Good Summer Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

When someone mentions Amish fiction to you, how do you react? Do you yearn for a simpler lifestyle, where farm animals factor into your life, and a slower pace fills your days? Or does the word evoke something else in you, an overdone retelling of a life that most people would find difficult to live?

I don’t read a lot of Amish fiction, but one author who writes about the Plain community has captured my interest because she pits the simple life against the complicated culture in which the Amish have to exist. Her books bring the two different worlds face to face in a collision of values and the stories that result are fascinating.

Her name—Leslie Gould. The series—Neighbors of Lancaster County.

I finished reading the first story, Amish Promises, and found myself longing to know more about these characters.  The Lehmans, a dysfunctional Amish household, run a dairy farm and live next door to the Becks, an all-American military family. That alone is a pivotal factor for conflict, but the unmarried Lehman aunt  and a single male friend of the Becks, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, discover each other and sparks fly. Literally!

In the second novel, Amish Sweethearts, the Lehman children and the one son of the Becks play together and grow up as close friends. But the two worlds are a universe apart and when the children show interest in the lifestyle on the other side of the fence, trouble brews. The eldest Lehman daughter and Zane, the Beck’s son, deny their love for each other, but it is a struggle they cannot win, even when the girl begins seeing an Amish man her father arranged for her to court.

I have yet to read the third tale in the series, Amish Weddings, but have it on my to-be-read shelf waiting for its turn in the line-up. I promise you won’t be disappointed by any of the three in the series, but if you take a chance on all of them, you will have a wonderful summer of reading.

More Great Reading

iced teaAs promised, I have more great titles of summer reading by authors I have read and enjoyed to recommend to you. This week I’ll start with contemporary books and add a couple of historical stories to the mix as well. So while you mix your lemonade or stir  your tea, try a few of these on for size.

 

Contemporary tales

1-SongofSilence_Final-1Cynthia Ruchti has earned my respect with stories hemmed in hope. I have yet to read something she’s written that hasn’t reached to the depth of my heart and pulled on its strings.  Her newest release, song of silence, promises to be an emotionally satisfying tale for her readers.

Forced to retire from her position as a music educator in a small Midwestern school, Lucy Tuttle watches helplessly as the program her father started years before disintegrates before her eyes. Without the music a chasm separates her from her heart’s passion and Lucy wonders if the song of her faith has gone silent as well. Published by Abingdon Press.

TheSecondHalfSMReaders who know Lauraine Snelling usually associate her with her historical tales about the Bjorklund family who homesteaded in Blessing, North Dakota, but Snelling also writes some great contemporary stories as well. The Second Half, a timely story about two grandparents left to care about their grandchildren, releases in July.

Mona and Ken Sorenson are approaching the best years of their lives. Mona is planning a surprise party for Ken’s retirement as Dean of Students from Stone University. Yet he struggles with the news that office politics threaten to destroy the department he has spent years developing. Days before Ken’s departure, their son, a Special Forces officer in the Army, is deployed to Pakistan for six months and since his wife has left him, trusts no one to care for his two children but his parents. In moments, Ken and Mona find themselves parents once again, the second half of their lives very different from what they had planned. They learn that God’s plans are more important than theirs. Available on pre-order from FaithWords.

Contemporary blended with the past

finalcover2-183x300Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is another crossover tale by Susan Meissner. This author is the queen of stories that have their themes firmly planted in two different time periods. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take the reader on a journey to the past. It’s 1938 and Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart. She lands a job on the set of the historic film. There she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s elite enthrall Violet, until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and each other, to ensure their own happy endings, will shape their friendship and their futures.

Two more historic tales to thrill you 

Revolutionary War 

I’ve already read The Wood’s Edge, the first release in The Pathfinders series by Lori Benton, and am excited to venture into book two, A Flight of Arrows, which is now available from Waterbrook Press.Flight of Arrows (2)FINAL FINAL

Twenty years before, during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry in 1757, a young Redcoat named Reginald Aubrey, stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins—and raised him as his own. Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army which prepares to attack frontier New York. The Continentals, aided by William’s own twin brother, Two Hawks, and his band of Oneidas, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, but united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the young man marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.

Late Nineteenth Century

It’s 1897 and Romulus White has tried for years to hire Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry. But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her sister.From-This-Moment-Elizabeth-Camden

Thus begins another great story from Elizabeth Camden, whose late nineteenth century tales capture this reader with their intrigue, mystery, and heart-stopping danger. From This Moment, which releases this month, promises to be another winner in a string of captivating stories.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk? Available from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Readers: if you have discovered an author you really enjoy, please message me or leave a comment on my blog. Some of the authors I’ve listed here I’ve discovered because other readers mentioned them to me and I became captivated by their stories. Thanks for dropping by. I am so blessed to have you reading my weekly posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Pick: Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings

Regina Jennings is a new name in  Christian historical fiction.

 I first learned of Jennings when my friend and writing colleague Karen Barnett (author of Mistaken, 2013, Out of the Ruins, 2014 and soon to be released Beyond the Ashes, 2015) spoke highly of a book that Karen had recently read by Jennings.

I’m always on the lookout for new voices so I picked up a copy of Caught in the Middle when I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in St. Louis earlier this fall. My first impression is that Jennings’ works are fun.

 In this tale she paired a buffalo hunter with an accountant in an adventure-filled account of life in Garber, Texas. But it’s a story with a twist. The buffalo hunter is Anne Tillerton, a woman with a reputation as a sharpshooter and a past that includes the demise of her husband. The accountant is Nicholas Lovelace, an up and coming businessman looking to better his future.

Anne is only in town to find a runaway cook who flees, leaving the child in Anne’s care. Since Nicholas is the only one in Garber she knows, the two form an unlikely pair who go in search of the missing mother. But mixing with society is not something Anne does well and Nicholas’ future success is dependent upon making a good impression wherever he goes.  As business pressures upon him increase, the duo are caught between  being upstanding citizens and being themselves.

Great fun read. Published by Bethany House Publishers, Caught in the Middle is available from Amazon and CBD.com