Monday, April 24, 2017

The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith



Seth Hostetler is an Amish man who has lost two wives, one in childbirth and the other in a buggy accident. Did I mention the second wife was pregnant when she died? Feeling that the accident was at least partly his fault, Seth vows never to marry again. He feels like an outsider in his own family because he is not married and never intends to be. Amish men are supposed to marry and get a place of their own. He befriends an Englisch (not Amish) man who offers his services to drive Seth or his family members to places that are too far to go in a buggy. He becomes interested in making pottery under the tutelage of an Amish man whose granddaughter works in the pottery shop. She has rejected Amish ways, but her grandparents hope that she will return to the fold someday.

This is different from any books I've read by Virginia Smith. The main theme is forgiveness. Seth needed to forgive himself for whatever role he had in his wife's death. He did not know who the rowdy teenagers were who whooshed by his buggy, causing the horse to panic and overturn the buggy. He need to forgive them, too. He is at odds with his family and his faith as he struggles with his emotions. Leah, the potter's granddaughter, plays a role in his healing, but I won't give away her method. She has an incident in her past that requires forgiveness, too.

If you like Amish fiction, you'll enjoy this. It is set in modern times, whereas most of the Amish fiction I've read was historical. Never read Amish fiction? Give this one a try. The story moves slowly at first, but I became more interested as I read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I did not request a review copy and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson




Imagine being in a wagon train headed west on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. Then, imagine yourself in Grace Martindale's position. She's a "healer" recently widowed and has responsibility for her two younger sisters. Grace married her minister husband because he had to have a wife in order to go west to Oregon territory to evangelize the natives.

The reverend dies en route, and Grace intends to go on to Oregon City, where her uncle lives. However, since the uncle is away on business, she decides to leave the wagon train at the Whitman Mission, where Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife welcome travelers needing respite from the journey and shelter for the winter. They also minister to the local tribes, the Nez Perce and the Cayuse.

While Grace and her sisters are wintering at the mission, a measles outbreak creates havoc among the mission residents as well as the neighboring communities. Many people die from the disease¸ despite the best efforts of Dr. Whitman and Grace.

Misunderstandings about the extent of Dr. Whitman's healing efforts in the Cayuse community leads to the Whitman Massacre, where a number of the mission residents are killed. Dr. Whitman and his wife are among the dead. Others are held hostage for weeks. Grace is absent when the massacre happens. She had gone with Alex Armistead, a local trapper, to help sick people in another location. Her sisters, Hope and Mercy, ae hostages and are traumatized by the experience.

This is the first in the Heart of the Frontier series by multi-published author, Tracie Peterson. If you enjoy historical fiction, you'll like this book. There is a romance simmering between Grace and Alex, but it is not the primary focus of the story. Alex's best friend is a Nez Perce trapper who helps us understand the point of view of the Native Americans in the story. Grace is conflicted between her responsibility for her sisters and her budding love for Alex. The uncle from Oregon City takes the women in when he comes back from his business trip. I encourage you to read the book and get to know Grace and her sisters. I'm looking forward to the future books in the series, which will be about the sisters, Hope and Mercy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Photo source: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/treasured-grace/354650

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Murder Is No Accident by A. H. Gabhart

What's it like to be a deputy sheriff in a small Kentucky town where nothing exciting ever happens? Michael Keane, whose roots run deep in Hidden Springs, should know. But lately, unusual things are happening. New businesses have opened in town with newcomers running them. Then, a local real estate agent falls down the stairs on one of her showings and ends up dead. It was an accident. But was it? Michael tries to convince himself. His girlfriend is in town temporarily. She's a lawyer from Washington, DC, and he hopes to keep her from going back by convincing her to marry him.

But, first, was the recent death an accident? Maggie Greene, the daughter of the lady who cleans the vacant old home where the accident occurred, knows something about it. She was there when it happened, but she wasn't supposed to be there. She was hiding in the tower writing in her journal when she heard the noise of the accident. Miss Fonda, the older lady with dementia, who used to live in the house showed up just after the "accident." She is on the loose from the assisted living facility. She has no idea what happened.  Maggie calls 911 but leaves before Michael arrives.

Michael is about to decide it was an accident when another murder takes place in the same house, and he's no longer certain. Things get complicated, because Maggie is around the house again. She tells what she knows, which isn't much. But, she has never seen the killer. She's just heard voices. It seems that everyone in town contributes to the mystery, natives and newcomers alike. Who dunnit? Does Michael succeed in keeping the love of his life from returning to Washington? What happens to Maggie? Read it and find out. You'll enjoy every minute.

Ann H. Gabhart is a veteran writer, with numerous published books under her belt. But she had never written mysteries before the Hidden Springs Mysteries. Previous books in the series are Murder in the Courthouse and Murder Comes by Mail. .A. H. Gabhart is the pseudonym she uses for this new genre. I've read a number of her books, and they are always entertaining. Her characters come to life on the page. Her sense of humor shines through often. I highly recommend the entire series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free of charge from Revell, the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Photo source: http://www.annhgabhart.com/

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Back cover says, "Haunted by the unknowns of their pasts, two women search for answers along the shores of Lake Michigan." I wondered how the stories of a Chicago socialite who had broken her engagement to a wealthy man and an elderly Dutch immigrant who's been asked to write a memoir for the town's semi-centennial celebration would coincide.

Well, it's a masterful story. Lynn Austin skillfully weaves the struggle of Anna, the socialite as her family pressures her to reconsider her marriage to her former fiancé with the remembrances of Geesje de Jonge, who recalls her journey from the Netherlands as a young girl to the wilderness area that is now Holland, Michigan. Anna's new-found faith is part of the problem with the fiancé. And a recurring nightmare about a shipwreck troubles her until she realizes perhaps it really happened. Geesje's memoir writings take her far beyond what she intends to give the celebration committee, but they help her recall her deceased daughter who left home at a young age. Faith plays an important role in Geesje's story, too.

The characters are fascinating, and there's plenty of conflict and soul-searching. I won't be a spoiler, but I will say that you'll love how the story ends. I'd like to see Austin write a sequel to continue both women's stories.

Image source: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/waves-of-mercy/377900

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Long Road Home by Dr. Earle L. Wilson & Lawrence W. Wilson

Full title: The Long Road Home: How God Forms Our Prodigal Souls, Wesleyan Publishing House.

I read this book straight through, but I am going to go back and take it a chapter at a time.

Both authors are pastors, and they present a thorough study of the parable of the prodigal son in easy-to-read style, organized in 30 readings. Using verses excerpted from the scripture story, the authors examine the roles and attitudes of the prodigal, the father, and the son that didn't leave home. Each reading includes questions for self-examination at the end. I recommend the book for either personal or group study. If I could give it six stars, I would.

You can order from Wesleyan Publishing House at this link. It's also available on Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was offered a review copy via email, and I requested to review it. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Image Source: LawrenceWilson.com.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Room with the Second-Best View by Virginia Smith

This is the third book in the Tales of the Goose Creek B & B series. Millie and Al Richardson are still working on renovations for the stately old home, the one they bought with the intention of opening a bed and breakfast inn.

Things are moving along well until progress is interrupted by plans for a wedding, the Goose Creek 150th anniversary celebration---and Millie's accident.

Like the earlier books, the reader is reminded of small-town life as in Mayberry (the Andy Griffth TV show) or Mitford (Jan Karon's fictional town). Little towns are special because very few people mind their own business. In this installment, everyone except the bride and groom wants an elaborate wedding. And there's dissension among residents about the anniversary celebration as well as who will be the best person to head up the Main Street program. Things do work out in the end, but there's plenty of strife and humor along the way.

I love this series. Being from a small town myself, I recognize the characters, because they remind me of someone I know. You can enjoy this one without reading the earlier installments, but I encourage you to check out the entire series. I can't wait for the next installment.

I have reviewed the other books on this blog here.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I did not request a review copy and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Friday, September 16, 2016

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd

Subtitle: A Marine Fighter Pilot's Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview, Boone Shepherd Publishing.

Jason B. Ladd is US Marine fighter pilot and Iraq war veteran. At first, I thought the title was based on the Marine Corps advertising slogan, "The Few. The Proud. The Marines."

The book is Ladd's spiritual autobiography. Growing up as a military dependent, he lived in many places in the world. He met his future wife on a military base. He describes his transition from a secular worldview to a Christian worldview by relating his development as a Christian to his training and growth as a member of the military. In other words, he used the military thought processes he acquired in his training to search for Truth.

Ladd said that he was thoroughly prepared to be a military pilot but poorly prepared to be a husband and father. Each chapter starts with a quote from a secular worldview followed by a quote with a Christian worldview. In my opinion, he shared a bit too much detail about the military training. There is so much jargon associated with the military that a civilian risks losing the author's train of thought in all the detail and explanations.

The most impressive section for me was the part where he dealt with the glorification of alcohol use in modern society, especially in the military. How refreshing to hear a "real man" suggest that abstinence is even possible, and even preferable, to risking alcohol addiction.

Promotional materials says the book will "connect strongly with parents, students, spiritual seekers, aviation enthusiasts, Christian community, military service members and veterans, men desiring to understand faith, women desiring to explain their faith." Well that includes just about everyone I know. It is a great book, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. One of the Few was a 2016 Indie Book Awards Finalist.

And I'll let you in on a secret. The title is based on a phrase in scripture from the parable of the wedding feast: "Many are called, but few are chosen" Matthew 22:14 (KJV).



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I did not request a review copy and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”