Review of A Christmas in the Alps, by Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson brings it with another of her fascinating romances. Sweet and clean, we follow a gal named Simone all the way to France! She is the namesake of a French grandmother who left a cryptic message about a treasure.

As you read, you will travel with Simone, arrive in Europe, and meet long-lost relatives. But, you will also meet Kyle, who happens to end up in the same town as Simone. After some mis-direction by the relatives, she finds love, adventure and a form of treasure. I will not say more, as I do not want to spoil your fun.

As ever, this book is available on Amazon.

So are my books, search Susan Karsten books to find my historical romances and my cozy mystery. Thanks.

An Amish Barn Raising, review by Susan Karsten

The first story, Building a Dream, by Amy Clipston, features a situation that I haven’t come across in other Amish novels. A young woman’s father looks down upon her preferred man because his occupation isn’t “Amish” enough. The way this is resolved is very touching and felt real.

To Raise a Home, the second story in the collection, is by Kelly Irvin, my favorite writer of Amish tales. In this one, an Amish man has asteady girl, but then the girl he loved first moves back to town. The story is really interesting with a good number of twists and turns.

Love’s Solid Foundation, by Kathleen Fuller, a beautiful Amish girl learns to be humble and kind. But her past misdeeds follow her, and she has to decide to stay on the right path no matter what. The story was really interesting and I wanted to root for pretty Nettie.

Review of At Lighthouse Point, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The third book in a series featuring the same location and same family, the saga continues, this time focusing on the sister named Blaine.

Several interesting things are going on here. More than one generation of the family have issues that are worked through within the pages of this book.

Blaine has become a fancy chef, but when she returns to the island to take up her spoon, many roadblocks stand in her way. The problems are quite unique, and keep you turning pages.

A dazzling romance is also part of the fun, if you’ve read the other offerings in this series, you won’t want to miss this novel.

Review by Susan Karsten, author of the recent Missing Quilt Mystery, available on Amazon.

Review of Blackberry Beach, Irene Hannon’s latest book

Hannon is an acclaimed award-winning author of many very pleasant Christian (lite) romance novels. She goes deep with her character development and comes up with unique situations, believable conflicts, and it all happens in a lovely setting.

Hope Harbor is a fictional coastal town in the Pacific Northwest. The town’s anchor is Charley, a taco vendor/artist, who is a visionary (for lack of a better word), and a repeating character in the series.

This, the latest entry in the series, features an actress with a rising Hollywood star who has doubts about continuing in the career which is not turning out the way she thought it would. The constant pressures have taken away her joy of acting. Her love interest is a man who has already walked away from a promising career and started a small town business.

You may have noticed I am being somewhat vague about the characters and the plot. I do not want to take away one bit of the pleasure you will have when you turn the pages of this lovely romance.

Review by: Susan Karsten, author of 2020’s “The Missing Quilt Mystery” available on Amazon.

Interview of Cynthia Ruchti, author of Facing the Dawn (part 2)

*Here we have the second half of my blogs about this book.*

Today’s blog post consists of an interview with the author, Cynthia Ruchti.

Cynthia, you reference a character with an interest in the meaning of names. As a name-lover myself, that caught my attention — haven’t seen that in a book before in just that way. What is the word for a student of names, and how did you come up with that character detail?

“The study of names is called onomastics, a field which touches on linguistics, history, anthropology , psychology, sociology, philology and much more. When people refer to the ” meaning of a name”, they are most likely referring to the etymology, which is the original literal meaning.”


Ever since I started naming my babies, now my characters, I’ve been fascinated with the meanings behind names. When I name my characters, I work hard on it, making sure the name fits the character. Or if it doesn’t, there’s a real good reason why there’s a disconnect. (Like naming a pitbull Fluffy because he chews up pillows.)
When an author names a character, sometimes it actually helps inform how that character will act on the page. But we also wrestle with, “No, I can’t use that name because my cousin might not appreciate having his name linked to a character like that.” Or “No, not that. Same name as that girl who stole my lunch money in first grade.” Or, “Well, what do you know? I already wrote a book with an Amanda as the main character!”
Researching the meaning behind a name will often give me an idea for a scene in which they “live up to” their name.

Cynthia, your main character had a wry sense of humor which I enjoyed. Of special notice was when she started making up hashtags or slogans that were pretty LOL. Can you give our readers an insight as to what made you come up with that humorous bit? (I have my suspicions )


“I personally love the humor that naturally erupts out of weird or telling hashtags, such as: #eatingoreoswhenishouldbeexercising

#volunteeringfornothingtoday

#anythingbutmakinganothermeal

#done.

My love for millennials, GenZ, and whatever comes after that is strong. Watching my own kids and grandkids communicate in snippets reminds me that sometimes it’s not what’s said but what’s left out that is poignant or humorous or both. I also needed to make the characters in Facing the Dawn–all of which deal with their own battles with grief and loss–have room to breathe, a lighthearted moment, something to laugh about, a little comedic relief. Mara often used humor and her wry wit as a coping mechanism. Many of us do.

……
Thank you Cynthia Ruchti, for answering my questions. I sincerely enjoyed the book, and was thoroughly impressed with the depth of the story and the trials the characters went through – unique! I hope if find a wide audience.

Facing the Dawn was a real wow on so many levels. The author includes several plot lines that are super fresh and new. Also, the humor amidst the sorrow–as the main character struggles up from bottom, was refreshing and made the subject matter so real. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-written book and a good story.

The way the author unfolds the main character’s family events is creative, and hits a lot of the right notes. Almost as if one were unwrapping a gift very slowly.

Windows to the future are partially opened, which gives hope, but nothing feels cliche or superficial. The writer’s light touch when showing us crisis events gives us space, and that makes the burden tolerable. You will be astounded by the many plot strands that are skillfully woven into a fantastic read.

This post is by romance author: Susan Karsten

Review of Facing the Dawn, by Cynthia Ruchti (part 1)

Facing the Dawn was a real wow on so many levels. The author includes several plot lines that are super fresh and new. Also, the humor amidst the sorrow–as the main character struggles up from bottom, was refreshing and made the subject matter so real. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-written book and a good story.

The way the author unfolds the main character’s family events is creative, and hits a lot of the right notes. Almost as if one were unwrapping a gift very slowly.

Windows to the future are partially opened, which gives hope, but nothing feels cliche or superficial. The writer’s light touch when showing us crisis events gives us space, and that makes the burden tolerable. You will be astounded by the many plot strands that are skillfully woven into a fantastic read.

Part 2 of my blogs about this book will be coming soon. The second part will feature an interview with the author, Cynthia Ruchti.

This post is by romance author: Susan Karsten

Review: A Dance in Donegal, by Jennifer Deibel

This book, which I received from the publisher, is an enjoyable Christian historical fiction book, recently released.

A Boston-bred gal named Moira accedes to her mother’s dying wish. She must go to Ireland and become a teacher in the village where Mother was raised.

There’s some mystery about her mother’s background that skitters around the edges of Moira’s experiences with the community. Some townspeople are friendly, but quite a few seem to have something against her. As you read, you’ll be swept up into the past and ride the waves of Moira’s adventures as a teacher, and as she finds love.

This review is by Susan Karsten, whose books are also available on Amazon.

Review of The Moonlight School, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I received this book when I agreed to do a blog post about it. I am happy to chatter about this compelling Christian fiction book.

The book opens with a tragedy involving a kidnapping. When the story moves on from that, some time has elapsed and we travel to hillbilly land with a privileged, kind young lady named Lucy Wilson. She is a teacher, and hatches a plan to help with the adult literacy problem in the community.

The twists and turns are interesting, and it’s pleasant to read as Lucy gains purpose and strength through serving others. Added interest comes by way of the fact this is all based on real-life historical events.

Review by Susan Karsten, author of five works of fiction, all available on Amazon

An Escape for Ellie, by Susan Karsten

Here’s the back cover blurb for book #3 in the Honor’s Point series:

Escaping an impending forced marriage, Ellie runs from a loveless match. Rescued and hiding out as a lady’s companion,  she makes the best of her circumstances. When dashing Lord Dare captures her affection, Ellie can’t reveal her true feelings or identity, and is torn from her refuge by an evil abductor. Will true love arrive in time?

An Escape for Ellie is available for pre-order (use the link above). Though available only digitally at this time (due to c*vid), I’d appreciate your support with a purchase at $5.99. Even if you don’t prefer using an e-reader, it would be very nice if you’d just do it for me!

Also, you can go to Amazon and read some of it for free, and read an additional description just to see if you like it.

Thanks, everyone!

Susan

Softly Blows the Bugle, by Jan Drexler

Review by: Susan Karsten

This book is a well-crafted historical romantic suspense. Many Amish-themed books are set in today’s world, but this one takes you back to the post-bellum world of Weaver’s Creek, Ohio.

Meet Elizabeth Kaufman, relieved widow. Her husband has died in the Civil War. He was wicked, and she is emotionally scarred by the events of that marriage.

A wounded amputee soldier arrives home with her brother, at the same time, another veteran who is slick and handsome arrives in the community. Good dollops of action and mystery are woven into an engaging novel. Without giving away any more of the story, I will simply recommend this book as a good read and an excellent combination of genres: Amish fiction + romantic suspense + historical fiction.

Enjoy!

Buy it here: