Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

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About the Book

Title: Echoes Among the Stones

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2019

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.
In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost.

My Review

“My mother told me that when the boys came home from the war, people thought the world would go back to the way it was before. But it didn’t. The war lived on in souls for years after, and people were just never really the same again.”
This quote by Jaime Jo Wright in Echoes Among the Stones so aptly captures the mood of Mill Creek, Wisconsin in July of 1946. Wright recreates the ominous heaviness that the war brings to America’s hearts. Some people, like the young men who survive, come home brooding or unable to find their way out of the horror now relegated to memory. Others are affected by the loss of family members or the great personality change in a family member who returns. Still others like Imogene and Hazel are also affected second-hand by the war brought to America.

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Jaime Jo Wright has penned yet another mystery novel with spooky, ominous undertones that beckon the tentative reader in. Echoes Among the Stones is a time-slip novel, marrying two distinctly different and at first seemingly unrelated plots, no pun originally intended. In the present day, Aggie loses her real estate job and returns to her selfish, demanding grandmother’s home, while working a cemetery job. Collin, the archaeologist who works with Aggie, frustrates her, intrigues her, and challenges her by turns.
There was enough eerie mystery, romance, and humor (“You have all the sense of an addlepated muskrat, ”) plus faith scattered throughout the book that this book is a big winner for me. Also, I loved the way the solution took me by surprise. Look for this book among my favorites in 2019.

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Quotes:
“Sometimes…you must step outside of your own strength and realize there’s a greater Strength waiting to hold you.”

“All I can say right now is that we sell God short when we look at the pain. Instead, we should focus on what He’s provided us to help us heal.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the 13916081hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Seconds to Live, #1 Homeland Heroes by Susan Sleeman

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About the Book

Title: Seconds to Live

Series: Homeland Heroes

Author: Susan Sleeman

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2019

When cybercriminals hack into the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection database and auction off personal details to the highest bidder, FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. Trouble is, he has to work with U.S. Marshal Taylor Mills, who knows the secrets of his past, and the seconds are ticking down before someone dies.

My Review

As usual, Susan Sleeman draws readers in with the very first sentence. Sleeman’s writing in Seconds to Live, like her other works, is concise, taut, and suspenseful in a beyond-terrifying way. Yet Sleeman uses her remarkable knowledge of the cyber crimes world to craft a novel that is both thoughtful and uplifting. When I finished this book, my thought was, if Taylor and Sean can learn to trust God in their over-the-top FBI dangerous jobs, surely I can trust Him with my own life. Besides, even though both Taylor and Sean have jobs most of us can only imagine, their feelings, actions, and conversations make them very relatable.

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While I didn’t much like Dustee, I almost felt sorry for her. Not many in our techie world today would be able to go long periods without some connection to technology. Yet, Dustee had to stay completely away from the internet. Oy, vey!
All of Sleeman’s characters on the Red Team are introduced with enough character that my reading mind is tantalized with the idea of wanting to know them more.
Quotes:
” ‘And all this pacing and frustration out here in the hall means you’re trusting Him?’ It was just like her to call him on his struggle.”

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“But if Sean had learned anything on the Montgomery Three investigation, he’d learned God was in control. Not him. God. That was true now, too, and was worth remembering.”

“We all live in hiding to some degree…people in hiding want someone to care enough to look for them…”

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Bethany House through Netgalley. I also received a copy direct from the author. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

SUSAN SLEEMAN is the bestselling author of over thirty-five novels with more than one 4053429million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clean with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real.
In addition to writing, Susan also hosts TheSuspenseZone.com. She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies. http://www.susansleeman.com/susans-ne…

Or stop by any of these locations on the web.
Website – http://www.susansleeman.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanB…
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/susansleeman
Review Site – http://www.TheSuspenseZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLOG

Dead Wrong, #1 Agatha’s Amish B&B, by Vannetta Chapman

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About the Book

Title: Dead Wrong

Series: Agatha’s Amish B&B Series

Author: Vannetta Chapman

Publisher: Vannetta Chapman

Released: November 2019

A new Amish cozy mystery from Vannetta Chapman.

When Agatha Lapp’s brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a buggy accident, Agatha relocates to the new Amish community in Hunt Texas, nestled in the Texas Hill Country. She’s there to make a success of her brother’s dream–an Amish B&B. Agatha is friendly, efficient, and capable. She’s also a fifty-five-year-old widow who has learned to be independent. When she discovers Russell Dixon’s lifeless body in Cabin 3, she runs next door where retired detective Tony Vargas lives. The police determine that her guest died of natural causes, but as Agatha and Tony put together the events of the previous two days they become convinced that the police are Dead Wrong.

My Review

The long-awaited next Amish cozy series by Vannetta Chapman is here. I am a big fan of Vannetta Chapman’s Amish cozies. Dead Wrong, # 1 Agatha’s Amish B&B, takes place in Hunt, Texas, where Agatha has moved to take over her dead brother’s rather unsuccessful b&b.
One of the qualities of a Chapman Amish cozy is that Chapman is not afraid to have Amish and Englischers interact and be friendly. In this book, neighbor Tony Vargas, retired police chief, is essential to Agatha’s sleuthing and peace- of- mind. This spirit of inclusivity makes me especially sympathetic to Ms. Chapman’s particular groups of Amish.

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I like the way that Agatha takes life one day at a time, not stressing out overly much about things. Instead, she trusts in God and stays sensible enough to calm her guests and to be aware of incongruities in stories and behavior.
Agatha’s cool head and sensibility shine as we read such phrases as,
”…she’d learned long ago that if you argue with a fool, both of you look stupid,” and,
”You can look a man into the face, but not into the heart.”

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As the season of merriment, stress, and wishing for things we don’t truly need comes, I found a quote that brought me back to reality:
”Sometimes we have to be reminded that the next great thing comes after this life. Our job in this one is to be good stewards with what we have.”
Totally a great book if you are looking for a fun, clean cozy and like a touch of Amish included.
 

 My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She is the author of over twenty novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series, and Plain and Simple Miracle series. Vannetta is a Carol award winner, a Christy finalist, and she also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She currently writes Christian suspense, Amish romance, and Amish mystery. She was a teacher for 15 years and resides in the Texas hill country. For more information, visit her at www.VannettaChapman.com.

3506785Also, you can visit her at
https://twitter.com/VannettaChapman
https://www.facebook.com/VannettaChap…
http://vannettachapman.com/blog/
https://www.instagram.com/vannettacha…
http://vannettachapman.com/book-list/

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

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About the Book

Book: Smoke Screen

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre:  Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death.Smoke-Screen-197x300 All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

 

Click here to get your copy.

My Review

“Innocent until proven guilty.” If only those words were true for Nate Beckett, who left his high school sweetheart behind when Nate’s dad was accused of killing Brenna Strickland’s dad. When the church where Brenna’s father pastored burned down shortly after that, townspeople whispered Nate was responsible. 

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Terri Blackstock is one of the best voices in Christian suspense. I always start her books thinking, maybe I won’t like this one as much as her others. But each time Ms. Blackstock proves me wrong, whipping up the tension into high winds, my reading satisfaction spreading like wildfire as I navigate (in this case) through the very realistic, sad mess that two families have made of their lives once tragedy strikes. I loved the twists that Blackstock incorporates, as well as the strong, solid faith message she projects. Blackstock’s remarks about faith are clear and concise, not preachy. I questioned an event at the end, but then again, people can be unpredictable and don’t always make the decisions one might expect.

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If you love faith-filled suspense, this is a great book for you. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This is no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAYTerri-Blackstock-200x300 bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com; Facebook: Blackstock; Twitter: @terriblackstock

 

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

 

Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

Blog Stops

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

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Christian Bookaholic , November 9

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Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

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D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

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By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

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Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

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Lights in a Dark World, November 19

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Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

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Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

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*No Giveaway for this Celebration Tour

Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Favorite, LPC

Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey (Daughters of Zelophehad #1) by Barbara Britton

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I may be compensated.

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About the Book

Title: Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey

Series: The Daughters of Zelophehad (#1)

Author: Barbara Britton

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Publisher: Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas

Released: October 2019

Get your copy here.

Fiction from Numbers 27:1-11 and 36:1-13 “Go Forth With God”

While the Israelites struggle to occupy the Promised Land of God, Mahlah bat Zelophehad is orphaned and left to care for her four sisters. But daughters of the dead are unable to inherit land, and it will take a miracle for Mahlah to obtain the means to care for her sisters and uphold the vow she made to her dying mother.

Mahlah must seek Moses, the leader of her people, and request something extraordinary—the right for a daughter to inherit her deceased father’s land. A right that will upset the ox-cart of male inheritance and cast her in the role of a rebel.

My Review: 

Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey
I was sold on this Biblical fiction book when I received a free excerpt. That took me under, hook, line, and sinker, and I had to purchase a full copy of this book for myself. This is a story based on the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27:4. Barbara Britton, the creator of Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey, has planned a whole series. You can anticipate all three books by next April (book 2, Heavenly Lights: Noah’s Journey-February; and book three, Claiming Canaan, Milcah’s Journey-April). Highly recommended!!

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Mahlah has a good sense of humor, with a mother-like love for her younger sisters. She is more concerned for the well-being of the family than her surly father, who is a complainer to boot.

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The tone of this novel is one of quiet desperation and determination, mixed with unwavering faith in Yahweh. Britton paints a great picture of what life in the wilderness, traveling towards the Promised Land, may have been like for the Israelites. You will be blessed as you read Mahlah’s story if you love Biblical fiction. Words and situations make it fit for mature readers. Ready, set, go grab!

My Rating

5 Stars- Superb- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

14983213Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes romantic adventures for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. You can visit Barb online at www. barbarambritton.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

The Roll of the Drums, #2 The Amish of Weaver’s Creek by Jan Drexler

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(This site uses affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I may be compensated.)

About the Book

Title: The Roll of the Drums

Series: The Amish of Weaver’s Creek

Author: Jan Drexler

Publisher: Revell

Released: October 2019

Ruby Weaver’s curly red hair isn’t the only thing that sets her apart from her Amish community in 1863. Twenty-eight and single, Ruby doesn’t believe a woman needs to be married in order to be happy. Her ailing friend Lovinia Fischer, however, has other ideas and wants Ruby to promise to marry her husband after she dies. Never imagining she’d have to fulfill that vow, Ruby agrees. And she’s not the only one. Lovinia has extracted a similar promise from her husband, Gideon.

With both Ruby and Gideon reluctant to keep their promises, a compromise must be reached. Ruby will spend her days with Gideon’s family–helping to raise the children and keep the house–but her nights will be spent at her sister’s neighboring house. But this arrangement raises eyebrows in their conservative Amish community, and it soon becomes clear that Ruby must make a decision–marry Gideon or turn her back on her friend, the children she’s grown to love . . . and their father.

Get your copy here.

My Review

This series, The Amish of Weaver’s Creek, presents an unusual view of the Civil War. The first book, A Sound of Distant Thunder, saw Jonas off to war, taking the place of his (pacifist) drafted brother. Now, Jan Drexler provides us with the story of Ruby Weaver, Jonas’s sister. 
Poor Ruby is outspoken, red-haired, and brash. No wonder she is still single. When a new family moves into the area and settles, Ruby has no idea the effect that befriending them will have on her life. 

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Who, as a reader, won’t fall in love with Ruby? She isn’t your typical beauty, she doesn’t fit the typical behavior norms, and she isn’t just “perfect.” But she is loyal, kind, and she loves children. 
Gideon was a puzzle to me. I liked his determined character, his hard work, and his loyalty to those around him. Gideon feels like he failed God, and God cannot forgive him or use him. But the more I think about it, the more I believe his understanding of right and wrong or what he should have done, was very skewed in real life. Just my opinion. You’ll have to read the book to see what I’m referring to, and even then, you may have a different opinion. 

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All in all, I really enjoyed this book. If you like Amish, romance, or the Civil War, this might be a book for you. I can’t wait for book three! 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell via NetGalley
. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

6583749.jpgJan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family.

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

Stitches in Time, #2 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

(My post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on a link.)

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About the Book

Title: Stitches in Time

Series: The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: October 2019

Detachment had worked well as a life strategy for horse trainer Sam Schrock. Until he met Mollie Graber . . .

New to Stoney Ridge, schoolteacher Mollie has come to town for a fresh start. Aware of how fleeting and fragile life is, she wants to live it boldly and bravely. When Luke Schrock, new to his role as deacon, asks the church to take in foster girls from a group home, she’s the first to raise her hand. The power of love, she believes, can pick up the dropped stitches in a child’s heart and knit them back together.

Mollie envisions sleepovers and pillow fights. What the 11-year-old twins bring to her home is anything but. Visits from the sheriff at midnight. Phone calls from the school truancy officer. And then the most humiliating moment of all: the girls accuse Mollie of drug addiction.

There’s only one thing that breaks through the girls’ hard shell–an interest in horses. Reluctantly and skeptically, Sam Schrock gets drawn into Mollie’s chaotic life. What he didn’t expect was for love to knit together the dropped stitches in his own heart . . . just in time.

Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the little Amish church of Stoney Ridge for a touching story of the power of love.

 

Get your copy here.

My Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s trademark warmth, humor, and faith combine to make Stitches in Time (The Deacon’s Family, #2) another of her special, not-to-be-missed books. While this book is touted as the story between Mollie and Sam, it is very much also a continuation of the story of a maturing Luke Shrock and his marriage to Izzy. Will we see Luke chosen by lot to be the new deacon? In the last book, Luke desperately needed to grow up. In this book, God has been at work in Luke. Yet others need to find God’s help for their situations and stations in life.

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The fun thing about this story is that God had bigger plans than the characters. You can’t outmaneuver God; He lined up situations and people in such a way to bring the outcome He desired, despite the characters. God does this in real life, too.

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As you might guess, I was most impressed with Luke and Izzy, but Mollie and Sam do have a great story.
“…the more I pray, the more things happen.” Just one of the super great quotes in this book. You don’t need to read book one to enjoy this book, although I would highly suggest it. I found the three pages of “who’s who” in the front of the book helpful as I could see which books I’ve missed by which characters I didn’t know well.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher via NetGalley. (I also bought my own paperback copy.) This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.

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My Rating

5 stars – Superior- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

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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