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The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

About the Book

Title: The Edge of Belonging

Author: Amanda Cox

Publisher: Revell

Released: September 2020

Genre: Christian Dual-Time, Contemporary

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go. 

My Impressions

The Edge of Belonging is such a spellbinding, dual-time novel from Amanda Cox. I foresee Edge of Belonging winning an award for debut novels. For myself, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page. Heart-rending themes such as foster homes, homelessness, human trafficking, depression, and PTSD are dealt with from both the sufferer’s and a loving helper’s POV. The raw loneliness hurt, and need that several of the characters experience is portrayed so poignantly. It seems each character in the earlier story (Harvey, Pearl, Thom, and Miriam) feels they are on the edge of belonging to some degree.

In the later story, Ivy is the focal point who feels like she doesn’t quite belong, but her best friend Reese has often struggled with those same sentiments. I was thrilled to see how the book’s title applied to so many. I also loved seeing the hope and mercy that certain characters, especially Pearl and Reese, generously dole out to others. Again, so many of Ms. Cox’s characters show significant growth by the end of the story.
While it is easy to see early on where the stories will connect, there remains the fascination of just how Ms. Cox is going to work it all out.


I usually like to pick a favorite character, but they were all faves. I love Reese for his steadiness and undying care. Harvey, for the way he supersedes his own fears to love another. And Pearl, for her radar to find and genuinely love lost souls.
Get your own copy of this must-read debut!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Revell Reads via NetGalley. All opinions are my own and no positive review was required.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers.

Connect with Amanda on her website at https://amandacoxwrites.com

or on Twitter @amandacoxwrites

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An Appalachian Summer by Ann H Gabhart

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About the Book

Title: An Appalachian Summer

Author: Ann H Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Released:  June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

In 1933, most people are focused on the Great Depression but all Piper Danson can think about is how to get out of being a debutante and marrying Braxton Crandall. In an act of defiance, Piper volunteers as a frontier nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains where adventure awaits.

My Review

*Sigh* After reading An Appalachian Summer, I wonder how a reader could not consider signing up to be a horse courier for Mrs. Breckenridge’s Nurse-Midwife Service. Sure, the year is 1933, and the locale of most of this unputdownable book is the hills and mountains of Kentucky. The adventure that Ann H Gabhart effortlessly spins rolls from one escapade to the next.
Of course, we might not all be as courageous as Piper Danson, who trades her debutante life for the wild unknown. Who needs to decide between two suitors when there are bigger mountains to climb… literally? What with snakes, men who might shoot before asking questions if a stranger is found on their land, odd jobs the girls have never before dreamed of attempting…life is never dull in these beautiful hills.

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This is a journey of faith, friendship, love, and the soul. Faith that the mountain people have and readily share, as one lady on the train does to Piper:
“I’m guessing things has always been easy for you. That can make it harder to recognize what the Lord does for you. You can think maybe you’ve done it all yourself and don’t need him none. But you walk down some rocky trails with troubles on every side , and you’ll be wanting the Lord right there with you.”
Gabhart doesn’t belabor points, but inserts faith as a given for the mountain people.
Friendships. So many different kinds in this story. Some lead to respect. Some lead to good new friends. Some lead to love. *Sigh* It is just so much fun to follow the paths Gabhart winds, almost as twisty as the mountain paths themselves, before allowing her characters to settle their hearts.
There’s magic in those hills. Especially the ones inhabited by Mrs. Breckenridge, Piper, Suze, Dr. Jack, Billy, and on and on. This is a TV show waiting to be picked up.
Be able to say you read the book first.

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Notable Quotables:

“…the joy of the song can be in you whether it tickles the ears or not.”

“Sometimes a person had to forget the obstacles and jump into the moment.”

“I think we all have a calling. Sometimes we live up to it, and sometimes we don’t.”

“…every person should be allowed one idiotic dream in her lifetime.”

“You get up high on those hills and the Lord just seems nearer.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell Reads. I also bought an ecopy and a copy to bless a special friend with. All opinions are my own, and are freely given.

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot!

 

About the Author

311723Ann H. Gabhart grew up on a farm in Kentucky. By the time she was ten she knew she wanted to be a writer. She’s published over twenty novels. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. She still lives on a farm not far from where she grew up. She loves playing with her grandkids, walking with her dog, reading and, of course, writing. Her Shaker books, set in her fictional Shaker village of Harmony Hill in the 1800’s, are popular with readers. The Outsider was a Christian Fiction Book Award Finalist in 2009. Her Heart of Hollyhill books are Small Town, America books set in the 1960’s. Angel Sister, a Rosey Corner book set during the Great Depression, will be followed by Small Town Girl. Visit Ann’s website http://annhgabhart.com or her two blogs, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com, and the Hollyhill Book of the Strange, www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com.Giveaways several times a year.

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A Reckless Love, #3 The Daughtry House Series by Beth White

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About the Book

Title: A Reckless Love

Series: #3 The Daughtry House

Author: Beth White

Publisher: Revell

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

On the trail of an elusive enemy, cynical, war-damaged lawman Zane Sager crosses paths once more with Aurora Daughtry, the vivacious Mississippi belle he once admired from a distance. As his defenses start to crumble, the criminal he’s been pursuing reminds him that that no one he loves is safe. Ever.

 

My Review

“Zane’s first thought when he came to was that the world was coming to an end.” With an explosive start like that, Beth White quickly lights a fire under the reader to delve into her last story of the Daughtry House series, A Reckless Love.
I was a little confused at first, because this sister’s chronicle backtracks a little from where the last book ended. But White has her reasons. By the way, this is one series that needs to be read in order.
The year is 1870, and slavery has been abolished. Many on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line struggle with racial equality. When Judge Teague, a beloved mentor of Deputy Marshall Sager, is attacked for ruling over a race-related trial, Sager vows to visit justice upon the guilty. Sager gets to know the Daughtry sisters as he works with Riggins, Selah’s husband, who is also a Pinkerton. Both men are working at ending organized racial intimidation and suppression in the South.

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I find Aurora amazing in that she has a good business head at nineteen, but she is also high-handed, determined to orchestrate events as she sees fit. Every one else had better get in line behind her. She is a tough cookie but loves anyone with a good heart. She is brave and unconventional.
Sager is independent, also brave, and other than the judge, not one to be close to others. His appearance helps out his tenacious personality, but he is hiding a weakness. Plus, he failed at the protection gig once. He is afraid of failing again. If “there is no fear in love,” then there is no love in fear.
White, like Joelle, has a proclivity towards big words. I had to google quite a few definitions. I very much enjoyed getting to know all three of the Daughtry sisters in this series.

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Notable Quotables:

”Find a man who serves Christ first. Then his love for you will fall rightly.”

“Honey, we all get left behind at some time or another. Only one person is always there.”

“And when somebody gives you a hand out of the mud, you don’t spit on it just because it doesn’t land you exactly where you want to go.”

“…secrets were burdensome things.”

“…he packed more raw emotion into one eye than most people conveyed in two.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell Reads program. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

 5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

Beth White teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. Her 7129454hobbies include playing flute and pennywhistle and painting, but her real passion is writing historical romance with a Southern drawl.

A native Mississippian, she is a pastor’s wife, mother of two, and grandmother of two–so far.

Also published as Elizabeth White, her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

You can get in touch with Beth on Twitter @bethsquill and her website can be found at http://www.bethwhite.net/.

 

 

 

 

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What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K Sproles

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About the Book

Title: What Momma Left Behind

Author: Cindy K Sproles

Publisher: Revell

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and dysentery ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1898, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie’s mother has been secretly feeding a number of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when she dies suddenly, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.

Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers–one greedy and the other a drunkard–Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma’s children.

Storyteller and popular speaker Cindy K. Sproles pens a tender novel full of sacrifice, heartache, and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

 

My Review

I want this over with. I want things back to the way they was. We didn’t ask for this mess.
And every minute that passes just pours more manure on top of us.” No, this is not
someone present-day talking about the Corona virus. This is 17-year-old Worie Dressar,
who in 1877 has watched both the flu and typhoid decimate her part of Appalachia. Now,
Worie’s mother is gone, and Worie’s faith is put to a fearsome test as 1877 proves to be
the hardest year of her young life.
Why should you pick up this book, what Momma Left Behind, by Cindy K Sproles? First,
it’s amazing to think sometimes that there was another time and place as arduous as this
year (2020) has seemed. There can be something comforting to see someone go through
something- a pandemic and separation from society, no less, and realize it’s possible to
come out alive and more mature on the other side. Oh, but the process!
Then there’s that quaintness about the speech patterns of the mountain people that pulls
you into the story faster than you can say “moonshine.” One example:
“Anger crawled up from the deepest part of me, hurt seeped outta my heart, and fear eat
at me like a hungry buzzard. Momma had left me in more ways than one.”
This novel is very reminiscent of Christy by Catherine Marshall. There’s even a young,
interested preacher. Pastor Jess is such a good complement to Worie. He has such a great
soothing way with people when Worie tends to fly off the handle.
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I loved all, no, most, of the secondary characters. But all were well-drawn, even Calvin,
Justice, and deceased Momma.
Ely is a voice to be reckoned with. One part comfort, one part Scripture, one part reproof,
one part encouragement.
The children. They were my undoing.
I never knew what to expect around the bend, be it literal or figurative.
Sproles deftly diffuses more than one molasses-like sticky situation with humor and I
found myself laughing out loud. Sometimes the tears came. But then, I’d think how
strong the mountain women were.
As Momma would say, “Take a day to mourn your lot, then shovel it over your shoulder
and move ahead.”
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The values of family, hope, and forgiveness shine above judgment and false self-
perception. You may move beyond this novel, but a piece of Sourwood Mountain will
forever rest in your soul.
Notable Quotables:

“I’d heard folks talk about lightnin striking twice in one place. I reckon it had done struck me twice and then some.”

“Them mountains, they’s like the hills and valleys in our souls. We can’t have one without the other, but we can figure the best way to
climb.”

“I thought trust was something you could find, but I’m seein it ain’t found- it’s gived.”

“…truth ain’t promised to be easy, but it is promised to always be right.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

Cindy Sproles is an author and speaker. She has cofounded ChristianDevotions.us and serves as managing editor for SonRise Books and Straight Street Books, imprints of 214Fl3syn+L._CR0,0,160,160_UX160Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas/Iron Stream Media. Cindy teaches at Christian Writers Conferences and ladies retreats and ladies conferences across the country. Her devotions are heartfelt and honest. Edgy and inviting. Cindy serves as the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us, a writing mentor, and life-coach.She shares mentoring with best-selling author, Yvonne Lehman at Write Right. Author of four non-fiction books, Cindy’s Fiction debut novel, Mercy’s Rain(Kregel Publishing), was book of the year and her second novel, Liar’s Winter won numerous awards. Cindy’s 3rd Appalachian Novel, Revell Publishing, What Momma Left Behind, releases June 2,2020 She is a contributing author to CBN.com and InspireaFire.com and serves as the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit her at http://www.cindysproles.com or contact her at cindyksproles@gmail.com

Cindy is available for speaking events by contacting her at cindyksproles@gmail.com.

 

 

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On a Coastal Breeze, #2 Three Sisters Island by Suzanne Woods Fisher with Giveaway

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About the Book

Book:  On A Coastal Breeze

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre:  Amish Romance

Release Date: May 5, 2020

For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on On-A-Coastal-Breeze-194x300the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not one.

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her arch-nemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

 

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Welcome back to Three Sisters Island, where life is slow, electricity is spotty, and there are no secrets.

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Yet, in On a Coastal Breeze, Book Two of Three Sisters Island by Suzanne Woods Fisher, we find that life is messy. Each sister in the Grayson family, plus their father, has a few secret fears. Paul, the father, is having a rough time being administrator of Camp Kicking Moose. Cam, the eldest, is putting off her wedding in favor of island improvement. How long can Seth wait? Cooper needs more attention than Cam is willing to give. Will this family-to-be happen? Maddy is settling into her dream job of counselor-therapist when Ricky O’Shea, the bane of her young existence, drops out of the sky…to become the new pastor. “As a boy, Ricky O’Shea had stolen her heart. As a man, he was back to claim it.” Can Maddy decide whether she hates or loves Rick? Blaine is as unsteady and unable to finish a goal as ever. However, she has a wonderful friendship with Artie Lotosky. They’re so fun, warm, and they totally understand each other. No wonder everyone but Blaine thinks they’d be a good match.

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As always, Fisher has a charming sense of humor, with characters that are warm, real, and flawed. It is easy to identify with them, imagining them as your neighbors or even bits of yourself. Fisher’s voice and easy ebb and flow of words set the tone for an island that you almost want to locate for your next vacation. However, the waiting list for Camp Kicking Moose is a little long.
While I usually groan at lists of characters in the beginning of a book, it was very helpful to ease my transition back to this beautiful fishing island. I believe this book could be read alone, but I strongly recommend reading it as its part of the series.
We are left with enough unfulfilled hopes and unanswered questions at the end of the book to gratefully look forward to book three.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. (I also purchased my own copy.) This in no way affects my opinions which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot!

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty suzanne-woods-fisherbooks, including On a Summer Tide, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, The Deacon’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.

 

More from Suzanne

Dear Reader,

 

The minute you step off the ferry and onto Three Sister Island, magic begins. Crisp ocean air acts like an elixir. Stress starts to evaporate, like a wisp of steam from a cup of hot tea. Happiness moves in, and you’ll feel more cheerful, more positive about the future.

And then there’s time! Somehow, there seems to be plenty of it.

 

Little things will catch your notice—finding seashells on the beach, watching waves crash against the rocks, gazing at the star-studded night sky.

 

Life just starts to slow down…and you wonder if you really want to ever leave Three Sisters Island.

 

Nor do you have to! That’s the beauty of books—they are the perfect escape. Always available, just waiting to be picked up. Always ready to transport you to a fresh and new state of mind.

 

On a Coastal Breeze is that kind of a read. The Grayson Family saga continues as they move to Three Sisters Island off the coast of Maine for a fresh start. Maddie Grayson takes center stage in this story. Life is finally coming together for Maddie. On the very day she opens her counseling practice, she spots a billowing skydiver. Parachuting in is Ricky O’ Shea—the one person on earth Maddie hoped she’d never see again. But Rick’s the new pastor for the island’s only church and he’s not about to leave. That’s when sparks start to fly.

 

Join me for a getaway by the sea that will leave you in a happy, relaxed, vacation-y state of mind…without leaving your home. Once you board the Never Late Ferry, even in your imagination, the island will take it from there.

 

Warmly, Suzanne

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, May 18

The Avid Reader, May 18

By The Book, May 18

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 19

Artistic Nobody, May 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Betti Mace, May 20

Lighthouse Academy, May 20

The Power of Words, May 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 21

Texas Book-aholic, May 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 21

Wishful Endings, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 22

deb’s Book Review, May 22

Blossoms and Blessings, May 23

reviewingbooksplusmore, May 23

Connect in Fiction, May 23

Remembrancy, May 24

Writing from the Heart Land, May 24

Blogging With Carol, May 24

Blessed & Bookish, May 25

Inspiration Clothesline, May 25

Back Porch Reads, May 25

For Him and My Family, May 26

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 26

Daysong Reflections, May 26

Spoken from the Heart, May 27

Mary Hake, May 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 27

Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, May 28

Splashes of Joy, May 28

Older & Smarter?, May 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 30

EmpowerMoms, May 30

Pause for Tales, May 30

Batya’s Bits, May 31

Southern Gal Loves to Read, May 31

Hallie Reads, May 31

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of her book to five winners!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fb52/on-a-coastal-breeze-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

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Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner

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About the Book

Title: Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish

Author: Bethany Turner

Publisher: Revell

Released: May 2020

Genre: Romcom

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along, but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances.

 

My Review

Looking for some great laughs, a good, clean romance, with tension and twists right up to the end? Look no further. Bethany Turner’s Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is a great read. Hadley Beckett is a sweet, country, Southern gal who has her own homey-type cooking show. We meet her as she faces off against infamous bad-boy chef Max Cavanaugh in a taped cooking contest.
This novel is both comic relief and one to make you introspective. As the point of view switches between Hadley in first person and Max in third, we get to see both characters struggle against themselves and each other. Can Max the terrible re-invent himself into a lovable, likable person? Can Hadley trust that love doesn’t have to end badly? And, of course, can they prove to their Renowned tv audience that two chefs are not too many for one kitchen?

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Ms. Turner has penned a book I couldn’t put down, with twists in just the right places. Bethany Turner likes to challenge the reader to think about things differently. This time one of the topics is alcoholism.
Not everyone who crashes and burns due to alcohol is an alcoholic. This is a message that Max strives to give out.
Hadley mentions a few Biblical characters, and Max mentions wanting to find out what causes her to be different. Beyond that, Turner chooses not to elaborate. I was disappointed, as I love to carry away a few spiritual nuggets of wisdom. All in all, a very fun, clean book, just without the raisôn d’être I hoped for.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell through RevellReads via NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

 

About the Author

Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah 7214754Hollenbeck and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. Learn more at seebethanywrite.com.

 

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Silent Shadows, #3 Harbored Secrets by Natalie Walters

About the Book

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Title: Silent Shadows

Series: #3 Harbored Secrets

Author: Natalie Walters

Publisher: Revell

Released: March 2020

Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolve into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally–her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the undiagnosed disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton’s involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer–and more deadly–than they realized.

With this suspenseful new story, Natalie Walters welcomes you once more to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name–but no one knows your secret.

 

My Review

Pecca Gallegos never thought she’d be turning down a marriage proposal…much less four of them.” So starts Silent Shadows, romantic suspense by Natalie Walters. #3 in the Harbored Secrets series, Silent Shadows is a stand-alone that I expect to see in my Top Books for 2020 at year’s end. 
What did I love so much about this book? It seems realistic. I enjoyed Nurse Pecca, who is a physical therapist, working at a home for injured veterans. She seems like an every-day, down-to-earth person, with an unfortunate background. 
Rising out of that past may be one of the strongest parts of the novel, supporting character Maceo, Pecca’s 7 year- old son, who has a leg prosthetic. Of course, Captain Colton Crawford is a swoony, but broken part of this equation. When he develops a relationship with Maceo, Pecca can’t help but like the Captain, even with his disability. But will he ever stop seeing the future as discarded dreams and instead see unexpected opportunities? 

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There are many secondary threads or characters that strengthen this narrative beautifully. We start with the romance, a possible love triangle, and unknown danger. Now add the secondary storyline of Maceo, plus thickening threads. The danger thread builds nicely. Where is it coming from? Great twists. Another thread is Charlie and Lacy and the coming baby. I love Shirley with her loving, nurturing ways and all the other vets with their love and friendly service competition.

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One last thread that appealed to me was the realism of the seizures. Not fun. But I could see them in my mind. Good research there. These different story strands tighten the weave of the book until it is a multi-faceted, taut romantic suspense. 
All in all, I reckon I just loved this book! 
Quotes: 
 
“If you want to win the game, you’ve got to know who you’re playing.” 
 
“He had no idea what he did to deserve this or why he was being punished- only if this was his life sentence, he would’ve chosen the alternative.” 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via Revell. 
All opinions are my own, for which I am solely responsible.

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

18471823My world revolves around GIJOE and our three adult (or almost adult) children who keep my life anything but predictable. Our boots hit the ground wherever the Army sends us but home is when we’re all together no matter the zipcode. My passion is writing stories where adventure meets love and share my belief that life rooted in purpose is a story worth telling.

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Out of the Embers, #1 Mesquite Springs by Amanda Cabot

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About the Book

Title: Out of the Embers

Series: Mesquite Springs

Author: Amanda Cabot

Publisher: Revell

Released: March 2020

Genre: Historical Romance

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

My Review

There’s just something magnetic about a light romantic tale from the Old West. Add some mystery and suspense and you have the ingredients for a very enjoyable read by Amanda Cabot, Out of the Embers.
Evelyn Radcliffe and young Polly escape the orphanage fire that is deliberately set. How far must they run to find a new, secure life?
Evelyn is a very mature, loyal young woman who will do anything to protect those she loves. Her “adoption” of Polly proves how unselfish she is. I liked how her unselfish helping at the Circle C eventually leads to her dream future. But the path to get there is rocky.
Wyatt Clark is quickly interested in the young woman who comes to stay at the Circle C. However, the facts aren’t building a truthful foundation for a friendship, let alone anything more. Wyatt is a very responsible and caring individual who puts others above himself, as well. Which is why he is still present on the Circle C, a place he longs to leave. I love that Wyatt is not afraid to accept help and that he also listens to the voice of reason. These qualities go far in any relationship, be it friendship or love. Eventually, we see the far-reaching effects of lives lived for others.
I am not as impressed with Polly, the child in this novel. However, she does seem to act true to her identity.
Unless he shows up again in future books and bigger roles, I was unimpressed with the story thread of “the Watcher.” You’ll have to read the book to see if you agree. You may form a totally different opinion, which makes writing and reading these reviews fun. You get to read the actual text, write a review, then see what other readers think.
One thing I know. I got a sneak peek at a few pages of the next book, and I am anxious to read the next volume, Dorothy and Brandon’s story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. This did not influence my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent- I Gladly Recommend This Book

About the Author

1609844With both parents avid readers, it’s no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than thirty-five novels. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading. Follow Amanda’s writing on her website, http://www.amandacabot.com/

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Two Steps Forward, #3 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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About the Book

Title: Two Steps Forward

Series: #3 The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: February 2020

Genre: Amish Romance

Length: 319 pg

Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

 

My Review

In this heartwarming, soul-searching tale, Suzanne Woods Fisher invites us back to Stoney Ridge. In Two Steps Forward, we see Luke Schrock maturing as a deacon; Izzy still looking for her missing childhood, and Jimmy Fisher returning from Colorado. Unsure of his plans, Jimmy accepts an unexpected offer from widow Sylvie Schrock King to help with her horse and farm.
Sylvie is a very likable character. She is independent, a hard worker, and she will defend and protect those she loves. For her, the question seems to be, is Jimmy worth loving?
I really couldn’t decide how I felt about Jimmy. Fisher drew him in such a way that I liked him, felt sorry for him, but despised and wanted to be done with him.

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The creek, which divides Sylvie’s property from Edith Fisher Lapp’s, is slowly meandering closer and closer to Edith’s house. Perhaps symbolic of the way Edith’s sphere of influence gets smaller and smaller the more in control of others she tries to be.
Edith is NOT a nice person, but Bishop David Stolzfus gives her lots of room (grace) to be herself. In our time in Stoney Ridge, I have enjoyed watching his people-handling skills, honed by hours of prayer. David is a very patient and wise bishop and is teaching Luke well by example.
While Luke has grown by leaps and bounds, Izzy is still chained to her unfulfilled childhood longings. Will she ever feel that she can move on without the ability to settle her past?

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Themes include righting wrongs towards others (mending fences); forgiveness (can those already given grace pay it forward)?; protecting those who can’t defend themselves (adoption or fostering). It’s important to take action, realizing by being part of the solution, we can help people, one by one.
Yet, a fourth theme was the importance of a loving father in the home.
I totally enjoyed this story and recommend it. That being said, I wish there had been one less twist at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and the author through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and makes me want to stay in Stoney Ridge.

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher

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.

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 take 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

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An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

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About the Book

Title: An Uncommon Woman

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Revell

Released: January 7, 2020

Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, a redeemed Indian captive like himself.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when she is taken captive by the tribe Clay left, his hand–and heart–are forced, leading to one very private and one very public reckoning.

Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.

My Review

 

If Laura Frantz’s name is on it, that is enough to tell me I’m going to love a novel, and most probably, consider it a favorite. An Uncommon Woman is no exception. Ms. Frantz takes the reader back to colonial Virginia, but the far side of the Appalachians, where the Buckhannon River runs free and life is hard. At a time when the Colonies are bursting at their seams, some have traversed the mountains to make the wildlands their home. But with Indian tribes both mistreated and feared, life on the frontier is unstable at best.

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Laura Frantz has an enviable way with words that mesmerizes the reader as she paints a comprehensive word picture of the dangers of the forts established at this time.
“How would I feel if” is the question I find myself asking when reading a Laura Frantz novel. One can’t help but be drawn into the lives of Tessa and her bereft family, who are honoring her pa by continuing the life he staked out for them. Yet Tessa remembers a fearful time in childhood that affected the whole community. She also longs to return to the East, a refined land she has never seen.
Colonel Clay Tygart, for whom the fort is named, is an enigma both in appearance and personality. A “white Indian,” where will his loyalties lie when the Indian unrest breaks loose?

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The secondary characters of Keturah, Tessa’s brothers, Tessa’s ma and the neighbor fill in the background to help weave a taut, suspenseful narrative that exposes human prejudices for what they are.
Vengeance-based feelings against people who might differ from oneself, held accountable for someone else’s actions. I wanted to cry at times, at others beg and plead with characters and whole groups of people to think more clearly, with forgiveness.
This is a story of many loves. A few romantic. * Sigh. * Several familial, but each different depending on the character of the persons involved. One strong friendship that supersedes all, beautifully portraying that “friend that is closer than a brother.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
 

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot Straight On!!

About the Author

Now that you’ve read about a real favorite book of mine (Laura Frantz rarely misses!) it’s time to learn a little about the author herself.

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 2986307that 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 credited 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.