Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Through Waters Deep, by Sarah Sundin

       Self-effacing Mary Stirling's job in the Boston Navy Yard keeps her out of the spotlight, which is just what she wants. At the launching of a new ship, she encounters naval officer Jim Avery--a childhood friend. The two of them begin to spend time together, although Mary knows Jim's heart belongs to her best friend.
    When signs of sabotage appear on the ship to which Jim is assigned, Mary becomes interested in solving the crimes. She and Jim grow closer as they share suspicions, with Mary ever mindful that Jim is only interested in learning the saboteur's identity.
    Through Waters Deep drew me in on two levels. The novel is set during the months leading up to World War II, and the historical background fascinated me. I hadn't been aware of the deep divisions between Interventionists and Isolationists prior to Pearl Harbor. On a story-telling level, Through Waters Deep explores the lives of two people who are each overcoming childhood guilt as they strive become the person they were meant to be.
    As with her previous books, Sarah Sundin's wartime scenes are breathtaking. I love the authenticity she brings to the story. Oh, and Jim and Mary? You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. You won't be disappointed.

    My thanks to the author and Revell for my review copy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

THE INNOCENT, by Ann H. Gabhart

    Carlyn Kearney is living life at the near edge of poverty. Her soldier husband was reported missing during the last years of the War Between the States. The war has ended, but no word has come as to whether he is alive or dead. Since she has no income and a mortgage debt she cannot pay, an unscrupulous mortgage-holder demands the sheriff evict her from the house she shared with her husband. The sheriff, Mitchell Brodie, takes an interest in Carlyn and negotiates an agreement to give her time to find someplace else to live.
    With nowhere to go, she seeks shelter in a nearby Shaker community. The Shakers are reputed to be peace-loving and willing to accept refugees from the world. From the beginning, Carlyn finds life in the community anything but peaceful. The rules are overwhelming, and she learns immediately that she's not allowed to keep her dog or any of her "worldly" possessions.
    Things go downhill from there, and Carlyn finds herself a suspect in mysterious events that take place within the village. She has an ally in the sheriff, but he's not welcome in the community and she cannot leave.
    This story fascinated me in many ways. Carlyn's dilemma is heartbreaking and the mystery kept me guessing until the final pages. Beyond that, I appreciated how Ann Gabhart gave readers a look at Shaker life from the viewpoint of a doubter.
    This story goes beyond the "bonnet cover" to reveal the lives of real people. I recommend The Innocent highly.
    My thanks to Revell and the author for my review copy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

AMISH PROMISES, by Leslie Gould

    The back cover copy of Amish Promises begins, "Journey down a quiet lane in Lancaster County . . ." Let me just say, this story is far from a 'quiet lane' journey.
    Joel and Shani Beck have decided that the best place for Joel to recuperate from the injuries he received in Iraq is in the farmhouse left to Shani when her grandfather died. Their neighbors are Amish, as are many of the families in the area. This could be peaceful, except that the nearest household is headed by Tim Lehman, a stern patriarch who is opposed to having an Englisch family next door. He does all he can to keep his children and his sister away from the Becks.
    When Joel, who suffers from PTSD, compounds his war injuries in an accident, his Army friend Charlie comes to help the family. From this point on, the Becks' and the Lehmans' lives spin into a web of complications.
    Once I started reading Amish Promises I could hardly put the book down. I've heard it said that Amish novels are always the same. If that’s true, then Amish Promises breaks the mold.
     Leslie Gould is a talented storyteller. The concept of putting an Amish family and an Englisch family side by side is a refreshing change in the world of Amish fiction. The characters in Amish Promises are real people with the same flaws we all possess.
    I give this book an enthusiastic two thumbs up!

My thanks to the author and Bethany House for providing my review copy.