Friday, January 31, 2014

Aundy by Shanna Hatfield - Review of the first book in the Pendleton Petticoats series

Aundy Thorsen agreed to marry Erik Erikson after writing back and forth for some time. When she arrives in Pendleton, Oregon Erik meets her at the train station and without giving her time to even wash her face yet alone change into her wedding dress he rushes her to the church and they are married. After a nice meal they are headed for her new home. With all of the letter writing they'd become friends and on their way home the conversation convinced Aundy that she'd done the right thing in leaving Chicago and agreeing to marry Erik without actually meeting him in person.

Just before they reach their lane the horses spook and Erik gets pinned under the carriage. Aundy runs to Nash's Folly, a neighbor Erik had pointed out as they passed their lane, to get help. Aundy spent her time by Erik's side before he passed away from the injuries. Aundy suffered a broken arm in the accident, loses her husband and gains a farm all within a few hours time.

When she makes the decision to keep the farm and run it herself she has some of her hands quit and soon has to make some decisions on how to keep the farm running. Most people don't think a woman should be taking on that responsibility and when she purchases sheep her neighbors appear to really be against her. She soon starts finding threatening notes, burning wool, dead sheep, etc. These people don't know how strong a Norwegian woman can be though, but is she strong enough to continue when two of her men get shot and she's kidnapped?

What a wonderful story! Of course since Aundy is Norwegian, that helps a lot, lol. No, I have never read any of Shanna's books that I can recall but I truley enjoyed this story. Shanna did a fantastic job and I will be looking for more of her books. This was an e-book that I read on my Kindle.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley - Review of the second book in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series

Eleanor Walker is still looking for an heiress for Last Chance Ranch, the last one, Kate Tenney, will soon be married to Luke Adams the local blacksmith. When Molly Hatfield answers her newest ad, Eleanor hopes she has finally gotten her heiress but has some doubts since so many have already failed. When Molly shows up in her bright dance hall dress and not alone her doubts increase significantly.

When Miss Walker tells Molly to move on because she doesn't think she can dedicate her life to the ranch while to caring for her handicapped brother, Molly stands up to Miss Walker. So instead of returning to town it is agreed that she will have four months to prove herself. Last Chance Ranch has had so many women try to become heiress to Miss Walker, Molly is the eighth or maybe the ninth, she has lost count and is getting weary of this but she will not give up and continues to keep the stipulation that the 'new' heiress never marry.

I found this book more enjoyable than the first one. Molly has a lot more on her plate to overcome and is a quick learner, she also blames herself for something in her past and can't seem to get past that. How often do we do that in our lives and instead of talking about it we keep it hidden in our heart? When we do that it just festers and becomes bigger than life and holds us back from doing so many things we are capable of. Also, I enjoyed learning about the story behind the song "Swing High, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". I may have heard it sometime in my life but I've forgotten and I always liked that song. This is a series that you will want to read in order and yes I will recommend this series for some good reading material.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley - Review of the first book in Brides of Last Chance Ranch series

Last Chance Ranch was started by Eleanor Walker's mother with one steer and is now one of the largest ranches in the Cactus Patch, Arizona area. Eleanor has learned throughout her life not to trust men but now that she's in her sixties she needs to find someone to leave the ranch to. She does have some requirements though, it must be a woman and she must sign a contract agreeing to never marry.

There have been several women apply some left the ranch immediately, some a day or two and one even lasted two weeks, that is until Kate Tenney shows up in Cactus Patch in the middle of an attack by Cactus Joe. All the businesses are locked up, nobody in the streets, is this a ghost town? Where is the man that is supposed to pick her up and take her to Last Chance Ranch?

Kate was determined to own Last Chance Ranch, after all, like Miss Walker says, "nothing is permanent except for land" and "love isn't kind, men can't be trusted", this about sums up how Kate has felt her whole life. Kate has felt God abandoned her the day her dad left and she had to start taking care of her mother, if only Ruckus would quit throwing those Bible verses at her, not Bible verses like we know them, they are translated into his own words and they really make her think.

I think it was kind of a slow read but there was enough there to keep me interested in finishing the book. Sometimes it's nice to slow down a little bit and what better than a book to do it. There was some excitement at different times and that helped. All in all I am glad I read the book and am looking forward to reading the next one "Waiting for Morning". I have read several of Margaret's books and I do enjoy her writing.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Match Made in Texas by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Carol Cox - Review

by Karen Witemeyer
Clara Danvers is a widow expecting a child, a child who she is trying to keep from being taken away from her the minute it's born. Her father-in-law is watching her like a hawk, he even assigns guards to her homestead when she gets close to time to deliver. She will do anything to protect her child from being raised by him.

When Neill Archer, just arrived in Dry Gulch, Texas, arrives on her homestead to do repairs she greets him with a rifle. She wasn't expecting anyone and thinks Mack Danvers has hired him to watch and report to him when the baby is born. Neill is there because he received an anonymous note about a widow needing repairs to her home and to meet at the school house the next night to see who will get the job. When he arrives at the school house there is nobody there, just a lit lantern and a note with directions to the widows home and $20.00 for materials to get started on the repairs.

by Regina Jennings
Grace O'Malley has been a school teacher for many years in Dry Gulch, Texas but after going gradually blind the school board has had to let her go. They have set her up on a ranch about two miles outside of town and made arrangements for someone to deliver food to her daily. She can only make out bright lights and some shapes.

Clayton Weber is on his way to the land rush when his horse stumble's and has to be put down. He ends up in Dry Gulch and now has to earn money for another horse and has little time to make the deadline to enter for the race to stake out some land. Clayton has to overcome his past, his father was a horse thief and he has a bad scar on his face to show for it. He sees that the town looks pretty deserted except for the school so he goes there and asks about odd jobs. When he returns to where he stashed his saddle there is a newspaper with an ad circled about a handyman needed at Grace O'Malley's homestead and payment is set aside at the Bank to be paid after the work is inspected.

Grace is frightened when Benny, her dog, alerts her to someone coming up the lane. Grace had mentioned jokingly to a friend that she might put an ad in the paper for a mail-order husband so when Clayton comes she thinks her friend put an ad in the paper and he is the answer to her ad. Clayton is very confused at the questions she's asking him and Grace is very confused when he reads the ad he has come in answer to.

by Carol Cox
Lucy Benson has no family left and has been living with her best friends family, but now her best friend is getting married and she feels like she has to find a way to move on. After all she can't continue living there after Dottie is married and she can't live with Dottie and her new husband. This is where the anonymous Dry Gultch matchmaker steps in, they give the pastor a train ticket with an ad to give to Lucy. Since she doesn't want to marry Walter Harris, who has asked her numerous times so Lucy decides to go to North Fork, Texas and be a companion for Andrew Simms's widowed aunt Martha.

When she arrives on Martha's ranch, Martha begrudgingly lets Lucy stay. Lucy doesn't see any of the signs Andrew has mentioned about his aunt imagining things, at least not at first. When Lucy begins seeing and hearing the things Martha has claimed, Andrew is upset that Martha is pulling Lucy into her imaginings, or is she?

by Mary Connealy
Hannah Taylor is the teacher at Dry Gulch school as well as the caretaker of her three younger brothers and her father since her mother's recent death. She totes two year old Kevin back and forth to school each day so she can watch him as she works to bring in money to the household. She has given up on marriage after both of her younger sisters have gotten married besides the fact that there is only one single man in town and he will barely speak to her and is a half-wit, his own description of himself.

A few months after Hannah's mother died in childbirth her father surprises her one day after school with his new bride, Essie. The children are to call her ma and Hannah will be moving into Essie's dingy room above the diner in town. Hannah's clothes are all packed ready to be loaded into the wagon and taken to her new home. When she finds out through the town gossip that Essie is pregnant, Hannah's life is thrown into a whirlwind and things happen fast after that.

I really liked all four of these stories and was thrilled when I started reading Karen's "An Unforseen Match" and found out it was a continuation of her books "Short-Straw Bride" and "Stealing the Preacher". I thoroughly enjoyed all four of these stories and each author did a great job of wanting me to continue on and reading late into the night. I like the 'mystery' about the matchmaker, I never did figure out who it was, until the last story of course. Now no cheating and reading the last story first, and just a hint, if you want to keep it a mystery don't read the blurb on the back of the book!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Lesson by Suzanne Woods Fisher - Review of the third book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series

M.K. is nineteen and she hasn't changed much, she is still speaking before thinking, always in a hurry and now has even thought about traveling to other countries, she's even gotten a passport application. The only thing keeping her in Appleseed Creek is that she loves her family, doesn't want to disappoint her Daed and she wants to stay Amish.

One day as she was riding her red scooter home from town she hears a gunshot and backtracks to investigate. She see's the sheep farmer laying dead in his field so she hurries to call 911. Then in a hurry to get home and tell her family about it she literally runs into Alice Smucker, yet again. Alice claims she has a concussion and is taken to the hospital. When M.K. finally gets home no one is there so she waits, and waits, and waits till late that evening. Amos Lapp and his wife Fern finally get home and proceed to tell M.K. know that the community needs a teacher since Alice Smucker is in the hospital with a concussion. Yep, Fern did it, suggested M.K. to fill in. M.K., a teacher, she thinks not, there is no way! Well, M.K. is to be the teacher for up to three weeks, well 'MAYBE' three weeks.

M.K. still has the detective in her also and won't stay away from the murder scene. She even sneaks out one night and just about finds herself arrested, instead the sheriff takes her home in his patrol car. A few days later she goes to the sheriff with some information and just about gets an innocent man arrested.

Jimmy Fisher and M.K. are now more friends than enemies, although they both get into mischief, Jimmy has a lot more problems than M.K. He's into horse racing, gambling, and loving girls and leaving them. When he makes a deal with M.K. to be introduced to the girl he's picked out to be his 'missus', he finds out she isn't what he wants and decides the one he wants is the one that is now his closest friend, but is Jimmy who M.K. wants.

Chris Yoder and his sister Jenny are new to the community, or are they new? They have moved into Colonel Mitchell's house and Chris is looking for a job so he can repair the dilapidated house. The man at the hardware store sends him to the Lapp's because Amos is looking for help. Amos hires him and is very impressed with the young man, both his work and the person he is. He's impressed until he learns who he really is anyway.

I really enjoyed this book, I think it was because it was focused on M.K. and her maturing as the story moves along. She is still the interesting M.K. from the first two books though. Wow, those last few chapters were wonderful, a lot happening there and at one point my jaw dropped. I was expecting this 'thing' to happen but finally decided it wouldn't, all of a sudden there it was!

Since this series deals with one family I'm really glad I read it in order otherwise I think the stories would have been ruined for me. Suzanne did a good job on this series with an explosive ending.

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower - Review of the third book in An Appleseed Creek Mystery series

Timothy Troyer is taking Chloe Humphrey on a sleigh ride and pulls onto the old Gundy place 'to stretch thier legs'. The purpose of this sleigh ride is for Timmy to give Chloe her Christmas present from him, a necklace with a hammer and a computer mouse. As they are stretching their legs, yep you guessed it, the gift is given but now it's ruined as they discover the body of a dead Amish girl. Not just any Amish girl but the sister of Ruth's (Timmy's little sister) best friend. This will only cause more problems between the Troyer's and the Lambright's.

Amanda weaves a good story as Chloe and Timmy try to help solve this murder. There are lots of possibilities from family, to boyfriends, and to a couple of others in the community. Chloe does find herself in some pretty desperate situations as she is working this murder mystery.

I would highly recommend this whole series, oh yes you MUST read the 3 books in order, to readers that like Amish books or mysteries. I really did love all three of these and this one has a good ending, I just wish I knew how things end with Chloe. Of course I guess we can make our own ending as to how we want things to be in her life. I know what I want, lol. Hopefully Amanda will write more books like these. Oh, and I really like what happens with Curt, I think you will too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher - Review of the second book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series

Sadie Lapp has been in Berlin, Ohio shadowing an elderly Old Order Amish woman learning to be a healer and gets a sudden urge to return home. She doesn't know what is calling to her but she thinks it could be her daed's heart, he had a heart transplant not long ago, so she decides to surprise everyone and come home immediately.

The family is very happy to see her but surprised at the same time. The bigger surprise is that she comes toting a baby boy in a basket. It doesn't take long for the rumor to get around the Stoney Ridge community, I mean M.K. only told a 'few' people. When Gideon Smucker finds out Sadie is home with a baby he's willing to stand beside her but his willingness to marry her makes her so mad she won't talk to him.

Will Stoltz came to the Stoney Ridge area shortly before Sadie returned home and soon finds himself living in an old farmhouse on the Lapp property. He was sent there by his father because he got in trouble at medical school and right before he was to leave he got a DUI which leads to him getting into an illegal mess with his lawyer.

Very good read, Suzanne didn't let me down and I'm looking forward to the next book, "The Lesson". This is a series that you should read in order so keep that in mind. I like Sadie's story and how she handles herself but there is one thing that she does need to remember, as we all do sometimes, 'Practice What You Preach'. It is always easier to see what someone else is doing wrong but we don't realize that we may be doing the same thing. There is a good ending to the story but I'm still left hanging on one or two things, so I'm off to start reading "The Lesson".

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher - Review of the first book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series

Julia Lapp is the oldest child of widower Amos Lapp and she is in love with Paul Fisher, she's known she would marry him since she was a young girl. Paul loves Julia too, he just isn't sure he wants to marry her at the young age of 21. He has just 'postponed' their wedding for a second time. When M.K., short for Mary Kate, starts telling about all of the other boys that have called off their 'courtin' it dawns on Julia, the Bee Man is back in town!

Amos is a sick man, he needs a heart transplant and can't keep up with the work so his uncle Hank helps out a little. Uncle Hank is always the talk of the community and writes for The Budget. When Fern Graber reads about the Lapp family in Stoney Creek she writes to Hank and volunteers her services to help the family out. Without asking Amos, Hank accepts her offer.

Fern is a strict no nonsense kind of woman, she knows there are four kids, Amos and Uncle Hank but she thinks she's coming to cook and clean for Amos. I don't know how she thought the kids would live in the house and eat when she won't allow anyone in her kitchen or even so much as get in the refrigerator for a glass of milk. Julia finally gives her an ultimatum to either cook for all of them or leave. She is so strict that M.K. is quickly up to rule 436 and counting.

What a wonderful story about how a man who is about to lose his life and won't accept a heart transplant. A young woman who is in love with someone and even after he 'postpones' the wedding twice still has faith that he will marry her. A story of how you can dislike someone and find out they aren't at all what they seem. What an encouragement to become an organ donor, as Amos always says, "What man calls Coincidences, God would call a miracle."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Bride Blunder by Kelly Eileen Hake - Review of the third book in the Prairie Promises series

Gavin Miller is now ready to ask Miss Marguerite Chandler to come to Buttonwood, Nebraska and marry him so he sends his proposal to her. Gavin Miller forgot that there are two Marguerite Chandlers though, they are cousins and both childhood friends of Gavin's, so when the proposal is received and "Daisy" has sent him an invitation to her wedding of course she knows the proposal is for "Marge". See, they are both named after their grandmother and Marge was raised by Daisy's parents because her parents have passed on.

When Marge arrives Gavin is very surprised but does not tell her about the mix-up, she does find out as soon as she gets to his house though because his grandmother spills the beans almost immediately. Marge now refuses to marry him but Gavin insists she marry him because she accepted his proposal by coming to Buttonwood.

When Midge Collins observes the meeting of Marge and Gavin she knows something is amiss and doesn't take long to find out what it is. She soon gets the story out of Marge and proceeds to help her. You see Midge is an observer of people, she watches, listens, and notices, in other words she spots things people don't want others to guess at. She reads expressions, registered changes in stances or gestures and wonders about things that are none of her business.

Midge has met her match though in Amos Geer, he is also an observer and after coming to Buttonwood he sees Midge and remembers from an event four years ago, he attacked her when she tried to enter a room at Fort Bridger and now he is constantly watching and following her.

Wonderful job Kelly, I loved this book also. I enjoyed reading about both Marguerite (Marge), and Midge. As I was reading about Midge and her belief in prayer I kept wanting to tell her that she doesn't know what Nancy was praying and that her prayer was answered. People think when they send a request to God that they should get what they want, not wanting to remember that God knows best and he answers our prayer requests that way, and we are much better off with his response.

This series has really been enjoyable and I'm really glad I read all of the books. I would encourage you to read all three books in order to get the full enjoyment of this last book.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Bride Backfire by Kelly Eileen Hake - Review of the second book in the Prairie Promises series

The Specks and the Grogans are still feuding but things could really go from bad to worse if Larry Grogan has his way. He has hidden a threatening note from his Dad for the Specks with a 'special' addition he wrote to make it more threatening but he doesn't plan on Adam finding the note first. When the Grogan milk cow doesn't show up for the morning milking Adam goes searching hoping Marla didn't make it onto Speck property. As he follows the trail he discovers Larry didn't repair the fence and Marla found the opening. Adam is carefully looking for the milk cow as he tries to watch his back when he sees Opal and that's when one of her brothers comes up behind him.

When Opal's brothers and father don't come in for lunch she goes looking for them and discovers they all have their guns aimed at Adam. Opal has tried to keep the peace between the two families, as has Adam, each on their own and in their own way. To save her family from being murderers and to save Adam's life she claims that Adam will be the father to her child they change their plans and send for the preacher and a witness for a shotgun wedding. Opal is then disowned and sent to live with the Grogan's where she is also unwanted.

And so the story begins, this was a good book from beginning to end and will keep you interested throughout. Three Grogans in love with two Specks and the rest all hate the opposing family, makes for a very interesting storyline. Kelly did a great job on this one. There are three books in this series, I wonder where the next book will take me.