Monday, September 10, 2012

September Book Reviews

Almost AmishAlmost Amish
By Kathryn Cushman
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Bethany house Publishers
Source :: Bethany House's Book Review Program
Publication Date :: 2012
ISBN :: 0764208268
Number of Pages :: 320
My Rating :: 5 out of 5 stars

Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She's overwhelmed and burned out, and in today's unrelenting society, her kids are, too. When her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series promoting simple living, and needs another family to join her, it seems like the perfect opportunity.

The location is an idyllic farm outside an Amish community in Tennessee. Julie, with her two children, joins Susan and her teenage daughter for a summer adventure. Susan needs to succeed in order to become self-sufficient after an ugly divorce, Julie needs to slow down long enough to remember what her priorities are and regain a sense of purpose and meaning. It becomes clear from the start that "living simple" is no simple matter. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. With each new challenge, their season of "going Amish" gets more and more complicated, as each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family. {Description from}

I was very excited to be able to read this book as I'd been wanting to for a while. Although it's the first book I've read by Kathryn Cushman, it probably won't be the last! When I got this book in the mail from Bethany House to review, I could tell by the first chapter that I'd love it...and I did! I loved how inspirational it was and how it makes you think, while at the same time providing an entertaining read with a mix of both contemporary and Amish fiction.

Pros :: This book was very inspirational, there were lots of little "life lessons" I found through the book and it really makes you stop and think. Kathryn did a lovely job writing this book, it was very well written and easy to read and descriptive. One thing that really sold me was how there is a mix of both contemporary and Amish fiction. Since I love both, to get two in one is definitely something I get excited about. I loved seeing how the characters grew throughout the story and how they had changed at the end of the book, for good. I loved the message that was portrayed through the story of the beauty of simplicity and there was a true respect for the Amish in the book. This book really made me stop and think about how I spend my time, and what things are most important in life and what things aren't-and being able to see the distinction between the two. I felt like I really knew the characters, since Kathryn did a good job of helping you get to know them well.

I loved seeing how the characters switched worlds from the average American to a typical Amish family and think it made a wonderful story-line. The things they went through with switching to being "Almost Amish" such as the lack of air-conditioning, electricity, cell phones, their normal clothes, etc. was a interesting thing to see. Though at first they literally think they won't survive, at the end of the story they find that not only did they survive, but they learned a lot, and realized those things weren't all that bad.

Cons :: Really the only con I found was that the teens in this story seemed to be a bit haughty and disrespectful to their mothers, Julie and Susan. At times they made disrespectful statements such as " Will you old people hurry up?" and I felt like they overall weren't as respectful to their elders as they could have been. I really saw the typical worldy teen attitude in the young characters, and at one point in the story Angie blatantly disobeys her mother behind her back. Besides this though, there wasn't anything else I found as a con.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was very inspirational, had a wonderful moral and an interesting set of characters and story-line. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it! I give it 5 stars!

Note: I received a copy of Almost Amish, free of charge, from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and reviewing this book. I was not required to give an honest review, if I didn't like it, and all thoughts are my own and 100 percent honest. I was not paid to do this review, and the fact that I got a free book for this review did not affect my thoughts of the book or my given review.

Inescapable, Road to Kingdom Series #1Inescapable 
{Book #1 in The road To Kingdom Series}
By Nancy Mehl
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Bethany House Publishers
Source :: Bethany House's Book Review Program
Publication Date :: 2012
ISBN :: 0764209272
Number of Pages :: 336
My Rating :: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Age Recommendation :: For girls 13+

Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she'll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown. 

As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps. 

When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time--to a Father whose love is inescapable. {Description from}

Pros :: This book is most definitely a thriller and packed with suspense and that edge-of-your-seat feeling. This book also has lots of unexpected twists and turns throughout the story that I never saw coming, especially towards the end of the book when an event turned into a completely different end result than I'd have ever thought would happen! The ending was just wonderful, and perfect way to close the book and I'm eager for the second book in the series, which is published next year! There was so much suspense that I'd recommend this book for ladies ages 13+, since it was a bit intense, suspense-wise, at times, which I personally loved. Oh, and it's probably not a book you'd want to read right before bedtime. :)

I loved how throughout the story, the main character, Lizzy, learns to trust God fully with everything! She is placed in a position were she must trust God, because she can't do it on her own and knows it, and I think that really helped force her to the realization of how much God loved her and how He is protecting her. It was inspiring to see her faith grow in the book, and in the end, He was the One who ultimately saved her life and from harm!

Cons :: At the beginning of this book, the word cr*d was used once, but afterwards there was no other times were I felt the should have used a different word to express themselves. There is one "mysterious" death, and for a while they don't know if it was a murder or accident, so obviously this book is for a more mature audience. There is mention of Lizzy's harsh past as a Mennonite, with a cruel abusive father and how she got pregnant out of wedlock, but there isn't much detail.

Overview :: Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it for mature ladies who love high action, suspense filled, novels. I loved the story-line and the ending was amazing and something I certainly won't forget soon!

Note: I received a copy of Inescapable, free of charge, from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and reviewing this book. I was not required to give an honest review, if I didn't like it, and all thoughts are my own and 100 percent honest. I was not paid to do this review, and the fact that I got a free book for this review did not affect my thoughts of the book or my given review.

Half-Stitched Amish Quilting ClubThe Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Barbour Publishing
Source :: Barbour publishing and Wanda Brunstetter who sent me a review copy
Publication Date :: 2012
ISBN :: 1602608113
Number of Pages :: 320
My Rating :: 4 out of 5 stars

Amish widow Emma Yoder's first quilt class brings the most unlikely people together. there's Star, a young woman yearning for stability; Pan and Stuart Johnston, a struggling couple at odds in their marriage; Paul Ramirez, a young widower hoping to find solace in finishing a quilt; Jan Sweet, a rough and tough biker doing some creative community service; and Ruby Lee Williams, a preacher's wife looking for relaxation when parish problems mount. But as these beginning quilters learn to transform scraps of material into beauty; their fragmented lives begin to take new shape with the helping hands of each other and the healing hand of God. {Description from}
I've read a few of Wanda's books before, and loved them all! But I think this is one of my top favorites that she has written and thoroughly enjoyed it!

This book had a nice balance of both Amish fiction and contemporary fiction. It is about a widow, Emma Yoder who loves to quilt and offers quilting classes in her home. But boy, does she get an interesting mix of people who attend her classes! :) This book was very good, and had some unexpected twists I didn't see coming! Though I knew what to expect from the book's description, there were certain parts I didn't anticipate and love them! The ending was probably my favorite part of the book as it was very interesting and kept my attention well, though the rest of the book was good too. The character that surprised me most, would probably be Jan Sweet. Don't let his name fool you though! When I read his name and put it together with the books cover image of a rough and tough biker dude with tattoos and an obviously difficult past, it intrigued me! I was even more surprised to read the rest of his story in the book and think it added a nice touch to the story and helped me see the importance of not judging a book by it's cover! Emma, well she was probably another of my favorite characters. She is just such a sweetie, someone everyone wants for a grandma, whom I loved! She had such a sweet heart for the Lord and was always seeking to help others!

One thing I liked in this story is how Emma and her class full of "half-stitched quilters" became like a close family. I loved seeing their relationships grow and how they were able to help and encourage each other in the Lord, while learning to sew. At the beginning of the book every character found themselves in a difficult place in life, and I enjoyed seeing how that played out and what happened in the end. The story had a lot of nice twists that you normally wouldn't see coming, and I really enjoyed it. 

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for those who like both contemporary and Amish fiction with a nice, cozy-feeling that appeals to both old and young alike.

NOTE: I received a copy The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club, free of charge, courtesy of Barbour Publishers and Wanda Brunstetter, for the purpose of reviewing it. All thoughts are my own and 100 percent true. I was not paid to do this review, and the fact that I got a free book did not effect my opinion of the book.

This Scarlet Cord, Love Story Series #1This Scarlet Cord
By Joan Wolf
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Thomas Nelson
Source :: Review Program
Publication Date :: 2012
ISBN :: 1595548777
Number of Pages :: 320
My Rating :: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Age Recommendation :: 14+

A chasm lies between Rahab and her beloved Sala that can never be crossed.
Though Sala rescues young Rahab from slave bandits, he knows he can never fall in love with a
Canaanite. His belief in the One True God prevents them from a future together. Rahab's beauty
gains royal notice, and she is selected to entice the King during the annual sacred marriage
reenactment praising their pagan god, Baal.
But when the King suffers a heart attack and dies, Rahab is saved from the humiliating act. Her
despair drives her curiosity about Sala's One True God. Could He accept her . . . even love her?
Deceit and pride stand in the way of Rahab's happy ending. Only God can use these events to tell
the larger story of forgiveness and redemption. {Description from}

I have always enjoyed fiction books based on events found in the Bible, and was excited to be able to review a copy of This Scarlet Cord which is a fiction story based on the story of Rahab, who was later on, the mother of Boaz and later is found in Jesus genealogy in Matthew. I give it 3.5 stars and enjoyed it!

Pros ::
This book was very informative and really helped me realize what Rahab's life was like, and how it felt to live in a pagan culture. There isn't much detail about her life in the Bible, but Joan's story has helped me to begin to understand what it was like to live back in those days were things were done much differently than it is today! I loved seeing how Rahab gave up her pagan gods and placed her trust and faith in the One True God throughout the story, and think it added to the overall pleasure of reading the story. There was just enough romance in this story to make it enjoyable, but not over done and it was a sweet story. The story had a lot about the events that took place in the book of Joshua, were God's people were finished wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and were ready to march around the wall of Jericho and take over the city, to go into the promised land. I think Joan did a great job portraying Rahab's life and faith, and enjoyed this book.

I loved seeing how Rahab and Sala got to know one another and how Sala shared his faith in the Lord with Rahab, and how they eventually began to have feeling for each other. There romance was sweet, and I really enjoyed reading it. 

Cons ::
This story is not only about Rahab, but also about her pagan faith, at the beginning of the story. Rahab believes Baal to be her "god" at first, and there were lots of different customs for pagans back in the day. Prostitution was a very big thing for them and is mentioned several times in the book. We are told in the Bible that Rahab is a prostitute, before coming to know Jesus, so there is a portion of the story about this part of her life. So this book is better for a mature reader, I don't like to put a age on it, since it depends on the maturity level of the reader, but probably around 15+, or whatever your parents are alright with.

Another thing I found, was that though the author seemed to do research on the time period before writing the book, I didn't find many descriptive things in the story that helped you remember that the story was placed in Bible times. For example: their clothing, the food they ate, etc. Other than the mention of their pagan couture, their homes, and city, there wasn't any little details that reminded me constantly what time period you were in. I didn't find this terribly annoying, only a tiny bit, and really don't even consider it a con, but thought I'd mention it. I did seem to remember quite well throughout the story that it was set in Bible times, but think that little details would have enhanced it. However it certainly isn't a reason to avoid the book altogether.

Overview ::
Overall, this was a good biblical time period romance novel focusing on God's grace and a story of one girl's salvation. I would recommend it to girls who like romance novels places in Biblical times, who are okay with reading bits about the prostitution in that time period. I enjoyed this book and give it 3.4 stars.

NOTE: I received a e-book copy of This Scarlet Cord, free of charge, from for the purpose of reading and reviewing it. I was not required to give an honest review, if I didn't like it, and all thoughts are my own and 100 percent honest. I was not paid to do this review, and the fact that I got a free book for this review did not affect my thoughts of the book or my given review.

Short-Straw BrideShort-Straw Bride
By Karen Witemeyer
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Bethany House
Source :: Bethany House Review Program
Publication Date :: 2012
ISBN :: 0764209655
Number of Pages :: 352
My Rating :: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Age Recommendation :: 15+

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride? {Description from}

This western romance novel by Karen Witemeyer was the first I've read of her books, and let me tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it and give it 4.5 stars! I had been hearing about this book all over Good Reads and it seemed that all my friends were reading it all at once, so I decided to give it a try...and I looked on Amazon to find that the Kindle version was on sale for $3! Cha-ching! So I bought it. And read it on my phones Kindle app. And loved it.

Since I had heard lots of good things about this book, I had high expectations, and the book exceed that! I was very surprised just how much I loved it, and will definitely be reading her other books in the future! Being that the book was set in Texas, were I live, it made it all the more enjoyable of a read. I think the first half of the book had the most action, however the whole book had lots of it, so the first portion was my favorite, but I really enjoyed it all! I really don't remember ever reading a book that literally captured me from the prologue. 

I found Meredith's character different than what you see in most romance novels. She was definitely a feminine kind of "tough" and always applied herself well to situations. I found that she adjusted well to living in the country were she originally lived in a wealthy city of sorts. She can be stubborn at times, but hey, are we all at least once? :) There was SO much action in this book, I couldn't put it down and finished it in a day. I loved how involved you get in the story and action and it was anything BUT boring!

The only thing I didn't like with this book was the level of romance. I don't mind a book having a bit, but this book seemed to go over my comfort level. There is lots of talk about the intimate details of "married life" and I felt like this was definitely a book for older teens/adults. I'd probably only recommend this book for ages 15+ due to the romance, but overall really enjoyed the book! I'd recommend it to older teens/adults who love western romances that keep your attention well and have lots of action!

1 Words of Grace:

Katie said...

I've only read one of these books...the last one, "Short-Straw Bride". I've read all four of Witemeyer's books and this one was actually my least favorite. I highly recommend the others to you. "Head in the Clouds" is my personal favorite. I did enjoy the action and the plot of this newest book of hers, but I didn't really like the "married life" details, like you mentioned above.

Great review!