Friday, January 31, 2014

A Miracle of Hope

Book Review


Among a plethora of Amish fiction available, A Miracle of Hope by Ruth Reid is a stand out. This story perfectly portrays the biblical concept of God taking something evil and making it beautiful. It also is a vivid picture of a Christian community that is living to serve God and their neighbors.
The story is set in northern Michigan. The rich, detailed descriptions of winter in this community will chill you to the bone. It is a beautiful area surrounded by deep forests and the chilling weather makes the home sound very cozy, a true sanctuary. The log house with a wood stove, handmade wooden furniture, patchwork pillows and the texture of a braided rug set the stage for tranquil evenings – a very appealing place to be.
Lindie was a young, pregnant, unwed Amish woman, a victim of a rape. She accepted a “marriage of convenience” to Josiah, a widower outside her community who needs someone to be a mother to his daughter, Hannah. As to be expected, the couple had some bumps in their marital life but before long they began to experience love for each other. Even though this love was severely tested it continued to develop and grow. I believe this young couple is a portrait of what lives can be like when husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church and wives love their husbands through sickness and affliction.
The book was a vivid account of a kaleidoscope of emotions. You will be charmed by Lindie’s spirit and touched by Josiah’s kindness.  It was beautiful to watch Hannah flower under Lindie’s kindness and love. I have read books depicting the harshness of Old Order Amish communities. This tiny community with only eight families was different. They came together for fellowship that they seemed to really enjoy and they assisted each other in so many ways. Rebecca, the bishop’s wife was a beautiful example of being the hands of Christ. She babysat, fed people, sewed for others, while showing love.
This book inspires and I strongly recommend it. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book: 

 Book One in the Amish Wonders series.

How far can God's mercy reach?

Lindie Wyse is pregnant out of wedlock and thinks an arranged marriage is the only way to preserve her future. Josiah Plank is certain he'll never love again, but he needs someone to care for his eight-year-old daughter, Hannah. The two take on their arrangement tentatively at first but soon realize they are each in for more than they imagined.

Lindie experiences a breakthrough with Hannah when she recognizes Hannah's special gifts, but a risky pregnancy and serious health issues threaten to demolish the foundation Josiah and Lindie are building. Will their growing love survive despite their struggles, or will their hearts become as cold as the northern winter?

About the author

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children.

Find out more about Ruth at:

Give Away

A Miracle of Hope is the first book in Ruth Reid's new series, Amish Wonders, and she is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX Giveaway and an Author Chat Facebook Party!


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Miracle of Hope by Ruth Reid
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 11th. Winner will be announced at the A Miracle of Hope Facebook Party on February 11th. Connect with Ruth for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, prizes, and more!

So grab your copy of A Miracle of Hope and join Ruth and friends on the evening of February 11th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Dancing Master

Book Review

Julie Klassen has written another appealing historical romance called The Dancing Master, a novel set in 19th century rural England. Klassen is well educated in the art of ballroom dancing and her story documented the struggle of Alec Valcourt, the master of dancing. He had to begin a new life after losing his dance academy in London. The female protagonist is Julia Midwinter, a beautiful heiress who has coped with feelings of rejection.

In the beginning, I felt that this book moved slowly. The novel has 419 pages. However, soon I was caught up in trying to piece together a puzzle of loose ends, trying to guess how this tale would play out and I enjoyed that aspect of the book. The author has crafted an appealing cast of characters and in spite of Julia’s dislike of her rural home, I found myself thinking that the village of Beaworthy sounded like a wonderful place to live.

I respected Alec and was impressed with his perseverance as he carried on in spite of impossible odds. It was enjoyable to watch Julia mature into a caring young woman who realized that her heavenly father cared deeply for her. There were secondary characters that fleshed the story out and added much to the book. My heart went out to Julia’s adopted mother, Lady Amelia. The neighboring Allen family was delightful and the brother/sister duo, Aurora and Ben Thorne were a good addition. It felt good to see the community of Beaworthy join back together and function as a vibrant community.

The Dancing Master followed the format of a historical romance. The author has laid out a complicated plot that kept me reading. I enjoyed many things about the book – the setting, the characters, the mystery – and I do recommend it. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he

's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul---and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master---a man her mother would never approve of---but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village . . . and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

About the author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane---Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Painted Table

Book Review

The Painted Table by Suzanne Field should have been a depressing book. In it, Field explored three generations of women of Norwegian descent. The older two suffered from mental illness. The author explored the topic of mental illness in depth, with the story focused on Sapphire, (Saffee) the third generation. The story documented her attempts to overcome her heritage and live a life that is not only better, but also beautiful.

The story’s centerpiece is a handmade Norwegian table. The table is symbolic, a source of suffering for Saffee’s mother, yet, redeemed and restored with God’s help by Saffee. The Painted Table is an uplifting book. I loved reading how Saffee was able to parse events in her life and sift out what was poisonous to her well-being and keep the parts of her creative mother that were beautiful and valuable. This is truly a story of redemption, strongly showing God working in Saffee’s life.

Field described one of the most beautiful narratives for God’s creation I have ever read. It is through a message Saffee heard in church (p.178-179) that marked the beginning of a new way of life for her. The book was also a beautiful love story between Saffee and her husband, Jack. Most of all, I see it as a story that showed how God reclaimed a life that was poisoned and could have been wasted and turned it into something truly beautiful.

I strongly recommend this book. It contains many layers that I cannot begin to explore in a book review. It is inspiring and enlightening. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book

A beautiful heirloom ingrained with family memory has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget---a childhood disrupted by her mother's mental illness.

Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother's obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint, and heavy with unsettling memories.

After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. But as an adult with a family of her own, Saffee must confront her mother's torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is an epic portrait of inherited memory, proclivity, and guilt. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact---like a family member---can bear the marks of one's entire past . . . as well as intimations of one's redemption.

About the author

Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

Learn more about Suzanne at:

Carolina Gold

Book Review

Dorothy Love has crafted her book Carolina Gold from a collection of articles published post-Civil War in the New York Sun by Elizabeth Allston Pringle. The historical articles were collected in a book called A Woman Rice Planter. The book gives a detailed description of the difficulties in the South after the war. After the death of her father, Love’s protagonist, Charlotte Fraser, is the sole owner of Fairhaven Plantation. With the freeing of the slaves she has no workers, a ruined house, and little money to plant a rice crop.

Charlotte and her neighbors enjoyed a privileged life before the war and were reduced to what felt like poverty post-war. I liked the fact that while the book is centered on the difficulties of plantation owners, the author gives the reader a look into the lives of other social classes as well. Love touches briefly on the new sense of independence that former slaves were just beginning to enjoy. Her profiles also include Daniel, a bright ambitious white boy born in poverty who craves an education. Also, Mr. Finch, the overseer who left his family and traveled out of state for work. Then there was the 14-year-old orphan left to fend for herself in New Orleans. It seemed a matter of perspective. Indeed, life had changed for the planter class and there were difficulties. However, the planter class still had advantages such a social capital. Charlotte was able to call on old friends of her father or people who had known her father, several times when she needed assistance. The lower classes did not have this advantage. I thought the contrast between the plantation owners and the people who truly lived in poverty was striking.

I loved the detailed look at the summer cottage and the beach culture on Pawley Island. This is where the upper classes spent the summer, escaping the heat, humidity and threat of yellow fever. The lifestyle was enviable. There is also a love interest between Charlotte and a new French man who inherited a nearby plantation.

The book is a historical look at a period of great change in our country. I did enjoy the book, especially the description of summer at the beach. I had a minor complaint. My eyes are not perfect and I struggled to read the passages that were correspondence, written in cursive. Realistic perhaps, but difficult for me to read. I do recommend this book. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book

The war is over, but her struggle is just beginning.

Charlotte Fraser returns to her late father's once-flourishing rice plantation on the Waccamaw River, determined to continue growing the special kind of rice known as Carolina Gold. But Fairhaven Plantation is in ruins, the bondsmen are free, and money is scarce.

To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly accepts a position as tutor to the young daughters of Nicholas Betancourt, heir to the neighboring Willowood Plantation. Then Nick's quest to prove his ownership of Willowood sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that reveals an old family mystery---and threatens all that she holds dear.

Inspired by the life of a 19th century woman rice planter, Carolina Gold continues Dorothy Love's winning tradition of weaving together mystery, romance, and rich historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman's struggle to restore her ruined world.

About the author

A former journalist, free-lance writer and college professor, Dorothy Love explores the intersection of history and human relationships to create novels that speak to the hearts of women everywhere. She is the author of the acclaimed Hickory Ridge novels set in her native state of Tennessee.

After earning a masters degree and Ph.D, she authored dozens of magazine articles before breaking into book publishing with a number of award-winning novels for preteens and young adults. The Hickory Ridge series marked her adult fiction debut. Currently she is working on several stand-alone historical novels set in the South.

When she isn't busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.

To keep up with Dorothy Love, visit, become a fan on Facebook (Dorothy Love Books) or follow her on Twitter (@writerDorothy). 


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