REVIEW: Mountains of Grace (Amish of Big Sky Country #1) by Kelly Irvin

The West Kootenai region of Montana suffers a destructive fire season.  Many of the Amish and English residents lose their homes and are pushed to the town of Eureka for a couple of months.  Amish teacher, Mercy Yoder, questions her role and her feelings for Amish man Caleb.  Mercy turned down Caleb’s proposal, but he continues to try and win her heart.  Mercy, though, finds Caleb distant and doesn’t want to have a loveless marriage.  A new friendship with Englisher and smoke jumper Spencer finds Mercy in trouble with the Amish leaders.

Another main character is  Juliette Knowles, a long-time friend and neighbor to Mercy.   Juliette was assaulted at summer camp as a teen and it turned her outlook inside out.  She has a friend and fan in Tim, who Juliette pursues and Tim, a Christian trying to remain true to God’s rules, turns down her advances.  He is trying to remember that Juliette’s salvation is more important that his feelings for her.
There are LOTS of characters in this story which is something that sometimes happens in a new series.  It can be confusing as you follow 5 young adults, their parents, a couple other friends and counselors.  Whew.
Thanks to Zondervan for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.


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REVIEW: The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden

Mia is at loose ends when her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, pulls out a ring and then puts it back in his pocket, telling her he just can’t go through with it.  Her baking internship ends abruptly and she is adrift.  She has a great relationship with her grandmother, Alice, and is encouraged to take a chance and maybe change her life.


Rosie, Mia’s friend, suggests that Mia apply for a mission/humanitarian aid program.  To her great surprise, Mia is chosen and goes off on a big adventure.  Teammates have a range of personalities, though Mia is drawn to Kai.  Each person in the program is supposed to have a “how to help people” platform.  Mia has applied with a lie of wanting to work in the medical field.  When pushed into that at a refugee camp, it becomes apparent to everyone that medicine is not her thing.

Mia is a baker at heart and needs to learn to embrace it.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.  I greatly enjoyed this story!


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REVIEW: The Loyal One (Walnut Creek #2) by Shelley Shepard Gray

Now in their late 20s, Katie Steury and high school friend Harley Lambright find themselves working together on the development of Katie’s family home as a bed and breakfast. Katie has a secret, though, and is reluctant for her mother’s hoarding to be made known. Steadfast Harley vows to help without giving away the story, though he believes sharing might help. Katie and Harley are part of a once-again tightknit team of 8 young adults living in the Amish area of Ohio.


Harley’s brother enters the story as a construction worker for the project. His story and blossoming relationship with an Englisher also figure into the story. Harley, Katie and the brother are all Amish. The Englisher, though, might spell trouble for their Amish ways.

Thanks to Gallery, Pocket Books for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.

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REVIEW: Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham

Dead letter office employee, Penny Ercanbeck, has the responsibility of rerouting letters to their final destination.  She has a good track record and she is flummoxed with the letters from Thomas to Claire which should have been delivered.  She’s so invested, that she visits Claire’s hometown to find out how to resolve the issue.  The letters, though, are undeliverable.

Thomas, from the letter-writing, finds himself in Azure Springs, Iowa.  With plans to go west, he unexpectedly finds himself growing roots in Iowa.  When a local homestead becomes available for sale, he decides to give it a try as he is escaping his prior life in Virginia.


Spurred by an upcoming change-of-address from her mother, Penny throws caution to the wind and goes in search of Thomas to make sure he is alright.

Thanks to Fleming H. Revell Company for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.

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REVIEW: Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes

PTSD is disabling for Larkin Bennett.  Discharged from military service, she returns home to Washington State to heal at the home of her grandmother.  She is also in mourning over the loss of her friend, Sarah, who served with Larkin in Afghanistan.  The story unfolds as Larkin starts to open up to her cousins and grandmother.  Sarah has left Larkin things in a storage unit and Larkin finds a long-loved diary from one of Sarah’s relatives.  It is from Emily  Wilson who disguised herself as a man to serve in the Union forces of the Civil War.  In Emily’s story, Larkin finds kinship and recognizes some of the same challenges that Emily faced. 

The book revealed to me a point-of-view of women who find their place in the military.  I felt the author did a good job of explaining why both Larkin and Emily were drawn to service.  It also dug into PTSD issues for returning service men and women.

Thanks to  Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.

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REVIEW: The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport

The Inn story takes a new tactic by having a genealogist dig into the past of a traditional, everyone-in -the-family-goes-to-med-school, career path.  Meri has dropped out of med school and run to Colorado to a town where she remembers her last happy, family trip.  She takes a job at a bed and breakfast, keeping to herself.  This small town, though, allows no strangers and the innkeeper plus the father-daughter team of Nolan and Jillian quickly interject into Meri’s situation.
There is a parallel story of Eliza who is working and surviving during a yellow fever outbreak in Memphis in the late 1800s.
Genealogist Jillian sets to work to find out what, in Meri’s past, makes her inclined to work with the betterment of children, instead of in the medical field.

I liked the modern and historical stories blended.  I think the idea of genealogy research was unique and made for a very good read.  Thanks to Barbour Publishing and Shiloh Run Press for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.

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REVIEW: A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

Called upon, unexpectedly, by her much older sister, Ryan Gracey drops everything and goes to take care of her two nieces. Older sister Wendy has a cryptic story about being possibly involved in a murder scandal…and she cannot get home quite yet. The grandparents cannot take the young girls due to the health issue of Mr. Gracey. So, it falls to Ryan who is merely an acquaintance of the nieces.  Wendy’s husband is away with the Navy on a top secret mission, so he isn’t available.  Ryan has always lived in the shadow of her very accomplished sister.


The nieces have anxiety and Ryan hopes to establish routine at their home to help them get used to one another. As the story goes on, she finds out more pieces about why the girls are cautious.

Wendy is a complex person, as the story reveals. She works for her dad at Gracey Group which manages/owns resorts around the world. So, her work does involve travel. The murder occurred at a property that Gracey Group was prospecting.

Thankfully Ryan’s ex, Teo, still lives in town and his K9 and police force background help podcast crime author, Ryan, as she digs into her sister’s story full of holes.

Thanks to Mira Books for providing me an ARC for a review in my own words.

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