Friday’s Fiction

Ties that Bind

Ties That Bind: A Novel (The Amish of Summer Grove) by Cindy Woodsmall

About the Book

Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series.

My Thoughts

Ariana Brenneman’s family is poor and she is determined she can help. She knows with her cooking and baking skills she could run a cafe and make a profit. However, the problem is lack of money. She is working hard, trying to save up enough money to buy a cafe in town, but time is running out. In desperation, she talks her brother into helping her by pooling his resources with her.

All Ariana can focus on is getting her money and helping her family financially, at least until Quill Schlabach shows back up late one night. Five years earlier he had run away from the Amish with her best friend, Frieda and been banned. Now, because she tried to help a friend, she saw Quill. He apologizes to her for what pain she is about to suffer. Now, she has a new worry; someone in her family was leaving the Amish, too.

As Ariana worries and frets over which family member may be leaving their faith, she decides she has to speed up the time frame to open the cafe. She hopes to entice her sister into staying. After all, she just needs a good incentive and more money, Ariana reasons.

Cindy Woodsmall has done an extraordinary job of weaving together multiple layers in the plot of Ties That Bind, including a mystery surrounding Ariana about which she herself is totally unaware.

I received this I received this book from Blogging forBooks in exchange for an honest review.

For more information about Cindy and her books you can visit her at her site:


Monday’s Mention

A Reluctant Bride

A Reluctant Bride (An Amish of Birch Creek Novel) by Kathleen Fuller

About Book

She never wanted to marry. He hopes to make amends for past wrongs. Can love find a way to heal both of their hearts?

Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry. All of her other Amish friends could court and marry—she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire. But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister. With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice: she must marry. And not just any man—the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away.

Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable. And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner. When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can’t let her down—even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life.

Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn’t the same boy who once betrayed her. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family—and herself.

My Thoughts

Kathleen Fuller has written a gritty story full of abuses, anger and guilt. She brilliantly illustrates how future generations often repeat the sins of the father.

Drunken Solomon Troyer prevents Sadie from continuing home one day. Frightened, she wordlessly appeals to Solomon’s brother, Aden, for help. However, Aden has his own fears and flees, leaving Sadie to fend for herself. Fortuitously, Sadie thinks quickly, kneeing Solomon and saves herself from a worse fate. However, Sadie becomes angry and resentful. She doesn’t tell anyone and allows the feelings to fester for years.

Six years later, her parents die in a buggy accident and one of her sisters is gravely injured. Faced with taking over the family business, the care of both younger sisters and her sister’s insurmountable medical bills, she realizes she will be unable to handle everything alone. The one person she should be able to trust, her Bishop, betrays her, forcing her into marriage with one of his sons.

Revealing more and more horrific abuses and situations, A Reluctant Bride leaves you wondering how the novel will conclude. At times the story becomes almost unbearable, but ends on a more positive note, setting up the continuation of the series.

******NOTE Though not graphic, many elements of this novel may be difficult for some readers.******

I received this book from The Fiction Guild sponsored Thomas Nelson and Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday’s Warning

Don’t Forget!!!!

Today is the last day of Lilacs for Juliana Blog Hop

Christy Lumberjack for Ball


September 7th    Heroes, Heroines and History 

September 12th  Overcoming with God 

September 14th   BookBabble

September 16th   Cheryl B Book Blog

September 18th   D’s Quilts & Books

September 23rd  Sunnie Reviews

September 24th  Buzzing About Books

September 30th  Captive Dreams Windows

October 1st           SingingLibrarian Books

October 5th           Perspectives by Nancee 

October 7th           Stuff and Nonsense

October 14th        Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

October 21st       LaneHill House

Monday’s Many Mini’s

12 Brides of Summer 4

The 12 Brides of Summer #4 by Vickie McDonough, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer and Davalynn Spencer.

About the Book

Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime!  Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives.  Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small towns. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch!

Summer’s winding down and the nights are getting cooler, but love still warms the heart in Novella Collection #4:

The County Fair Bride by Vickie McDonough

Having spent a year in St. Louis, Prudy Willard returns to Advent, Texas, and fills the new mayor’s desk with her ideas for improving the town. The only thing they can agree on is initiating the county’s first fair.

The Honey Bride by Diana Brandmeyer

Katie Tucker must overcome her fear of the bees her father left as her inheritance to run the family farm and her fear of those like Pete Dent who offer to help her. He’ll rebuild her barn, but is his friendship genuine?

The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer

Lucy Powell is widowed with two children, but she is reluctant to accept Buck Reiter’s help on her neglected farm. Can the old cowboy convince her his interest is more than charity?

My Thoughts

Prudence “Prudy” Willard returns home to Bakertown, Missouri, in 1892, to see her ill father. She originally left, spending about a year and a half with her Aunt, after her scandalous treatment of the new pastor and his fiancé. She is determined to keep her new forgiving spirit, but when Adam Merrick, interim mayor while her dad is sick, seems to be too comfortable, Prudy’s waspish tongue stings again.

In The Country Fair Bride, story one in the book, Vickie McDonough has written a heartwarming story of redemption, forgiveness and the ability to change with God’s help.

The Honey Bride, by Diana Brandmeyer, introduces us to Katie Tucker. Katie is afraid of bees, but they may be the only option for her, her brother and grandmother to survive. After her father’s death, she has to keep the family farm going. It looks like her neighbor Pete Dent and the bees may be her only solution.

Diana Brandmeyer has written an excellent story showing us how we can rest assured of the Lord’s help with all our fears and sorrows.

Novella three, The Columbine Bride, is the story of Lucy Powell, a young widowed mother of two children. As Lucy tries to navigate life without her husband, she doesn’t want charity. However, Buck Reiter can’t stand seeing the family work so hard. He constantly assists Lucy by bringing firewood and making repairs around the farm.

A refreshing love story, Davalynn Spencer illustrates how love can overcome and conquer even the worst of circumstances.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday’s Fiction

Muder at the Courthouse

Murder at the Courthouse: A Hidden Springs Mystery by A. H. Gabhart

About the Book

Welcome to Hidden Springs

Pop. 972 971

Michael Keane’s stressful days as a Columbus police officer are done. He’s ready to relax into his new position as deputy sheriff in his sleepy hometown. Nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky—and that’s just fine with Michael.

Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. As Michael works to solve the case, it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep you guessing.

My Thoughts

Hidden Springs is a small, quaint town in Kentucky and a great place to live and raise your children. It is the perfect home for Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane even though he doesn’t have a family yet.

Town gossip, Willadean Dearmon, stalks into Sheriff Keane’s office and demands he do something about the drunk sleeping on the courthouse steps. When Michael sees the “drunk” he realizes the man isn’t drunk, but dead. Making matters worse, no one in town, not even Willadean knows who the “drunk” is.

Beginning with this audacious murder, the story takes you on a rollercoaster ride of whodunit.  Holly Springs, Kentucky, just doesn’t have any strangers, and certainly not one that is murdered. The residents are as dumbfounded by the event as Sheriff Keane is by all the wild theories-not excluding alien abduction.

A. H. Gabhart is actually Ann H. Gabhart, author of multiple inspirational novels; however, Murder at the Courthouse is her first murder mystery. I have read and enjoyed most of Ann’s books; however, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy a murder mystery. She has definitely “solved” the problem.

Miss Gabhart has written a fascinating story full of intrigue and charm. You can’t wait to find out more about your friends in Hidden Springs and become eager for the rest of the series.

I received this book from the author, A. H. Gabhart, and Revell (a division of Baker Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

Monday’s Many Mini’s

12 Brides of Summer 3

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #3 by Margaret Brownley, Miralee Ferrell and Pam Hillman

About the Book

Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime! Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives. Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small towns. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch!

The dog days of summer are here, but love is still in full bloom with Novella Collection #3:

Dog Days of Summer Bride by Margaret Brownley

Music teacher Marilee Davis and blacksmith Tom Colbert don’t realize they’ve been sharing the same dog until. . .it digs up a stash of stolen loot. The reward will go to the dog’s owner—if only that can be decided.

The Dogwood Blossom Bride by Miralee Ferrell

Gracie Addison is a tree-climbing tomboy, and practical Will Montgomery objects to her unladylike influence on his niece. Will his judgmental attitude come back to bite him?

The Lumberjack’s Bride by Pam Hillman

Chicago transplant, Lucy Denson cooks for a logging crew in the Mississippi backwoods until she can return to her idea of civilization. Can Eli Everett help her rethink her ideals?

My Thoughts

Marilee Davis, a music teacher, has found the perfect assistant, her pet dog, Mo. He has an ear for music, and when Marilee’s students hit a discordant note, Mo lets them know. Tim Colbert, the city blacksmith, has the perfect dog, too, Dynamite. Marilee and Tim have noticed their dog keeps disappearing, but neither one suspect that Mo is actually Dynamite!

Margaret Brownley has written a fun, enjoyable story in Dog Days of Summer, the first story in the trilogy.

The Dogwood Blossom Bride introduces us to Gracie Addison, a tomboy through and through. Even though Gracie is grown, Will Montgomery doesn’t realize it on their first meeting. Will is single and raising his niece. He feels he is constantly fighting to keep Gracie from influencing the little girl too much.

You are sure to enjoy this playful story, written with just the right amount of romance and seriousness, by Miralee Ferrell.

Pam Hillman rounds out the trilogy with The Lumberjack’s Bride, a story full of danger and excitement.

Lucy Denson is a cook for a lumberjack crew, something the Chicago native never dreamed she would be.  She just wants to go back home where everyone and everything is civilized. Eli Everett, a member of the logging crew, couldn’t agree with her more. Her citified ways are jeopardizing the camp crew.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday’s Fiction

The Girl from the Train

The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

About the Book

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

My Thoughts

Irma Joubert has written an exceptional and unique book.

Gretl Schmidt is six years old when she and her relatives board a train, bound for Switzerland, she thinks, to find her uncle. Germany invaded her homeland, Poland, and even though she is the daughter of a distinguished SS soldier, she also has Jewish blood in her, from her mom’s side of the family.  While on the train, her grandmother forces her and her sister to jump, promising she will meet up with them later.

Thus begins Gretl’s journey and the beginning of her growing up. Her story spans approximately 15 years until she is around age 22. The Girl from the Train is rich with the history of Poland during World War II and continues into South Africa in the 1950’s. Written from the viewpoint of Gretl and her friend Jakób, through the years, the novel gives a rare and unusual perspective of the changing of time.

The story is long (384 pages) and filled with history; it is at times hard to read, but in the end, worth the time it takes to complete.

I received this book from The Fiction Guild sponsored by Thomas Nelson and Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.