Long Way Gone by Charles Martin



I have sat at my computer for awhile trying to decide how to write a review that will even come close to doing justice to this magnificent book. It is at times like these that I know how inferior my writing is by comparison and I almost hesitate to put my thoughts to the page.

When I saw the cover of “Long Way Gone” I knew it was a book I wanted to read, a story I had to hear. I was certainly not disappointed because the words within the cover were every bit as powerful as the image on the outside. My daddy loved music and my mama sang in the choir so my sisters and I were exposed from a very young age and music is still very important to us. I have never quite heard music described as eloquently as Charles Martin expressed in this novel. I was thoroughly hooked before I even got to the meat of the story.

As many have said, “Long Way Gone” is a contemporary story of a prodigal. It is a tale that will bring most readers to tears at one point and have them laughing at another. Then there are those Holy Ghost moments where you just want to throw up your hands and praise God. I pretty much loved everything about the book and can already think of several people who MUST read it.

“Long Way Gone” really needs a soundtrack. Descriptions of Cooper’s and Daley’s songs left me wanting to hear them. It would be wonderful if movie negotiations were in the works so that it could come to pass.

“Long Way Gone” is probably the best book I have read in years and I have read a lot of books. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy for yourself and your reader friends who love music.

A free copy of this book was provided for review by the BookLook Blogger Program of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


“No matter where you go, no matter whether you succeed or fail, stand or fall, no gone is too far gone. You can always come home.”

At the age of eighteen, musician and songwriter Cooper O’Connor took everything his father held dear and drove 1,200 miles from home to Nashville, his life riding on a six-string guitar and the bold wager that he had talent. But his wager soon proved foolish.

Five years after losing everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, an angelic voice in need of a song. But just as he realizes his love for Daley, Cooper faces a tragedy that threatens his life as well as his career. With nowhere else to go, he returns home to the remote Colorado mountains, searching for answers about his father and his faith.

When Daley shows up on his street corner twenty years later, he wonders if it’s too late to tell her the truth about his past—and if he is ready to face it himself.

A radical retelling of the prodigal son story, Long Way Gone takes us from tent revivals to the Ryman Auditorium to the tender relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped calling him home.


charles-martinCharles Martin is the author of nine novels (Unwritten, Thunder and Rain, The Mountain Between Us, Where the River Ends, Wrapped in Rain, Chasing Fireflies, Maggie, When Crickets Cry, and The Dead Don’t Dance. He currently lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and family. Learn more about him at charlesmartinbooks.com. Facebook: Author.Charles.Martin Twitter: @storiedcareer



A Sisters Wish & An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray

Don’t miss books three (A Sister’s Wish) and four (An Amish Family Christmas) in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Charmed Amish Life series. In A Sister’s Wish, when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces Amelia and Simon to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love . . . but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past. In An Amish Family Christmas, Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

Enter to win a book pack (a copy of A Sister’s Wish and a copy of An Amish Family Christmas) from Shelley. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced November 7th on Shelley’s blog!



It is not often that I have the chance to read two new books from a series back-to-back so it was fun to do so with “A Sister’s Wish” and “An Amish Family Christmas”. I enjoyed both of them and will review each of them separately below.

A free copy of this book was provided for review by Litfuse Publicity. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


a-sisters-wishIn Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

My Review:

Once again I found myself visiting Charm, Ohio and renewing my acquaintance with its residents, especially the members of the Kinsinger family. Brother Lukas and sister Rebecca are happily married and stay busy at the family mill while younger sister Amelia stays home and takes care of the farm and household chores by herself which makes her feel somewhat abandoned. Amelia has loved Simon Hochstetler since she was a child and they have met secretly since he returned to Charm because they know Lukas in particular would not approve of their relationship. An accident brings everything out into the open and things get pretty tense.

I often find it quite interesting that characters that I liked in previous novels sometimes are not quite as likeable in a sequel. Lukas was one of those, in fact he was pretty disagreeable for several chapters. Even though Simon had served prison time, he had  repented and changed his ways. But his best friend (did you understand -best friend?) still didn’t think Simon was good enough for his little sister. Talk about a hypocrite! Well, as can be expected, it all works out by the end of the story but not without some difficulties along the way. And that’s what makes Shelley Shepard Gray’s books so good -realistic characters dealing with real life situations and a hearty dose of practical faith.

I enjoyed “A Sister’s Wish” and recommend it to all lovers of Amish fiction.



amish-family-christmasIn Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

My Review:

I loved reading “An Amish Family Christmas” immediately after “A Sister’s Wish”. This one is Kinsinger brother Levi’s story which takes place shortly after he returns to Charm from working construction in Florida. Levi is still struggling with his father’s accidental death and feels like the rest of the family has moved on with their lives. Although back at work at the family mill, Levi is not comfortable in the family home and rents a little house in town. When he meets Julia Kemps, he has no intention of pursuing a relationship but finds himself strangely drawn to her and her young daughter. Julia is barely making ends meet and is thrilled when she has a chance to make a little extra Christmas money cleaning Levi’s house. But Julia has some dark secrets that she fears will change people’s feelings toward her. Will Levi and Julia find happiness for Christmas?

“An Amish Family Christmas” is another warm yet realistic story from Shelley Shepard Gray. Although not quite as much a Christmas tale as some, it still exudes the spirit of Christmas in its illustration of how one person can be blessed by helping others. I thought this was a fitting conclusion for the Charmed Amish Life series and also recommend it.



Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Find out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.






The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall.



One of the special perks of being a book blogger is the opportunity to start my Christmas season early by reading some wonderful Christian Christmas fiction months in advance. This week I was happy to escape for a few hours into Cindy Woodsmall’s Christmas novella “The Angel of Forest Hill”, a sweet Amish romance.

Rose Kurtz is a young Amish woman who has lived a difficult life as the lone sister of eleven brothers. Her self-esteem is at rock bottom and her soul longs for kindness when she is asked to help out a family hours away. When she arrives Rose learns that Joel Dienner’s wife has just died, leaving him with a new baby and two other small children. At the bishop’s suggestion, Rose agrees to marry Joel in order to help care for the children without causing a scandal. The story progresses over several years with highlights of her life with Joel’s family and the development of their relationship.

“The Angel of Forest Hill” is an emotional story of a deeply wounded young woman and a grieving husband. I enjoyed watching Rose bloom under Joel’s kindness and being away from her mother’s demeaning comments. The difficulty Rose and Joel had communicating their feelings was quite believable under the circumstances although frustrating at times. I loved how the story was resolved with forgiveness and restoration at the end.

Such a fitting story for the Christmas season. Be sure and pick up a copy for a cozy evening by the fire.

A free copy of this book was provided for review by Blogging for Books. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


When Old Order Amish Rose Kurtz is asked to leave her family, travel deep into West Virginia, and help Joel Dienner with his children in the wake of tragedy, the quiet young woman recognizes a home where she might find kindness instead of criticism. Hope replacing harsh words. She agrees to stay in Forest Hill and become Joel’s wife for the sake of his family needs, but their marriage is to be a partnership, one built from need, not love and affection.

As the years pass Rose continues to beckon Joel to join life again, to take joy in his growing children, and to awaken his heart to the possibility of new love. Joel, too, hopes that Rose can move beyond deep-rooted hurts to see the beautiful Christmas ahead, their season— and Joel’s longing for more than friendship. But will the arrival of a beautiful widow and a series of misunderstandings threaten to reverse how far Rose and Joel have come?

Filled with deep emotion and the wonder of the season of Christ’s birth, The Angel of Forest Hill invites readers experience an amazing journey toward love and belonging.

Read an excerpt of The Angel of Forest Hill 


cindy-woodsmallCindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of more than a dozen novels. Her connection with the Amish community has been widely featured in national media outlets from ABC Nightline to the Wall Street Journal and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.

Visit Cindy on her blog at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.




Such a Hope (Paths of Grace, 1) by Sondra Kraak



“Such a Hope” is one of the absolute best books I have read this year. It moved me in such a way that I am quite certain that anything I can say here would be inadequate. Sondra Kraak has such a true gift that I found myself totally immersed in the story and was so sad when it ended.

The beautifully crafted plot is filled with fascinating characters, especially Anna and Tristan. Anna is a young woman who loves God, hears from Him, and tries her very best to be obedient to his directions. As a result she is the instrument God uses in more than one miraculous healing. Although she always stresses that God is the one that heals, Anna soon becomes the center of controversy. Not everyone is happy about her desire to pray for the sick. Tristan, a gifted farmer dedicated to improving agriculture in the Seattle area, struggled with believing that God even cared. He too had issues with Anna’s faith and her determination to pray for others but despite himself, Tristan found himself her champion and maybe even beginning to care for her. Unfortunately, Tristan carried some secrets that could change everything.

I really appreciated the insight the author gave on spiritual gifts and how people tend to react to them. This story rang so true with some who sought her out for prayer, others who were offended, and then those who wanted to use her gifts to help advance their own ministries. So realistic! This book made me think – a lot. One thing I gleaned from this story is that I would like to be more like Anna. Not a bad goal for any of us!

I loved everything about “Such a Hope” and cannot wait for the next book of the series.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author. A  favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


Seattle, 1871

Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.

When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.

Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future–a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.


sondra-kraakA native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain, but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015).



The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher



One thing I like very much about Suzanne Woods Fisher’s novels is that although her stories usually feature a primary character, they revolve around that character’s entire family and/or community. I have especially loved that aspect of The Bishop’s Family series. In this third volume of the series, Bishop David Stoltzfus’ daughter Ruthie is the focus but as usual I was able to keep up with much of what was going on with other family members and friends from the previous books.

One thing I loved about “The Devoted” is that is wasn’t the usual romance novel. Yes, there was absolutely some romance in it but it wasn’t the center of attention. This book is such a human interest story with several intersecting story-lines. I thought it was a genius move to have Ruthie so dissatisfied with Amish life only to have Patrick, an Englisher show up wanting to become Amish. Patrick’s fresh view of life in Stoney Ridge gave Ruthie at least a few things to ponder. If I were part of an Amish community, I would definitely want a bishop like David, a man devoted to his family and community and so filled with God’s wisdom. His concern about how their new wealth was affecting the community is something that could apply to most Christians today.

“The Devoted” is a sweet, sweet story with more than one lesson that could be useful to many readers. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one by this author.

A free copy of this book was provided for review by Celebrate Lit Publicity Group. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



Click to purchase.

Restless and adventurous, Ruthie Stoltzfus is right on the cusp of leaving her Amish home. Secretly, she’s earned her GED, saved her money—but she can’t quite set her journey into motion. Just as everything falls into place, along comes Patrick Kelly.

Patrick is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time is of the essence and every moment is to be cherished—especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.

Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back—and Patrick Kelly is in his way.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred—and the promise of hopes fulfilled.

Read an excerpt from “The Devoted” HERE.

To purchase your copy, click here.


suzanne-woods-fisherSuzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.


October 18: cherylbbookblog

October 18: Blogging With Carol

October 18: Mary Hake

October 19: Reading Is My SuperPower

October 19: Simple Harvest Reads

October 20: Singing Librarian Books

October 20: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

October 21: Seasons of Opportunities

October 21: Daysong Reflections

October 22: Back Porch Reads

October 22: Southern Gal Loves to Read

October 23: Lighthouse Academy

October 23: The Power of Words

October 24: Bigreadersite

October 24: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

October 24: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

October 25: Artistic Nobody

October 25: Donna’s BookShelf

October 26: Pause for Tales

October 26: Christian Chick’s Thoughts

October 26: Bukwurmzzz

October 27: Splashes of Joy

October 27: Bibliophile Reviews

October 28: ASC Book Reviews

October 28: Vic’s Media Room

October 28: inklings and notions

October 29: Jeanette’s Thoughts

October 29: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

October 30: A Baker’s Perspective

October 30: Book by Book

October 30: Quiet Quilter

October 31: Two Girls and a Book

October 31: Blossoms and Blessings


devoted-giveawayTo celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of The Devoted and an iPad Mini 2 16GB!
Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a60b