Category Archives: BOOK REVIEW

The Proving by Beverly Lewis; Bethany House; ISBN 9780764219665

In The Proving, a novel by Beverly Lewis, readers learn that Amanda Dienner left her family and Amish community five years ago because of a betrayal. She is notified that her mother died and that she has inherited her Lancaster County Amish bed-and-breakfast. Stunned and with conflicted feelings, she returns home to learn her inheritance comes with conditions. In addition, she has to face the very reasons she left while living in a house that holds so many memories. She has lived as an Englisher and has become used to modern conveniences that include driving a car. Does she have the skills to be a welcoming Amish hostess? Can she improve her cooking skills? Will the Amish community welcome her return?

The Proving is a beautifully told story that deals with the complexities of family and relationships. It reminds readers of the unbreakable bonds of family. The interesting characters are believable and well drawn. This is an engrossing and heartwarming novel.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

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The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix; Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780718086442

Three centuries separated Adeline and Jessica, but tragedy and an unexpected find brought them together. The Space Between Words, a novel by Michele Phoenix, tells their stories. The book opens in Gatigny, France in 1695 with the writings of Adeline Baillard whose life and that of her family’s was torn apart. She had made a promise to record what had happened to her family. Hundreds of years later, while in Paris with her friends, Jessica was injured during a terrorist attack at a concert venue. Even though she struggled with memories of the horrors she had seen and survivor’s guilt, instead of returning home she continued on with her friend’s original plans to travel to the south of France. While there she comes upon an antique sewing box with Adeline’s papers concealed in it. While in the company of caring and comforting strangers, Jessica and her new friends try to find out what became of Adeline’s family.

This is an emotionally stirring and powerful story. Tragedy casts a shadow and the characters have inner turmoil. Even so, this is a story about resilience and healing. Highly recommended.

 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

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This Old Café by Marci Boudreaux ISBN 9781386957041

Jenna is tired of struggling to make a go of her café. A disaster with a broken pipe brings Daniel, who has been living in the alley behind her restaurant, to her rescue. If this sounds unusual, read on. This Old Café, a novel by Marci Boudreaux, tells their most unusual story. Jenna is divorced from a man who used and betrayed her. Even now, she still thinks about how he battered her self confidence. Daniel’s history is much different. He was in the military and is now homeless. He has many issues which include anger management. He has been eating food from Jenna’s dumpster and has become familiar with her routine. Unbeknownst to Jenna, he watches over her. Even though they may not seem to have much in common and they deal with different issues, they forge a relationship that is based on reciprocity. Can they find a common ground?

The author has created resilient and believable characters who try to make peace with their pasts in order to reach their goals. Readers are effectively allowed to see through the characters eyes and, as a result, we become immersed in their lives. The plot is beautifully constructed and packed with heart and emotion. This is a special love story about special people. Highly recommended.

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The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin; Bethany House Publishers ISBN 9780764217388

The Two of Us, a novel by Victoria Bylin, opens in a Las Vegas coffee shop where Mia Robinson is fascinated by a stranger, Jake Tanner, who is very adept at working a claw machine. He extracts an impressive collection of stuffed animals, one of which he gives to Mia along with an invitation for breakfast. We learn that they are both in town for a wedding. Little do they know, at first, that it is for the same one. What were the chances of this happening? And, this is just the beginning.

Every character in the novel has their own story. Mia has two broken engagements behind her. She struggles with trust issues. Jake Tanner, a former law enforcement officer, struggles with guilt over the death of his partner. His efforts to establish a camp for boys who have lost a parent has created a huge rift in his community. Only he can decide just how important his mission is. Jake’s mother’s Alzheimer’s disease is an important component of the book. Mia’s sister fears she is not strong enough to be a good wife and mother. Somehow, because of all their issues this group of people come together and draw strength from each other. Having met under unusual circumstances, Mia and Jake’s lives intertwine. They share faith and solid values. Will it be enough for them to lead them to a future together?

I found this to be a moving and well written book. The author deftly deals with important real life issues. She writes with clarity and sensitivity. This book is well worth reading. Highly recommended.

 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

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To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander; Zondervan ISBN 9780310291084;

To Wager Her Heart, by Tamera Alexander, opens in Nashville in 1871. Alexandra Jamison and her family are members of Nashville society. Sylas Rutledge hails from Colorado Territory. He has traveled to Nashville for two reasons. One is to clear his father’s name and the other is to further his business interests. He is unfamiliar with the ways of southern society and after a chance meeting with Alexandra, he approaches her for help. It becomes clear early on that they both share the aftereffects of a tragedy. Alexandra agrees to tutor Sylas as her family has cast her out and she needs the money. The reason for her father’s anger with her is that she has accepted a teaching position at Frisk University which is a freedmen’s university. This is not what he wanted and demanded for his daughter. Neither Sylas or Alexandra was looking for a romantic relationship. Despite all the challenges and adjustments they encounter, a bond begins to form. Where will it lead?

 

The characters are well developed and have been given distinctive voices.   Alexandra is an intriguing character as she goes from being a young woman of privilege to one who makes sacrifices in order to find her purpose. Sylas, too, has strong positive attributes. When confronted with dilemmas, he acts with honor.   Even though a tragedy has cast a shadow, this remains a story of hope and faith. The book is emotionally stirring and takes readers back to a time in history that dealt with difficult social issues and a changing society. I found this to be a wonderfuly readable novel. Highly recommended.

 

 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

 

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Fault Lines by Thomas Locke; Revell ISBN 9780800724375

Fault Lines, a novel by Thomas Locke, is an exciting psychological thriller that opens in a community center in Florida. Charlie Hazard works in the risk containment business and is good at it. Out of nowhere comes Gabriella and she leads him on a journey that he never could have imagined. Gabriella and her team need his protection as they are working on a psychological project that threatens another group.     Gradually, we get to know the characters as the fast paced and intense story unfolds. Not knowing who to trust, protecting Gabriella proves to be quite an endeavor.

I found this to be a well written page turner. The author blends mystery, suspense and technology perfectly.

 

I received a complimentary copy from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The Return (An Amish Beginnings Novel) by Suzanne Woods Fisher; Revell ISBN 9780800727505

The Return, a novel written by Suzanne Woods Fisher, takes place in the 1760’s in Pennsylvania. Two young Amish woman are living during a difficult time in history and find themselves connected by unforeseen circumstances and the love of the same man. Betsy Zook became the victim of a horrible crime. Thinking that Betsy is out of the picture, Tessa Bauer hopes that now Hans will fall in love with her. This may be more complicated than she thinks.

 

This well researched story presents a clear picture of what Pennsylvania was like during this time period. Immigrants and Indians did not always coexist in peace. Often there were tragic results. The Return is the story of what happened to Betsy and Tessa, as well as their families. The well drawn characters deal with serious issues that include prejudice, fear, selfishness and jealousy. In spite of this, some of them embrace honesty and tolerance. We also observe their growth and sense of community.

As per the books back cover, the story is “inspired by true events”. The Author’s Note gives details on this and I found that to be informative. I found The Return to be a fascinating book. It is both well written and engrossing. Highly recommended.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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