My rating: 3 of 5 stars Courting Cate is a charming story that I read in one sitting because I was keen to reach the inevitable happy ending. The writer attempts to marry Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew with an Amish romance. While it is a clever idea, it doesn’t quite work. I liked this Cate all along, and I never saw her as an unlovable shrew. She erroneously saw herself this way, but she was actually quite selfless and caring. So instead of being “tamed,” I saw her as being treated harshly and unfairly. Still, I enjoyed the read as lighter fair and appreciated the glimpse into Amish ways. I recommend it as a quick read for fans of Amish and/or Christian romance.
In compliance with FTC guidelines, please note that I received a free copy from the publisher for review through LibraryThing.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Karen Harper has always been one of my favorite writers in the romantic suspense genre. Down to the Bone is one of several of her books that feature the Amish community. The juxtaposition of Amish ways with modern ones and the interactions that take place are fascinating. Because of the Amish element, the romance is kept out of the bedroom and is played out instead with romantic tension and relationship development. I prefer my romances this way. The relationship that develops between Mitch and Rachel is electric while the suspense, mystery and danger keep the story tense and fast moving. I read this book from cover to cover in one evening. I highly recommend it for fans of romantic suspense. I was reminded of the movie Witness with Harrison Ford.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In general, I gravitate toward edgier books, so I didn’t expect to enjoy The Keeper as much as I did. However, the storytelling was excellent, and I became very invested in the characters. I’m glad to learn that it’s the first in a series because I want to follow the sisters’ stories further. Although there was romance, I would classify this book more as family fiction. Each character was unique, and the author gave them all a life and breath of their own. I fell in love with the entire family. The plot had enough conflict to keep the story moving. I was also surprised by the amount of humor. I didn’t expect an Amish fiction novel to be so funny, but it was. The book also contained drama and tragedy…and hope and possibility. The main theme of the book was to trust in God and live by faith. Though I wasn’t immediately grabbed, The Keeper far exceeded my expectations and was ultimately gripping while also delivering a positive message (without feeling preachy). I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy delightful family dynamics and storytelling.
Favorite quote: “Maybe happiness…was like a bird, fixing to take wing. Maybe it was never meant to stay” (p. 16).
Favorite simile: “Paul took her dream and broke it like a fistful of spaghetti over a pot of boiling water. Snap, in half. Gone” (p.21).
What I learned about: organ donation and beekeeping
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chilling, riveting, dark and disturbing with damaged characters trying to hold it together in the most desperate of circumstances. The inner and external conflict between the Amish and the English is complex, especially as it plays out in the Chief of Police Kate Burkholder who was born Amish. The isolation and the cold icy small town in January echo the desolation of the characters and the evil that is being played out there. It was engrossing and left me wanting more. Perhaps, more than anything, I was left hoping that Kate and John would find redemption. The beginnings of hope appear when each reveals long-held dark secrets that haunt them. The truth begins to set them free, but they have a long journey ahead. I recommend this book for fans of CSI and similar programs. Be forewarned: no gruesome detail is spared and the language is often foul. But if you like edgier books, you should enjoy this thriller. Sworn to Silence is the first of an ongoing series featuring this Amish girl turned police chief.
“The image my mind conjurs is too horrific to contemplate. All I can think is that we’re not dealing with a human being. We’re not even dealing with an animal. Only true evil could inflict these kinds of horrors” (p. 40).
“Midnight descends with the cold stealth of a nocturnal predator” (p.97).
“I look out the darkened window at the deserted street beyond where snow sparkles beneath the streetlights. I think about the killer and wonder if his dark hunger torments him tonight” (p. 173).
It’s worth noting that Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist all gave this book starred reviews. It is also the subject of a Lifetime original movie titled An Amish Murder.
My rating: 4 of 5
Blessedly, this book is not a preachy book of do’s and don’ts. It also doesn’t suggest that we all sell our cars and become farmers. It is instead a series of anecdotes preceded by Amish proverbs followed by real world applications and wisdom. We can learn a lot from the Amish who value family, faith and community above worldly possessions. As a result they are less stressed, have a much lower rate of depression and an almost zero rate of divorce. Through stories of Amish families, the author shows the reader valuable insight in how to live a less complicated and happier existence by applying a little Amish wisdom to our own lives. “The Amish have a saying: ‘The best thing you can spend on your children is time.’ Just…time” (p.18). Other sage advice includes a willingness to serve others, make family memories, keep a sense of humor, and be open to unexpected interruptions in your plans (God’s plan for your day just might be better than the plan that you had). A recommended read for anyone who longs to put family, faith and community first in their life.