Posted in E-Book Challenge Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge Reviews 2018 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Review – Portrait of a Sister by Laura Bradford @KensingtonBooks

Portrait of a Sister
Women’s Fiction/Amish
Setting – Pennsylvania
Kensington (June 26, 2018)
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496716469
ISBN-13: 978-1496716460
Kindle ASIN: B07638XPNG

Katie Beiler was always the follower to her twin sister Hannah’s lead. That is until Hannah left their Amish upbringing for an English life—leaving Katie to find her own footing in a world that no longer looks as it once did . . .

Katie has always imagined her life being just like Mamm’s. It’s why she chose baptism and why she’ll soon marry Abram Zook. But ever since Hannah left, the only thing that truly makes Katie smile is the sketchpad in which she indulges her talent for drawing faces—a sin that, if discovered, could get her shunned by her family, her friends, and even Abram. Yet Katie sees her secret pastime as the only way to quiet a growing restlessness she’d just as soon ignore. That is until their Mamm’s untimely death brings Hannah back home to Pennsylvania, with a new outlook on life, a man she adores, and, soon, an invitation for Katie to visit her in New York City.

Suddenly, Katie is experiencing a freedom she’s never had, in a world she never imagined. She’s also spending time in the company of a fellow dreamer, someone who sees her as strong and brave and makes her laugh. But it’s when Hannah shows Katie’s drawings to a gallery owner that she truly finds herself at a crossroads between the only life she’s ever known and the powerful lure of an unfamiliar future.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

As a fan of this author’s cozy mysteries, I was very excited to learn she was branching out from the cozies to tell this story. Well, let me just say she hit it out of the park!

Twins Katie and Hannah Beiler may look alike but now grown up their lives have taken very different directions. After their Rumspringa, Katie was baptized and prepared for her Amish life to continue. Hannah left her Amish life and moved to New York for an English way of life. Katie had a hard time after her sister left but she found solace in a sketch pad she purchased while away. She has a lot of talent, but drawing people’s faces is a sin that could have her shunned. When her mother dies, Hannah comes home. Hannah is so happy with her English life. She has a job, an apartment and a boyfriend. She wants Katie to join her in New York at least for a visit. When their father approves the trip for Katie, she is very unsure about his decision. She boards the bus and realizes what happens next could change her life forever.

I was immediately drawn in by Katie’s story. With Hannah gone Katie has many responsibilities for her family. With her mother ill and then dying, those responsibilities grow exponentially. Her marriage to Abram Zook is on hold until her next younger sister can care for the family. Hannah is off living her life and Katie has dreams too. Reading this story was like riding an emotional roller coaster. The weight of Katie’s decisions was very heavy and her sister seemed to not realize the difference between the decision she made and the one that Katie was making.

Ms. Bradford is an outstanding storyteller. She does her research and that brings the reality of this story to life. The struggle Katie was facing was detailed and reverberated off the pages. I loved reading both about Katie’s home life and her New York experience. I have never been to New York City and I am not Amish but I think my reactions would be similar to Katie’s. That city can be quite intimidating. I have always found the Amish way of life very interesting. We have a community not too far from us here in Wisconsin.  I also enjoyed her descriptions of Katie’s drawings. The words sketched the pictures in my mind perfectly.

This author has written strong, poignant, Portrait of A Sister. I absolutely loved this story. Katie’s story will stick with me for a long time.

Fans of Laura Bradford’s Amish mysteries and Amish Fiction fans will enjoy this story. She has made a wonderful debut into Women’s Fiction too!

This book exceeds a 5-star rating! It will definitely be on my Best Reads of 2018 list and receives my Paradise Rating!

About The Author

While spending a rainy afternoon at a friend’s house more than thirty years ago, Laura Bradford (a.k.a. Elizabeth Lynn Casey) fell in love with writing over a stack of blank paper, a box of crayons, and a freshly sharpened number two pencil. From that moment forward, she never wanted to do anything else.

Today, Laura is the national bestselling author of the Amish Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, the Tobi Tobias Mystery Series, The Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries and the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey).

In June 2018, Laura will debut her first-ever women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister.

Laura is a former Agatha nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, traveling, baking, and visiting the sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. For more information and all the latest book news, visit her website at

Author Links

Website     Facebook     Twitter   Pinterest



Also by Laura Bradford

Coming November 27, 2018

Click here for more books by Laura Bradford.

Click Here for books written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Literary Escapes Reviews 2014 Thoughts You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Laura Bradford – Author of Shunned and Dangerous (Giveaway too!)

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Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!

I am so excited to welcome my friend Laura Bradford here today!!

I will post my review at the bottom for this book but I just have to tell you know this story is amazing!!

elizabeth lynn casey


From the Fringes to my Heart

By Laura Bradford

Looking back through my life, I think I always liked the people on the fringes, best. I never fell for the popular jocks, or the boy everyone in class thought was so amazing. I guess, even then, I could see past the sparkle and glare to what mattered most.

So I have to wonder if some of that is why, in both my mystery series, my favorite character is found among the secondary line-up. Sure, I love Claire, my main character in my Amish Mysteries, and Tori in my Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries…but it’s the folks around them that really make me smile.

shunned and dangerousIn Shunned and Dangerous, the third book in my Amish Mysteries, Detective Jakob Fisher (one of my favorites) gets a lot of page time and that couldn’t thrill me more. You see, Jakob has an interesting past—one that’s responsible for a lot of heartache and tension in his present, and it allows me, as the writer, to really delve into the concept of excommunication among the Amish.

Jakob Fisher spent the first nineteen years of his life being Amish. He lived it, and he embraced it. That said, he developed a curiosity about police as he entered his teen years and opted to spend his brief Rumspringa learning more about the profession before he returned to the life he fully intended to lead. So sure was he about his future, he cut his Rumspringa short in order to be baptized.

Once a member of the Amish community is baptized, there is no going back. If they opt to leave before baptism, they can still have a relationship with their family. However, if they opt to leave after baptism, they are ex-communicated from their home, their community, their family. This ex-communication holds true even if the Amish person in question leaves for an otherwise noble reason—like wanting to join the police force to help solve a crime against his brethren…

Today, Jakob is a detective in Heavenly, Pennsylvania, the same town in which he grew up. He took the job to be closer to his family, to see them walking down the street or working in the fields. It’s his way of making sure they’re okay, even though he knows he can’t be part of their lives ever again—not as a son, brother, or uncle, anyway.

It’s a heartbreaking aspect to write, at times, but the dynamic is wrought with opportunities for tension, emotion, and, at times, even hope.

Is it painful to see the rejection Jakob faces from his family at times as this series progresses? Sure. But, at the same time, it makes his triumphant moments all the more powerful.

If you haven’t read my Amish Mysteries yet, I hope you’ll give them a chance.



About This Author

Laura Bradford is the national best-selling author of the Amish Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). The third title in the series—Shunned and Dangerous—is now available. To learn more about Laura and the Amish Mysteries, you can visit her website: If you’d like to say up to date on Laura and her series beyond her website, you can “like” her page on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @Bradfordauthor.

shunned and dangerous
Shunned and Dangerous
(An Amish Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (March 4, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Mary Ann Lasher
Cover Design by Sarah Oberrender
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425252437
E-Book File Size: 1980 KB

Living in the small town of Heavenly, Pennsylvania, Claire Weatherly has come to admire the Amish for their wholesome, honest way of life. But she also knows that nothing is as simple as it seems—especially when murder disturbs the peace.

It is harvest time in Heavenly and Claire is excited to try out one of Mose Fisher’s famous corn mazes. Her excitement quckly turns to terror and she rounds a corner and comes face to face with a very dead Harley Zook. Harley was a local Amish dairy farmer and handyman.

This investigation is going to be difficult for Detective Jakob Fisher. Mose Fisher is his father and because Jakob has been shunned by the Amish Community he has not had any recent contact with the man. When the evidence starts to point directly at Mose things get even tougher. Claire feels she has to step in and find the real killer before someone else turns up dead.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Cozy mysteries are my favorites and Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey) is one of my favorite cozy authors. She is an amazing storyteller so I always know the book is going to be a great read but with this story she absolutely blew me away!!

When an author writes a series each book brings a new adventure and the characters continue to evolve. This has to be extremely difficult. You have to tell the reader enough to get them engaged but you can’t “spill all the beans” too soon. In the first 2 books of this series we were introduced to Jakob Fisher and knew he had been shunned by his Amish Family. In this story Jakob takes center stage and we find out more details but also see the pain he must endure for the choice he made.

Most of us know the Amish live a simple life. They do not have telephones or electricity and travel by horse and buggy.  Personally there is an Amish community near here and my daughter visits often. She shops in their stores and bring me the most delicious baked goods. I have also witnessed some of their excellent building and woodworking skills. But I never really think of those that have been shunned for choices they have made. How they can forgive someone who may have committed a terrible crime against them but when a member of their family makes a choice after baptism to leave the community they cannot be forgiven. They are ex-communicated (shunned) forever.  Even if they have left to protect and serve others. The way Jakob has to deal with this just breaks my heart.  Claire is trying to understand the workings of the Amish too, just as I was and this really added to my relationship with this story.

In addition to this character study Bradford creates an outstanding mystery that she weaves right into this heartbreaking situation. There were so many twists and turns it was hard to believe this story took place in just 288 pages. She packed the drama and emotions into this story, it left me reeling.

I love my cozies and with no disrespect intended at all. This was so much more than a cozy mystery. This is a story that is going to stick with me longer than any story I have read in a long time. It was so eye-opening and thought provoking.

Laura you really hit a home run with this one. You get my first Paradise rating of the year.  I can’t wait to travel back to Heavenly again soon.


Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Laura for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End March19, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Reviews 2013

Review: The Journey (Kentucky Brothers) by Wanda Brunstetter

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The Journey (Kentucky Brothers)
Series: Kentucky Brothers (Book 1)
Publisher: Barbour Books (April 5, 2011)
Paperback: 382 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1602606814
E-Book File Size: 1080 KB


In this first installment of the Kentucky Brothers saga we meet Titus Fisher. He waited to court young Phoebe Stoltzfus until she was old enough. He knew he wanted to marry her since she was 13 and he was 17 but as they moved closer to marriage Phoebe wanted to move away from the Amish way of life and Titus to go with her. He couldn’t do that. So away she went from Pennsylvania to California leaving his heart shattered.

Then Titus received a job opportunity in a Amish Community in Kentucky. Against his mother’s wishes he decides to take the job and start fresh in a new place. The people in Kentucky are very welcoming and he meets many new people, including a couple of women they may help fill the hole Phoebe left in his heart.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Last year I read The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club and loved it. I knew I wanted to read more by this author and once I started reading this story I couldn’t stop.

This author really takes us on a journey with Titus. He was truly having trouble growing up and becoming his own man in Pennsylvania in the shadow of his family and a mother that just loved him so much she really had a hard time letting go. It was a major decision  for Titus to move away on his own and when he arrived in Kentucky is was hardly smooth sailing. There was a young woman he saw every day that reminded him of the girl that broke his heart. His living situation was far from ideal. Plus he really missed the family he left behind.

I read books like this to give me a break from the mysteries and thrillers that I usually read. I love the slower pace and the traditional dialogue. There is a little mystery mixed in too that I enjoy but it is definitely a minor subplot.  Brunstetter gives us “English” a peek at the Amish Plain life with a nice balance of coming of age, romance, and a perfect amount of humor.

After I started reading I realized this series was a spinoff from another series but I had no trouble following the story but I will probably go back and read that series after this one.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent


*This book was from my personal collection.

Find out more about this author and her books here.

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