Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Goodbye to Yesterday

Book Description

February 5, 2013 The Discovery - A Lancaster County Saga (Book 1)

Join Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus, an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. Financial struggles. Arguments. A suspected pregnancy. A last-minute trip to Middlebury, Indiana. A deadly encounter at a Philadelphia bus station. Will their love and faith be enough to bring them back together again, against all odds?  Book 1 of the 6-part serial novel--The Discovery-A Lancaster County Saga.

My Review:

Filled with the classic newly-wed struggles, I found this novella to be both enjoyable to read and easy to relate to. 
The characters are very realistic and engaging right from the start. 
The story moves very fast and has more twists in the plot than I would expect in such a short book. It is also very emotionally engaging and it gripped me from the very beginning.
I read the story in one afternoon and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.
* I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Handlebar.

Book Review: Waiting for Morning/Brides of Last Chance Ranch

Book Description

The Brides of Last Chance Ranch, #3
Molly Hatfield comes to Arizona Territory seeking stability and security. But living in Cactus Patch provides her with more than she ever dreamed.
There is nothing Molly wouldn’t do for her teenaged brother, Donny. Blaming herself for the accident that left him wheelchair bound, Molly has dedicated her life to his care. But in 1896, gainful employment for a woman is hard to come by. So when Molly learns that an eccentric rancher in Cactus Patch, Arizona, is looking for an heiress—someone to take over management of the ranch in exchange for future ownership—she jumps at the chance to provide a real home for her brother.
However, Molly didn’t bank on meeting Dr. Caleb Fairbanks, the town’s charming unmarried doctor. Caleb has a way with Molly that makes her nervous. But it’s how he is with her brother that really alarms her. Caleb sees past the wheelchair and genuinely likes Donny, but Molly fears he’s putting unrealistic ideas into her brother’s head. Falling in love with Caleb would threaten everything she’s worked for, even her brother’s future happiness. But it could be the very reason God brought her to Last Chance Ranch.
My Review:
This book is an adventure right from the first chapter. Beginning with a devastating fire that, the now-former dance hall girl sets out with her crippled brother to find a new life at Last Chance Ranch.
Always feeling like an outcast, Molly struggles to fit in at the Ranch, while wrestling with "fitting in" to the body of Christ as well. 
I loved the quirky and colorful characters in this book. They were funny yet sincere and always very lively. Having read the previous books in this serious, I loved the look back into the lives of the other characters, yet it would be fine to read this book as a stand-alone too.
What I most appreciated about this book was the strong message of faith - something that is often missing from Christian fiction today.
*I must mention I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the BookSneeze program.

Book Review: Firefly Island

Book Description

February 1, 2013
Lisa Wingate Is a Top Name in Inspirational Contemporary Romance

At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men--fortunately, they're related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can't imagine her future without them.

Mallory couldn't be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying.

Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?

My Review:

I loved this trip back to Moses Lake. From the light romance, to the funny yet true-to-life hiccups of the newlywed days this book was the perfect blend of humor and mystery.
I really enjoyed following the story of Mallory, as she goes through this season of life where she is stretched and molded while discovering who she truly is.
I also enjoyed the glimpse back into the lives of the other Moses Lake residents that long time readers of Wingate will know - like Len and Birdie, Doc, and the others.
Overall, this was everything I have come to expect from Wingate.
* I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House.

Preview it:

Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen




Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?   The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her....   When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
  Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits. 

My Review:

I very much enjoyed this book. As always, Klassen has done an outstanding job bringing the story alive through vivid description, historically accurate detail, and interesting characters. With a thread of mystery winding through the plot, the reader is drawn through book. Unexpected twists in the plot keep it interesting - I could hardly put it down.
What I most liked was the look inside the 19th century English Manor House. From the tensions between the servants and the tutor, and the in between nature of his position (not family, but higher than a servant) to the look at the life of the maids, I found the detail quite interesting. 
I also enjoyed the glimpse of Cornwall history found in this book.
The only thing I didn't like was the  "Jane Eyre" part of the plot. I won't give any spoilers here, but it just seemed to me that one of the major plot lines was quite similar to Bronte's work.
Overall, I found it do be a good piece of historical fiction.

*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for a honest opinion.

Preview It: