Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Texan's Promise by Shelley Gray

A Texan’s Promise is the first book in a new series, Heart of a Hero, by Shelley Gray.  This is the first non-Amish fiction book I’ve read by this author who also writes under the name Shelley Shepard Gray.  The author classified this as a Western.  I never really thought I enjoyed Western’s and never would have read it if I had not read the Amish books written by the author.  I loved the historical fiction parts of the book and since I love historical fictions, this book fit right in with what I enjoy reading.
The story starts off when Clayton Proffitt, foreman of the Circle Z ranch in Texas, finds Vanessa Grant crying in the barn.  When Vanessa’s father was on his deathbed, Clayton promised him that he would look out for Vanessa.  He discovers belt marks on her back and she finally tells Clayton that her drunken step father tried to take advantage of her and when she would not let him, he beat her.  Clayton promises Vanessa that he will take her away from her step father.  They prepare for the journey while her step father is passed out.  They start on the long trail to go to Clayton’s sister’s ranch out west.  The trail is dangerous as many Indians are along the trail and the fact that Vanessa’s father and her brother, Miles, are right behind on the trail.  Clayton and Vanessa finally reach one of Clayton’s old friend’s home.  They stay the night there.  The reader is lead to believe that these two, Clayton and Vanessa, share a very special relationship.  They end up getting married so Vanessa’s reputation will not be ruined after going off on the trail with Clayton.  But the marriage is in name only.  The couple travel on to Clayton’s sister’s ranch and then Clayton leaves to find work as a sheriff in a western town and leaves Vanessa with his sister.  Will Clayton and Vanessa ever be able to tell each other how they really feel?  Will Vanessa’s step father ever find them?  Will there be a happy ever after for Vanessa?  You have to read the book to find those answers.
I really enjoyed this book.  It got my attention from chapter one.  I really like books when they can get my attention that soon in the book.  The book seemed to keep going from there with lots of action.  I loved the tender romance of Clayton and Vanessa.  I thought it was kind of weird that they would get together with such an age difference.  In the book we also learn about Vanessa’s brother, Miles.  He feels stuck because he wants to help his sister, but feels like he must help his step father too. Miles finally learns to accept God in his life and decides he will do what’s right.  I loved how Miles, Vanessa, and even Clayton learned to rely on the Lord for help during the trials they went through in their lives.  I also hated that the step father had rights in the eyes of the law even though he abuses her, but I think that was just that time period.  Overall, I loved the book and can’t wait to read the second book in this series.
I was given an e-copy of this book through Net Galley and Abingdon Press Publishing.  I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest one. This book comes out October 2011.  I would recommend it to readers who enjoy romance, historical fiction, or readers who enjoyed the authors Amish fiction novels.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lilly's Wedding Quilt

Lilly’s Wedding Quilt by Kelly Long and second in her Patch of Heaven series.  The story opens up with Jacob Wyse stealing a horse because the horse was being abused. Lily, the local school teacher, finds Jacob in a barn where she seeks rescue from a storm.  Lily was on the way to the wedding of Jacob’s long lost love. They finally go to the event together people begin talking and a police officer interrupts the reception, Lilly tells him that Jacob has been with her.  But, he really was not and then they somehow become engaged so they do not ruin their reputations.  Lily knows that Jacob still only has love for Sarah, but she decides to go through with the wedding.  Jacob promises Lilly that it will not be a real marriage.  They move in with Lilly’s ill mother and make that their home, even though Jacob often sleeps on the floor. They each start to fall in love with each other, until Lilly feels like Jacob only wants Sarah.  Will they be able to make their marriage work?  Will Jacob ever be able to let go of his love for Sarah and move on?  Read Lilly’s Wedding Quilt to find out.

I really liked this story.  I love how you can pick up a book and be hooked with the first chapter, Kelly Long does not disappoint in that area with this book.  I kind of felt sorry for Jacob after reading Sarah’s Garden and was really glad to see Kelly Long carry on his story.  I loved seeing how a broken heart could be healed and Jacob and Lilly start learning to rely on each other and work together. I felt this book was a little steamier than most Amish romances, but it was done very tastefully.

I was given a copy of this book to review through Net Galley and Thomas Nelson publishing and I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest opinion of the book. 

This book is available from Amazon and anyone who loves Amish fiction would probably love it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Diary of a Winpy Kid: The Last Straw

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw is the third book in Jeff Kinney’s series. This book is for kids ages 8-12. My son loves all of the books in the series and they have actually made him want to read, well at least this series. After going to the movies with my son to watch the first movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I knew I wanted to read the books.

In The Last Straw, Greg is back to write in his journal about all that is going on in his life. Greg learns that his dad really wants to see him as something other than “wimpy,” so he tries to get him to do a lot of “manly” things. One of which is to go to a military school for the summer. Greg does not really like that idea so he works to try to get out of it. He also is into girls more in this book and one in particular. His best friend Rowley is also back and Greg and he get into stuff as usual.

As with the other books, I really enjoy this book. I love the way Jeff can make the reader see Greg’s life as so funny. I think a lot of Middle Schoolers can relate to what he goes through. I also love the cartoons that Jeff adds to his writing. His books don’t seem overwhelming and readers love that. For me, the books go really fast. I can usually read one before the day is over. So, yes, even adults will like it. I thought the first book was kind of sad. Greg was treated so badly and I really feel like a lot of kids that don’t fit in are also treated like that in Middle Schools today. This was another funny, easy reading book for me.

The Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray

After reading The Caregiver by Shelley Shepard Gray, I knew I wanted to read the next book in this Families of Honor Series. The Protector continued the story started in The Caregiver, but we also see some new characters. The main character is Ella. The story opens with Ella auctioning off the family farm and all the other items on the farm after the death of her mother. Loyal Weaver decides he wants to buy Ella’s family land so he can move out on his own and farm. He also buys a lot of other items. Ella knows he can manage the farm better than her, but she still feels some bitterness. Ella has loved Loyal since they were in school together but nobody seemed to ever notice Ella. Many even called her, “Plain Ella.” Only one person really visited her often while she cared for her mother and she decides to take Dorothy up on her offer to live in town in Dorothy’s duplex. Dorothy also gets her a job at the local library so Dorothy and Ella can always be together. Loyal starts to include Ella in the improvements of the farm he bought, and Dorothy gets jealous. Loyal also starts to notice Ella. Will they ever get together or will jealous Dorothy stand in the way. Read this delightful story to find out.

I would not call myself a fast reader, but the pages flew by for me with this story. I read it in about one day because I could not put it down. I could not wait to see what was going to happen next. The story has lots of adventure and excitement (some not so good.) Another charter we see from book1 is Mattie who is recovering from breast cancer. Her character is going through a lot. She does not seem to want to fall in love and have a family because she’s afraid she will not be around for most of it. Will that stop her from losing the man she really loves? I can’t wait to see what Shelley Shepard Gray has in story for this romance waiting to happen. We also see Uncle John again in this story still struggling with his love of two women. He knows if he picks one of them he will likely have to go back to being Amish and he wonders if this is God’s way of telling him to do so or not. I think the reader was given a hint as to what will happen, but I am really looking forward to reading book 3 in this series, The Survivor. I liked the theme of protectors in this book.  you could see the characters protecting each other a lot.

The Protector comes out July 1, 2011. If you love Amish fiction, you will not want to miss it! I recommend reading The Caregiver before reading this book. I was given a digital copy of this book from HarperCollins publishing and Net Galley. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Caregiver (Families of Honor #1)

Shelley Shepard Grey is one of my favorite Amish fiction authors. So, when I was given the chance to read the first book, The Caregiver, in her new Families of Honor series, I was so excited! I have read a lot of Amish Fiction novels but I really think this is the first one that I have read that had an abusive husband theme. The main character Lucy married a man well liked in the community. She thought she was in love with him. Soon after getting married her new husband abuses and belittles her. After two years of marriage, her husband falls in the barn and dies. Lucy’s cousin Mattie helps her through that most difficult time in her life. Lucy finds out her cousin needs a caregiver since she is dealing with cancer treatments and Lucy decides to go help her out. On the long train ride Lucy meets Calvin, an Amish man, his sister and his Uncle who is coming back to the Amish community after many years of living in the English world. Lucy finds it interesting that they are going to the same place and he is Mattie’s next door neighbor. Lucy is drawn to Calvin but because of her background she finds it hard to trust him. Will they get together? Read to find out the answer to that question. We also learn some about Calvin’s Uncle who is returning from the English world. He seems to be in love with two different women from two different worlds. We don’t learn much else about him in this book though.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed seeing how Lucy would deal with the death of her abusive husband. She seemed to me to be a very strong woman even if a little bit scared. I believe God put’s people in our lives at the right time and I think that meeting Calvin was more than a coinicence. They were meant to meet. Mattie’s breast cancer story line was really interesting too. She loses faith in her journey as she feels God is not there for her. I think people who go through trials, such as cancer, either turn closer to God or turn away from him. I think Mattie was just ready to give up. I hope to read more about Mattie in the next book in this series to see what happens to her. I also want to learn more about Calvin’s Uncle John and the choices he will make in his life.

I was given a digital copy of this book from Avon Inspire and Netgalley. I was only required to give an honest review. This book is currently available. If you love Amish fiction, you should pick up a copy of this book.