Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse

by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishing

"Banished from the only home she's ever known, Mariah Aubrey hides herself away in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative's estate. There she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how—by writing novels in secret.

When Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse. But there are many things he doesn't know about this beguiling outcast. Will he risk his plans—and his heart—for a woman shadowed by scandal?

Intriguing, mysterious, and romantic, The Girl in the Gatehousetakes readers inside the life of a secret authoress at a time when novel-writing was considered improper for ladies and the smallest hint of impropriety could change a woman's life forever."

After reading this FABULOUS book I had to read more by Julie Klassen- that is how good this book is!!  I read everything our local library had that she wrote.  I do like the other books but this one is still my favorite.  I like Julie Klassen's writing style.  The whole entire book was full of mystery and intrigue.  I found all the characters to be believable and realistic.  No matter what my review says I do not think I could give this book justice.  I found myself wondering what I would do in Mariah's situation- trying to support herself and her servant/friend with no support from home.  She is literally an outcast of her own family.  She has a secret that you think you might know what it is but the turn of events keeps you guessing until the last moment.  Thank you Julie Klassen for sharing your talent with your readers!!

Price: $14.99 Purchase through the publisher and you can get a discount.

*I was sent a free copy of this book to read and review.  I am not compensated for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hidden Affections

Delia Parr
Bethany House Publishing

"Betrayed by her husband, Annabelle Tyler wears the burden of legally being a divorcee, a difficult position for an upstanding young woman to find herself in. While attempting to start a new life for herself, an unexpected turn of events once again has Annabelle married--this time to Harrison Graymoor, the most eligible, yet elusive, bachelor in Philadelphia. Harrison assures her that he will secure an annulment immediately, unaware that the constable has sent word of the marriage to the press in Philadelphia. And here things continue to go awry. Harrison's past, a philanthropic cousin with his eye on Annabelle, and the appearance of Annabelle's ex-husband threaten the tentative relationship growing between Harrison and his "wife." For two individuals set against marriage, there are certainly a lot of second thoughts regarding the one forced upon them."

The plot sounds fun doesn't it?  It is too bad the book does not live up to the review.  I cringe every time I read an error in a book- really people how many people read the draft before it is published can you not get it right?  Errors for me at least take away the enjoyment of the book.  This book also had no depth to the characters- it really seemed as if part of the book was missing and not just the end or beginning but pages here and there.  As a reader we are told what the characters did to fall in love but we did not actually see it played out.  There were several times I had to go back a few pages to reread something because it did not fit.
While I really liked the idea of the book, I must say I did not like the finished book.

Price: $14.99 Purchase through the publisher and you may get a discount.

*I was sent a free copy of this by by the publisher to read and review.  I am not compensated for my honest review.

Promises to Keep

by Ann Tatlock
Bethany House Publishing

"Eleven-year-old Roz (Rosalind) Anthony and her family have just moved to Mills River, Illinois, to escape an abusive situation. Only days after settling into their new home, they are surprised to find the previous owner, Tillie Monroe, on their front porch reading the newspaper. Though her sons have sold the house and sent her to a facility for the aged, she is determined to die in the place she lived her life and somehow manages to find her way "home" day after day. Feeling sympathy for the elderly woman, Roz's mother allows Tillie to move back in.
Mara Nightingale becomes Roz's first friend in Mills River. In spite of their many differences, the girls discover they have something in common that binds them together--both are hiding secrets. So they make a promise--"cross my heart and hope to die"--never to tell anyone else.
When danger stalks the Anthonys, Tillie exhibits unimaginable courage and selfless love in her determination to protect the family she has adopted as her own."

This was a really weird book.  I did not like it at all.  If I could give it 0 stars I would.  It was not realistic, it gave me a creepy feeling- I really did not want to finish it but I figured I would give it the benefit of the doubt and hoped it would get better- sorry no chance.  I wish I could get those few hours I spent reading this back. I felt that that the book was predictable and poorly written.

Price: $14.99 Buying from the publisher will sometimes give you a discount.

* I was sent a free copy of this book from the publisher to read and review.  I am not compensated for my honest review.

Amish Values for Your Family

by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Revell Publishing

"When it comes to strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much we can learn from the Amish. Just how do they establish such strong family bonds, such deeply held values, and such wonderful family traditions? In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shares the secrets of Amish family life. In this inspiring and practical book, you will meet real Amish families that are a lot like yours. Through their stories you'll discover how to
  • slow down
  • safeguard family time
  • raise children who stand strong in their faith
  • prioritize what's truly important
Amish values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy--without selling your car or changing your wardrobe."

I really like this one.  I think every family in this crazy busy world needs to read this.  There are stories of the Amish- but also ideas at the end of each story on how to make a simpler more satisfying family life.  There is something in here for everyone.  It has made me realize how busy we are- running from here there to everywhere.  I need to remember to stop and smell the roses and play with my kiddos.  Values are sometimes forgotten in our busy lives- a child asks why they should not steal and we say because it is against the law- is that really the reason? Sometimes we forget to instill values into our children so that they can become good citizens later in life.  I really feel this book hits the nail on the head- Amish values can be used in my family- can they in yours too?

Price: $12.99 Purchase from the publisher for a discount.

*I was sent a free copy of this book to read and review.  I am not compensated for my honest review.

Amish Prayers

by Beverly Lewis
Bethany House Publishing

"The Amish and other Anabaptist groups have treasured the same book of prayers for centuries, turning to it for inspiration during times of peace as well as persecution. Now a selection of prayers from Die Ernsthafte Christenpflichtis readily available in English. This exclusive, authentic translation from the original German--with an introduction by bestselling author Beverly Lewis--pairs each prayer with a Scripture passage and offers insights into the rich spiritual foundations of the Plain people. Whether used for personal devotions or in a group setting, this beautifully illustrated collection will draw you closer to God."

I really enjoy reading books about the Amish way of life- fiction or nonfiction.  I chose this book for that very reason.  However I had a hard time reading it.  I believe that prayers need to come from the heart- not from a book to be read and memorized.  I think it might be a good devotional or something to read each day- but not to use as a prayer book- of course if you believe otherwise this might be a good fit for you.

Price: $14.99   Purchase from publisher to receive a discount.

*I was sent a free copy of this book to read and review.  I am not compensated for my honest review.

Double Take

by Melody Carlson
Revell Publishing

"Spring break has arrived. It’s her senior year, and Madison VanBuren is fed up with her surroundings and the pressures of life. Stressed out over choosing an Ivy League school that will please her parents, their marital problems, and her boyfriend's pressure, Madison gets in her car and drives west.

Meanwhile, eighteen-year-old Anna Fisher wants to escape the so-called simple life--which for her consists of caring for younger siblings, sewing, cooking, and gardening--and she's well aware that her future will simply be more of the same with a man she doesn't love.
Madison and Anna stumble into each other in a small town. Realizing their looks are uncannily similar, they both think their lives are boring. Thinking the grass is greener on the other side, they make a decision that will transform them forever and switch lives for one week."  

       While I really like to read novels about the Amish- this was not one of them.  This book was so far fetched that it was hard to read.  The only reason I finished the book was because I needed to write this review.  Yes, I know that this was geared more to the youth, but it was so hard to believe that I could not get past it.  These two girls change places because they look alike.  One of them is a quiet Amish girl and the other is a rich girl from New York city.
       First of all, the Amish speak a dialect of German when communicating amongst themselves- so how did a girl, Madison,  from New York get past this?  She said she had a terrible accident and forgot the language that children learn from babyhood.  They do not learn English until they start school so why would she not remember that and forget English?  She also did not know how to cook, clean, or do anything the Amish do.  While the Amish girl, Anne, is thrown into New York-she is not doing any better.  She does not know how to use the cell phone, she has a maid/housekeeper/cook, but starts cleaning and cooking on her own.  The only people who find out are the Aunt and the girls friend.  It really is fiction.  The one redeeming quality is that it has a moral- the grass is NOT green on the other side.  It does have some funny parts too.
   Don't take my word for it though- read it yourself!

Price:  $9.99 Click here to purchase.  (Buying directly from the publisher sometimes gives you a discount.)

*I was sent a free copy of this book from the publisher.  I am not compensated for my honest review.

A Lancaster County Christmas

by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Revell Publishing

"Jaime Fitzpatrick has a plan. She quit her job and is preparing to launch her photography career in New York City—with or without her husband, C.J. Mattie Riehl has problems of her own. A recent miscarriage has plunged her into feelings of despair that baffle her husband, Sol. He likes problems he can fell like trees.  
The path of these two couples collide as a winter storm blows Jaime and C.J. off-course and into the Riehl’s home on Christmas Eve, including Tucker, C.J.’s Search and Rescue dog.  Awkward and uncomfortable at first, an unlikely alliance develops as Mattie and Sol’s only child wanders off and disappears in the storm. As C.J., Sol and Tucker search for the child, Jaime and Mattie confront fears they had been avoiding. And both women discover the true meaning of Christmas."

I have read many novels with the characters being Amish, and most are really good, however this book blew me out of the water!  I loved how unique this book turned out to be.  One couple, Amish, the other "English" and neither are wanting to become Amish or English- they want to stay what they are.  But, they are brought together and must share Christmas together.  They become friends, confidants if you will.  

I have struggled with secondary infertility and I understood what Mattie was going through- actually gave me a bit of a spiritual perspective.

I love how there were two couples so drastically different being able to become friends.  Most of the Amish books I have read are about seeking love- sometimes in the unforbidden world of the English or in the strict Amish community- this was very refreshing and I loved it!

List Price:  $15.99 Click here to purchase.  (Buying through the publisher sometimes gives you a discount).

*I was sent a free copy of this book from the publisher to read and review.  I am not compensated for my honest review.