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On a Summer Tide, #1 Three Sisters Island by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: On a Summer Tide, #1 Three Sisters Island

AUTHOR: Suzanne Woods Fisher

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell, April 2019

GENRE:  Contemporary Romance (Not Amish or Mennonite)

When her father buys an island off the coast of Maine with the hope of breathing new life into it, Camden Grayson thinks he’s lost his mind. An unexpected event sends Cam to his rescue, and she discovers the island has its own way of living . . . and loving.

_I don't think that's God's view of Life, Cam. You don't earn purpose._ (2).png

MY REVIEW: 

Family dynamics can be really messy. I can’t imagine a father selling his home (the children are grown, or nearly so); buying an island in the state of déshabillé; AND expecting all three daughters to move there improve it. Maybe Paul Grayson truly has lost his mind.
Suzanne Woods Fisher writes about this widower’s family with three disconnected sisters in such a beautiful way that I found myself quickly mired in the quicksand of uncomfortable and dysfunctional family relationships.
Each sister is delightful, yet shortsighted in her own way, which leads to a mess for them and an intriguing story for us, the readers. The island and its wildlife sound wonderful, yet there are drawbacks.
Anybody not born there is a foreigner. No wi-fi. And a diner with a lady who can’t cook anything, let alone make coffee. I laughed and laughed over the silly antics until the tale wove back upon itself in a serious way that calls for tears.
So many worthy quotes.
“Mom always told us that life would surprise us with important choices, and our true character would emerge in how we responded.”
“…life was full of simple miracles if you just opened your eyes to them.”
“Life presents you with important choices. You can lash out, become bitter. Or draw closer to God, become better.”
“…it’s never too late to learn to listen.”
“We love each other, we tell each other the truth, and we keep working on things. That’s what families are all about.”
Woods leaves just enough threads dangling that I am anxious for the next book in the series already. Good discussion questions follow, making this an excellent choice for book clubs.
I received this complimentary book from the publisher and NetGalley. No positive review is required and all opinions are my own.

 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. 1922565

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

 

 

Just one more word… look for this amazing book on April 30th!

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Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE:  Courting Mr. Emerson

AUTHOR: Melody Carlson

PUBLISHER: Revell

PUBLISHED: March 2019

GENRE: Christian Romance

When the fun-loving and spontaneous artist Willow West meets buttoned-up, retired English teacher George Emerson, it’s not exactly love at first sight. Though she does find the obsessive-compulsive man intriguing. Making it her mission to get him to loosen up and embrace life, she embarks on what seems like a lost cause–and finds herself falling for him in the process.

A confirmed bachelor, George vacillates between irritation and attraction whenever Willow is around–which to him seems like all too often. He’s not interested in expanding his horizons or making new friends; it just hurts too much when you lose them.

But as the summer progresses, George feels his defenses crumbling. The question is, will his change of heart be too late for Willow?

With her signature heart and touches of humor, fan favorite Melody Carlson pens a story of two delightfully eccentric characters who get a second chance at life and love.

MY REVIEW:

Why should you read Courting Mr. Emerson? The first line might snag your attention. It sure did mine. “George Emerson didn’t need anybody.”
Melody Carlson’s narrative has an easy flow about it. Like a weekend afternoon car ride on a warm spring day. This is going to be fun, enjoyable, humorous, etc, …until it isn’t.
Which brings me to the two next reasons to read Courting Mr. Emerson. Because this is a romance between two mature adults, we have a departure from the usual beautiful, young heroine and wonderfully handsome, young Adonis. Some readers will especially appreciate this. I know I did.
Which leads into the next motive for reading this wonderful book. After a few chapters, it stops being the “joyride” I described above. Instead, real life hits from many angles and Willow, George, Collin, and others have to figure out how to navigate around obstacles to find the peace and relationships they desire. One thing is for sure… I thought this would be a cute, breezy romance. Instead, it is a slightly humorous romance filled with broken people with weighty problems, who need God to help them.
Quotes I would like to share:

“I don’t know if you can measure pain…it’s probably relevant, different for everyone…The thing is, you have to keep going.”

“…when I discovered God was really real, well, I grabbed on tight and I’ve been holding on ever since.”

“…an atheist is simply a seeker who is hoping that God will show up.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own. 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 7383

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus.

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series.

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

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Mending Fences, #1 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

SERIES: The Deacon’s Family

PUBLISHER, DATE: Revell, February 2019

GENRE: Amish Romance

Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.

Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.

Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he’s hurt–a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn’t so simple. It’s gut-wrenching.

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke’s clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers’ favorite characters.

 

MY REVIEW:

Suzanne Woods Fisher has become an author whose books I snatch up as soon as they are available. She is such a wordsmith that one’s whole being is drawn into the worlds she creates. In Mending Fences, Fisher combines a couple different series as Luke Schrock returns home to Amish Stoney Ridge after his third stint in rehab.
This is a novel of second chances; caring for the unlovable; longing for what one doesn’t have, while perhaps missing what is offered one; discovering that one’s foolish actions can have both negative and positive consequences. And the laughter!! Fisher knows how to present serious truths in a hilarious setting.
I felt my heart sympathize with quiet Izzy who is learning to be plain. I wanted to like bad boy Luke who is trying to reform, but still carries a bit of an attitude. I especially liked the characterizations of Amos, Fran, and Bishop David Stoltzfus. Each is more than they initially appear. David is unlike many of the bishops one reads about, very caring, respected, thoughtful, and wise.
Since it is forbidden to quote the whole book, here are a few quotes I liked:
“Like I said, forgiveness, that comes naturally for us. It’s trust that’s hard to restore. Trust is a fragile thing. There’s no such thing as a little violation of trust, especially if you are the one who was betrayed.”
“He was a pity party of one.”
and,
“at any given moment, your life is going to be determined by your view of you, or God’s view of you.”

I can’t wait for the next installment, book two of The Deacon’s Family.

This book can be read without benefit of the other series, as enough backstory is revealed. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

 

MY RATING: 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

suzanne-woods-fisherSuzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

In Too Deep, #2 Dive Team Investigations by Lynn H. Blackburn

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ABOUT THE BOOK

AUTHOR: Lynn Blackburn

SERIES: Dive Team Investigations, #2

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell; November 2018

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop–or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming–a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills–to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.

The truth could set hundreds free–but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

 

MY REVIEW:

A forensic dive team in North Carolina is the focus of Lynn H Blackburn’s series, Dive Team Investigations. In book one, we met the team members and focused on Ryan and Leigh’s story. Book two, In Too Deep, tells the chilling tale of Adam and Sabrina. While I believe the book could stand on its own, I started out feeling that the team members were already my friends, not people I had just met.

What’s to love about this book? Blackburn strikes a good balance between great romantic suspense and relationship-driven narrative. What I loved most is that Sabrina is intelligent beyond belief, yet that character trait is countered by an unusual lack of common social skills. In other words, a great, but lovable, flawed protagonist.

Heavy topics are handled within these pages. My antennae went up. We’re talking about sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Where is the author taking me? Guilt, awareness, action? For me, I choose awareness.

I loved that prayers are a part of everyday needs in the novel, and some are spoken aloud. They’re not preachy, but natural, clear, and honest.

Points to Blackburn for exhibiting a sense of humor at a few critical points. Some thoughts just made me laugh. Try “baby cops.” Another was a paragraph listing Sabrina’s many injuries, followed by the statement she had never looked more beautiful. That just tickled my funny bone.

Thought-provoking quotes:
“You love the victims and the victimizers. We don’t understand that, Lord.”(How true!)
and
“…it’s not about how big our faith is. What matters is how big our God is.”~Sabrina

I highly recommend this series, and can’t wait for Gabe and Anissa’s story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are solely my own, and no positive review was required.

 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

17521786Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, COVERT JUSTICE, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery/Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, HIDDEN LEGACY, released in June 2017. She began a new series, Dive Team Investigations with BENEATH THE SURFACE in March of 2018.

 

Revell

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: A Bound Heart

AUTHOR: Laura Frantz

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell, January 2019

GENRE: Christian Historical Romance

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

 

MY REVIEW:

Laura Frantz is truly a master of vivid descriptions of beautiful landscapes and sea/skyscapes as she lyrically composes the lives and times of her historical characters. A Bound Heart is set in Scotland. While Ms. Frantz is such a romantic writer she could probably make Antarctica sound like a vacation spot, I had to wonder if I would like the island of Kerrera any more than Isla did.
Smugglers, fighting against unjust taxes, a corrupt court, an ocean voyage of horrors, several love triangles; all make for a very tightly woven story. Frantz’s characters are full of life, passion, and pride in their heritage. When these freedoms are removed, what will remain behind?
It was very interesting to learn about the Scots’ way of life in the 1750s. I must admit, I had a hard time with a love triangle involving a married person. While no wrong actions occurred, I would have preferred to see one party or the other take steps to put physical distance between them. The glossary was a huge help, as was the context in which Frantz used the unfamiliar words. A few wonderful quotes:
On the horrid ship: “Lord, all I have is Ye. Make that enough.”
“Fear had a terrible taste.”
This is a good book, but it will not be my favorite Frantz book. To each his own. Anxiously awaiting the next Frantz novel.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions expressed here are solely my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is 2986307credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net.

 

2018 Top Ten Books, Barbour, Bethany House, Celebrate Lit Tour, Lyrical Underground, NetGalley, Revell

MY 2018 TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Like others whose lists I have already seen, I had difficulty narrowing my list of books I’ve read this year (79) down to the ten most important not to miss. I must include the fact that a particularly good book may be missing just because I didn’t get around to reading it. One book that should probably be on my list, I read last year at this time. With a little creativity to include a few more than 10, here is my list. These are not in order of preference. You can’t ask that from most book lovers. (It can change daily.)

1. A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano. 36394907

This is a rather allegorical novel of a vine keeper who takes over the vineyard of a great vintner. It is the vintner’s daughter who alternately criticizes and pines over the mysterious vine keeper. A romance and allegory so great I knew as I was reading it this would top my list of great books for this year.

 

 

 

2. River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart. 36569429

In pre-Civil War times, a small town rallies around a particularly loving and caring slave, as a Caucasian young lady who owes him her life and much of her mindset, decides whether she will support slavery or freedom for all. Heartwarming, also heartbreaking, this novel makes the reader wonder about their own mettle faced with issues of this magnitude.

 

3. Mind Games by Nancy Mehl.                                38484891

Mehl presents such great romantic suspense, yet I always find her characters so believable. Like yes, this really could happen to the average person (nevermind said average person is an extraordinary FBI profiler). This whole book is terrific, I mean terrifying. Yet the ending blew me away and left me wanting more. You will have to read it to understand. This is not your ordinary cliffhanger.

 

4.  The Cumberland Bride, # 5 Daughters of the 36040943Mayflower Series, by Shannon McNear.

Thrills and chills of a small group traversing the dangerous Cumberland Gap during the turbulent time of Daniel Boone. A young woman of eligible age falls for the group’s half-Indian guide. As romantic as they come!

 

5. Nantucket Legacy Series by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This includes (1) Phoebe’s Light; (2) Minding the Light; and (3) The Light of Day.

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Wow! This series about the Quakers of Nantucket Island is a true treasure. Starting with the life of a lady destined to be a leader, “Great Mary,” we find out about her in each book through parts of her diary that are shared. Since each book is a split-time novel, we also learn about another person or person who lived a generation or more later. We see lives of the islanders intertwining, and both evil and good reaching down through later generations, depending upon whether the characters are truly following “the light.” A great historical about the times when whaling was a viable trade.

 

 

6. A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green.

Jocelyn Green does great historical research, yet like Laura Frantz and Michelle Griep, she presents it so well. I had never been in a French class or read a book that looked at Marie Antionette and Louis XVI with anything but disdain and 35069159the attitude “they had it coming.” There’s always another side. imagine my surprise to hear about the Jacobites in America, and the danger they posed to those who appeared loyal to the deposed French crown. I loved this book through and through. French history, Franco-American history, and the Whiskey Rebellion?! Learn on!!

 

7. A Tale of Two Hearts, #2 A Dickens Christmas, by Michelle Griep. 38746239

This is the story of a poor law clerk and an impoverished innkeeper’s daughter who conspire to pretend to be married in order to convince his uncle to leave the uncle’s vast holdings to the law clerk. As I wrote in my review, “Superior story, superior writing, superior read. Period.”

 

8. Catching Christmas, by Terri Blackstock.Catching-Christmas-210x300

I had never known Ms. Blackstock to write anything but Christian romance or romantic suspense. This departure from her usual is a Christmas Hallmark-like tale that has it all. Humor, poignancy, romance, stress, and the message of life’s ultimate meaning.

 

 

9. Shelter of the Most High, # 2 Cities of Refuge by Connilyn Cossette.36436246

Biblical fiction comes to life by a new-to-me author. #2  in The Cities of Refuge series, now I can’t wait to read the other two! A little gritty at first, not for the faint of heart, Cossette
honestly shows what it was like for the non-Jewish people serving other gods. This makes our own God so attractive, both for the protagonist and for the reader. Now I understand all the hype surrounding the name “Connilyn Cossette.”

10. TIE BETWEEN A Caffeine Conundrum by Angela Ruth Strong and The Spice of Life, #1 A Salty Tale by Debbie Viguie.

A) A Caffeine Conundrum-40945129

This is another great Christmas tale but so much more. In typical  Angela Ruth Strong-style, a ton of laughter, a quirky character or two, and some subtle Christian values to hang onto for real life.

 

B) The Spice of Life, #1 A Salty Tale by Debbie Viguie.42597854

The first in a new cozy/romantic suspense/thriller series sure to be even more exciting as it builds book by book. One of the protagonists reminds me strongly of Remington Steele, yay!! If I didn’t already like this one enough, I got to hear parts of it read out loud in person by the author, and parts hilariously acted out singlehandedly by another friend!

 

2018 Runners-Up:

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Thank you for checking out my list! Did you make one? I’d love to compare!

 

BLOG, Revell

Enclave by Thomas Locke

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

BOOK: Enclave

AUTHOR: Thomas Locke

PUBLISHER: Revell

PUBLISHED: November 20, 2018

LENGTH: 283 Pages

ISBN: 978-0800727918

It’s been 50 years since the Great Crash and what was once America is now a collection of enclaves, governed on the local level and only loosely tied together by the farce of a federal government. Catawba, one of the largest and most affluent enclaves in the southern states, is relatively stable and maintains a successful business of trade with nearby enclaves, including the one at Charlotte Township. But when a new vein of gold is found beneath the feet of those in Catawba, it’s only a matter of time before trouble finds them.

Now the future of Catawba may be in the hands of an untried 21-year-old trader named Caleb. And Caleb knows that if his secret were ever to come out, he would never see another dawn.

 

MY REVIEW:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” This quote by William Shakespeare comes to mind as I finish Enclave by Thomas Locke(Davis Bunn). Indeed, Kevin and Caleb, two of the major players of this dystopian scenario, are just going about their daily business as we first meet them. Kevin is a deputy by day and “underground railroad” leader at night. Caleb is the untried son of a successful enclave leader, whose group needs to keep their discovery of gold a secret. The two young men are eventually joined together as they try to protect “specials” from the various officials that want this dangerous group destroyed. There is a bit of violence in a novel of this nature, which causes me to recommend it for older audiences. Once I understood the direction of the story, the tension built incrementally until I felt like I was clutching the bottom of my seat as I raced for the ending. I did feel like I was in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. What a movie that would be! The end itself is nebulous enough to allow for a sequel.

I liked the fact that each person in the group has to figure out his gift and use it for the team to work. This reminds us of the body of Christ. While some gifts seemed more impressive or had more wow-power than others, none could be ignored for the group to accomplish its objective. And what an objective that is! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. I am not obligated to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own responsibility.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Thomas Loc8936025ke (a.k.a. Davis Bunn) is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.
His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. He holds a lifelong passion for epic fantasy, science fiction, and techno-thriller stories.

Thomas’s screenplay adaption of EMISSARY is under development as a feature film with a British production company.

Contact Thomas at info@tlocke.com