Love by Design

Love by Design (Dressmaker's Daughters, #3)Love by Design by Christine Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set between WWI and WWII, this historical hits a unique time frame for a romance. More WWII romances are hitting the market, I’ve reviewed and enjoyed several, but this one is unique. Jen Fox, the heroine, must find a way to earn a living. Before WWII, not many women had to support themselves. While men left to fight in WWI, it wasn’t the mass exodus that WWII was. Women were still expected to marry and raise a family.

Jen Fox wants to fly. Her goal to obtain her pilot’s license has driven her since her father passed away. But flying lessons take money and that’s something she’s short of.

Dan Wagner is a nationally-known stunt pilot who wants nothing more than to leave that life behind. But he needs money, and the chance to sign on to an exposition to the North Pole means enough money to help his family keep their Montana ranch solvent. He’s sure about one thing, he’s not going to take another woman up in his airplane.

This story has spunky back-and-forth play between Jen and Dan. Their relationship is complicated by guilt they both hold from the past. Good story! Well worth reading.

Murder at the Courthouse

Murder at the Courthouse (The Hidden Springs Mysteries #1)Murder at the Courthouse by A.H. Gabhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed several of Ann Gabhart’s other novels, so when I had a chance to read her new mystery, I jumped on it. And I wasn’t disappointed! Although I don’t read many mysteries, A.H. Gabhart (as she displays her name for her mystery line) did a wonderful job of pulling me into the story.

Michael Keane left the big city police department he worked for. He returned to his sleepy little hometown as their deputy sheriff. He expected to rest and relax, to enjoy the slower pace of life. He didn’t expect to find a body on the steps of the courthouse. Amid a cast of colorful local characters, Michael finds more truth than he expects – or wants – to find.

I loved the characters in this story. They are diverse and interesting and, if you grew up in a small town, you’ll be able to put faces on them. There will be a book two … and I will read it!

Sgt. Reckless

Sgt. Reckless: America's War HorseSgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse by Robin Hutton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you love horses, you’ll love this book. If you love stories about war heroes, you’ll love this book. If you love the Marines, you’ll love this book. Sgt. Reckless is a horse, a war hero, and a Marine who served in the Korean War.

Purchased by Lt. Eric Pedersen from a race track in Korea, this gutsy little mare was trained to do what no man could do, carry heavy loads of ammunition to the front lines up the rugged Korean terrain. She was a remarkable animal who never gave up. She carried ammunition to the guns, and wounded back to the base. Reckless kept going, under fire and wounded herself, even without a human to lead her.

But the bulk of this story is about her life after the war. What she meant to the Marines who loved her, admired her, and fought beside her. How she touched lives long after the shelling stopped. Well done, Reckless. Well done.

The Photograph

The PhotographThe Photograph by Beverly Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On a train bound for Pennsylvania, Jed Stutzman finds a book with a photograph stuck between its pages. The photo is of a beautiful Amish girl. The book is full of comments written in the margins. He’s intrigued by both.

Eva Esch’s younger sister Lily has disappeared. Gone fancy. Her mother and father have both passed on. Her brother is moving his family into the farmhouse where she was raised. Her world is tipped on its ear. Then a handsome Amishman from Ohio shows up with a photograph of Lily.

This is a sweet read, a quiet story, a glimpse into the plain life. The details of Amish living are vivid and intriguing for anyone interested in what that’s all about.

The Imposter

The Imposter (The Bishop's Family #1)The Imposter by Suzanne Woods Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katrina Stoltzfus is nursing a broken heart. Her mother’s death was hard enough, but now her boyfriend has walked away. Hurting, confused, and wondering how she’ll go on, Katrina moves in with an elderly widow who needs help.

Andy Miller hires on to work for the same widow. He’s charming, handsome, and mysterious. Everything Katrina doesn’t need right now. As more secrets flee the closet, will they bring these two together, or blow everything apart?

Some Amish fiction portrays the plain life as idyllic. This one doesn’t. It’s more true to life. The people are people first, Amish second. They have their faults, their struggles with life – not just religion – and that makes them very easy to relate to.

This is book 1 of a new series, The Bishop’s Family. While it wraps up part of the story, it leaves a lot hanging at the end. I know I’ll be reading book 2 when it comes out!

The Methuselah Project

The Methuselah ProjectThe Methuselah Project by Rick Barry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not exactly sure what genre I’d put this book into. Maybe suspense. Maybe historical. Maybe science fiction. Maybe a hybrid not yet named. But whatever it is – it’s worth reading!

Roger Greene was shot down in Germany during WWII. Taken prisoner, he expected the worse. But he had no idea. Medical experiments performed by a brilliant and twisted doctor forever changed his life.

No spoilers here, you have to read it and experience this one. It kept me guessing for the first half of the book. It seemed very disjointed to me in the beginning, which bordered on a turn-off for a bit, but hang in there, because it all comes together nicely.

If you like WWII history, if you like suspense, if you like “what if” type of stories, you’re going to love this. And even if you’re not sure you like any of these, you may want to give it a read anyway. It’s that different.


The Memory Weaver

The Memory WeaverThe Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy Jane Kirkpatrick’s books. They are authentic, honest, and enlightening. She doesn’t romanticize history. She shows the grittier side, the not-so-pretty side, the earthy side. I like that. And she wraps the story around true history and historical figures.

Eliza Spalding was the first white child to survive birth in the Pacific Northwest. Taken hostage by Cayuse Indians while still a child, she returned to her family traumatized by the event. That trauma defined much of her life for many years. This is her story.

We’re such a wimpy generation. We think we’ve got it so bad. We’re pathetic. Reading about people like this, people who overcame incredible circumstances, people who dirtied their hands to scratch out a living … reading this puts our meager lives into perspective. I highly recommend it.


Shredded: Your Past Does Not Define YouShredded: Your Past Does Not Define You by Kimberly Rae
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no expectations with this book. I received a free copy to review, and all I knew was that the subject involved childhood sexual abuse.

Wow. It knocked my socks off. It is a very deep subject and the author covers it in a beautiful way. I don’t normally like a book with too many point of view characters, because they generally get confusing, but the author handled it well. The chapters flowed gracefully together with the change of characters very easy to follow. And I don’t think she could have told this story from just 1 or 2 perspectives. At least, not told it this well. It’s a Christian story, no doubt, but it’s not preachy or in-your-face. In fact – without giving a spoiler – one of the characters is a brand new Christian and watching her learn what that means is often funny and quite charming.

Jean Louise goes by the name Blue Jean, not because she wears them. People started calling her that because of her “blue” or sad persona. She’s the nondescript single woman at church who rarely says anything to anyone over the age of 12. Until the new pastor – and his handsome brother – move into town. They open the church to a whole new cast of characters. Jean Louise’s safe, orderly, predictable little world is about to get a lot bigger. But can she handle it? Or will her fear from the past keep her from reaching out to help others? Will it keep her trapped in the past?

The Mistress of Tall Acre

The Mistress of Tall AcreThe Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laura Frantz did it again. She robbed me of three hours sleep last night! That’s right. I could not put this book down. If you like an excellent story wrapped in authentic history, you’re going to lose some sleep over this one too.

One of the things Laura Frantz does so well, and why I enjoy her books so much, she writes strong women who are still
. I am so done with women in stories who practically have to shave their faces they are so masculine. Being strong and being a woman are possible together¬†… and Laura Frantz proves that.

Sophie Menzies is left alone and penniless at the end of the Revolutionary War. Barely surviving in her crumbling estate house with her two faithful servants, she finds hope for the future when her neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, returns to Tall Acre and once more takes command of that estate.

Seamus returns with his young daughter who doesn’t remember him at all. Unsure how to reach the frightened little girl, he turns to his neighbor for help. After all, Sophie and her midwife mother had delivered his daughter not so many years ago.

But not all trouble ended with the war. Families divided by loyalties and jealousy are destined to clash again. Sophie and Seamus both face more conflict than either is prepared for. It seems their only hope is to face it together, but will the past stay buried long enough for them to do it?

No spoilers here … just read it!


Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts, #2)Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dina Sleiman brings us another rollicking and charming tale of medieval life and romance. I enjoyed book one of this series, Dauntless, and Chivalrous is even better.

Gwendolyn Barnes would like nothing better than to be a knight. But as her father’s only daughter, she’s supposed to be relegated to a life behind the castle’s stone walls. Thankfully, he’s rarely home and her brothers indulge her desire to ride and joust.

Allen of Ellsworth wants to make something of himself and travels to a distant kingdom for his chance. Accepted as a knight and quickly placed on the duke’s council, he’s not prepared for the intrigue or the danger to his heart of a tall woman with a taste for adventure.

Medieval times were tough. It’s easy to romanticize times long gone and forget about the ugly realities. Dina Sleiman does a nice job of blending the two. While the hero and heroine lead somewhat charmed lives, those around them are much more stuck in the time period’s reality. I love that the realism of life in the middle ages is portrayed as the backdrop of the romance. Very well done!