Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stephanie Reed's The Bargain ~ Reviewed



THE BARGAIN
Stephanie Reed
Series: Plain City Peace (Book 1)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (September 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082544215X

Description:

It’s 1971, and Betsie Troyer’s peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.
When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth—a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie’s marriage to Charley Yoder.
Worse still, Betsie must learn a trade while she boards with a dysfunctional Englisher family: Sheila, a twelve-year-old desperately searching for a friend and in dire need of her mother; the free-spirited mother, who runs off to "find herself" on the stage; the angry father whose structured life crumbles; and Michael, a troubled college dropout nearly killed in the Kent State Massacre.
Thrust into the English world, Betsie must grapple with the realities of war and miniskirts, pot parties and police brutality, protests and desertion. Can she help the Sullivan family and find peace in her new surroundings, or must she forget the bargain she made and seek refuge back in Plain City with protective and reliable Charley?

Review:

The Bargain takes place in 1971, a time when America was still involved in the Vietnam War. We meet a young Amish woman named Betsie Troyer, who's life is turned upside down when her parent's “find Jesus” and leave the community. On top of trying to keep it a secret from the community, she is also starting a new job with an “Englisch” family, running the harness show her cousin bought from them while her cousin is away in the war. Betsie tries to distance herself from the family, but finds herself becoming attached, particularly to young Sheila. Without meaning for it to happen, she also gets close to Sheila's older brother, Michael, a hippie and known protester of the Vietnam War who comes and goes as he pleases, wears his hair long, and dresses in a way completely opposite from Amish men. Betsie begins to find herself torn between her Amish life and this new Englisch world she's been thrown into.

I haven't yet read an Amish story in this time period, so I thought it quite interesting. I was really interested in Betsie's parents and their new faith in Christ. The Amish are all viewed as so religious, yet when confronted with the truth, many, like Betsie, want nothing to do with it. She is afraid her parents are now going to hell for leaving the community, yet she herself is unsure of what she really believes. I'm really looking forward to reading book two to see what happens next, as the story really leaves you hanging!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Allison Pittman's All for a Story ~ Reviewed


All for a Story
Allison Pittman
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414366817

Description:

Monica Bisbaine loves being a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties. Her job writing a gossip column allows her access to all the local speakeasys in Washington, D.C., where she can dance the night away—and find fodder for her next article. But when the owner of the Capitol Chatter newspaper passes away, Monica wonders what will happen to her job, and the lifestyle she loves.

Max Moore may hold the title of editor-in-chief for evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s paper, The Bridal Call, but Aimee calls all the shots. So when Max learns that his great-uncle has passed away, leaving him all his earthly possessions, Max resigns and heads to D.C. Determined to take over the Capitol Chatter, infuse it with his values, and turn it into a respectable paper, Max is soon bumping up against the equally determined Monica Bisbane.

Under Max’s direction, Monica embarks on her most challenging assignment yet: infiltrating and reporting on the Anti-Flirt Society. Though reluctant at first, as Monica meets and mingles with the young women of the club, she begins to question the innocence of her flirtatious lifestyle. And when romance begins to blossom between Max and Monica, she must choose where her loyalties lie: with the young women of the society or the alluring pull of the speakeasy and its inhabitants.

Review:

All For A Story is about Monica Brisbane, a young, modern woman in the roaring 20's. She writes a gossip column for a local paper, which allows her access to all of the local speakeasies in Washington DC. This is the perfect job for her as it allows her to drink and dance the night away, and get paid for writing about it. Her life changes quite a bit when the owner of Capital Chatter passes away, and the paper is taken over by the next of kin, Max Moore. Max has recently been working with Aimee Semple McPherson, but decided moving on his own might be just the change he needs, so he moves to Washington DC to claim the inheritance left to him by his uncle, including the newspaper, Capital Chatter. Max and Monica find themselves oddly attracted to each other, yet each, so set in their ways, that they aren't sure what to do with the other.
 

   This story was really interesting. I haven't read up a lot on the 20's, but I really enjoyed it. One forgets there was a time when alcohol was illegal, and that there were all of these secret places people could go to drink and “have a good time.” I really enjoyed seeing Monica's character grow up, however, I was disappointed in how the book ended. She started coming around to things, but didn't really seem to come to know the Lord, and Max, who is supposed to be a Christian, seems ok with it. The book just seemed to leave that part of the story hanging for me, leaving me disappointed. I think it really bothered me because towards the end of the story, Max realized that for as much as he cared for her, he had never really shared the Lord with her. And he never really did seem to after that, yet he seemed ok with the fact that she wasn't quite ready in the end. It made the end of the story a downer for me.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Hannah Conway's The Wounded Warrior's Wife ~ Reviewed



The Wounded Warrior’s Wife
by Hannah Conway
File Size: 1195 KB
Print Length: 277 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1939603587
Publisher: Olivia Kimbrell Press; 1 edition (September 22, 2014)
Language: English
ASIN: B00NE9DZV0

Battles Raging Within Are Those You Must Fight to Win 

WHITLEIGH CROMWELL dreamt of a happily ever after with her newlywed soldier husband. COLLIER CROMWELL loved God, his wife, and his country, though military life exacted a demanding toll. 


An unexpected deployment during the height of war sends Collier away for yet another year. Their lives tumble down a path marked with struggle, and fatalities.Burdened with unseen emotional wounds and crippled faith, Collier's homecoming only increases their trials. 


The angry, defeated hermit at Whitleigh's side barely resembles the loving, faithful hero she married two years earlier. Concerned about possible career repercussions, admitting his need for help proves difficult for Collier and his behavior worsens. 


Angry outbursts — and his cold, callous nature — isn't all that provokes Whitleigh to pack her bags. Collier seeks solace for his private suffering in the worst possible place leaving Whitleigh to walk away from shattered pieces of broken trust. 


Will Collier seek the healing he desperately needs in time to save their marriage, or is it over? Are there wounds too deep, marriages too broken, and lives so far gone they fall beyond even God's ability to restore?

Review:

Whitleigh and Collier Cromwell’s romance began in their tender teenage years in rural Kentucky. Both dreamed of a happily ever after that included prosperous careers and a loving family filled with children. Collier’s choice to join the Army, however, forever changed the outlook of their futures. With terrors and changes on the home-front in Colorado and a second unexpected deployment to the Middle East, both Whitleigh and Collier struggle to adjust to the Army’s demanding lifestyle during their first year of marriage. After a year away from home he returns burdened by the devastations of war and holding little faith—a shell of the man that Whitleigh married. With the struggles and challenges increasing every day after Collier’s return as he fights the emotions from the devastations and traumas of war, Whitleigh loses the little strength she has left to hold her marriage together. God awaits their understanding that only through Him can Whitleigh and Collier achieve peace, but this is easier said than done by two people who over the past two years have learned to thrive on their independence for survival.

The Wounded Warrior’s Wife is a story an Army soldier and his wife—of their hopes and dreams for the future and also of their realities. Whitleigh is a wife like so many of American Army wives find themselves to be: loyal to her spouse but frustrated with the constant fear and worry for her husband. She finds herself an independent spouse and parent surrounded with care from family and friends but without the support from her husband that she needs to truly take care of herself and their child. The Wounded Warrior’s Wife is also a story of the solider with the heart of warrior who desires to make the world a better a place but, in striving to protect his wife from the horrors of war, brings those horrors deeper into himself and creates a drift that damages his marriage beyond anything imaginable. This novel discusses the hopes and perils of war…the joys of returning home and freeing people from oppression, but also the difficulties that soldiers and spouses experience for the chance of freedom.

Author Hannah Conway has crafted a story of love, life, and learning in The Wounded Warrior’s Wife. An Army wife herself, Conway intimately understands the solider and the wife’s point of views of the horrors and hopes of deployment. There is no one better to write a story about Army life than someone who lives it—the challenges, struggles, and hopes are so unique to this circle that a non-Army spouse has a close chance of misunderstanding the emotions the soldiers, spouses, and families experience. The Wounded Warrior’s Wife holds characters from every angle of military life, and Conway brilliantly weaves each one’s attributes and faults with no bias or favoritism. Soldiers, wives, friends, children, and parents each play a significant role in the story, emphasizing that military life depends upon the support of a community.

Whitleigh and Collier—Conway’s female and male protagonists—are hugely loveable in this story. As an Army wife, Conway is equipped to understand Whitleigh inside and out. All of the frustrations an Army wife experiences during a deployment and upon her soldier’s return home are played out in The Wounded Warrior’s Wife. Readers will easily empathize with Whitleigh throughout the novel because her pain and suffering are displayed so eloquently; however, Conway does not shy away from using the secondary characters to show that military spouses hold just as power in the breaking and repairing of relationships. One of Conway’s significant lessons in The Wounded Warrior’s Wife is that spouses and families often are capable of ensuring soldiers’ healing because they have the ability to love others and control their emotions at the same time. Through Collier, Conway teaches that soldiers’ emotions upon their return are out of their control because of their need to not emote while at war; Whitleigh, as the warrior’s wife, learns that she is just as responsible for the outcome of her marriage—despite Collier’s harsh words and actions—because she has the ability to feel while his responses still react to situations seen in the Middle East. Readers will fall in love in Collier for his handsome appearance, desire to be a dutiful and loving husband and father, quirky sense of humor, sense of loyalty to his friends and soldiers, and his ability to recognize his faults.

The Wounded Warrior’s Wife is Conway’s debut novel; however, the story reads nothing like one of a typical new writer. Her characters are fully developed; her dialog is true-to-life; her pacing is even, with each scene necessary to move the story along; and her descriptions are vivid. Readers will easily visualize the splendid Colorado scenery and the gritty, malodorous, and dirty Iraqi landscapes. Her ability to so thoroughly create the scenes in The Wounded Warrior’s Wife ensures that no reader will walk away from this book without fully comprehending the grotesque and inhumane lives of American soldiers in the Middle East that are left out of the daily news.  Collier’s battle scenes are so heartbreaking that readers feel his sadness through aches in their chests and downturned mouths. On happier notes, the deep characterizations that Conway creates through having experienced these emotions herself also mean that the scenes of homecoming and friendship are just as fulfilling as the battle scenes are necessary for plot. The sincere gratitude of families and spouses for the soldiers return from deployment is a scene someone can appreciate regardless if they have ever been on a military base before.

The Wounded Warrior’s Wife is a superb novel for adult readers who enjoy stories love, family, and honor. The novel is clean: there is no course language and no intimate scenes; however, the trials of military life are discussed in the novel, so anyone younger than teenage age should be cautioned towards the novel. Elements of faith are discussed in The Wounded Warrior’s Wife and are present in the protagonists’ lives.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by the author and by Olivia Kimbrell Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Reviewed by Marisa Deshaies

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Mirate Ferrell's Wishing on Buttercups ~ Reviewed





Wishing on Buttercups, Blossoms in Oregon Series #2
By: Miralee Ferrell
More in Love Blossoms in Oregon Series
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 416
Vendor: David C. Cook
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 0781408091


Description

In 1880's Oregon, a boardinghouse teems with the secrets of the women who take refuge there. Beth Roberts believes there are some things a lady never shares. But her fellow townspeople are curious - especially one man with a few mysteries of his own. Can she hide her past to protect her future?

Review:
Wishing on Buttercups is book two in the “Love Blossoms in Oregon” series. In this book, we follow Beth Roberts. Her and her Aunt Wilma have been living in a boardinghouse in Baker City, Oregon. Beth is currently an artist under a pen name, and is beginning to make a name for herself as well as a small income. However, she is afraid to share this information with anyone, afraid of what they might think of her. There are also scars from her past which she is afraid to reveal to others, so she tends to keep people at arms length. Jeffery Tucker is also staying at the boardinghouse. He comes from an affluent family, but wants to make a life for himself on his own without relying on the family fortune, so he ventures west in pursuit of topics for writing a novel. Jeffery and Beth develop an attraction for each other, however, Beth is afraid to let him too close for fear that he will discover secrets of her past that she has kept hidden.
I had read book one in this series, but it had been a while, so it took a bit for the characters to come back to me, but I found my memory picked up where the last story let off. I really felt for Beth's character. Due to some tragic circumstances which she couldn't remember, she was very self conscious of herself and afraid to let people get close to her, for fear they would judge her outward appearance. This, in turn, caused her to keep the Lord at arms length as well. But Jefferey's character was so patient and kind to her, it helped break down the walls, as well as her growing faith in the Lord.


Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, November 28, 2014

Beth Moran's Making Marion ~ Reviewed


Making Marion
Beth Moran
File Size: 747 KB
Print Length: 321 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1782640991
Publisher: Lion Fiction; 1st New edition edition (June 20, 2014)

Description:

Marion Miller comes to Sherwood Forest to uncover her father’s mysterious past. She is looking for somewhere to stay, but instead finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campsite. Despite her horrible shyness, she promptly lands herself a job working for the big-hearted and irrepressible Scarlett. It takes all of Marion’s determination to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy campsite, where even the chickens seem determined to thwart her. Then an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben… Can Marion discover her father’s secret? And will she find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?

Review:

Marion stops at a little, quaint trailer holiday park to ask for directions but instead ends up with a job and a complete and total makeover. This is a well-written, entertaining and slightly wistful read with plenty of humor and a ton of heart. 

Marion is a little lost girl in a woman's body and she's looking to connect with her deceased father. So she visits the Robin Hood festival where clues connected to her father in his distant past. As she uncovers more clues she discovers more about herself. Miss Scarlett, the charming camp site owner, loves on Marion and introduces her to a whole new world that includes community and friendship and loads of quirky and charming characters. As in all good books, Marion discovers far more than she set out to find and finds her true self in the process.  

Readers who like their inspirational fiction to be clearly Christ focused and pure as the driven snow might struggle with Making Marion. However, I found it to be a charming read full of sweet characters struggling through complicated challenges.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


THE BARON’S HONOURABLE DAUGHTER
Lynn Morris
File Size: 724 KB
Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (May 6, 2014)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group
Language: English


Description:

Bestselling author Lynn Morris weaves an inspirational Regency era romance rich in period detail. 

When her stepfather suddenly dies, Valeria Segrave finds she must take charge of her grieving mother and the vast estate which now belongs to her six-year-old half brother, the new Earl of Maledon. Though capable, Valeria is frustrated to find each day brings a new struggle as she tries to establish her authority with servants, stewards, and solicitors-all men. As a young woman with no blood relation to the earl, they are all too ready to dismiss her. 

Much to her chagrin, she must rely on the assistance of her stepfather's distant kinsman, Alastair, Lord Hylton. He is handsome and noble, and Valeria senses under the veneer of his gentlemanly behavior that she never measures up to his expectations of a refined lady. In light of that, accepting his help and feeling under a burden of gratitude to him is almost unbearable. Even when Valeria leaves the country estate for the glittering London Season, where she gets into a series of escapades, Lord Hylton is always there to witness, criticize, and correct her behavior. But if Alastair insists on engaging in a battle of wits and wills with the lively Valeria, she'll stop at nothing to prove that he's met his match.

Review:

The Baron’s Honourable Daughter tells the story of Miss Valeria Segrave.  Her father died when she was young and her mother remarried.  Unfortunately, she begins to witness his blatant actions towards another woman, realizing not only is he having an affair, but her mother knows.  When her stepfather dies suddenly while out of town, Valeria had to figure out how to take charge of the vast estate, tend to her ailing mother, and help along her six year old half-brother, who is the new Earl of Maledon.  As she struggles to establish her authority with those she has to deal with, a distant relative of the family, Alastair, Lord Hylton, arrives to help.  While Valeria appreciate his help, she also finds that their personalities tend to clash.  When she finally gets to go to London for the season, it seems as if Lord Hylton is there at every turn to witness her blunders and mishaps.  Yet, she finds herself looking forward to seeing him every time.
              
This story was so good!  I loved the setting!  I realize as I get older how much I enjoy this time period.   Just hearing about the clothes and the different parties and expectations.  It’s so interesting.  It was nice watching Valeria’s character grow.  And watching her go from the responsible young woman tending to the estate to the carefree young woman going to parties and meeting beaus.  And I appreciated that she was willing to open her eyes to see when she had gone too far with some of her actions.  It’s hard to look at ourselves and admit we are wrong.  It hit her hard when she did, but she didn’t let herself keep following that path.  This was a very enjoyable book!


Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, November 24, 2014

P.D.Bekendam's Prime of Life ~ Reviewed


Prime of Life
P. D. Bekendam
File Size: 499 KB
Print Length: 269 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1617952273
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (January 21, 2014)

Description:

Ben used to be a cardiothoracic surgeon before he suddenly abandoned his career and became a janitor at a retirement facility. Now, other than dealing with minor problems such as an unhealthy obsession with prime numbers, an inept boss, and a feud between two cantankerous retirees, he lives a realtively stree-free life. There is even hope for romance when an attractive podiatrist shows an interest in him. But it is not long before his past catches up with him and his carefully protected world begins to unravel. Filled with humor and quirky characters, Prime of Life delivers a satisfying and entertaining read.

Review:

This novel was a huge surprise for me. Okay. Call me judgmental but my expectations weren't high. It's written by a doctor. (I work in medicine, and though my docs are brilliant and wonderful and all that, the focus and dedication to medicine doesn't leave a lot of time for the focus and dedication required to write well, just saying.) My interest was piqued, however, since purchasing this book makes a donation to a terrific cause. Because I constantly am reading more than one book at a time, I usually have a book in my purse for wait times during my activities of daily living, and I usually chose a book I don’t think I’m going to adore. That’s where Prime of Life went. Purse book.  

I loved the cover and the plot line sounded interesting. A doctor who has escaped his life and now is a janitor at a retirement community. But still, it was destined for the purse.

However, once I began reading the novel it became a must-finish-this-book-as-soon-as-possible read. The writing clips along. The characters are quirky with a capital Q. Prime of Life is a charming read. Moments of deep or melancholy pepper the book along with loads of humor and sarcasm. I adore quirky characters and sarcasm even more. This one was right up my alley. The one caution I have is that there is a little bit of curmudgeonly humor/language that might offend more sensitive readers.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer