Thursday, July 26, 2012

Song of the River, Book No. One: Lily by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver, c2012


Lily Anderson watched the passing scenery from the comfort of her uncle’s carriage. Stately mansions with manicured grounds gave way to the smaller, sturdy homes of local merchants as they traveled toward the Mississippi River. They passed a busy mercantile and several shops before the carriage took a sharp leftward downturn toward the raucous, bustling dock that lay far beneath the genteel residences of Natchez’s wealthy plantation owners and merchants.

Natchez Under-the-Hill. She sniffed the air appreciatively as she disembarked, picking up the scents of fresh coffee, burning wood, and fish. How she loved the river. She barely noticed the disreputable, rickety inns and saloons that sprouted like weeds on either side of the winding road called Silver Street.

Roustabouts slumbered in the scant shade of the ramshackle buildings while a pair of glassy-eyed Indians staggered down the street, each clutching a brown bottle close to his chest. Lily’s eyes widened at their blatant drunkenness, but their presence did not deter her eagerness to absorb every detail of her surroundings as she followed Aunt Dahlia.

Voices shouted in an exciting mix of languages. She wondered how many countries were represented in this one place. . .English, French, German, and even lilting Norwegian dialects. The latter brought disturbing memories, but Lily pushed them away, determined to enjoy her outing on the Mississippi River.

As she and her aunt picked their way past bales of cotton and barrels of tobacco, her gaze absorbed the myriad boats lining the banks. Rugged keelboats and waterlogged rafts butted up against lofty steamboats, each awaiting cargo or passengers to be floated down the river to the port of New Orleans.

The beginning of this book grabbed my interest when Lily is chasing a thief who has snatched her retinue containing an embroidered hankie, made by her younger sister, that is meaningful to her. Right away I wanted it returned to Lily, and ran down the ramp with her! I wonder if the ship captain she meets is going to show up again!
Lily moved down the line behind her aunt and came face-to-face with the Champneys' son, the young man who, according to rumor, was the real reason for today's party. He was said to be a bachelor on the lookout for a compliant wife. Her heart sped as she wondered which lady he would find interesting. --page 14
Lily doesn't sound very compliant to me! Think he better keep on looking!

Her talent lay in her practicality, her ability to watch out over others and steer them from trouble. --page 18
Here I am interested! Lily! I want to get to know you better.

Book Description:

Desperate for financial independence, Lily Anderson has embarked upon a riverboat venture. Will she learn to trust God’s leading or head into disaster? Lily’s partner, Blake Matthews, is initially stymied, then smitten by the Mississippi miss. Can he anchor her heart, or will Lily fall for another man’s wiles?

Cruise down the Mississippi with Natchez belle Lily Anderson. Needing to provide for herself and her sisters, Lily is desperately trying to make a go of a riverboat venture with co-owner Blake Matthews. But they fail to find anything to agree upon. Blake is enamored of the feisty Lily. Attempts to woo her may be lost to the devious Jean Luc Champney. Will the siren song of the river evolve into a serenade or a somber lament?
~*~ ~*~~~~~* ~~~~~*~ ~*~
Blake watched in fascination as Miss Anderson took over. How had it come to this? They had been invaded by a marauding army. An army of females. The enemy forces had taken over the Hattie Belle without firing a single shot. --page 97
And so it begins! Where would you choose to live on this beautiful riverboat? Mr. Matthews is in for surprises it seems, as Lily and her sisters, Camellia and Jasmine, come aboard. Never fear. They have brought their very own chaperone with them. Surprises may be in store for Tamar too.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Back Cover:

A Natchez Belle's Hopes and Dreams Ride on the Mississippi
Lily Anderson longs for a life of adventure, steaming down the Mississippi on a riverboat. But her relatives, wanting her to secure a future for herself and her two younger sisters, are intent on Lily marrying well and foregoing any chance of living out her dream. When a loveless match seems inevitable, Lily makes a last ditch effort to avoid losing her freedom forever by purchasing the steamboat Hattie Belle from the father of debonair Jean Luc Champney--unaware that her precious dowry garners only partial ownership of the vessel.
Roguish gambler Blake Matthew's dreams are finally beginning to take shape after a night of card playing wins him the title to the Hattie Belle. But Blake's brimming confidence in a successful venture is dampened when he meets his new partner--Lily.
As their riverboat enterprise erupts into turmoil, can Lily and Blake discover that God is the One they can count on when all else fails? Will the siren song of the river evolve into a serenade or a somber lament?

This book is tremendously well-written. Experience the shift of the boat beneath your feet, listen to the long toots of the boats, and become aware of the sights and smells along the muddy Mississippi River, as you arrive on the riverboat with them. Especially when they stop off in New Orleans and embark on a journey with friends only God could have orchestrated for them. Due to their imbibing captain, they scrap up on a sandbar and are detained while their riverboat is being repaired.

This is a family story of growth, acceptance, and forgiveness received and given. Love triumphs. Truth prevails. But not without a struggle and perseverance. Trust. Removing misgivings and working together. Lily and Blake must work out their partnership in the Hattie Belle for the good of all, including themselves. I liked this story as they come to know truth that is beneficial and bears facing. Working together, they overcome adversity. I look forward to the second book in this series as they continue adventures on the mighty Mississippi. The secondary characters were developed very nicely.

 Image of Diane Ashley

Biography: Diane Ashley Page

I'm a town girl from Mississippi who has always loved to read. When I was in high school, I always read my new literature book from cover to cover in the first few weeks of the school year. I have always wanted to write but couldn't figure out how to keep all the details of a book in my head long enough to get from the beginning to the end. Then I found out about an adult education class being taught at a local college on writing a novel from an outline. It was taught by Aaron McCarver, the man who would one day become my co-author. I would like to tell you I wrote a book that semester and got it published, but it took a bit longer than that (10 years.) My brother often teases me about my "overnight success." I encourage you to write if that's your dream. It's not some mystical experience. All you have to do is sit down and write. God will take care of the rest if you follow His leading. He will take you to places you have never even dreamed of. I am enjoying my own journey and counting my blessings. Thanks to my wonderful husband, my patient co-author, and my family and friends, all who believed in me even when I didn't. I hope you enjoy my books and that you find in them a message that transcends earthly matters and reinforces your belief in our loving Savior. God bless you. 

I appreciate receiving Lily from Barbour Publishing in exchange for a review in my own words.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ruth's Redemption by Marlene Banks, c2012

Ruth's Redemption  -     
        By: Marlene Banks Benn

"When you come to know the Lord, it will all make sense and be more real than even living in this world is now."
    --Ruth's Redemption, page 89
So much wisdom in this book. Not comparing yourself to others. Not measuring by the memory of another. So wise. Trusting the Lord with your life. Listening and paying attention. Forgiving. 

Choice of names; Ruth, Naomi, Bo, Mara - bitter. Bo buys Ruth from a slave auction to set her free. Ruth sees her freedom as bondage. She has not been loved and does not recognize what love is. Bo's life is shattered until he realizes the love he has received is what he can give. Turbulence overcome. Naomi is a strong character in the advice she gives within her losses. I really liked that the novel includes an epilogue telling what happened as the "rest of the story."

In 1820, Bodine Peace is given his freedom and a parcel of land following the Will instructions upon the death of his master. Other freed slaves live on Bo's land. As he can, he buys slaves to set them free after one year of servitude when they receive their freedom papers.

The research places the characters within historical events/happenings between 1830-1835 in Southhampton County, Virginia, and how their lives were affected resulting from slave catchers and the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1931.

Marlene Banks resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to being a prolific writer she has an associate degree in Theology from Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, Virginia, and is currently pursuing studies to initiate a Christian counseling ministry. Marlene is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. Her work resume includes forty years in nursing and business.
A divine gift of storytelling with her unique voice and love of Christ creates engaging and inspirational novels. She considers her fiction writing an avenue to communicate the Gospel and Christian principles. It is also Marlene’s goal to bridge the gap between faith-based and secular literature. RUTH’S REDEMPTION is her first release and SON OF A PREACHERMAN is her second.

Thank you to Moody Publishers for this copy of Ruth's Redemption in exchange for a review in my own words; a very well-written story.

I would like to read and review Son of a Preacherman:
"A historical romance novel set in the 1920s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, depicting the segregated life of African Americans in Northern Tulsa and the tensions leading up to the Tulsa Race Riots."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Christy Award-Winning Author Cathy Gohlke

Band of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke.

Yippee!! Look what I will be reading and reviewing; so excited!! Especially since I am a half-Irish gal ~*~ go Maureen, I'm pulling for you!!

Watch for my review here at Lane Hill House the week of September 10, 2012.

Book Description

September 1, 2012
Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father’s debt but can’t find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, whom Olivia begins to see as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding. As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

Cathy Gohlke

Image of Cathy Gohlke
Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award-winning author of William Henry is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008.

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children's and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Maryland. Visit her website at
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.
Tyndale House Publishers ~*~ Band of Sisters. Check it out to pre-order at a special price!
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414353081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414353081
Also available for pre-order for Kindle.
 ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
You may have read Cathy Gohlke's currently published book: If not, you won't want to miss it!

Promise Me This

Promise Me This by Author Cathy Gohlke

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Promise for Miriam by Vannetta Chapman, c2012

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.


Amish schoolteacher Miriam King loves her students. At 26, she hasn’t yet met anyone who can convince her to give up the Plain school at Pebble Creek. Then newcomer Gabriel Yoder steps into her life, bringing his daughter, an air of mystery, and challenges Miriam has never faced before.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736946128
ISBN-13: 978-0736946124


Book 1, The Pebble Creek Amish Series

I can identify with our youngest protagonist, Miss Grace. My mother died when I was five, the month before I was six. I was born 50 miles away from Cashton.

This story is a story of Grace. God's Grace. How He divinely sets us where we are to be. Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Gabe Miller moves with his young daughter, Grace, from Indiana to Wisconsin following the death of his wife to a dilapidated farm, matching his dilapidated heart. He refuses help in restoring it and sets out to do it alone. Closed off in pain, he remains, until he must request help. The warmth that follows melts his isolated heart and healing begins for both of them.

I really liked the interaction between Miriam King and Esther Schrocks, the two school teachers who teach together at the one-room schoolhouse. How interesting that they are housed together there on a second floor and not with a family in the district. My dad and stepmother taught in country schools in Wisconsin before my time. My dad said he taught one of his brothers, and my stepmother said she needed to start her own woodstove in the mornings before the students came. They each taught alone. Miriam teaches the younger children and Esther teaches the older children. I think this would be fascinating and I liked how the older students helped the younger ones. They would learn from each other, hearing them recite their lessons too. One drawback for the teachers would be living and working in the same building, however not so different from a storefront business. They did go to their families on the weekends.

I like how the community stepped in to help each other and it is the story of families embracing each other. It is very well written and the story easily flows. There is conflict that is overcome by being worked through instead of ignored. Our lives really do touch each other. I liked the wisdom of Gabe as he grows within the community and is willing to function within positions he is entrusted with. From a closed position to giving and receiving, everyone is benefited. Miriam finds out her strengths and weaknesses when she comes up against heart awakenings! Her mother and father are so loving and caring in the ways they live out their lives by example. I look forward to Book 2: A Home for Lydia.


Pebble Creek, southwestern Wisconsin
Three years later
Miriam King glanced over the schoolroom with satisfaction.
Lessons chalked on the board.
Pencils sharpened and in the cup.
Tablets, erasers, and chalk sat on each desk.
Even the woodstove was cooperating this morning. Thank the Lord for Efram Hochstetler, who stopped by early Mondays on his way to work and started the fire. If not for him, the inside of the windows would be covered with ice when she stepped in the room.
Now, where was Esther?
As if Miriam’s thoughts could produce the girl, the back door to the schoolhouse opened and Esther burst through, bringing with her a flurry of snowflakes and a gust of the cold December wind. Her blonde hair was tucked neatly into her kapp, and the winter morning had colored her cheeks a bright red.
Esther wore a light-gray dress with a dark apron covering it. At five and a half feet and weighing no more than a hundred and twenty pounds, Miriam often had the unsettling feeling of looking into a mirror—a mirror into the past—when she looked at the young woman who taught with her at the one-room schoolhouse.
In truth, the teachers had often been mistaken for family. They were similar in temperament as well as appearance. Other than their hair, Esther could have been Miriam’s younger sister. Esther’s was the color of ripe wheat, while Miriam’s was black as coal.
Why did that so often surprise both Plain people and Englischers? If Miriam’s black hair wasn’t completely covered by her kapp, she received the oddest stares.
“Am I late?” Esther’s shoes echoed against the wooden floor as she hurried toward the front of the room. Pulling off her coat, scarf, and gloves, she dropped them on her desk.
“No, but nearly.”
“I told Joseph we had no time to check on his cattle, but he insisted.”
“Worried about the gate again?”
Ya. I told him they wouldn’t work it loose, but he said—”
“Cows are stupid.” They uttered the words at the same time, both mimicking Joseph’s serious voice, and then broke into laughter. The laughter eased the tension from Esther’s near tardiness and set the morning back on an even keel.
“Joseph has all the makings of a fine husband and a gut provider,” Miriam said. “Once you’re married, you’ll be glad he’s so careful about the animals.”
Ya, but when we’re married I won’t be having to leave in time to make it to school.” Esther’s cheeks reddened a bit more as she seemed to realize how the words must sound.
Why did everyone think Miriam was embarrassed that she still remained unmarried? Did it never occur to them that it was her own choice to be single?
“Efram had the room nice and warm before I even arrived,” she said gently. “And I put out your tablets.”
Wunderbaar. I’ll write my lessons on the board, and we’ll be ready.” As Esther reached to pull chalk from her desk drawer, Miriam noticed that she froze and then stood up straighter. When she reached up and touched her kapp as if to make sure she was presentable, Miriam realized someone else was in the room.
She turned to see who had surprised the younger teacher. It was still a few minutes before classes were due to start, and few of their students arrived early.
Standing in the doorway to the schoolroom was an Amish man. Pebble Creek was a small community, technically a part of the village of Cashton. Old-timers and Plain folk alike still referred to the area where the creek went through by its historic name.
Miriam was quite sure she’d never seen the man standing in her classroom before. He was extremely tall, and she had the absurd notion he’d taken his hat off to fit through their entryway. Even standing beneath the door arch, waiting for them to speak, he seemed to barely fit. He was thin and sported a long beard, indicating he was married.
In addition to clutching his black hat, he wore a heavy winter coat, though not the type worn by most Wisconsin residents. The tops of his shoulders, his arms, and even parts of his beard were covered with snow. More important than how he looked standing in her classroom was the fact that he held the hand of a small girl.
Gudemariye,” Miriam said, stepping forward and moving past her desk.
The man still didn’t speak, but as she drew closer, he bent and said something to the girl.
When Miriam had halved the distance between them, he returned her greeting as his somber brown eyes assessed her.
The young girl next to him had dark-brown hair like her father. It had been combed neatly and pulled back into a braid, all tucked inside her kapp. What was striking about her wasn’t her hair or her traditional Plain clothing—it was her eyes. She had the most solemn, beautiful brown eyes Miriam had ever seen on a child.
They seemed to take in everything.
Miriam noticed she clutched her father’s hand tightly with one hand and held a lunch box with the other.
“I’m the teacher of the younger grades here, grades one through four. My name is Miriam King.” The girl’s eyes widened, and the father nodded again. “Esther Schrocks teaches grades five through eight.”
He looked to the girl to see if she understood, but neither replied.
“And your daughter is—”
“Grace is eight years old, just this summer.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “I’m Gabriel Miller.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Miriam offered her best smile, which still did not seem to put the father at ease. She’d seen nervous parents before, and obviously this was one. “You must be new to our community.”
Ya. I purchased the place on Dawson Road.”
“Dawson Road? Do you mean the Kline farm?”
Ya.” Not quite rude, but curt and to the point.
Miriam tried to hide any concern she felt as images of Kline’s dilapidated spread popped into her mind. It was no business of hers where this family chose to live. “I know exactly where you mean. My parents live a few miles past that.”
“It’s a fair piece from here,” he noted.
“That it is. Esther and I live here at the schoolhouse during the week. The district built accommodations on the floor above, as is the custom in most of our schoolhouses here in Wisconsin. We both spend weekends at home with our families.”
“I don’t know I’ll be able to bring Grace in every day.” Gabriel Miller reached up and ran his finger under the collar of his shirt, which peeked through the gap at the top of his coat.
Miriam noticed then that it looked stiff and freshly laundered. Had he put on his Sunday best to bring his daughter to school on her first day? It said something about him if he had.
“A man has to put his farm first,” he added defensively.
“Some children live close enough that their parents can bring them in the winter, and, of course, most everyone walks when the weather permits.” Miriam paused to smile in greeting as a few students began arriving and walking around them. “Others ride together. Eli Stutzman lives past Dawson road, and he would be happy to give your dochder a ride to school.”
“It would be a help.” Mr. Miller still didn’t move, and Miriam waited, wondering what else the man needed to say.
She looked up and saw one of the older girls, Hannah, walking in the door. “Hannah, this is Grace Miller. She’s new at our school. Would you mind sitting with her and helping her this week?”
“Sure thing, Miriam.” Hannah squatted down to Grace’s level and said something to the girl Miriam couldn’t hear.
Whatever it was, Grace released her dat’s hand and took Hannah’s. She’d walked halfway down the aisle when she turned, rushed back to where they stood, and threw her arms around her father’s legs.
One squeeze and she was gone again.
Though it was fleeting, Miriam saw a look of anguish pass over the man’s face. What could be going through his mind? She’d seen many fathers leave their children for the first time over the last eight years, but something more was going on here.
“She’ll be fine, Mr. Miller. We’re a small school, and the children look after one another.”
“It’s that…” he twirled his hat in his hands once, twice, three times. “Before we moved here, Grace was…that is to say, we…well, her grossmammi homeschooled her.”
“I understand. How about if I write a note letting you know how Grace is doing? I’ll put it in her lunch box at the end of the day.”
Something like relief washed over his face.
Danki,” he mumbled. Then he rammed his hat on his head and hurried out the door.
Esther caught her attention from the front of the room and sent a questioning look toward the man’s retreating back, but Miriam shook her head. She’d explain later, at lunch perhaps. For now they had nearly forty children between them to teach. As usual, it would be a busy morning.
Gabe did stop to talk to Eli Stutzman. He wanted to make sure he trusted the man.
It helped when three girls and a boy who were the last to climb out of the long buggy stopped to wish their father a good day. The littlest girl, probably the same age as his Gracie, wrapped her arms around her daddy’s neck, whispered something in his ear, and then tumbled down the steps into the chilly morning.
“That one is my youngest—Sadie. Always full of energy, but she’s a worrier. This morning it’s about a pup she left at home in the barn.” Covering the distance between them, the older man removed his glove and offered his right hand. “Name’s Eli Stutzman. I take it you’re new here, which must mean you bought the Kline place.”
“I am, and I did. Gabriel Miller.” Gabe stood still in the cold, wishing he could be done with this and back on his farm.
“Have children in the school?”
“One, a girl—about your youngest one’s age.”
Eli nodded, and then he seemed to choose his words carefully. “I suspect you’ll be busy putting your place in order. It will be no problem giving your dochder a ride back and forth each day.”
“I would appreciate it.”
Stutzman told him the approximate time he passed the Kline place, and Gabe promised he’d have Gracie ready at the end of the lane.
He turned to go and was headed to his own buggy when the man called out to him.
“The Kline place has been empty quite a while.”
Gabe didn’t answer. Instead, he glanced out at the surrounding fields, covered in snow and desolate looking on this Monday morning.
“If you need help, or find something that’s worse than what you expected, you holler. We help each other in Pebble Creek.”
Gabe ran his hand along the back of his neck but didn’t answer. Merely nodding, he moved on to his buggy.
He was accustomed to people offering help. Actually delivering on it? That was often another story, though he wouldn’t be judging the people here before he knew them.
Still, it was in his nature to do things on his own if at all possible.
Was his new home worse than he had expected?
Ya, it was much worse.
The barn was falling in on itself, and the house was not a lot better, but he knew carpentry. He could make them right. At least the woodstove worked. He’d been somewhat surprised to find no gas refrigerator, but he had found out who sold blocks of ice carved from the river. The icebox in the mudroom would do.
Gracie would be warm and fed. She’d have a safe place to sleep and to do the drawing she loved so much.
He didn’t think he’d be calling on Eli for help.
He’d see that Grace Ann made it to school and church—he’d promised her grossmammis as much. But other than that he wasn’t looking to make freinden in Pebble Creek. He wanted to be left alone. It was the reason he’d left their community in Indiana.
He could do without any help.
His parting words to his parents echoed back to him.
“I can do it on my own.”
As he drove the buggy toward home, Gabe looked out over high ridges and low valleys. Dairy farms dotted the snowcapped view. Running through it all was Pebble Creek, no doubt a prime place for trout fishing most of the year. He’d heard the call of wild turkeys and seen deer. It was a rich, blessed area.
Pebble Creek ran through the heart of Cashton, the closest town. It also touched the border of the school grounds and meandered through his own property. It bound them together.
As he approached home, Gabe’s mind was filled with thoughts of the day’s work ahead of him. He wondered where he’d find the energy to do it all, but somehow he would.
For Gracie he would.
His parents had offered to send his youngest brother along for the first year, but Andrew was needed on the family place. And, truthfully, Gabe preferred to be alone—just he and Grace.
“I can do it on my own.”
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” his mother said. She had reminded him as he was packing their things that pride was his worst shortcoming, though the Lord knew he had many to choose from when it came to faults.
Was it pride that scraped against his heart each day? He couldn’t say.
He only knew he preferred solitude to company, especially since Hope died.
That seemed ironic, even to him. She had been his hope, his life, his all, and now she was gone. Her death had happened so quickly—it reminded him of one of the Englisch freight trains barreling around the corner of some bend.
A big black iron thing he hadn’t seen coming. A monstrosity with the power to destroy his life.
Which wasn’t what the bishop had said, or his parents, or his brothers and sisters.
He slapped the reins and allowed his new horse, Chance, to move a bit faster over the snow-covered road. He’d left Indiana because he needed to be free of the looks of sympathy, the well-intentioned words, the interfering.
So he now had what he’d wished for—a new beginning with Grace.
If it meant days of backbreaking work, so much the better. Perhaps when he was exhausted, he would begin to sleep at night.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Season of Love by Amy Clipston, c2012

Announcing the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series!
I will be reviewing Book 5, the final book in this series. Here is an overview:

    In Book 1, A Gift of Grace ~*~ Rebecca Kauffman longs to fulfill her quiet Old Order Amish life by giving her husband Daniel a child, but for years she has been unable to conceive. When her older sister, Grace, who left the Amish community for the modern world, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca is left custody of her two teenage nieces, Jessica and Lindsay. Now Rebecca wonders how she is going to take on this daunting task of being an Amish woman raising two English teenagers.

    In Book 2, A Promise of Hope ~*~ an Amish widow with newborn twins discovers her deceased husband had disturbing secrets. As she tries to come to grips with the past, she considers a loveless marriage to ensure stability for her young family … with her faith in God hanging in the balance.

    In Book 3, A Place of Peace ~*~ Miriam Lapp returns to the Amish community she once belonged to when she hears of her mother's death. Amidst her grief and some painful lies from her past, she is forced to face the people who rejected her. Losing her once fiancĂ© and being shunned by her father becomes an excruciating test of her faith. A Place of Peace is one story you won't soon forget.

    In Book 4, A Life of Joy ~*~ eighteen-year-old Lindsay Bedford has reached a crossroads. Should she stay in the small Amish community she's known and loved for four years or return to the English life in her hometown in Virginia where her older sister is a college student? An extended visit to Virginia might just tip the scales as Lindsay reconnects with friends, joins a new church, works on her GED, and is pressured by her sister to stay and 'make something of herself.' Will Lindsay leave her aunt Rebecca and become English or settle in Bird-in-Hand and join the Amish church?

    In Book 5, A Season of Love ~*~ the final book in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series, three young women are about to change their lives. Lizzie Anne and Samuel have decided to get married, and Lindsay is about to be baptized in the Amish faith and is courting Matthew. While Katie Kauffman is happy for her friends who seem to have settled their futures, she is also finding herself something of a fifth wheel. When Lindsay's sister Jessica returns to Bird-in-Hand, she finds that Jake Miller has moved on with his life. He lost hope that Jessica would ever be satisfied to settle in rural Pennsylvania and takes comfort in becoming close friends with Katie. However, it's not an easy road as Jake is Mennonite and Katie has just been baptized in the Amish faith. Her father forbids them to see each other, adamant that his daughter marry an Amish man. A Season of Love is filled with surprising twists that will grip you to the very last words. As the stories of your favorite Amish community draw to a close, join Lindsay, her friends, and all the people of Bird-In-Hand for one last volume.
A Gift of Grace by Amy ClipstonA Promise of Hope by Amy Clipston
A Place of Peace by Amy Clipston
Amy Clipston
A Life of Joy by Amy Clipston
A Season of Love by Amy Clipston

Author's Note: The Making of A Season of Love
"A Season of Love was an emotional novel for me to write since it's the final book in my Kauffman Amish Bakery Series. I held back tears when I wrote the final chapter. However, it was fun to revisit all of my favorite characters once more, and I tied up all of the loose ends. I hope my readers will enjoy taking one last journey with the Kauffman family."

My Review:
This was the first book I have read by Amy Clipston. I found it to be mainly conversational, with the storyline bringing you into their daily lives. Join Katie Kauffman, granddaughter of the Bakery owner, Elizabeth, as she shares her feelings of anxiety. Her friends begin their future and she feels she doesn't fit in her present. She doesn't fully understand why her father is so against her friendship with Jake Miller, who is employed by her grandfather, Eli, to build new bakery shelving. Jake's mother left their community years earlier to marry Jake's father. Can Katie's father include this grandson of his father's business partner?

A Season of Love contains strong characters who strive to know their own minds, but possibly not each other's hearts. I found compassion in the grandparents, Eli and Elizabeth, that seemed to be lacking in their son, Robert, Katie's father. With the conversational writing, some material was repeated speaking to someone else. Katie's father was so close to the law of his beliefs to hinder him in his hearing of his family. Reading the earlier books would possibly give me insight into his character that I am missing here. There were tense moments and misunderstandings. Growth was evident as the story progressed in the interaction between characters.

Thank you to Zondervan Link to Lit for this review copy in exchange for my review in my own words.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell, c2012

“When once estrangement has arisen between those who truly love each other, everything seems to widen the breach.”
--Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837–1915), British writer. Run to Earth, ch. 8.
In Siri Mitchell's novel, The Messenger, Hannah Sunderland and her twin brother are separated by the turmoil of the Revolutionary War. A Quaker family is surrounded by the consequences of war. As their family is distanced from each other, decisions of the heart expand to call to each other.

Have you ever considered the time period we were born in?

It is 1778 and Philadelphia is under the British Occupation. The Sunderland family home is seized as winter quarters for troops. Circumstances demand that they leave their home and stay with relatives who have chosen to join society and its ways.

A time to be born, a time to die.

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

The Bible
To every thing there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
The Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1–8.

Colonist Jeremiah Jones was injured in the French and Indian War, the beginning of open hostilities between the colonies and Great Britain. In exchange, he is now wining and dining the British. His establishment is fitly renamed the King's Arms, with the British here to enforce the king's law. This avails him to recoup their monies, replenishing what has been lost to him. He is the perfect support for the war effort with helpful information to General Washington, being within earshot of General Howe's men. To help with matters, a former enemy befriends him.

  ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility.
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage.
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect:
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height.”
--William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British poet. King Henry V (III, i).
 ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Enter Hannah. How far would you involve yourself in exchange for seeing your captive brother who had joined forces to right a wrong? What would your decision be? Hannah feels the plight of her brother, Robert, and against all odds, plots a way to be able to get within the jail to see him. She must sneak away from her family and the soldiers.
p 103 The Keeper of the Keys
I don't know who the prisoners are, miss. I just keep the keys to the place. Robert Sunderland, you say?

What does it do to our souls when we are in turmoil? I loved this observation:
p 178
You have to come to faith on your own. Otherwise it's just words and rules.
 ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
I especially liked all the history I learned reading this novel. Extensive! As historical fiction is my very favorite, I appreciate the research the author did to place the characters within events/happenings.
Siri Mitchell, author of ten published books

This is the second novel I have read of Siri Mitchell's.The first was A Heart Most Worthy, which I enjoyed and reviewed in April, 2011.

I would like to thank Bethany House for this copy of Siri Mitchell's novel, The Messenger, in exchange for my review in my own words.