After a Fashion

After a fashion written by Jen Turano is a 352 page book in the Christian romance genre. It was published by Bethany House Publishers on March 3, 2015.  To order your copy from Amazon, click here or to order from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

My Two Cents

After a Fashion is one of the most delightful books I have read recently.  It is a lighthearted, easy read.  I laughed until I had tears, I cried, I yelled at some of the characters. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting to know more.

The main protagonist Miss Peabody is my kind of girl.  She knows what she wants, she has backbone, she has morals, and she cares about others.  Even though she has had a rough life, she doesn’t pity herself but has a way of applying those hardships to make her an even better person. My favorite part about her: I don’t know what she is going to do next. I couldn’t wait to find out!

Jen did a sensational job interweaving different aspects of life into her novel.  There is romance, friendship, strength, perseverance, hope, love, compassion.  All of these elements are intertwined with comedy and a bit of mystery.

This is my first time reading one of Jen’s books, but I will be coming back for more! I give After a Fashion five out of five stars.

About the Author

Jen Turano, author of five books, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.

My thanks to #Netgalley and Bethany House Publishers for a copy of After a Fashion in exchange for my honest review.

A Harvest of Hope

A Harvest of Hope is a 352 page fiction novel in the Christian fiction genre. It was written by Lauraine Snelling and published by Bethany House Publishers with a release date of March 3, 2015. To order your copy from Amazon, click here or from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Just a few short weeks into her year-long training at the Blessing Hospital, Miriam Hastings is called home to Chicago, where her mother is gravely ill. With siblings to care for, Miriam pleads to be allowed to finish her training in Chicago. Her nursing supervisor grants her a brief reprieve but extracts a promise that Miriam will return to Blessing and fulfill her one-year commitment.

While in Chicago, Miriam has tried to get Trygve Knutson and Blessing out of her mind, but his letters make that impossible. Trygve is busy building a house, hoping he can convince Miriam to return to North Dakota and marry him. Torn between Trygve’s love and her family’s needs, she doesn’t know what to do.

When Miriam finally returns to Blessing, she buries herself in her work. But no matter how hard she tries to put it off, she has some life-changing decisions to make about her future, her family… and the man who is never far from her thoughts.

What will it take to convince her to stay?

My Two Cents

It is always fun to catch up with characters you are invested in and it was a joy to travel back to Blessing to catch up with Lauraine’s characters in Harvest of Hope. Although the book started out slow, once I was in the book, I could not put it down.  I wanted to see what happened to each of the characters in the town of Blessing.

Hope, loss, love, anger, forgiveness are all themes woven into this heartwarming story.  There is a character you would love to punch, ones you would love to hug, and ones you would love to send an encouraging word too.  It is lovely to see how the town struggles but come together to support each other.  My favorite theme from A Harvest of Hope is trusting in God and knowing He is in control of our future.  This book will encourage you and leave you looking forward to the next installment.

I give this book this book a 5 star review.

About the Author

Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of over 70 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold over 2 million copies. Besides writing books and articles, she teaches at writers’ conferences across the country. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California. Learn more at www.laurainesnelling.com.

Thank you to #netgalley for my free copy of A Harvest of Hope in exchange for my honest review.

Where Trust Lies Review

Where Trust Lies is a 337 page book in the Christian romance genre written by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan and published by Bethany House Publisher.  If you would like to purchase Where Trust Lies through Amazon, click here or to purchase it through Barnes & Noble, click here.

Synopsis

Beth loves her friends and students in the West, but family obligations have called her home. Where does she truly belong?

After a year of teaching in the Canadian West, Beth Thatcher returns home to her family. She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday–a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Hoping to reconnect with her mother and her sisters, Beth agrees to join them, but she quickly realizes that things have changed since she went away, and renewing their close bond is going to be more challenging than she expected.

There’s one special thing to look forward to–letters and telephone calls from Jarrick, the Mountie who has stolen her heart. The distance between them is almost too much to bear. But can she give her heart to Jarrick when it will mean saying good-bye to her family once again–and possibly forever? And will she still want to live in the western wilds after the steamship tour opens up a world of people and places she never imagined?

Then comes a great test of Beth’s faith. Someone in her family has trusted the wrong person, and suddenly everything Beth knows and loves is toppled. Torn between her family and her dreams, will Beth finally discover where her heart truly belongs?

A companion story to Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart TV series!

My Two Cents

What is very interesting about Where Trust Lies is that it takes place with Elizabeth’s family and not in Coal Valley.  It is a story that reveals the true complexity of families – the good and the bad. It shows love, forgiveness and acceptance even when we might not understand each other. The reader also gets a glimpse of where Elizabeth gets her steel and resolve.

Where Trust Lies kept me guessing throughout the story. Also the faith element in the story was very uplifting.

My disappointment with the book was it does move slowly and I was not engaged throughout the book.  I have read all of Janette Oke’s books and have loved them all.  This did not seem like a typical book of hers.  However, I am glad I read it.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

About The Authors

Bestselling author Janette Oke is celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies, and she is the recipient of the ECPA President’s Award, the CBA Life Impact Award, the Gold Medallion, and the Christy Award. Janette and her husband, Edward, live in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan, daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, as well as the novels Dana’s Valley and Where Courage Calls, co-written with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.


A special thank you to netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

The Amish Clockmaker Review

The Amish Clockmaker is 354 page Christian Amish fiction novel written by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner and published by Harvest House Publishers.  To purchase a copy of the book through Amazon, click  here. To purchase a copy through Barnes and Noble, click here.

the amish clockmaker

Synopsis

From bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Clockmaker (Book 3 in the Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Newlywed Matthew Zook is expanding his family’s tack and feed store when a surprising property dispute puts the remodel on hold—and raises new questions about the location’s mysterious past.

Decades earlier, the same building housed a clock shop run by a young Amish clockmaker named Clayton Raber. Known for his hot temper, Clayton was arrested for the murder of his beloved wife, a crime almost everyone—including his own family members—believed he’d committed, even after charges were dropped. Isolated and feeling condemned by all, Clayton eventually broke from the church, left Lancaster County, and was never heard from again.

Now the only way Matthew can solve the boundary issue and save his family’s business is to track down the clockmaker. But does this put Matthew on the trail of a murderer?

A timeless novel of truth, commitment, and the power of enduring love, where secrets of the past give way to hope for the future.

Review

The Amish Clockmaker captivates you from the beginning and keeps your attention to the end.  Mindy and Susan create characters that are only authentic and real. Having the book written from men’s points of view gives this book a unique look on Amish life.

MIndy and Susan beautifully combine a family today with a flashback to a story from yesteryear.  By doing this, the reader follows the life of Clayton Raber knowing it is intertwined with Matthew’s family. This technique takes this book to a higher level and it is a wonderful experience for the reader.

The Amish Clockmaker is a story of forgiveness and love but also shows how to trust God’s sovereignty even when we do not fully understand his plan.  It is a story that allows you to reflect on your own life to see where you can trust, love and/or forgive more. The reader can see themselves reflected in the characters of this book. It is a book that you can not wait for someone else to read so you can talk about it.

I give this book five stars. It is a must read.

About The Authors

Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction (more than 800,000 sold) including co-authoring the Christy Award-winning The Amish Midwife. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. www.mindystarnsclark.com.

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: www.susanmeissner.com, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

A special thank you to netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

The Matchmaker Review

Emma Weaver is twenty-one years old and has found a passion for playing matchmaker with her friends.  Her neighbor, Gideon King, warns her about interfering in people’s lives, but she disregards his advice and plans to set up Paul, the son of the bishop, with her friend Hannah.

The Matchmaker pic

But when Paul misinterprets Emma’s attention, believing she has feelings for him, he begins asking her to ride in his buggy after Sunday singings and shows up at her house for Friday evening visits.  As she tries to repair the damage that’s been done and mend the hearts that have been broken, she finds herself in trouble with the community.  Will she learn her lesson and stop meddling in the affairs of others?  Will she find a love of her own?

The Matchmaker is so enthralling you will not want to put it down! The main character, Emma, is someone we can all relate too.  We have all tried to help a friend and it ends in disaster! This book takes us down a winding road of twists and turns, not knowing what will come next but you can not wait to find out.

Sarah has done an excellent job  of giving us insight into each of her characters and the situations they are in.  Her characters have depth and I can see Sarah shine through in them.  Sarah shows us her characters – both their feelings and their situations – instead of just telling us about them.  This is what makes her work true literature.

Sarah’s intricate knowledge of the Amish language and culture merges lovely with her retelling of Jane Austin’s Emma to create a timeless book as unique as the original. Never read classic literature or Jane Austin? That’s okay! You will be drawn into The Matchmaker and will be waiting on the edge of your seat for Sarah’s next installment of Jane Austin’s classics. When you are finished reading The Matchmaker, you will have read a great book and you will want to reflect on how you can be a better friend.

The Matchmaker is a 304 page fiction book by Sarah Price and published in the Christian fiction Amish genre.  It was released on February 3, 2015 and can be purchased on Amazon for $9.99 for ebook or 14.99 paperback.

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

Giveaway!

In honor of Valentine’s day, I am giving away one copy of The Matchmaker. Want to win?  It’s easy! To enter, comment below and follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/simpleharvestreads. Want an extra entry? Follow my blog. Contest ends Sunday, Feb 15 at midnight PST. One winner will be chosen through Random Picker.

The winner of the giveaway is Susanlulu2013! Congratulations! Please e-mail simpleharvestreads@gmail.com with your information.

Review of Plain & Simple Traditions: Amish & Mennonite Holidays

For years, Sarah Price has entertained her readers with her Amish romance novels. Now, she shares her knowledge about how the Amish and Mennonites celebrate the holidays based on her first-hand experiences with her Amish friends as well as growing up with Mennonite family.

This book contains stories, hymns, decorating tips, and (of course) recipes so that her readers can also delight in having a plain and simple holiday, just like the Amish and Mennonites.

It is always fun and interesting to learn about the holiday traditions of others.  Sarah’s first-hand knowledge of the Amish and Mennonites makes Plain & Simple Traditions special because the reader can trust its truthfulness. This book contains pictures and stories of Sarah’s family which makes you feel like you are a part of it! As the reader, you feel as if you have a window into her family. With both recipes and decorating ideas, this will be a book you cherish and come back to for future holiday celebrations. My family has immensely enjoyed the recipes Sarah has shared. Waiting for another holiday to eat them again is not an option for them!

Whether you are looking to learn more about the Amish & Mennonite traditions, wanting to add to your own traditions, craving some new dishes to try or yearning to know more about Sarah Price herself, you will not be disappointed with this book!

Plain & Simple Traditions is 170 page non-fiction book written by Sarah Price and published by Price Publishing, LLC.  It was released on December 15, 2014. It can be purchased through Amazon for $2.99 for the e-book and $13.49 for paperback.

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

An Amish Buggy Ride Review and Giveaway!

An Amish Buggy Ride is a 218 page Christian Amish fiction novel written by Sarah Price and published by Waterfall Press. It was released in November, 2014 and can be purchased for $4.99 for the Kindle Edition or $9.99 for the paperback through Amazon.

An Amish Buggy Ride is a fast-paced novel about a young Amish woman named Kate who keeps a secret for her brother that ends in tragedy.  Katie is determined to make things right by caring for her brother, David, and helping her family by taking on extra chores.  This only serves to create anger and tension between David and her family until a young Amish man named Samuel steps in.  As tension and resentments grow, Katie must find a way to forgive herself or lose the possibility of love forever.

Sarah draws you in right from the beginning of the book and keeps you enthralled right to the end. It is a book that is very hard to put down! Her descriptions of both the characters and the setting creates the perfect picture in your mind; you feel as if you have been transported and are watching the story as it is happening. Sarah’s authentic use and knowledge of the Amish culture makes the story very believably authentic.

The characters Sarah creates in An Amish Buggy Ride are very real, believable characters whose struggles the reader can understand and empathize with.  Her characters also give the reader a real life application of Biblical principles such as giving grace and forgiveness. An Amish Buggy Ride is not only a great read but leaves the reader feeling encouraged.

If you are looking for a great Amish read, look no further.  This is not your typical Amish sappy romance, but a great piece of literature that leaves you wishing there was more!

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

A special thank you to Sarah Price for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

Giveaway

An Amish Buggy Ride giveaway! I am giving away a copy of Sarah’s new book, An Amish Buggy Ride! There are four ways you can enter in the contest:

1. Follow Simple Harvest Reads blog site and post a comment below (you must do both to receive an entry)

2. Like the Simple Harvest Reads Facebook page: www.facebook.com/simpleharvestreads

3. Like and comment on the An Amish Buggy Ride review post on the Simple Harvest Read Facebook page (you must do both do gain an entry)

4. Share the An Amish Buggy Ride comment on the Simple Harvest Reads Facebook page.

The contest ends Wednesday, November 19 at midnight PST. The winner will be announced Thursday, November 20. Good luck!

The Black Count by Tom Reiss Book Review

Book Review of The Black Count

The Black Count, 432 pages,  is a biography written by Tom Reiss and published by Crown Publishing Group. It was published on September 18, 2012 for the purchase price of  $16.00. It is divided into three books.

The Black Count begins with two prologues.  One prologue tells of a young boy whose father is dying.  The other prologue discusses how Reiss arduously researched his book.  Both prologues could be confusing to the reader. Reiss would refer to Alexander Dumas, along with his letters and memoir; however, there are three Alexander Dumas’ discussed in the prologue.  Also, the pages spent on Reiss’ research were many and dry.  Once the reader moves past the prologue, the story develops well.

The first book begins with how Alex Dumas’ father, the Marquis named Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie came to live with his brother on Saint Dominique.  While there, he fathered four children from his mistress that was a black slave he stole from his brother.  Deciding to return to his homeland of France, the Marquis sells his mistress and four children for passage back home.  His favorite son, Alexander Davy de la Pailleterie was sold to the captain of a merchant ship and became free by French law when he set foot on French soil.  His father brought him to live the life of royalty as a Parisian with him just outside of Paris.  He was trained as a swordsmen by the best protege in France, he danced at parties, was admired for his Greek like stature and coveted by all for being an “American” in Paris.  After a dispute with his father, Alexander gave up his title and enlisted in the Queen’s Army.  The book then documents how he was trained and became a soldier noticed by all for his courage, strength  and loyalty.

Book two, the shortest of the three, begins with the revolution in France.  Alexander meets his future wife while stationed as a soldier. The reader learns of his many accomplishments as a soldier, moving from a private to a general due to his heroism.

The third book follows General Dumas to Egypt where he fights alongside Napoleon.  Napoleon sees him for the excellent soldier he is, then becomes suspicious and jealous of Alexander.  Alexander is imprisoned for two years and returns home to find Napoleon has repealed the laws that gave him his freedom.  Due to his race, his marriage was no longer considered legal and he was never given another assignment in the military despite multiple requests.

The Black Count takes the reader on a journey of hope that a mulatto son of a Marquis can conquer, not only his enemy, but racism as well.  As as reader, one might question if  Riess’ use of the novelist Alexander Dumas’ memoirs of his father made the biography more exaggerated than factual. Reiss does note when he used the sons memoirs and if there were other documents to verify the stories.  Overall, Tom Reiss does an excellent job of interweaving historical fact with the story of General Alexander Dumas.  Interesting facts are noted with footnotes and gives readers vast insight into the novelist Alexander Dumas’ inspiration for his stories. The Black Count is a well written biography on a long lost war hero that changed history for generations to come.

Tom Reiss is an author, historian and journalist.  His previous work, The Orientalist, was an international bestseller and was translated into more than 20 languages.  Tom currently lives in New York City. For more information visit www.tomreiss.com.