Category Archives: WaterBrook Press

Review: Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An Old Order Mennonite couple’s vows and beliefs are challenged in this stirring contemporary novel for fans of Cindy Woodsmall or Shelley Shepherd Gray.

Anthony and Marty Hirschler are part of an Old Order Mennonite community in Pine Hill, Indiana. The couple has grown apart since a doctor confirmed they would never have children. Marty longs to escape the tight-knit area where large families are valued, and the opportunity to do so arises when her childhood friend, Brooke Spalding, resurfaces with the wild idea of rebuilding a ghost town into a resort community. Brooke hires Anthony to help with the construction, drawing the Hirschlers away from Indiana and into her plan, and then finds herself diagnosed with cancer. Moral complications with Brooke’s vision for a casino as part of the resort and the discovery of a runaway teenager hiding on the property open up a world neither the Hirschlers nor Brooke had considered before. Will they be able to overcome their challenges and differences to help the ones among them hurting the most?


Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer is an emotional journey of self discovery, resilience and faith.

Marty Hirschler and her husband Anthony have been married for sixteen years but the past few years have been quite difficult. The discovery she would never have children has sent Marty into a crisis of faith. She has also withdrawn from Anthony and the rest of their community. Her best friend Brooke Spalding’s proposal for Anthony to head up a huge restoration project is the answer to Marty’s prayers.   Upon their arrival, Marty discovers Brooke has just been diagnosed with cancer and she refuses to allow her best friend to go through her upcoming ordeal on her own. Will Marty finally decide to trust God to help her as she encounters many unexpected challenges in the upcoming months?

Marty has closed her heart to both God and Anthony as she struggles to accept she will never have the family she dreamed of. She is bitter, full of sorrow and resentful as she pushes everyone, including Anthony, away from her.  With Anthony gone on yet another construction project, Marty makes a fervent plea to escape her regular life.  With her prayer answered, she is reunited with Brooke and she finds purpose in aiding her friend in her battle. Over the next several months, Marty gradually begins feeling hopeful for her future.

Anthony is just as disappointed about not having children as Marty, but he remains certain this is part of God’s plan. His faith never wavers as he and his beloved wife traverse their new course, but he fears Marty will never find her way back to him. Anthony is encouraged by the changes in Marty and he treads lightly when it appears their marriage might finally recover from the devastating blow dealt to them.

Brooke has come a long way from her dysfunctional and poverty stricken childhood. She is a successful businesswoman who is on the cusp of realizing her goal. Learning she has cancer is a turning point as she realizes her professional success is not the legacy she wants to leave behind. Brooke is fiercely independent and she at first resists Marty’s efforts to help her.  Initially feeling unworthy of God’s love and grace, Brooke discovers the peace and joy missing from her life as she discovers the healing power of  her spiritual journey.

Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a powerful novel of faith, hope and friendship. All of the characters are well-drawn with relatable flaws and realistic growth as they begin to heal.  Kim Vogel Sawyer tackles some very difficult subject matter such as infertility, cancer and human trafficking which results in a thought-provoking storyline that has quite a bit of depth.  I absolutely loved and highly recommend this uplifting novel of resilience and faith to readers of Christian fiction.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Ours for a Season, Rated B+, Review, WaterBrook Press, Women's Fiction

Review: Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: Waterbrook
Genre: Historical, Christian, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Blogging for Books


Readers rabid for the sweet historical romances of Tracie Peterson and Tamara Alexander will flock to best-selling author Kim Vogel Sawyer’s prairie-set heartwarmer of high society cast-off and the western town that welcomes her.

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness?


Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer is an absolutely heartwarming historical romance with a gentle undercurrent of faith.

After her father is arrested and convicted of stealing from his business partners, Abigail Brantley loses not only her social standing, but her friends and fiancé.  With no one to turn to for help, she becomes a mail order bride for Mrs. Helena Bingham. Unfortunately , none of her matches have worked out so when Helena receives sixteen requests for brides from a small town in Kansas, she decides she needs to meet the men in person. Both women journey to Spiveyville where Abigail is tasked with tutoring the men who have hearts of gold but need a little polish and tips for courting their brides.  Mack Cleveland, one of the few men who did not request a bride, is sent to pick up the women. Mack has reason to be suspicious Helena’s business is on the up and up so he is surprised when he looks forward to spending time with Abigail during her stay in town. Given the differences between them, is there any chance for a future together?

Abigail clings tightly to the teachings of her darling mother and she is unyielding when it comes to manners and social decorum. However, she does not seem to realize that what is proper behavior for her former life is not exactly a perfect fit for her new circumstances.  Abigail holds tight to these last vestiges of her previous social standing and in doing so, she pushes everyone away. She has also lost her faith since she feels so abandoned by everyone else after her father’s activities come to light. Now with one more failed match behind her, Abigail is scared that Helena will desert her as well.

Helena is a wonderfully wise, caring and compassionate woman.  She wants nothing but the best for the women who are willing to become mail order brides. However, she is having a difficult time convincing Abigail that she needs to lower her expectations and be more willing to relax her strict adherence to social etiquette. Unwilling to cast her out, Helena instead comes up with a plan to put Abigail’s social skills to good use.

Mack is a good hearted man who knows better than anyone how Abigail’s fall from grace feels. He too experienced being judged by his peers for someone else’s actions.  His friends in Spiveyville helped him heal from these emotional wounds but he is not quite as trusting as his  neighbors when it comes to mail order brides. So with a healthy skepticism,  Mack is determined to make sure Helena and Abigail are not running a scam. Initially highly suspicious of the two women, Mack is very surprised by how much he enjoys spending time with Abigail. When the truth about her past comes to light, will Mack continue to give Abigail the benefit of the doubt?

Beneath a Prairie Moon is an absolutely charming novel with a superb cast of lovable characters. Mack and Helena are quite endearing right from the start but Abigail is initially quite frustrating and not overly appealing.  The plot is engaging and Abigail’s transformation occurs at a realistic pace. Spiveyville is a typical rough around the edges western town and Kim Vogel Sawyer does an outstanding job bringing the little town and its residents vibrantly to life.  The spiritual element is perfectly woven into the storyline in a way that feels like a natural extension of the characters’ lives.  With just a hint of adventure, this wonderful historical novel comes to an uplifting and heartfelt conclusion.

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Review: Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 353 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Blogging for Books


Decades of Loss, an Unsolved Mystery,
and a Rift Spanning Three Generations

Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.

Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can’t understand her mother’s overprotectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother’s inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan—a cold case agent—cherishes her grandmother’s lavish attention and affection.

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel’s painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help both women recover all that’s been lost?


Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a bittersweet novel of healing for three generations of mothers and daughters.

In rural Arkansas in 1943, Hazel DeFord’s younger sister Maggie vanishes while the two girls are picking blackberries. This one event defines Hazel’s life to the extent that her only daughter, Diane, seethes with resentment over her mother’s over protectiveness.  In turn, Diane’s relationship with her daughter, Meghan, is also affected as Diane’s attempts not to be anything like Hazel take her to the other end of the parenting spectrum. When these three women end up under the same roof while Meghan recovers from a car accident, can the fractures in these relationships be repaired?

Despite Diane’s somewhat aloof mothering, Meghan is a warm, caring and quite well adjusted young woman. She absolutely adores her grandmother and her fondest childhood memories revolve around her summer visits with Hazel. In recent years, she has not spent as much time with Hazel as she would like, so Meghan is eagerly looking forward to convalescing from her accident with her grandmother. Needless to say, the last person she expects to see upon her arrival at Hazel’s house is Diane. Which begs the question: why is Diane here?

Well, the answer to that question definitely paints Diane in a very unflattering light. Her anger and bitterness toward Hazel  have not abated despite the passage of time and she snipes and snaps at her mother at every turn. Diane is a downright unpleasant character whose attitude is absolutely ridiculous since she is now an adult and should seriously have let go of her resentment YEARS ago. Her jealousy over Hazel and Meghan’s close relationship quickly grows tiresome as does her inability to feel any type of empathy for her mother’s loss.

Should Hazel have attempted to explain to Diane why she was so worried about her daughter’s safety? Of course. But in all honesty, she has a valid, albeit slightly skewed, reason for not revealing this traumatic secret. Hazel’s actions stem from love and fear and although it is perfectly understandable that Diane would chafe at her mother’s long ago restrictions, her present day reaction is over the top and completely out of proportion now she is a middle aged adult.

The mystery about what happened to young Maggie is quite interesting.  Although it is fairly easy to guess what happened to her, Meghan and her partner Sean’s investigation into the long ago disappearance is fascinating.  While their chances at uncovering the truth are slim due to the passage of time, no matter how tenuous, they pursue every lead they uncover.

With a strong undercurrent of faith, Bringing Maggie Home is heartwarming novel of redemption and forgiveness.  Although it is difficult to like Diane, Meghan and Hazel are enjoyable characters who share warm and loving relationship.  Maggie’s story arc is quite fascinating and the investigation into her disappearance is quite engrossing.  The various storylines are completely wrapped up by the novel’s conclusion and readers will love Kim Vogel Sawyer’s sweet epilogue.

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Filed under Bringing Maggie Home, Christian, Contemporary, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Rated C+, Review, WaterBrook Press, Women's Fiction

Review: Life After by Katie Ganshert

Title: Life After by Katie Ganshert
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Women’s Fiction
Length: 354 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Blogging for Books


It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.


Life After by Katie Ganshert is a poignant yet ultimately uplifting novel of healing and new beginnings.

One year after surviving a train bombing that took the lives of the other twenty-two passengers on board,  Autumn Manning is struggling with survivor’s guilt and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unable to face taking public transportation, she now works from home only leaving her apartment when absolutely necessary. Despite being unable to remember the bombing or the events of the fateful day, Autumn suffers from horrible nightmares. Obsessed with trying to understand why her life was spared, her life eventually intersects with the family of one of the bombing victims.

While Autumn cannot let the tragedy go as she searches for answers, marriage counselor Paul Elliott’s wife Vivian died in the attack and he wants nothing more than leave the past in the past. However, his twelve year old daughter Reese is haunted by her mother’s death and she has turned to Autumn for help in coping with her loss. With Autumn and the Elliot family bound by tragedy, is there any way they can help each other heal the wounds from the heartbreaking events from that fateful day?

Autumn positively radiates pain and sorrow as she tries to make sense of why she lived when so many others lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. Hampered by her inability to remember the events of the day, she also cannot make sense of her complicated feelings toward her now ex-fiancé Seth Ryker. She is now facing serious financial repercussions from her decision to quit her lucrative career after she physically recovered from the wounds she sustained in the bombing. The recent one year anniversary of the deadly attack is an unexpected emotional setback and she finally gives in to her family’s pleas to seek professional assistance. Autumn is stunned when Reese suddenly shows up on her doorstep, but it is coming face to face with Paul that deeply affects her.

Paul is hoping the one year anniversary of the bombing will finally be the turning point in his family’s grieving process. He is growing increasingly concerned as Reese’s behavior begins to deteriorate. His once loving daughter has turned into a stranger as she lashes out at him and her little brother Tate. But it is not until she runs away then begins shutting him out that Paul becomes truly worried about her. He has compelling reasons to try to put the death of his wife behind him but is his desire to move forward harming his daughter? Is Paul being unreasonable after he implores Autumn to stay away from his family?

Life After is a deeply affecting novel that is quite thought-provoking. The characters are beautifully developed with realistic imperfections and strengths that make them easy to relate to. There is a spiritual aspect to the storyline but it is quite understated and perfectly complements the other elements of the plot. Katie Ganshert broaches difficult subject matter in a sensitive manner and the topics will resonate with anyone who has ever questioned God’s plans. This emotionally compelling novel delves into some tough issues without becoming overly dark or depressing and is ultimately quite gratifying. It is an absolutely heartwarming journey of healing that will linger in readers’ hearts and minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Inspirational, Katie Ganshert, Life After, Rated B+, Review, WaterBrook Press

Review: Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Historical (’30s), Christian, Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Blogging for Books


In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?

Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.

When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”

Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?


Set during the depression in Buffalo Creek, Kansas, Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a beautiful novel of faith, reconciliation, forgiveness and compassion.

Neva Shilling is anxiously awaiting the return of her husband Warren from his latest trip to neighboring towns to buy and sell goods for their general store.  The arrival of a wagon sends her and their two children Bud and Belle rushing to greet him, but to their surprise, a stranger is waiting with a wagon full of furniture.  Jesse Caudel, a deputy from Beloit, is the bearer of bad news when he announces Warren and his wife Violet have recently passed away. Even more stunning, Warren’s last request was for Jesse to take his three young children to their “Aunt Neva”. Shocked, ashamed and heartbroken, she takes in Charley, Cassie and Adeline but angry and resentful over Warren’s deception, Neva maintains  an emotional and physical distance from the orphans.

Used to taking care of things in Warren’s absence, Neva is a strong and resourceful woman with an unwavering faith.  She blames herself for her husband decision to “marry” another woman and her shame leads her to keeping the youngsters’ true identity a secret from Bud, Belle and her neighbors.  Somewhat out of her depth and relying heavily on fourteen year old Bud’s assistance, Neva quickly figures out what she needs to do to keep the family store open.  Unwilling to tell anyone the truth about the children’s parentage and ignoring concerned friends’ advice to put them in an orphanage, Neva allows the bulk of their care to fall on fourteen year old Belle’s shoulders.

Neva receives encouragement from an unlikely source when furniture store owner and neighbor Arthur Randall offers to help her.  The families have never been close and Neva cannot help but be a little suspicious of his overtures since, in the past, Arthur has made numerous offers to buy their store.  Gradually, she lets down her guard and accepts his assistance at face value. Unbeknownst to Neva, Arthur does have an ulterior motive for coming to her aid, but as his family’s life becomes more entwined with hers, he genuinely begins to care for Neva and the children.  However, when the truth about Warren’s illegitimate offspring emerges, will Arthur continue to support her?

Jesse is also on hand to lend Neva a helping hand after he becomes the sheriff of Buffalo Creek.  The observant lawman quickly figures out the truth about the three orphans and he does not mince words with Neva when he becomes aware of her antipathy towards them.   He also becomes suspicious about the true nature of Warren’s out of town activities and although sympathetic to her plight, he is completely honest with her about his misgivings about her deceased husband.

Despite her hardships and heartache, Neva remains a caring and compassionate woman who does not hesitate to help others in need.  Using scripture and her strong faith to guide her along her journey, she tries to leave behind her hurt and bitterness but finding forgiveness is not always easy. Although Belle easily accepts the three orphans into her heart, Neva’s lingering resentment blinds her to Bud’s somewhat callous treatment of young Charley.  True healing for the family begins in the aftermath of near tragedy but the townspeople’s less than compassionate response to the truth leaves Neva shaken and uncertain of what the future holds for them.

Room for Hope is a captivating journey of  healing, redemption and acceptance.  Kim Vogel Sawyer uses true to life situations to gently demonstrate the true meaning of several key scriptures and parables. While Neva’s faith never weakens, both Jesse and Arthur undergo tremendous spiritual growth as they help her during her trials and tribulations.  Uplifting and gratifying, I absolutely loved and highly recommend this incredibly heartwarming novel to readers of historical faith-based fiction.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Historical, Historical (30s), Kim Vogel Sawyer, Rated B+, Review, Room for Hope, WaterBrook Press

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Title: Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Genre: Christian/Inspirational, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Obtained from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group


Like the winter, grief has a season. Life returns with the spring.

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her teen years in a trailer park. An unexpected interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa.

Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace that she’s not even sure exists?

The Review:

Katie Ganshert’s debut novel Wildflowers from Winter is an emotional novel about grief, love and finding one’s way back to God. It is sometimes heartbreaking, but the overall message is incredibly uplifting.

I hate to admit it but Bethany Quinn is a difficult character to like. But somehow, she manages to work her way into your heart, and by the end of the novel, you will be rejoicing as she triumphs over the tragedies of her past. While she could be self-absorbed and rather selfish, she is able to set aside some of her personal beliefs and sorrow to help someone else in their time of need. I can definitely relate to how she handles her grief through keeping busy and helping others.

Like Bethany, Evan Price lost his faith in God. Time, patience and guidance from Bethany’s Grandpa Dan helped Evan find his way back. His love of the land that Bethany rejects is a major obstacle between them and serves as a major conflict between them. But it is their love and concern for a mutual acquaintance that sometimes help them bridge the gap between them.

Robin Price is Bethany’s best friend from childhood. While not as close as they once were, Bethany provides her the support she needs when her world comes crashing down around her. It is watching Robin find peace in her faith that aids Bethany in rethinking long held beliefs and misconceptions about God.

Having recently suffered the loss of my father, Wildflowers from Winter was a sometimes difficult but incredibly healing read. The grieving process is accurately portrayed and Ms. Ganshert does a wonderful job of showing how no two people grieve the same. Working through grief happens in its own time and everyone handles their sorrow in different ways. Bethany’s way of handling her grief resonated with me but seeing how Robin deals with her grief was beneficial in understanding how others cope with their loss.

One of the aspects of Ms. Ganshert’s writing style that I greatly enjoyed was how she revealed Bethany’s past. While the present is told in third person in alternating viewpoints from Bethany, Evan and Robin, the past is told in first person in Katie’s voice. It is a unique but highly effective technique and it made the impact of Katie’s past that much more powerful.

Katie Ganshert demonstrates a very valuable and powerful lesson in Wildflowers from Winter. People must live through the barren coldness of winter to greater appreciate the beauty of the spring and through our sorrow we will once again find joy.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Fiction, Inspirational, Katie Ganshert, Rated B, Romance, WaterBrook Press, Wildflowers from Winter