Friday, March 27, 2015

Review - "Where Trust Lies" by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Where Trust Lies
by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
Return to the Canadian West series, Book #2
Published by Bethany House Publishers
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance
About this book:
"She loves her friends and students in the West, but family obligations have called her home. Where does she truly belong?

After a year of teaching in the Canadian West, Beth Thatcher returns home to her family. She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday--a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Hoping to reconnect with her mother and her sisters, Beth agrees to join them, but she quickly realizes that things have changed since she went away, and renewing their close bond is going to be more challenging than she expected.

There's one special thing to look forward to--letters and telephone calls from Jarrick, the Mountie who has stolen her heart. The distance between them is almost too much to bear. But can she give her heart to Jarrick when it will mean saying good-bye to her family once again--and possibly forever? And will she still want to live in the western wilds after the steamship tour opens up a world of people and places she never imagined?

Then comes a great test of Beth's faith. Someone in her family has trusted the wrong person, and suddenly everything Beth knows and loves is toppled. Torn between her family and her dreams, will Beth finally discover where her heart truly belongs?

A companion story to Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart TV series!"
"Where Trust Lies" is the second book in the Return to the Canadian West series. The storyline picks up basically right after where the first book left off. Because it starts right after where the first book ended, I personally would not recommend this book as a stand alone as some things might not make much sense if you haven't read the first book in the series.

Beth Thatcher is returning home to her family after spending a year as a teacher in the mining town of Coal Valley. She is hoping to spend some time with her family, and while at home, she is also hoping to receive a letter of invitation to teach in Coal Valley for the next school year. However, as soon as she returns home she finds out that her family has plans to travel on a steamship tour and would like her to come along. Although she wanted to spend some time at home for awhile, Beth agrees to traveling so she can spend time with her family. However, not everything they encounter during their travels is as it seems. When something terrible happens, will Beth trust in God to help her and her family get through the devasting ordeal?

I thought "Where Trust Lies" was a good continuation of the Return to the Canadian West series. While I prefer the first book in the series to this one because I enjoyed the setting and people of Coal Valley more, I still very much enjoyed reading the continuation of Beth's story. It was interesting to read about the different places Beth and her family traveled to while on their trip. I also liked reading and finding out more about Beth's family.

Just as I liked seeing Beth's strong faith in God in the first book, I liked seeing her grow in her faith in this one as well. She is trying to figure out where God is leading her and what His will is for her life, including whether or not she is supposed to return to Coal Valley to teach again. Beth is also trying to figure out her romantic relationship with Jarrick and whether or not he is the man God wants her to be with, and if he's not, if she will be able to let him go. When something devastating occurs, Beth must also trust in God to get her and her family through the difficult time.

The pace of the story is on the slower side. While I didn't mind the pace, some may find this book boring because a lot of the story didn't have a lot of action.

Overall, I really enjoyed "Where Trust Lies" as a sequel to "Where Courage Calls"! It was a nice continuation of Beth's story with a good theme of trust. I look forward to reading more books in this series if more are published.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Review - "Anna's Crossing" by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Cover Art
Anna's Crossing
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

An Amish Beginnings Novel
Published by Revell
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

About this book:

"Some endings are really beginnings . . .

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna K├Ânig reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home--assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people--dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands--who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing--and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it


Anna's Crossing is a historical fiction book about how some of the Amish first came to America. It shows some of the hardships that the Amish and Mennonites would have faced when they traveled by ship and made the difficult journey to America in the 1700s.

The story in Anna's Crossing is told from three different characters' perspectives: Anna's - a young Amish woman who is reluctantly traveling with other Amish from her hometown to America; Bairn's - the carpenter of the Charming Nancy ship who hopes to someday be captain of his own ship and who would rather be transporting cargo than people; and Felix's - a curious and sometimes troublemaking Amish boy who is interested in everything there is to know about sailing a ship. I really liked that Felix's perspective was included in addition to the two main adult characters' perspectives as I enjoyed reading about his character and seeing what mischief he would get into next.

I liked Anna's character. She has a strong faith in God throughout the story and she trusts in Him even during the most difficult times during their journey. She also shows compassion for others, even when it's hard to or when some don't deserve it.

I did not, however, care for Georg Schultz's character. He gave me the creeps from the beginning with the way he acted towards Anna, and I was extremely unhappy when he made a reappearance at one point in the story. Just a warning that at one point he does basically attempt to sexually assault Anna, but thankfully she is saved before he can do anything to her. By the end of the book I understood why he was written into the story, but I wish his character had been handled differently and I wish the parts with him being a creep towards Anna had been left out.

I don't typically read Amish fiction, but I love to read historical fiction and this book sounded interesting. It was interesting to read about how some of the Amish first came to America and to see what they would have gone through on their journey. An Author's Note is also included at the end of the novel where the author wrote about what parts of her novel are factual and which parts are based off of assumptions or made up.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. There were some things I did like about it and I did learn some new things about history and the Amish. However, I can't say I particularly enjoyed this book, mainly due to Georg's character.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review.