Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Mattie's Pledge

Title:  Mattie’s Pledge (Journey to Pleasant Valley #2)
Author:  Jan Drexler
Pages:  384
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 5 stars.
The Journey to Pleasant Valley series begins with Hannah’s Choice and coming in summer 2017 will continue; there is a sneak peek at the end of this novel.  The title for the third novel hasn’t been revealed, but I guarantee you don’t want to pass up reading such intriguing books!  In Hannah’s Choice, we meet the Yoder family and watch as they endure family tragedy along with Hannah courting and the father’s decision to travel west to Indiana.
Here the main focus is Mattie Shrock and the intense internal war waging within between the pull to go to the Pacific Coast for adventure or being content with what Jacob Yoder is offering.  Mattie places her heart and eventually her life in danger when the various wagon trains traveling west run afoul of the nefarious intensions of the Bates brothers.
While the Amish are pacifists in their views, a couple of the young men are sorely tried to maintain their beliefs when danger dogs their journey constantly.  Unlike other Amish stories I have read these characters want to be in a community without influence by Mennonites, Brethren or the Englishers.
I enjoyed the books because of the strong family base of the community.  The family works together, eats together, prays together and for the most part stays together during various trials.  The author allows her characters to examine their beliefs without making simple answers out of complex issues.  Whether it is the community or individual, readers will see both sides of Amish life, even when a character chooses not to become part of the community.
I enjoy reading good stories that allow for a shade of reality to touch the fictional story.  There aren’t platitudes given where complex struggles are occurring and time is given for the struggle to come to a conclusion.  Mattie is such an example of that.  No matter how much other characters wanted to help her come to what they considered the right decision, they had to give her freedom to explore and reach a place of peace in her heat in her own timeframe.  I wait with excitement book three, and I hope you read the first two if you haven’t already before then!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hannah's Choice

Title:  Hannah’s Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1)
Author:  Jan Drexler
Pages:  400
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 5 stars.
I read the book when it first released in January of 2016 and enjoyed it very much.  When I just finished reading it again in preparation for reading book two in the series, I was reminded how truly complex and intriguing is the story.  Readers will come to a shrinking Amish village in Pennsylvania where a family must choose whether to stay or move westward to Indiana.  The reasons for contemplating a move for the father of the Yoder family is that he sees the world becoming more of a threat to his children remaining in the Amish faith.
Hannah is the oldest and her friend since childhood has been Adam, whose family farms near them.  However, when Adam’s family becomes Mennonite Hannah’s continuing friendship becomes a concern to her parents.  On top of that, unknown to her parents Adam along with his family is aiding in the Underground Railroad.  Hannah has been asked by Adam more than once to assist in getting the “packages” to safety, putting her life in danger as readers will soon find out.
Hannah’s mother is suffering from depression when she loses her three youngest children to diphtheria, which causes Hannah to assume more care for the remaining siblings.  I thought the author did a very tender job of dealing with this issue, and how it can affect the whole family.  It was especially touching to see how the family cared for the mother while the family for the most part remained a unit.  They do have one sibling who leaves the community and secretly gets married which brings more tragedy to the Yoder clan.
Throughout the novel the author shows how family and faith can really be two intertwined threads of strength, especially when tragedy strikes.  The author doesn’t rush her characters into healing, but shows how it does take time to recover from deep sorrow.  I also found it quite realistic when a child goes outside of expectations how hard it can be on the family, especially when the wayward person refuses to bend or come home.
The novel is a truly touching and moving book that readers will find keeps them turning pages for hours.  The book lays great groundwork for the second book, Mattie’s Pledge!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Love Arrives

Title:  When Love Arrives (A Novel: Misty Willow #2)
Author: Johnnie Alexander
Pages:  368
Year: 2016
Publisher: Revell
My rating is 5 stars.
Johnnie Alexander has crafted a heart touching sequel to the first novel in the series titled “Where She Belongs” where the story line begins.  In book one we meet Shelby recently widowed with two little girls and her move to Misty willows. Also there is a young man named A.J. who through various seasons of his relationship with Shelby as it comes to an exciting and wonderful conclusion.  There are other characters and happenings in the book; one character who takes the center stage in book 2 is A.J.’s cousin Brett.
Brett at first is a love and leave ‘em kind of man used to having money to spare and no cares about how he treats others until his life becomes more complicated by unforeseen changes.  Brett’s self-centered personality begins to change as he wonders if he will ever get to see his son and meets a single woman named Dani.  What he doesn’t know is what ties the two of them together and when he learns about the event he sets out on a course he never has explored.
Johnnie Alexander weaves a very believable drama with faith issues that I believe most readers will be able to identify with in some way .  Dani’s past surfaces little by little in the story as well as her original intent on facing Brett.  I really enjoyed reading how hearts, minds and souls were touched and changed from the beginning of the book till the end.  Seeing how some characters had to reach the very bottom of their lives before they would reach out for help, or acknowledge their need for God struck me as pretty real.
Coming in Summer of 2017 there will bea 3rd book in this series though the title has been revealed at the end of the book a teaser is included for interested readers.  I hope you enjoy both books before the 3rd one is released so you can follow the plot, understand some of the characters personal histories as they are revealed.  Romance, faith, family seemed to be the three main threads of the books I wonder what you will see when you enjoy them?  Enjoy the journey of discovering faith and love n the Misty Willows series!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Catching Heat (Cold Justice Case #3)

Title:  Catching Heat (Cold Justice Case #3)
Author:  Janice Cantore
Pages:  432
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Tyndale
My rating is 5+ stars.
Readers meet Detective Abby Hart in the opening novel of the series, Burning Proof.  In the novel, the stage is set for the mystery of a fire where Abby’s parents and another man lost their lives.  Abby is saved from death by the cook when two officers unblock the back door.  The author then takes readers into the background of Abby and other characters’ lives in the second story titled, Drawing Fire.  In each book, there is suspense, a case that is a mystery unsolved for two decades and perhaps a budding romance between Abby with a local P. I., Michael Murphy.
What adds tension to the storyline is the addition of suspicion of the Governor’s possible connection to the cold case known as The Triple Seven murders.  I loved how Janice Cantore added various characters or twists and turns into the plot that surprised me and added new direction in the novel.  Sometimes the leads would turn into false leads and only raise questions by the reader, heightening the interest in how the author was going to bring the various plots together.
I enjoyed how the author brings to the forefront the internal struggle Abby has between revenge and justice.  The struggle highlights a deeper issue of the heart that of whether Abby will trust the Lord with the final outcome or push for her own results.  I don’t think there is a person alive who hasn’t struggled with trusting God, especially when the outcome is not seen clearly, quickly or ever.  Abby’s character shows perseverance too even when obstacles or trials are in her path.
All three novels in this series are tied together so reading them sequentially is helpful to understanding all that is happening in the story.  Janice Cantore knows how to mix adventure, danger and faith issues with some romance in stories that kept my attention and left me wanting more.  I hope you will become a fan of her books as I look forward to what flows out of her pen next!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”