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The (A) Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter

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About the Book:

Title: The Christmas Prayer

Paperback, 176 pages
Expected publication: September 1st, 2018 by Shiloh Run Press
ISBN
1683226577 (ISBN13: 9781683226574)

Beloved, bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter takes readers on a journey in 1850 along the California Trail.

Only the brave—or foolhardy—would attempt a cross-country journey late in the season. Three wagons meet up in Independence, Missouri, in April 1850, and their owners decide to keep forging ahead despite many setbacks and delays. December finds them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when a sudden snowstorm traps them, obscuring the trail.

Cynthia Cooper is traveling with her mother and the man she has promised to marry. But as Christmas is upon them and they are hunkered down in a small cabin, she is forced to reevaluate her reasons for planning to marry fellow-traveler Walter Prentice. When a widowed father heading to a California ranch and a gold prospector both show an interest in Cynthia, she weighs her dreams for marriage alongside her responsibility to care for her mother. Can love win over her timid heart?

MY REVIEW:

This historical romance, The Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter, is a very promising plot that fell short for me. I have read several of Brunstetter’s Amish books and really liked them. I have read at least one other historical romance she wrote that I thought was a true winner. This one, I believe, just was too short (it is a novella) and space ran out before the narrative could conclude smoothly. I think, had this book been a novel, things would have happened at what I would consider a good speed and it could have been a great book.

I felt for poor Cynthia stuck on the westward trail in 1850 with a much older, unkind, uncaring fiancé. Especially when there were two highly eligible other young men in their little wagon train. The children, Amelia and Alan, had very integral roles.

The portrayal of the characters was interesting, but at the end, I wanted to see more fleshing out. I realized many were more two-dimensional than I would have liked.

The journey was interesting, but it seemed to reach a climax, then abruptly loose ends were tied up and the novella ended. I felt like I was riding a horse at a good canter, but then the horse suddenly came to an abrupt stop at the edge of a bluff, and I got thrown.

Two songs characterized this book for me: in one spot, Keith Green’s early 80’s hit, “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?!”; and “You Can’t Hurry Love(You Just Gotta Wait).”

Quotable: “When our hope is lost, that’s when we need to rely fully on Him, for with God, all things are possible.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own, for which I am solely responsible. I was not required to write a positive review.

 

About the Author:

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Wanda Brunstetter

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.

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The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

36496717

About the Book:

Title: The Hope of Azure Springs

Genre: Historical Fiction

Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 3rd, 2018 by Revell
ISBN
0800734734 (ISBN13: 9780800734732)

MY REVIEW:

Where will Em decide her best future lies, in The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham?

Fordham brings to life the story of a “prince” and “princesses,” beauty and ugliness, and the ugly reality of lonely children who travel the orphan train west to very uncertain futures.

I loved Abigail and Abraham Howell and the generosity and love they show to Em in her hour of need. I also appreciate the fact that one of their children is NOT walking in their ways. How true to life that can really be.

I also loved that the heroine is not beautiful by most people’s description of beautiful. Beauty comes from the inside out. This is one discussion my husband and I have repeatedly with our young, single twenty-somethings. Can Caleb, the sheriff, ever start seeing with eyes of the soul?

Sometimes we think the little things we do for others don’t matter. Not so. Em discovers this when Abigail lends her a clean nightgown. “…it was not just a nightdress, it was kindness.”

A few other quotables:

“Where does a caged animal go when it is freed?”

“How will you ever truly live if you are too afraid to be where you need to be?”

Definitely, a book to read to experience the varied lives of orphan train children. I gratefully received a copy of the book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions. I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

About the Author:

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Rachel Fordham

Website

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.