Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: An Amish Heirloom

An Amish Heirloom
By Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman,
Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvin
Zondervan, 2018

An Amish Heirloom is a wonderfully entertaining read, one of my favorites among Amish novella collections. I think there’s something not only nostalgic, but meaningful when it comes to treasured family heirlooms, which is what makes this collection special. With these four outstanding authors, it’s no wonder that each story is well written, uplifting, and moving in its own way.

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston – Local volunteer fire fighter Leon King agrees to repair his ex-girlfriend Susie Bontrager’s grandparents’ antique rocking chairs for her future home with her fiancĂ© and is forced to acknowledge that his feelings for her have not quite gone away. As Susie spends time with Leon, she begins to recognize she is marrying the wrong man for all the wrong reasons.

My thoughts …

Every pot has a lid. Now we just need to find your lid.”

Written straight from the heart, Amy Clipston’s touching story features a sincere young man trying to correct a mistake from the past. There’s great chemistry between Leon and Susie, as well as tension. Susie’s rocking chairs, “a legacy of love from Susie’s grandparents, became what Leon needed to ask for her forgiveness and prove just how much he cared for her.” I loved his words to her … “These chairs are like me. They’re flawed and imperfect, but they’re sturdy and reliable, like my love for you. I will make mistakes, but I’ll always be here if you’ll have me.” Such an inspirational love story!

The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman - Decades after inheriting her great grandmother’s cedar chest, Emma Fisher decides to pry it open only to discover a beautiful love story in the form of letters between her great grandparents. But as Emma immerses herself in their story, family secrets are revealed, and she must decide whether to share them to preserve family history or honor her great grandparents’ decision to leave them hidden.

My thoughts …

Catherine didn’t like herself any better than she liked
Abram lately. The bitterness that had subtly crept into
their lives was now festering like an infection.

     One wouldn’t think the novella format offers enough time or depth for a dual timeline, but it works extremely well here. While reading through newly-discovered letters written between Emma’s great grandparents, which reveal a family secret in themselves, Catherine is able to open up to her mom about her own troubled marriage. 
     There’s some great nuggets of wisdom and inspiration to dwell upon in this fascinating story, such as Pastor Ronald’s words … “When a kindness is done to a person, that person needs to carry it with him until he sees fit to double the kindness for someone in need.” And can everyone say Amen! to the truth in this thought: “Marriage is an ongoing education of another person’s feelings.”

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller - For the past two years, Shane Broyles has felt God leading him to join the Amish. He’s staying with his friends Noah and Ivy Schlabach in Birch Creek, OH, where he is reunited with Lucy Fisher, an old friend of Noah’s family. Shane and Lucy have never revealed their feelings for each other, but when they stumble upon an antique Bible at a flea market, they feel drawn to each other and to the mystery of the contents found within.

My thoughts …

Birch Creek didn’t just have the appearance of humility and
simple living – its people walked and breathed it.

Shane and Lucy come across so realistically that I know them and am sure readers can easily relate to their characters. Shane had always tried to make himself fit the expectations and goals of others, while Lucy selflessly put the needs of her parents ahead of her own. I love that the heirloom here is an antique Bible and that Shane is seeking a closer walk with God through the simplicity of the Amish faith. I really enjoyed this story.

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irvin - Iris Beachy serves as a midwife in her district where she longs for a family of her own. When her friend’s brother Mahon Kurtz seeks her help in delivering the baby of two young teenagers who have sought refuge in their town, they begin to see each other in a different light. Unprepared for parenthood, the young couple leave their baby girl behind in an antique crib quilt resembling the one destined for Iris when she becomes a mother. Mahon and Iris come together to take care of the baby as they try to find her parents, and they begin to see new possibilities for their future.

My thoughts …

It’s more than a quilt that warms a baby on a winter
night. It reminds us that behind our faith and community,
family is most important to us.”

This might be the most emotionally captivating story of all, because of its themes – the need to patiently wait on God’s timing, something we all probably struggle with, but even more impactful is the wisdom and courage to release a person because they belong to someone else. Mahon and Iris are great leading characters with tangible chemistry, and I have to say that Mahon stole my heart. I rarely use the word swoonworthy, but that’s the only way to describe one kissing scene. Iris and Mahon’s story is beautifully reflective of God’s will in God’s time, a touching conclusion to this wonderful collection.

Highly recommended.

I received an electronic copy of this book from Amy Clipston and Zondervan Publishing. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA.

Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.

Website │ Facebook │ Twitter │ Instagram

Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. Having sold almost two million books, her novels have held spots on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller List, the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Bestseller List and the CBA (Christian Book Association) Bestseller List. She was the recipient of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011 and 2013. She is a three-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and an INSPY Award winner. In 2013 she took home the coveted Holt Medallion. Her first book in the Land of Canaan series—Seek Me With All Your Heart—was selected as the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. 

Beth and her husband are empty nesters enjoying country life in Texas.

-- I started writing January 1, 2000. New year, new millennium, new career.
-- I’m a former special education teacher, specializing in teaching the blind and visually impaired.
-- I was born in New Orleans, LA, raised in Little Rock, AR, was an Ohio transplant for twenty-two years, and am now back in Arkansas empty nesting it with my husband, James.
-- James and I have three awesome kids. Yes, they really are awesome.
-- I love chocolate. ‘Nuff said.

Kelly Irvin is the author of more than a dozen Amish books. Her latest release is Upon a Spring Breeze, the first novel in the Every Amish Season series from Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for more than thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. She retired in 2016 after working 22 years in public relations for the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. She is a member of ACFW and Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers. In her spare time, she blogs, reads fiction, and loves her family.

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Her Family's Defender by Kim Findlay

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Her Family's Defender
(A Hockey Romance #2)
by Kim Findlay
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
May 1st 2018 by Harlequin Heartwarming

He has home advantage…

But she’s got a strong defensive play.

Hockey star Troy Green never gives up. Not on the ice. Not when he battled cancer last year. And not when it comes to his new neighbor, Michelle Robinson. Troy only wants to help the struggling single mom and her sweet kids, but soon he’s falling for her. Is Troy finally ready to trade in his bachelor life and become a family man?

Other Books in the Series

Crossing the Line
(A Hockey Romance #1)
by Kim Findlay
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
March 1st 2018 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Icebreaker or endgame?

Can two devoted athletes make room in their lives for love?

Mike Reimer knows from experience that hockey and relationships don’t mix. And hot-tempered swim coach Bridget O’Reilly couldn’t be more wrong for the widowed pro goalie, aka the Iceman. As the playoffs approach, Mike’s growing feelings for her could melt the hardest heart. But what if being with Bridget means letting down his team…and, worst of all, himself?

My Thoughts

Her Family’s Defender by Kim Findlay is different from typical books that I read, in that it brought me into the world of Canadian ice hockey, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although not a sports fan, hockey was integral to the story and I found it interesting – from Troy’s struggle to get back in form after time off for cancer treatment, to the talent and desire of Michelle’s daughter to play the game. Those who have read the previous book, Crossing the Goal Line, will enjoy Mike and Bridget’s involvement – and I’m eager to read their story.

What I most enjoyed was the character depth and emotion in this story. Both Michelle and Troy are appealing lead characters with great chemistry between them. Michelle struggles after the devastating loss of her husband and her quiet son carries an emotional burden after his father’s death. I loved Michelle’s independence, determination, and refusal to be swayed by celebrity or wealth.

Troy, once a player both on the rink and off, experiences an incredible journey of change. For one thing, even after successful treatment, the fear of cancer’s return is ever present, something that readers can easily identify with. And his feelings for Army widow Michelle and her children is something new to Troy, as he not only wants to ease their burden, but to share it …

This was new terrain for him. He wasn’t sure if this path
he was on was going anywhere, and he wasn’t sure
how to ensure he didn’t step off and plunge down a cliff.
Plunge off and take the whole family with him.

Kim Findlay has crafted an entertaining story that romance fans will enjoy, even those not particularly interested in sports (like me). I look forward to much more from this author.


I received a copy of this book through Prism Book Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

About the Author

Kim Findlay lives in Toronto, Canada, with her very handsome husband, two strapping sons, and possibly the world's cutest spaniel. When she can get time away from her accounting business, Kim can be found traveling, sailing, reading, or writing, depending on the season, time of day, and her energy level. You can find her at, @missheyer74, or on Facebook.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle

Shot in the Dark
By Cleo Coyle
A Coffeehouse Mystery #17
Berkley Prime Crime, 2018


A new smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene–a crime scene.

As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.

The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his “hit it and quit it” behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she’s been framed.

Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts “swiping” through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out.

Includes a bang-up menu of tempting recipes.

Amazon     B&N     Kobo   Google Play   BookBub

My thoughts

“This phone app culture with its swipe-to-meet ethos,
I must admit, is seductive. There’s someone out there who’s perfect
for you. Someone who will finally complete you, make you happy.
You simply have to keep swiping, keep shopping.”
- Madame

Shot in the Dark is another excellent story in Cleo Coyle’s popular coffeehouse series, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was great to reunite with Claire and supporting characters – such as fiancĂ© NYPD detective Mike, the gritty and wise Madame, the irritatingly adorable ex-husband Matt, and the Village Blend’s baristas. Shot in the Dark is a well-crafted, intelligently-written story, with complexity and depth.

The story’s social media theme makes it very relevant for today – and a little scary, to be honest. Swiping through a dating app and quickly connecting at a hot spot like the Village Blend just doesn’t seem promising for successful relationships, and Claire’s former mother-in-law didn’t think so either. I loved her comment to Claire, “Sooner or later they’ll understand that shared experiences over time are what create true intimacy and steadfast love.”

There’s delightful touches of humor in the midst of this serious story of murder, drugs and greed, one of my favorites being the character of the octogenarian Madame, who Claire cared deeply for. For me, the murder mystery itself was one of enjoying the unfolding of layers rather than trying to figure out “whodunit” – and it all leads to a spine-tingling finale.

Some story titles are cute, while others are creative, and I thought Shot in the Dark was pure genius in its subtle meanings. After all, it could simply be referring to coffee, or perhaps an actual murder, or maybe even the likelihood of finding the ideal mate through this crazy form of digital dating. I’ll end with another quote from Madame that beautifully reflects the story overall … “Throwing off societal constraints amounts to nothing if it produces nothing; and a life of aimlessness is far from a triumph of the human spirit.”


Note: This is a general market book, so readers can expect a little mild profanity and some suggestive scenes, but nothing too revealing.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.

CLEO COYLE grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning scholarships to study writing at Carnegie Mellon and American Universities, she began her career as a cub reporter for The New York Times. Now an author of popular fiction and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer, Cleo lives and works in New York City, where she collaborates with her husband (also a bestselling author) to pen the Coffeehouse Mysteries for Penguin. Together Cleo and her husband also write the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries under the name Alice Kimberly.

When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Cleo and Marc are bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, and MGM. In their spare time, they cook like crazy and drink a lot of java.



April 23 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW
April 24 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
April 25 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
April 26 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
April 27 – Varietats – REVIEW
April 28 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
April 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
April 30 – Ms. Cat’s Honest World – REVIEW
May 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
May 2 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Julie by Catherine Marshall

By Catherine Marshall
Gilead Publishing
Reissue Date: April 17, 2018


Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?

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My thoughts

Drama, corruption, suspense, inspiration …

Julie by Catherine Marshall is totally different from the outstanding Christy, yet is a powerfully entertaining read in its own way. This is a character-driven story that shines the light on the Depression years in the small-town community of Alderton, Pennsylvania. It’s really a coming-of-age story of 18-year-old Julie, an idealistic young woman with the goal of being a reporter.

Several years in the writing, this novel is filled with moving and fascinating historical detail. I especially enjoyed the story of Big John, told by family friend Dean. Class divisions are vividly contrasted and we see the controlling power of big business. I found Julie to be an engrossing read and highly recommend it.  [I haven’t quite finished and will update when I do.]

I received an electronic copy of this book through Just Read Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), “The New York Times” best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel “Christy.” Based on the life of her mother, “Christy” captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders.

Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in “A Man Called Peter.” A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of “Guideposts,” forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership.

A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.



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