A Broken Kind of Beautiful, by Katie Ganshert

book coverPublisher’s Summary:

Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?

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Echoes of Mercy, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

book coverPublisher’s Summary:

Sometimes a secret must be kept for the truth to be revealed. 

When a suspicious accident occurs at the famous Dinsmore Chocolate Factory in Sinclair, Kansas, Caroline Lang goes undercover as a factory worker to investigate the circumstances surrounding the event and how the factory treats its youngest employees—the child workers. Caroline’s fervent faith, her difficult childhood, and compassionate heart drove her to her job as an investigator for the Labor Commission and she is compelled to see children freed from such heavy adult responsibilities, to allow them to pursue an education.

Oliver Dinsmore, heir to the Dinsmore candy dynasty, has his own investigation to conduct. Posing as a common worker known as “Ollie Moore,” he aims to find out all he can about the family business before he takes over for his father. Caroline and Oliver become fast friends, but tension mounts when the two find themselves at odds about the roles of child workers. Hiding their identities becomes even more difficult when fate brings them together over three children in desperate need. When all is revealed, will the truth destroy the love starting to grow between them?

My Take:

After completing an investigation for the Labor Commission, all Caroline wants to do is take a promise week off. But a fellow investigator has been killed while on assignment, and Caroline’s supervisor isn’t so sure it was an accident. The factory where the man died has one opening, and it’s for a woman. Caroline must go undercover, but she isn’t the only one there pretending to be someone else. Oliver, the owner’s son, is learning how the factory runs from the ground up. Both Caroline and Oliver aren’t shy about asking questions, which brings them to the attention of the factory’s manager. Gordon Hightower is highly trusted by Oliver’s father, but is he abusing that trust?

Kim Vogel Sawyer has created a thought-provoking plot that takes on the debates of education versus employment and greed versus grace. Two of the main characters come from similar disadvantaged backgrounds, but have very different outlooks on life. One wants to pass on the mercy they received while the other believes the world owes them everything. Minor characters show varying degrees of these attitudes. It is easy to fall in love with the three children in the story, whose futures are at the mercy of those different opinions. Sawyer draws you into their plight and it was their storyline I enjoyed most. It would have been fascinating to look in on them several years later and see how their lives had developed.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program for my free copy of Echoes of Mercy, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Echoes of Mercy? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Read an excerpt from Echoes of Mercy

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 21 January 2014

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

For Every Season, by Cindy Woodsmall

book coverWorking hard to develop a new Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is fully committed to rehabilitating an orchard with business partner Samuel King. But an impulsive decision has created an unexpected strain in her relationship with her beau, Samuel’s brother, Jacob, threatening plans for the orchard. Amidst mounting tension in matters of the heart and business, Rhoda finds that this fledging settlement feels like the home she has always longed for, and she begins to embrace the God-given, heightened intuition that has always felt like a burden to her. She longs for Jacob to fully be free of his past, so they can work towards the future together.

But as Rhoda uses her gift to unpack an old secret with her Englisch neighbors, it is not her beau but an unlikely ally that cheers her on. With the orchard on shaky ground and Jacob’s plans in question, Rhoda is determined to see things through to harvest. But can she trust her insight to direct her path in matters of the heart?

As a consequence of the events in The Winnowing Season, Rhoda has moved out of her fledgling Amish community and now lives with her Englisch neighbors. Her boyfriend Jacob, meanwhile, is still involved in clearing up his past and is often either away from home or assisting a woman and her daughter from that past. He also resents the time Rhoda spends with Samuel who is her business partner and his brother. Rhoda is trying to hang on to both relationships, but the situation will surely explode.

In my review of the previous book, I said I didn’t like Jacob. That view hasn’t changed. He plots, he schemes, his priorities are misplaced, he’s selfish, he’s hypocritical, and he isn’t exactly open with Rhoda. At times, I wanted to bop Rhoda on the head in an attempt to make her see sense regarding her relationship with him. I wanted to tell her to leave Jacob, not necessarily for someone else, but because of his behavior. In the meantime, Leah is still deciding whether or not she wants to stay Amish and is examining both the pros and cons of both Englisch and Amish ways of life. Into the mix comes Iva, a young Amish woman from Indiana, in need of a job and straddling the fence between both worlds.

For Every Season is, in my opinion, a better book than The Winnowing Season. Thankfully, the supernatural elements are toned down, although I still maintain the novel doesn’t need this subplot. However, I had believed this title would be the last in the Amish Vines and Orchards series. This is probably because Woodsmall’s other series have been trilogies. So I was a little disappointed when it became apparent that storylines weren’t being wrapped up. It turns out that there will be a fourth book, called Seasons of Tomorrow, which is scheduled for release in April 2014.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for my free copy of For Every Season, which I received in exchange for an honest review.


Publisher: Waterbook Press

Publication Date: 20 August 2013

Page Count: 336

Read more on:   Cindy Woodsmall’s Website   Waterbook’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com