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Friday, February 18, 2011


By Beth Wiseman

Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc
ISBN 978-1-59554-824-5

What would cause the Amish to move to Colorado, leaving family and friends behind?

This is an Amish book with a different twist. Some Amish, like the Detweiler and Stoltzfus families in SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART, are seeking new beginnings. For Emily Detweiler, it doesn’t matter how far away she goes from her roots Ohio, the pain travels with her. Her mother’s eternal optimism only serves to deepen Emily’s agonizing memories, not erase them.

All David Stoltzfus wants to do is earn enough money to go back home to Pennsylvania. Canaan, Colorado certainly isn’t the promised land his family anticipated, and he doesn’t understand why they moved there in the first place. For David, planning for a normal future will only bring about heartache. But when he meets Emily, she stirs his heart in a way he’s never dared to dream.

Between the heart-wrenching struggles of these two Amish young people, an unlikely blessing emerges in the person of eccentric Englisher. I laughed out loud at the antics of this character, Martha, whose crusty exterior hides a heart of pure gold.

You’ll love the way the author weaves the layers of storylines together, causing you to laugh one minute and weep the next. It’s a great read.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Vickie McDonough

Barbour Publishers, Inc
ISBN 978-1-60260-696-8

How many brides does one man need?

The first line on the back cover blurb grabbed my attention, and I had to read more. So I turned to chapter one: Sometimes God asked difficult things of a man, and for Luke Davis, what he was fixing to do was the hardest task ever. Yep, that was enough to make me put The Anonymous Bride at the top of my “To Be Read” list, and I’m glad I did.

The scenario woven by author, Vickie McDonough, is light and humorous, but at the same time threads of mystery and regret are lurking behind a cloak of sorrow. The main characters are crafted so well, I caught myself stepping into their skin and thinking like they think. I could hear the wistfulness in Luke’s voice when he spoke about Rachel, and felt Rachel’s disconcertment when she had to play hostess to the three women who showed up in town, all claiming to be Luke’s mail-order brides. But overshadowing her uncomfortable situation with the brides is her longing for Luke’s forgiveness for things in their past. If only she’d made different choices.

Even the secondary characters—a pair of ornery cousins and a precocious ten-year-old girl—are so real, I felt like I needed to offer them cookies and lemonade while they visited with me. I laughed out loud when the bride contest got underway.

Romance and rivalry do-si-do hand in hand across every page to the tune of a Western hoe-down. This was a fun book to read, and I’m looking forward to reading Second Chance Brides, book two in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series by Vickie McDonough.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Kim Vogel Sawyer

Bethany House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7642-0916-4

Three best friends, three cherished dreams, three searching hearts…

Three of the young orphans from Kim Vogel Sawyer’s book My Heart Remembers have come of age and have set their courses for college. Libby Conley, Pete Ledig, and Bennet Martin grew up together under the caring of nurturing foster parents and are anxious to make their mark on the world. All three harbor different goals, and likewise they each find themselves on a path to search for something they lack.

Libby desires to be a journalist in an era when that profession was closed to women, so she devises a way to break in to the realm of publishing. Pete longs to serve God and become a minister, but first he must settle that one nagging issue that has haunted him for years. Bennet seeks a place to belong, the admiration of those around him, and avenues of pleasure, not knowing where any of it will lead. All three come face to face with choices they must make that will change the direction of their lives.

A few months ago, I posted a review of My Heart Remembers because I knew this book, IN EVERY HEARTBEAT, was being released this fall. Kim Sawyer has a knack for creating characters that readers care about, and has crafted a follow-up story with some of the characters from My Heart Remembers that gives readers an opportunity to attend a family reunion and catch up with the lives of these people. Reading this book is like looking into a mirror. The issues Libby, Pete, and Bennet deal with aren’t unlike some of the circumstances we face in the 21st century, but Kim Sawyer’s gently crafted story spotlights the hope that awaits when we seek truth.

This is a wonderful story that will linger with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


By Laura Franz
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 978-0-8007-3340-7

Echoes of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors hangs at the fringes of Morrow Little’s early childhood memory. Nearly a grown woman and caring for her ailing father, she is faced different men competing for her affection—one utterly obnoxious while another is strangely intriguing and frightening at the same time. If she marries the first, she’ll bind herself to a man she doesn’t love. If she marries the second, she’ll be accused of being a traitor. But which is worse? Betraying one’s countrymen or betraying one’s family?

Author Laura Franz has crafted a novel that captured my senses and drew me into the life of a young woman, Morrow Little, raised on the frontier of Kentucky in the 1760’s. Franz’s gift of turning a phrase made my imagination dance:

From chapter 8:
Once again, Morrow stood before the dusty mirror on the east side of the dogtrot, the chaotic remains of the cabin all around her. Spiderwebs glinted silver in the morning light, and the huge stone hearth gaped empty like the mouth of a cave.

From chapter 16:
A bitter breeze wafted through the open window, but she didn’t want to shut it, as if doing so would shut away the memory of what had happened here. She wanted to hold on to the sweet feeling of forgiveness a little longer.

This story will transport you back to the time of our country’s infancy, when patriots warred with oppressors as well as those natives who claimed this land centuries before the arrival of the Europeans. The struggle that takes place outwardly as Morrow seeks to make choices that will mold her future, and the internal struggle as she comes to grips with loss, both past and present, will not let you put this book down.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


By Kim Vogel Sawyer

Bethany House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7642-0509-5

Think the “Mail Order Bride” theme has already been overdone? Think again. Kim Vogel Sawyer’s A HOPEFUL HEART puts a fresh new twist on what might otherwise be a predictable story. But A HOPEFUL HEART is anything but predictable.

When you open the pages of this book, you step into the unique setting of the Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas in 1888. Six young women from the east, all from different backgrounds, sit under the tutelage of Hattie Wyatt to learn the skills necessary to become a rancher's wife. Rancher, Abel Samms, has no intention of paying Aunt Hattie's girls any mind. Women are nothing but trouble, and he has his hands full with other distractions, like cattle rustlers, broken fences, and threatening neighbors. Kim Sawyer has crafted another heart-warming story with an unexpected twist that reaches into the depth of the heart to connect the reader with her characters. While most readers may have never learned to milk a cow or brand a calf, all will be able to identify with Tressa's feelings of inadequacy and rejection. The hope infused in this story will encourage all who read it to persevere to overcome obstacles and become the person God wants them to be. I highly recommend A HOPEFUL HEART. You won't be disappointed

Saturday, July 17, 2010

WHITE ROSES -- Shannon Taylor Vannatter

ISBN 978-1-60260-755-2
© 2010 Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Heartsong Presents, an imprint of Barbour Publishing

Pastor Grayson Sterling is still grieving the loss of his wife, killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver two years ago. When his church takes on a new Associate Pastor to relieve him of some of his load, Grayson is attracted to the new Associate’s sister, Adrea Welch. Adrea, an area florist, has been providing Grayson with white roses for his wife for years, even after she died. Grayson now carries the roses to the cemetery. So how can Adrea be attracted to a man who is still mourning for his wife?

When pieces of the past begin to fall into place, the resulting revelation threatens to tear apart the budding attraction between Grayson and Adrea, and destroy lives in the process. Between Grayson’s fears and Adrea’s guilt, it appears the deck is stacked against this couple.

As I read this story, I couldn’t help but call to mind issues and hurts from my own past. Readers will find an invitation to take a second look at their own circumstances from a point of view they might have overlooked. Everyone makes mistakes. Anyone who has lived for any length of time has a certain number of regrets or misplaced guilt. This story portrays the path many people travel in dealing with hurtful issues. Your issues may not be the same as Grayson’s and Adrea’s, but as you read this story you will find yourself filling in the blanks with your own circumstances, and hopefully discovering a portal of forgiveness, releasing the burden of guilt that isn’t yours to carry.

Monday, May 3, 2010

THE HOPE OF REFUGE -- Cindy Woodsmall

Waterbrook Press
ISBN 978-1-4000-7396-2

Single parent, Cara Moore, is penniless, homeless, and running from a stalker. Long-buried memories draw her away from the city to a rural Amish community, Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, where she hides out with her young daughter, while at the same time struggling to unravel the tangled pictures and names in her mind.

The people of the community are wary of this English stranger, but one man reaches out to her in kindness. Torn between the rigid rules of his Amish upbringing and the command he feels he has received from God, Ephriam Mast risks losing his business, family, and even the friendship he is trying to develop with Cara.

Long-held secrets disturb the stillness of the little Amish community—secrets that have the power to tear lives apart.

THE HOPE OF REFUGE is one of those books you’ll sit up late at night reading because you can’t put it down. My heart ached for Cara and her precocious little girl as they ran to escape the violent intent of the man who wants to possess her. The Amish don’t want to accept her—in fact, most of them want her to leave the area. But Ephriam has such a tender and caring heart, he gives her refuge, all the while knowing the ramifications. Once the dark secrets gradually find their way into the light, the reader will understand why Cara was drawn to this unlikely place and why God selected certain people to minister to her in an amazing way.

This is more than just another Amish story. The author has seasoned this book with mystery, drama, and the wonder of God’s mercy, and has created some unique characters to play out the story on the stage of THE HOPE OF REFUGE.

I enjoyed this book immensely, and in case you missed it, Cindy Woodsmall’s book, The Sound Of Sleighbells, was another great read.