Carla Loves To Read



The Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Christmas Prayer3 Stars

Published September 1st 2018 by Shiloh Run Press

This historical romance novella, The Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter, had a good plot, but just didn’t hit the mark for me. I think the idea of this story was too big for this short novella. Cynthia Cooper and her mother were traveling west to California over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Cynthia is betrothed to Walter Prentice an older man who is a bit of a stick in the mud. She is traveling with Walter and her mother as well as a few other wagons. As the trip progresses, Cynthia realizes that she does not want to marry Walter and that he doesn’t measure up to the other two men in their wagon train. One of the men, is a widowed father with two delightful children, that cause a few problems on the journey, the other a prospector traveling with his sister. When the weather turns unexpectedly, they have to hole up in a cabin they found for the winter.

The portrayal of the characters was interesting, but at the end, I wanted to see more fleshing out. I realized they were more two-dimensional than I would have liked. Even though I liked the idea of Cynthia, it was hard to get too attached to the characters. The journey was interesting, but it seemed to reach a climax, then abruptly it ended. It was a very simple story with a message of praying for guidance and support as well as being true to yourself. The publisher, Shiloh Run Press, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “The Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter”


A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard

A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3)5 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Zebra (Kensington)

A Simple Christmas by Charlotte Hubbard is the third book in the Simple Gifts series. This is the first one I read and had no trouble loving this story without reading the first two. Nora Hooley’s shop, Simple Gifts, is full of beautiful handcrafted Amish items including wreaths made by Rosalyn Riehl. Rosalyn works in the shop part-time, happy to escape from her miserable father. Rosalyn is the last unmarried daughter of clockmaker, Cornelius Riehl. There is suddenly a problem with money in the house, past due notices, bills not being paid and no money for groceries. Cornelius has been having problems since the death of his wife and he expects Rosalyn to take care of him. When Marcus Hooley, a horse trainer, shows up at the shop when he arrives in town, Rosalyn has feelings for this rude and handsome young man. He has been hired to work for Wyatt McKenzie. He was recommend by his cousins, but Marcus’ wild ways have gotten him fired from his last three jobs. He is hoping he will get a chance to show what he can do, but does not want to get too involved in the Plain life. Wyatt hires Marcus with certain conditions. This is Marcus’ last chance and he knows it. As he makes himself comfortable in Willow Ridge, Marcus becomes attracted to Rosalyn. There are secrets being kept about something her father has done and is supposed to confess, but his confession does not happen. He becomes more abusive to Rosalyn and is not happy when he realizes there is an attraction between Marcus and his daughter. Marcus has questions about what Cornelius is doing, and he wants to find out so he can share it with Rosalyn.

A Simple Christmas is a lovely, heartwarming Christmas and Amish story. It is an engaging novel that captured my attention from the start. It was well paced and I read it in one day. There are several twists involving Cornelius and I was eager to find out what secrets he has been keeping. I did not like Cornelius and I could not even pity him once his secrets finally came out. Rosalyn is a caring woman with a good heart, who finds it difficult to not be the dutiful daughter she has been taught to be all her life. Marcus was a wonderful character and it was great to see his growth as the story evolved. I enjoyed the setting of Willow Creek. The Amish businesses, the tourists, family and friends all make it seem like a great place to live, Amish and Englisch. One of the main Christian themes of putting our worries in God’s hands and trusting Him to handle it, is central to the story. I enjoyed A Simple Christmas and will definitely go back and read the first two in this series. The publisher, Kensington Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard”

The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, & Richelle Brunstetter

The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith4 Stars

Published September 1st 2017 by Shiloh Run Press

What a beautiful collection of Amish Christmas Stories. This Christmas book is made up of three stories written by popular Amish author Wanda Brunstetter, her Daughter-in law Jean Brunstetter and first time published author, her granddaughter Richelle Brunstetter. The thing I loved about this book was that the stories are about three generations of women in one family written by three generations of women in one family. Each of the women that these stories are written about, suffers emotional times and heartache that really tugs at the heartstrings. The stories also focus on one beloved, cherished, Christmas quilt with a thought provoking scripture verse embroidered on it, that is passed down to the next generation on or around Christmas.

Finding the person who is right for you to marry is hard enough, but moving away from family or dealing with a child born with a disability can add stress to any relationship. When your parents do not agree with your choice of a spouse in an Amish family usually means the marriage is not going to happen and could result in a lot of unhappiness. The final story deals with being left at the alter and healing enough to love again. A wonderful set of novellas, that I very much enjoyed. The publisher, Shiloh Run Press, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.

Continue reading “The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, & Richelle Brunstetter”

The Amish Christmas Letters by Patricia Davids, Sarah Price, Jennifer Beckstrand

The Amish Christmas Letters4.5 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Kensington

I really enjoyed this Christmas trio of letters. In the Amish Communities, phones are used sparingly and thus letter writing is very important. I love the idea of circle letters, where each writer adds their own letter to the ones in the envelope and sends them in. These letters are from three cousins who all share the news of a new romance. All three of these stories involve a widower and children. One is only looking for a nanny, not romance; the second has had to sell his farm and rent from a young woman and her father who has suffered a stroke, and have moved into the Daddy house at the back of the property; and the last is a young woman who is conned into traveling to a neighbouring community to babysit 7 children while their parents run a growing cookie business, all the while being set up with their uncle.

I enjoyed these novellas a lot. The characters were developed as much as possible in a short story and they were all very likable, even the rather rude uncle in the last story. It was wonderful seeing the feelings develop even while some of the characters or their family were trying to deny they were there. The children were all adorable, even though some were a bit incorrigible. Overall a wonderful read around Christmas time. All three authors did a wonderful job of merging these letters together to form a great book. The publisher, Kensington Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.

Continue reading “The Amish Christmas Letters by Patricia Davids, Sarah Price, Jennifer Beckstrand”

A Mother’s Love by Charlotte Hubbard

A Mother's Love4.5 Stars

Published March 28th 2017 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

This is a wonderful second chance story. Rose Raber lost her father and husband in a barn fire less than a year ago. Her mother is dying of cancer and she has sent her daughter to stay with the bishop and his wife so they can have a final time together. As she sits by her bedside, she finds out that she needs to find a box that will give her some information that her mother has kept from her. As Rose finds out that everything she has believed about her life is a lie, she must figure out how to deal with this new information. Rose’s five year old daughter Grace is absolutely adorable. She keeps her mother grounded and helps her to carry on. She doesn’t want the church to take care of her so she gets a job as a cook at a senior center and this is where her life completely changes. When she meets Matthias Wagler he falls in love with little Grace and she wraps him around her little finger. Rose tries to resist him but he is handsome, caring, has a great career and seems to want Grace and Rose in his life. When Grace hears her mother telling Matthias what she knows, it is really hard for her not to accidentally let anything slip. Tension, angst and recriminations ensue.

A MOTHER’S LOVE is filled with redemption, love, forgiveness, and second chances. This story was well paced and the plot moved steadily through the story. I felt the feelings that the various characters were dealing with and wanted them to sort things out. Being a Christian, I knew that forgiveness and redemption would win out, but it was heartbreaking to see the sadness and fear as the story played out. I listened to the audio version of this book narrated by Susan Boyce. I have listened to several books narrated by Susan and I can say that I do enjoy her narration. I am able to distinguish between characters using the intonation and style of voice she uses. Charlotte Hubbard pulled me in from the beginning of this story and I was invested until the end. I definitely recommend this book and author to anyone who enjoys good clean romance, Christian Fiction or Amish Fiction. 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5.

Continue reading “A Mother’s Love by Charlotte Hubbard”

Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana (Resort to Love #2) by Angela Ruth Strong

Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana (Resort to Love, #2)4.5 Stars

Published September 1st 2016 by Mountain Brook Ink 

I was very lucky to follow Angela Ruth Strong’s facebook page at the right time. She had some copies of Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana available and I requested one. I am so glad I did. This is the first book I have read by this author, but will definitely be reading more.

Who doesn’t love a holiday story, especially one with love at Christmas! Josh Lake was a driven businessman, living in Chicago. The last thing he wanted was to be running home for the holidays with his tail between his legs. Suspended from his job and allowing his ex to stay in his apartment, he leaves for home with few possession, driving his fancy, new Mercedes. After driving for 30 hours, he stops in Big Sky for a coffee break. When entering the small coffee shop, the first person he sees is Paisley, a friend from high school. Reluctantly, she is convinced to let him rest in her bunkhouse at her ranch. And then there is Paisley. What do you do when your dreams are shattered? You follow a second one. That is exactly what Paisley is trying to do. However, until money starts flowing, she could use some free labor. Running into Josh Lake just might fit that agenda.

This story shows the reader how these hurt souls heal with the love of God in their lives. They do not have to do anything to make themselves acceptable to God. They had to learn to love themselves first, before they would be able to accept God’s plan for their lives. I loved that the characters in this book were real, relatable and developed. Josh and Paisley were both wounded and vulnerable. Sam, Josh’s brother was a hoot and really helped bring them together, even though Paisley wanted him to shield her from her feeling for Josh. Add in two quirky coffee house ladies with an agenda all their own who are also rooting for Josh and Paisley. This is a story of forgiveness, heartache and healing. It teaches us not to hide our feelings or hold our secrets inside, but to trust and share with others in order to understand God’s plan. I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.

Continue reading “Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana (Resort to Love #2) by Angela Ruth Strong”

The Hope Jar (The Prayer Jars #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Hope Jar (The Prayer Jars #1)5 Stars

Published August 1st 2018 by Shiloh Run Press

Believe it or not, this is the first Wanda E. Brunstetter book that I have read and I will definitely be looking for more to read. This was truly an inspiring story. The Hope Jar weaves the tale of two young women who have experienced tragedy and are at a crossroads in their lives. Sara has lost her mother and does not have much of a relationship with her step-father and half brother, Michelle has never really been part of a family at all. She grew up in the foster system. Sara’s grandparents have been estranged from their deceased daughter and Sara did not even know they existed until after her mother’s death. She writes to them and tells them that she would like to come and meet them. They didn’t know they had a granddaughter and are looking forward to meeting and building a relationship with her. When they see Michelle at the bus station getting ready to move somewhere, anywhere else, they mistakenly think her to be their granddaughter. Michelle is at a hopeless phase in her life, so she readily pretends to be their granddaughter and returns with them to their Amish farm. When Michelle finds an old blue jar in the barn filled with quotes, thoughts and prayers, they inspire her to have faith that things are never hopeless. But how will she ever tell this family she has grown to love about her lies and betrayal? Will they be able to forgive her? This story is well written and flows easily. I enjoyed the people who lived in this Amish town, they were friendly and accepting to Sara (Michelle). There is pain, fear, deceit, love, hope and triumph all present in this story, but it is beautifully written and wonderfully executed. This is the first book in the Prayer Jar series, and it left us with some unanswered questions which I hope will be answered in the next book. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Christian or Amish fiction as well as anyone looking for an inspirational story with a Christian overtone. The publisher, Shiloh Run Press, provided me with this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions are my own.

Continue reading “The Hope Jar (The Prayer Jars #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter”

Room on the Porch Swing (Amish Homestead #2) by Amy Clipston

Room on the Porch Swing (Amish Homestead #2)5 Stars

Published May 8th 2018 by Zondervan

ROOM ON THE PORCH SWING is the second book in the Amish Homestead series by Amy Clipston and I enjoyed it more than the first. It is the story of Laura Reihl, and how she is dealing with grief. She lost her mother at the end of the last book, and her best friend, Savilla, dies tragically with a virus that caused her heart to stop. Savilla had been married for a short time and left behind her young husband, Alan and months old daughter, Mollie. When Savilla’s mother, who is taking care of Mollie and the house has an accident and ends up in the hospital, Laura steps in to help her friend’s widower. Laura’s boyfriend of four years, Rudy, is not happy about the situation and doesn’t like how it will look to others. Will Laura and Rudy ever get married? How will Laura fight the feelings towards Alan that are budding in her heart?

Amy Clipston does a wonderful job of making you feel present in the story. The emotions and struggles are so real, in fact, many readers have probably experienced similar situations. As I read the book, I felt my emotions going up and down. I wanted things to turn out for Laura and kept telling her that Rudy was not ready for a commitment. Alan seemed like the perfect man. He loved and was devoted to his daughter, he was caring and did not want anyone to get the wrong idea about Laura. He was very astute about other’s feelings and tried to help when he could. The rest of Laura’s family was present and again, I felt like I was meeting up with old friends. They are also dealing with things and they seem to be working out. The power of prayer and their beliefs came through strongly, but did not overpower the story. Room on a Porch Swing is a heart tugging story filled with grief, loneliness, heartbreak, and love that will grip you right from the first page. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series. The publisher, Zondervan, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read.

Continue reading “Room on the Porch Swing (Amish Homestead #2) by Amy Clipston”

A Place at Our Table (Amish Homestead #1) by Amy Clipston

A Place at Our Table (Amish Homestead #1)4 Stars

Published November 14th 2017 by Zondervan

Jamie Riehl is a Firefighter in an Amish Community in Lancaster County. He is attending a barn fire on the property of the Dienner when he has to rescue the youngest child, Nathan. He meets Kayla, Nathan’s sister and something clicks, that is until Jamie encourages Nathan to sign up for firefighter training. Simeon, Kayla’s older brother was killed in a firefighting accident and they are still getting over it. Kayla just can’t allow her heart and her family to go through anymore heartache. What if she were to lose another brother to a fire as well? What if she lets Jaimie into her heart and he is killed? She is not able to resist Jamie and she becomes more attached to him as the story progresses. The romance between Kayla and jamie seems to on again off again throughout the book. When a situation occurs that rocks Jamie’s world, he is not sure if he will ever have time to devote to a girlfriend.

I really liked Jamie and Kayla and my heart went out to both of them. Kayla did aggravate me at times, not willing to give Jamie the benefit of the doubt, but then again, she was dealing with her past situations as well. As Jamie dealt with his guilt by working himself ragged at both the farm and firehouse, I wanted to give him a hug and a slap at the same time. It was nice to see how these two families became entwined in each other’s lives so quickly, just like you would expect in a small community. I enjoyed this story and look forward to the next one in this series. This is the first book I have read by Amy Clipston and it seems that her previous books are even better than this one based on reviews. It looks like I may have found another wonderful author to follow. Thanks to Zondervan who generously provided me with a copy of this book to read.

Continue reading “A Place at Our Table (Amish Homestead #1) by Amy Clipston”

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