Stephanie P. (mybabyblessings) - Reviews

1 to 13 of 13
An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 1


I finally had a chance to read An Amish Christmas, three short stories written by Kathleen Fuller, Beth Wiseman, and Barbara Cameron.

Because I had already read books by Kathleen and Beth, I almost flipped to the end to read the last story in the book by Barbara. For some reason, I changed my mind and was glad that I did. Unlike many novellas, An Amish Christmas was definitely a collaboration by Kathleen, Beth, and Barbara, intertwining the lives of previous characters.

Although you wouldnt have to read the stories in order, it certainly keeps the characters and relationships a bit clearer.

Kathleen Fuller writes A Miracle for Miriam, a story about unmarried, plain Miriam. Miriam has always struggled with her self-esteem, especially because of some painful teasing during her school days. When the tormenter apologizes years later, Miriam has a difficult time believing his sincerity.

In A Choice to Forgive, Beth Wiseman tells us about Lydia, a widow who is unprepared for the surprise appearance of her first love on her doorstep. Daniel, her dead husbands brother, left her on a Christmas Eve almost 20 years ago with nothing but a short note. When Lydia hears the truth, she feels doubly betrayed.

One Child by Barbara Cameron shares the struggle of Sarah and David to have a baby. The couple, still grieving a miscarriage that happened last Christmas, opens their home to an Englisch couple during a terrible winter storm. Jason and Kate are very clearly expecting their first childsoon. Will the pregnant guest and the coming baby add to Sarahs hurt or help heal her grieving heart?

For the most part, I enjoyed each story. Even though novellas are meant to be fairly short, each story in An Amish Christmas was well developed and interesting. A Choice to Forgive was my least favorite. I felt that the physical tension between Lydia and Daniel was a bit too edgy for my taste. Although this didnt really surprise me, since Id read a previous book by Beth.

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The Choice (Lancaster County Secrets, Bk 1)
The Choice (Lancaster County Secrets, Bk 1)
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 65
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Carrie is about to make her choice. She will leave her family and Amish community behind and follow her beau into the world.

Tragedy strikes, and a different choice is made for her. As Carrie struggles, she is faced with yet another difficult decision. Again, Carrie makes her choice and marries a man she does not love.

Circumstance after circumstance, choice after choice, Carrie wades through seemingly endless grief to find her way to forgiveness and even love.

Like many recent Amish-based books Ive read, The Choice had quite a bit of English in it. Although Im coming to expect and even dread that, The Choice was a fairly believable story (except for Steelhead and Emma! Huh?!) and a good reminder of the effect our decisions, good and bad, can make on our life.

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The Christmas Glass
The Christmas Glass
Author: Marci Alborghetti
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 2


The Christmas Glass begins in 1940 with Anna, an Italian widow, sheltering a few Jewish children at her orphanage. Knowing the danger, Anna reminisces about her family's precious "Christmas glass," 12 beautiful hand-blown ornaments, as she wraps each piece to send to a cousin for safekeeping during the war.

Part I, above, was my favorite part of the book, only about 17 pages.

Part II, starting on page 23, begins in America in the year 2000. Ahh, if you've read any of my book reviews, you know contemporary settings are my least favorite! I would much rather have heard more about Anna or perhaps her cousin Filomena's immigration to America with the precious "Christmas glass" after the war.

Instead, the year 2000 brought with it too much angst and worldliness for me. While it is true that no one is perfect and we all have problems, Filomena's family is certainly more than dysfunctional, and I felt tense reading about each character.

Filomena has distributed each piece of the once treasured Christmas glass (which was never to be separated) to family and friends throughout the years. Now, nearing her final Christmas (or is it?), she manipulates them all to Connecticut, hoping to heal and restore some relationships.

Honestly, it was like when you hear someone's salvation testimony and all they do is talk about their former life and all the sin they were in. They spend 98.9% on their awful life and only 1.1% on the Lord. The characters and relationships were so crazy, and often hateful, that I winced as I read.

I really loved the idea behind the book...but, it didn't take the direction I was hoping for.

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The Courteous Cad (Miss Pickworth, Bk 3)
The Courteous Cad (Miss Pickworth, Bk 3)
Author: Catherine Palmer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 3/18/2010


Catherine Palmer has just published her third book in her Miss Pickworth series. The Courteous Cad focuses on William Sherbourne a cad, and Prudence Watson a wannabe crusader who has vowed never to marry.

William fully admits to being a cad. Was a cad, is a cad, but will he stay a cad?

Prudence only wants to make changes for the good, but seems to fail at her attempts. When her feeble efforts involve Mr. Sherbournes worsted mill, a clash of the two opposites ensue.

Prudence (sister of Sarah from book 1, The Affectionate Adversary) was hard for me to figure out. Although, I think that was all part of her character. Prudence is trying to figure her own self out.

Throw in a dashing, charming, supposed-to-be-but-maybe-not villain, and any female character in a novel is confused. ;-)

If youve been waiting for Catherine to finish book 3, then you will likely enjoy revisiting the characters, as well as a few oldies from her English Ivy series.

By the way, for those of you who have read the other two books in Palmers series, society tattler Miss Pickworths identity is revealed in The Courteous Cador I think it was!

For the last several months, I have been in a Jane Austen kind of mood. Books, movies, doesnt really matter; anything set in that time period is holding my interest at the moment.

Because Im in that Jane Austen mood, I enjoyed the flow and feel of The Courteous Cad; however, although I am always glad to finish a series, The Courteous Cad was not a couldnt-put-down kind of read.

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Here Burns My Candle
Here Burns My Candle
Author: Liz Curtis Higgs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 3


First of all, I have to say that I enjoyed the period setting of Here Burns My Candle. The Scottish background gives a slightly different flavor to a typical British regency era novel. My mind was given quite a workout however as Liz Curtis Higgs frequently uses unfamiliar (to me) Scottish terminology, like ilke and mercat and cauld. Most words I could figure out in context, but wish Id discovered the glossary BEFORE I finished the book!

It appears that Here Burns My Candle was inspired by the story of Naomi and Ruth. Lady Marjory is the mother-in-law who has left her family, eventually loses everything, and has nowhere left to turn but home. Lady Elisabeth Kerr is the pagan daughter-in-law who begins to follow (not really, in my opinion) the God of her mother-in-law and desires to take care of her husbands mother when all seems lost.

Although I enjoyed the setting and even the inspiration -- of Here Burns My Candle, I was disgusted in the time spent on Lord Donalds extramarital activities. I was equally disappointed in the detail given to Lady Elisabeths auld ways (moon worship).

Although I appreciate WaterBrook and CFBA for sending me a review copy, Im afraid that Here Burns My Candle will not be finding a permanent place on my bookshelf.

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Katy's New World (Katy Lambright, Bk 1)
Katy's New World (Katy Lambright, Bk 1)
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 3/18/2010


I was introduced to Kim Vogel Sawyer's books about a year ago - and I really love her writing. Her books are quickly becoming my favorites and have found permanent homes on my bookshelves. I have yet to send one on to paperbackswap!

When FIRST gave me a chance to review Kim's newest title, Katy's New World, the first book in a series written for young adults, I really wanted to see what she'd write for our daughters.

Like each of Kim's books that I have read so far, Katy's New World is well-developed and full of engaging, believable characters.

Katy belongs to a Mennonite community which only schools their children through 9th grade. After much thought and prayer, Katy's community has allowed her to attend the public high school. She is warned that any sign of following the world, will result in that decision being reversed.

Having never been exposed to so much of the world, Katy finds it loud and unsettling at first. She then begins to wonder where she fits in. The "world" thinks her weird, and her close Mennonite friends seem to avoid her.

I was pleased to see that Katy showed respect to her dad, even when she felt the typical inner teen struggle between what-I-want-to-do versus what-is-right-to-do.

And, although Katy is not perfect - she makes some wrong choices - I felt her entire character was safe for my daughter to read Katy's New World some day.

*Each of us holds to different standards and guidelines. I highly recommend you reading several books by the author(s) of your children's books, before allowing them to read them.*

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The Lightkeeper's Daughter (Mercy Falls Bk 1)
The Lightkeeper's Daughter (Mercy Falls Bk 1)
Author: Colleen Coble
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 62
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Ive seen several of Colleen Cobles books in my catalogs and in bookstores, but Ive passed them by, because most of them are written in todays time period. And you all know how much I love that setting ;-)

When I was given a chance to review The Lightkeepers Daughter, set in the early 1900s, I thought Id give Colleen a try.

The Lightkeepers Daughter is the story of Addie Sullivan, who may not be who she thinks she is.

When a strange man shows up at the lighthouse, claiming Addie had been shipwrecked as a little girl and is actually part of the wealthy Eaton family, Addie agrees to leave the lighthouse to become the governess in the Eatons home, while an undercover investigation of her real identity continues.

The Lightkeepers Daughter is full of twists and turns and strange characters to keep the reader interested. At times, I felt like I was watching a very fast paced movie and was wishing for a commercial.

While fiction is exactly that - fiction! - The Lightkeeper's Daughter seemed unrealistic to me for that time period. For one example, I had a hard time finding the escape from... oh, I can't tell you that, in case you read the book.

Overall, The Lightkeepers Daughter was okay. The story itself was neither good nor bad. I had to reread a few different confusing paragraphs to see if Id missed something, when I think some simple errors were just missed during editing.

Although romantic suspense is not really my cup of tea, Colleen Coble delivers her specialty in The Lightkeeper's Daughter.

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Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon (Love Finds You...)
Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon (Love Finds You...)
Author: Miralee Ferrell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 1


I was pleasantly surprised with the latest book CFBA sent me to review, Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon by Miralee Ferrell.

Miralee tells a sweet (but not sappy) story of love and trusting God in all things.

Margaret is recovering from a broken heart and beginning to accept the attentions of man #2 (while rejecting creepy #3), when man #1 arrives back in town. Ah, yes.

Past miscommunication is revealed, jealousy ensues, tragedy strikes, mystery lurks, and love prevails.

Hehee. That made me laugh writing that. ;-)

But, tis the truth! Its all in the book with a little surprise (that Id wondered at!) at the ending!

Margaret was a character I could easily relate to. Oh, no, I havent had jealousy ensue over me, but her struggle to trust God in all circumstances is something I think we all can understand!

Here are a couple of lines that I loved:

"She shook her head, frustration and doubt warring inside. Id prayed about it for weeks, and I believe God told me it was right.

[.] stared into her eyes for a long moment. God wouldnt tell you to sneak off against your fathers wishes. He tells us to honor our parentsGod doesnt go against His Word.

How often do we do what we think God says?? Or what we feel God told us?? Hmm better check it with Gods Word! They are always in agreement. Always.

I really enjoyed Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon and wouldnt mind Miralee writing a sequel. Id like to find out how Sammie and Joel grow up and turn out

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Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana
Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana
Author: Ocieanna Fleiss, Tricia Goyer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 45
Review Date: 3/18/2010


Julia is shocked to discover that the headmistress of the orphanage is getting married! Julia is even more shocked when she learns that Mrs. Hamlins fiancé has arranged for all of the orphan girls to be shipped west on an orphan train. Although sad to say goodbye to her girls, Julia is more than glad to accompany them to their new homes along the train route.

Arriving at the trains last stop and anxious to return to New York City, Julia is beyond shocked to learn that the headmistress and her new husband have sold Julia as a bride to an old miner!

Although Julia refuses to marry the man, she has no money to return east and her future looks grim. With the help of a few newfound friends and the handsome (of course) and single (of course) parson, Julia begins to find a home -and love - in Lonesome Prairie.

Even though some of the characters weren't as complex as some books, I thought that Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss was a good, rainy day read. I enjoy having "simpler" books to pick up when I want to cozy up with a good read, but don't want to get too involved in thinking through an intricate plot.

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Rocky Mountain Oasis
Rocky Mountain Oasis
Author: Lynnette Bonner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 3/18/2010


Skyler Jordan is determined to rescue the coming mail-order bride from his offensive cousin.

Having only known abuse and heartache in her past, Brooke finds a hard time believing that Sky is really as nice as he seems.

While Brooke tries to understand what (or Who) makes Sky the way he is, Sky's focus is redirected to a ghastly crime in town. When Sky has to rescue Brooke a second time, this time from a murderer, will the couple admit their blossoming love?

I thought that Rocky Mountain Oasis by Lynnette Bonner was a good read. The crime that is talked of in the book is actually based on a real incident that took place in Pierce, Idaho in the late 1800's. Both plot and subplot kept me turning the pages.

Lynnette's research was obvious and the characters were easy to understand and imagine. I was impressed that Lynnette appropriately used quite a bit of Scripture in her novel. I find that the use of God's Word in "Christian" books today is usually lacking.

I look forward to reading Lynnette's second book, High Desert Haven, in which Jason Jordan (the offensive cousin) will reappear.

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The Silent Governess
The Silent Governess
Author: Julie Klassen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 100
Review Date: 3/18/2010
Helpful Score: 1


There is just something about Julies writing that makes me feel like I am watching a lovely BBC Jane Austen movie. Seeing as the author enjoys BBC period dramas, I am not surprised!

The Silent Governess is by no means overly descriptive, in a tiring way, and yet, I could easily picture the clothing, the grounds, the rooms, the village.

I love the way Julie quotes different historical sources, such as journals of actual governesses and advertisements in the London Times, at the beginning of each chapter. These little tidbits give a fascinating look into Regency times and behaviors, as well as making the whole book utterly charming.

I found The Silent Governess to be a delightful read. I look forward to other stories that Julie Klassen will create!

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The Swiss Courier
The Swiss Courier
Author: Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 3/18/2010


The Swiss Courier was a great change of pace from the Amish and mail-order bride books Ive been reading lately.

Coauthors Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey delivered just what I was expecting and also what I wasnt! I loved it!

The Swiss Courier was a true heart-pounding page-turner. Right up until the epilogue, I was surprised! HmmmI think hes on that side! and then, Oh, and hes on that side?! and, Hes who?!! :-)

The Swiss Courier tells the story of Gabi Mueller, a young Swiss American, who is working with the Americans on undercover war secrets. After a couple of frightening assignments, Gabi is asked to help courier an important scientist out of Germany.

The ingenuity and courage of those who placed their lives on the line to do what was right made for a very exciting story. Once I picked up The Swiss Courier, I had a hard time putting it down. I found my nose in the book late into the night because its hard to stop reading in the middle of an escape attempt! Its also hard to fall asleep after your blood pressure has been raised a few notches! Ha!

If, unlike me, you havent been watching Hogans Heroes reruns recently, you may get a little overwhelmed with all the jawohl, uberreichkommandantfuhrerstrasse! terms that are smattered throughout the book! But, for the most part, I was able to understand what was being saidand remember, theres always google to help you out! :-)

Two complaints: at the end of chapter 2, I felt that the Lords name was used in vain and that greatly disappointed me. And, in the epilogue, the main characters are getting ready to drink wine. Again, very disappointed that this would be in a Christian book? Both of those subjects could have been left outneither added anything (but compromise) to the story and would not have taken anything away if not mentioned.

If you like action and intrigue, you should find yourself a copy of The Swiss Courier.

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Until We Reach Home
Until We Reach Home
Author: Lynn Austin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 87
Review Date: 2/28/2009
Helpful Score: 5


No longer safe or wanted in Sweden, Elin is determined to find a home for herself and her two younger sisters, Kirsten, and Sofia. The girls embark upon a difficult journey to America, paid for by their uncle in Chicago, or so they think.

Suffering through squalid steerage accomodations aboard ship to an unwelcome greeting by Auntie in Chicago, the girls realize America is not the "heaven" they imagined it to be. Having no money or desire to return to Sweden, the girls find a job with a wealthy, demanding woman to clean her home which is being sold out from under her by her son and daughter-in-law. All the while, the three sisters are hoping and dreaming for a home... a real home.

Lynn Austin's descriptions of Ellis Island in the late 1800's were amazing to me. I guess I naively thought that immigrants had a pretty easy time entering America. Austin tells of confused detainees and dirty dormitories...and the insufferable language barrier! Until We Reach Home was well-written and an easy, enjoyable read. However, the book ended somewhat unsatisfactorily for me! I'm hoping Lynn Austin will continue the stories of Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia! I believe another book could be written... pretty please?!


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