Big Year for Lily is as full of childish adventures and parental wisdom as the first Lily book.  She deals with issues like what is truth?, who are my friends?, and how important is stuff?.  The story teaches about these important lessons while entertaining in a fun way.

I look forward to our upcoming book club event centered around A Big Year for Lily.  There are so many opportunities within this book for children to act out Lily’s adventures!  Besides math, quilting, and cooking ideas, there are art and game options, too.  For more specific plans, email me at amybradsher@gmail.com or keep watching for our book club post on a Friday in November.  I don’t want to give anything away here just yet if you haven’t read the book!  😉

My Big Helper is already asking when the next Lily will be released.  I’m not sure if Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger plan to collaborate on any more books after that one, but I hope that they do.  Our kids need more books like this – books that are strong in family values, respect, honesty, truth, and, yes, adventure!  Adventures that kids can really go and replicate on their own or with an adult’s supervision.  Please, keep’em coming, ladies!  

You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy here.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your iPhone or iPad! Download the Free App! http://bit.ly/134r55G

Learn more about Lily at http://adventuresoflilylapp.com/


I received a free copy of A Big Year for Lily from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“When I Fall in Love” by Susan May Warren

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled-or maybe yanked-away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.
 
Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.
 
 
Each book in the Christiansen Family series gets better than the one before it.  I fell in love with the family and the town of Deep Creek with the very first book, but When I Fall in Love is strikingly different from the rest, and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes it so.
 
Of course, the main character is Grace Christiansen, who like her brothers is amazingly talented in a unique and special way.  She is bonded tightly with her family and is both kind and generous, all of which make her extremely likeable.
 
Unlike the previous books, much of this one is set in Hawaii, and what place could be more colorful or romantic?  Warren maximizes this setting to play up the adventure.  It provides the perfect outlet for Max and Grace’s interaction – a cooking school centered around the local dishes for which Hawaii is famous.
 
The cooking school was a fun angle, but I enjoyed even more the way that Grace had previously not made it into cooking school on her own.  For someone so talented, this must have been a huge disappointment, but it also made Grace approachable to readers.
 
Max was a bit tougher to reach as a rich and famous celebrity, but the thorn in his side made the book.  Easy love stories abound, but his is much more rare and calls upon a real and deep love.  I enjoyed the suspense that it created within the story, the real emotional drama that both Max and Grace had to endure, and the lessons that each one learned.
 
While the plot was heartbreaking and realistic, Warren kept the mood under control with her own brand of fun humor.  While I felt sad with each character in turn, I also laughed throughout the story.  Warren’s quirks and trademark twists kept the pages turning and the mood from becoming too dark.  I loved this story – and I hope that you will, too.
 
 
Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. 

Find Susan online: website, My Book TherapyTwitter, Facebook

 
I received a free copy of When I Fall in Love from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
 

“Silenced” by Dani Pettrey

Get your copy of SILENCED by Author Dani Pettrey!

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna’s route leads her to a face-to-face encounter with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something sinister? When the case is handed to the overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin. With Jake’s past now revealed, he’s ready to use his talent for investigation again-–but he could never prepare for where the case will take him.

Kayden and Jake soon realize that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is on to them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger.

But the truth is far worse than either of them imagine.

I have loved Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series since the very beginning, and Silenced makes a venerable fourth offering.  Silenced advances the timeline for the earlier characters as they move ahead with relationships and marriages, but it’s mainly the story of Kayden McKenna.  Kayden is fearful of disease, worried about love, and protective of her family – and that winning combination makes her an amazing lead.

Jake matches Kayden stride for stride.  He’s smart, kind, and in love with Kayden – which makes him super protective of her – except that somebody’s coming for her, and neither of them can figure out whom or why.  

It’s this type of tough-but-vulnerable characters that make the Alaskan Courage series for me.  The people are heroic but each one has an Achilles heel which makes them feel human.  Pettrey breathes life into her characters through the details, the love, and the adventure with which she builds each one, and it’s this infusion of heroism that makes them fascinating.

I must admit that turning the last page of this story made me a bit sad – because I know that there is only one more in the series.  I’m enjoying the McKennas as much as ever and am not ready to leave behind my journey with them.  It is with mixed feelings that I anxiously await the final book in the series.  I can’t wait to find out what happens with Reef, but I might have to read it slowly to draw out the suspense and enjoyment.

 

Then again … read a Pettrey book slowly?  

 

Nah.  It’ll never happen. I’ll be flying through it as quickly as possible.

 

Just like always.

 

That’s the sign of a good book.

Want to read an excerpt?  Check one out here! 

About the Author

Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, and her latest release, Silenced. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their daughters, son-in-law, and super adorable grandson.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.