Thursday, September 22, 2016

4-Star Review of "Color of Danger" and Giveaway

Review of Color of Danger


(Secrets of Rios Azules #1)

To enter giveaway, see link below!

by Alexa Verde

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Former runaway Mari Del Lobo works hard to save her struggling restaurant and to trust people again. Dallas surgeon Dr. Luke Goodman turns her world upside down with terrifying news. A recent murder has her late brother's - aka the Smiling Killer - signature and MO. When attacks on her escalate, Mari fights her growing attraction to the good doctor as fiercely as she fights for her life. To rescue herself and those she loves, will she be able to stop the murderer before he strikes again? 

Luke couldn't save his fiancée from the Smiling Killer, but he'll do anything to prevent more murders, even ask help from the serial killer's sister. Finding a kindred tortured soul and the perpetrator's next target in Mari, Luke is determined to protect the stubborn ex-rebel. But Mari would rather face danger than risk the safety of the man she comes to love.


My REVIEW:  Mari Del Lobo saw her brother die.  She was there.  She blames herself for his death and she is also relieved that he is dead.  But her world is turned upside down when Dr. Luke Goodman arrives from Dallas to confront her and tell her that he is convinced her brother is, in fact, alive, and killing again.   Her brother left a terrible legacy behind...he was not only a psychopath, but he was also a serial killer known as "the Smiling Killer" because he cut the faces of the victims to look like they were smiling.  How could he be alive?   He killed the doctor's fiancee and Dr. Luke Goodman doesn't want him to continue killing so he launches his own investigation into the recent murders.  He wants help and he believes that Mari is the best person to give it.  She is motivated to help him when she learns that her closest friends, who she considers to be her "family", are his targets and she is his prime target.  
         I will admit that I had a very hard time getting into this book as I was having difficulty following the storyline.  I also found the resolution to be unlikely and I don't want to spoil the story here, so I won't say a great deal more about my need to know more concerning the ending proposed by the author.   It was interesting though as I read further into the story.  I really came to like Mari and Luke.  I found her past life to be tragic and sad.  Having to confront her past just made me angry for her.   I believe that readers will enjoy this story.  There is definitely suspense and many instances of sensational features.   
         I rated this book 4 stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy suspense and thrillers.
         I received a copy of this book from celebrate lit bloggers and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Alexa Verde


Alexa Verde writes sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. She penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor's degrees in English and Spanish, a master's in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She can claim her 15 seconds of Amazon fame with her books climbing to the #1 spot in Hispanic American and #3 in Christian Mystery & Suspense. She's worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer's hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her popular series Secrets of Rios Azules. For giveaways (Russian souvenirs are the next), news, and recipes, please sign up for her newsletter at www.alexaverde.com. Twitter: @AlexaVerde3. Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexaverdeauthor.com



Blog Stops

September 8: Daysong Reflections
September 9: Christian Bookaholic
September 11: SueStinnett
September 12: Carpe Diem
September 13: Reading Is My SuperPower
September 14: Mary Hake
September 15: A Baker’s Perspective
September 16: Quiet Quilter
September 17: The Power of Words (Spotlight)
September 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 19: History, Mystery & Faith
September 20: Bukwurmzzz
September 21: Blogging With Carol

September 22: Rhonda’s Doings

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate her tour, Alexa is giving away a $50 amazon gift card! Click here to enter:https://promosimple.com/ps/a367

Link to purchase book: http://amzn.to/2c0kbf3

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

5-Star Review of "Baby, Baby" and Giveaway

Review of Baby, Baby

and GIVEAWAY!!!!!  to enter, leave a comment on my blog or one of my facebook posts.  For more chances to win, follow my blog!  Tell me if you are a follower to receive additional entry.

Written by Diane Stortz

Illustrated by Ailie Busby

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A sweet, colorful board book that appeals to a baby's interest in looking at other babies.

Babies enjoy books, looking at other babies, and their own flowering abilities. This short rhyming poem combines all three in a sweet and happy way, while introducing babies to God's love for them. The simple words are paired with colorful images of babies engaging in familiar activities, allowing the book to be used as an introductory concept book as well. And it ends with a reminder that Baby is always loved by God.

MY REVIEW:  This is a precious board book for babies and toddlers.  The pictures are engaging and fun, and the story is one that shows some of the many things that babies are able to do.  I read this multiple times to several grandchildren and nieces and nephews.  They loved it!   They laughed and pointed to the pictures and repeated the words.  They loved looking at themselves in the mirror.   They were eager to read this again and again!   This book is a big hit and I highly recommend it. The children I read to ranged in age from 9 months to 5 years.  
         The children and I rate this book a definite 5-stars!   Get a copy and enjoy with your little ones or buy it as a gift.   
          I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Born in Detroit and raised in Southern California, Diane Stortz has lived in Cincinnati, OH, since graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in journalism. For ten years she led the book group at Standard Publishing as editorial director.

Diane now runs Izzy's Office, where she edits books and writes for children and adults. Her goal: encouraging you to read, learn, love, and live God's Word, the Bible.

Izzy's Office is named for Diane's first house rabbit, Isabella. A petite Dutch rabbit named Pepe ruled the office for six years too. He liked to nudge her feet for attention when she was at her computer and (he thought) ignoring him.

Diane is married and has two married daughters and three grandsons. These days Diane devotes time to baby care rather than bunny care. Two baby boys joined the family this year!

When she's not writing or editing, Diane enjoys walking, gardening, and planning her next trip to visit her grandkids. 

About the Illustrator:

Ailie Busby has had over twenty books published, including titles by Egmont, Walker and Hodder, such as Drat That Fat Cat! and Slugs for Breakfast. She collects vintage jewelery, bags and knitted toys. Ailie lives in Newcastle with her husband, two children and their two cats. 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

5-Star Review of "The Hawaiian Quilt"

Review of The Hawaiian Quilt


by Wanda Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter

The Hawaiian Quilt

Join Mandy Frey as she and three friends leave their Amish community in Indiana for the trip of a lifetime to Hawaii. But when Mandy and one of her friends miss the cruise ship after a port of call on Kauai, how will they adjust and get back home? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Timesbestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

MY REVIEW:  A dream vacation for me would be to visit Hawaii, but I don't know that I'll ever be able to afford that trip; Mandy Frey and her friends' trip was described so vividly that I felt like I was actually there in the tropical paradise.  Mandy lives in an Amish community in Indiana and has never traveled far from home but she has always longed to visit Hawaii.  She and her three friends save their money and plan a trip by train to California and then by cruise ship to the Hawaiian islands and a brief stop in Mexico.   They have an incredible time but Mandy and Ellen miss their cruise ship and get stranded in Hawaii.  They don't know how or when they will get home and how they will afford it as most of their money was invested in this vacation.  Their friends Barbara and Sadie will be worried sick when they don't return to the cruise ship with them.  What will their parents and Mandy's boyfriend, Gideon, think?   
Readers will thrill at finding out how Mandy and Ellen solve this dilemma.
         I rated this book 5 stars as it was truly so descriptive and eloquent that I actually felt like I was there with Mandy and her friends.   The authors brought Hawaii to life for me.   I also could not help feeling affection and compassion for Mandy and Ellen.   Ellen was particularly distressed.   It made me wonder how I would react in a similar situation.   Read this book to find out how the conflict is resolved and how lives are changed in the mean time.
          I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the authors in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Authors:

Wanda E. Brunstetter
Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning romance novelist who has led millions of readers to lose their heart in the Amish life. She is the author of over 70 books with more than 9 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, CBA, ECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, including Time Magazine and USA Today.

Wanda's fascination with the Amish culture developed when she met her husband, Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, and whose family has a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Meeting her new Mennonite sister-in-laws caused Wanda to yearn for the simpler life. In their travels, she and her husband have become close friends with many Amish people across America. Wanda's desire to explore their culture increased when she discovered that her great-great grandparents were part of the Anabaptist faith.

All of Wanda's novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Many of her books are well-read and trusted by the Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

Wanda's primary attraction to the Amish is their desire to live a devout Christian life that strives to honor God, work hard, and maintain close family ties. Whenever she visits her Amish friends, Wanda finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties, which is in stark contrast to the chaos and busyness that plagues so many modern "Englishers." Time and time again, Wanda loses her heart in the Amish life, and she hopes her readers will, too. For more information, visit: www.WandaBrunstetter.com


Jean Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish when she first went to Pennsylvania to visit her father-in-law's family. Since that time, Jean has become friends with several Amish families and enjoys writing about their way of life.  She also likes to put some of the simple practices followed by the Amish into her daily routine.  Jean lives in Washington State with her husband, Richard Jr. and their three children, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish communities in several states.  In addition to writing, Jean enjoys boating, gardening, and spending time on the beach.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

4-Star Review of "Until I Love Again"

Review of Until I Love Again

(The St. Lawrence County Amish #2)

by Jerry S. Eicher




What if the only way to avoid total rejection was to marry or run?

Susanna's freedom during her rumspringa time goes a bit further than she wants her family to know. A birthday sign innocently placed on a gas station billboard condemns Susanna as she realizes her relationship with an Englisha has become far too close.

Her daett is not pleased, but what he hasn't told her is that he himself fathered a child during his own rumspringa. Widower Ernest Helmuth knows about the child, but has said nothing as of yet. He plans on having Susanna as his bride.

With her baptism approaching, Susanna knows that time is running out to make her choice: stay with her family or go to live with the Englisha she has come to love.

With Ernest Helmuth watching, that decision might not be hers to make.

MY REVIEW:   Ernest Helmuth is very persistent and controlling, and he is determined to have Susanna as his new bride.  His two little girls are just adorable and need a new mother.  His sister has been kind enough to help him care for his home and his daughters, but she is of marriageable age herself and is very fond of a young Amish man in the church.  Susanna enjoyed her rumspringa time a little too much for her family and the community's taste.   But does that explain why she hasn't been invited to ride home with anyone from the singings?   Susanna has met a wonderful Englisha friend in Joey and his family as well.   They are very good friends but her family does NOT approve.   Will he lead her away from the church or will she marry Ernest and stay?  and what is the secret that Ernest is holding over her head?
            This book is very interesting.  I did wonder though about the treatment that Susanna receives from the Amish community and the eligible young men?  I don't want to spoil the story for readers in telling what this treatment is and why she receives it, but in other Amish novels, I thought things were done in a different way for young people in her position.  The author was raised in an Amish home so I'm sure he is correct.  I wonder why other authors show a different perspective?  This does make the plot very unique compared to others I have read.  Readers will enjoy learning about the Amish and Susanna's love interests.   
          I rated this book 4 stars and am sure that other readers will love this book.   
          I received an ebook from netgalley and a print copy from the author and publisher in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the author:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina Eicher, and their four children in Virginia.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

5-Star Review of "Claiming Noah"

Review of Claiming Noah


by Amanda Ortlepp



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Catriona and James are desperate for children, and embark on an IVF program. After a gruelling round of treatments, Catriona finally falls pregnant, and they donate their remaining embryo anonymously.

Diana and Liam are on a waiting list to receive an embryo. Sooner than expected, they are thrilled to discover one is available.

After a difficult pregnancy, Catriona gives birth to Sebastian. But severe postnatal depression affects her badly, and quickly turns into deadly psychosis. For her protection and her baby’s, she’s admitted into psychiatric care. When she comes home, she again struggles to bond with her baby, but gradually life finds its own rhythm.

Meanwhile, Diana has given birth to a beautiful little boy, Noah.
But when he is two months old Noah is abducted … and Diana and Liam’s nightmare begins.

Where is Noah?
 

MY REVIEW:   I recall years ago, when I was a teenager in the 1970's about the first test-tube baby as it was called then.   It was a huge ethical dilemma in that time period.  Today, IVF and other similar methods to have a child are commonplace for couples with infertility.  Catriona and James find themselves in the throws of infertility while Diana and Liam are also struggling through infertility as well.  Postpartum depression turns into postpartum psychosis and Catriona and Sebastian are in danger of her own behaviors.  Diana has a baby using a donated egg, but the nightmare of all nightmares occurs when Noah is kidnapped in his stroller while grocery shopping with his mother.  Liam blames Diana for not watching Noah closely enough and allowing the kidnapping to take place.  The paths of the two couples begin to cross in ways neither of them ever dreamed possible. 
             I don't want to spoil the book for readers and it would be easy to do if I continue describing the plot.   I really was enthralled with this book and just couldn't wait to get back to reading it.   One part seemed very farfetched to me concerning Sebastian a few days after his mother entered a psychiatric hospital for treatment of her postpartum psychosis.  This book is well-written and does not rely on cursing and sex to sell the book.   
         I rated this book 5 stars and think readers should check out this debut novel of Amanda Ortlepp.   
         I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Amanda Ortlepp

Amanda Ortlepp's debut novel, Claiming Noah, was published in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. Its ethical dilemmas and emotionally-charged themes struck a chord with mothers and book clubs in particular and it became a bestseller. Claiming Noah will be published in the US and Canada in July 2016. Amanda's second novel, Running Against the Tide, is set on the remote Eyre Peninsula in South Australia where her father grew up. It was published in Australia and New Zealand in 2016. Amanda lives in Sydney.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

5-Star Review of "Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook"

Review of Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook

Over 240 Recipes for Using and Preserving the Bounty of the Land

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Overloaded with garden produce, CSA shares, or farmers’ market finds? Now you’ll know what the Amish do with these seasonal fruits and vegetables and how they preserve some of them for future use. Bring the wisdom of Amish gardeners and cooks into your own home with dozens of recipes and tips from the heart of Amish country in Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook. This well-organized book is sure to become a treasured resource.

MY REVIEW:   Never again will you find more delicious ways to cook, prepare, and preserve the vegetables, meats, fruits, herbs, pasta, and even weeds than in this cookbook.  Scripture verses are interspersed throughout the recipe book.   There is a section on how to use weeds, yes, weeds...for cooking, medicinal purposes, and more!   There is a section on planting according to the signs of nature.   There is a large section on how to make your own natural fertilizers, insect repellants, and more.  And of course, there are many delicious recipes included in this lovely cookbook.  Richard Brunstetter's exceptional photography skills are showcased as he provided many of his photographs to illustrate his wife's collection.  In addition to recipes, there is a section on home canning, freezing, and jams, jelly and pickle making.   Readers are cautioned in this section to know what they are doing and encouraged to take a course if they are unfamiliar with home canning and/or home canning equipment.   They are also cautioned that the Amish recipes are not always USDA approved and recommendations are given to avoid possible food poisoning.
           This is a beautiful book with a sturdy cover and spiral binding.   The photographs contained in the book depict some of the Amish gardeners and gardens readers are enthralled with as well as over 240 recipes.  The recipes will have you drooling and heading to the kitchen to gather ingredients to get started.   There are recipes for Jackson salad, Summer Garden Chili, Frogmore Stew, Pickled Eggs and Red Beets, Peach Bavarian Mold, Bundt Zucchini Cake, Fried Blossoms, Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers, Ginger Ale, Canned Cantaloupe, Hot Garlic Dill Pickles, Onion Relish, and Frozen Popcorn and Slush among many others.   Wanda's Amish friends have shared their tried and true recipes with us and the love they include in each recipe is felt on every page. 
         I rated this book 5 stars and give it the highest of recommendations.
         I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Wanda E. Brunstetter

A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has sold more than seven million copies of her fiction and nonfiction books. Wanda enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish and continues to visit their communities throughout the country. Her books have won numerous awards and topped several bestselling charts.

Friday, September 2, 2016

5-Star Review of "Like a Bee to Honey" and Giveaway

Review of Like a Bee to Honey and Giveaway!


(The Honeybee Sisters #3)

by Jennifer Beckstrand


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Affectionately dubbed The Honeybee Sisters in their Wisconsin Amish community, the three Christner girls are devoted beekeepers who are coming-of-age—and discovering the sweet surprise of love… 
  
Shy, skittish Rose Christner is more comfortable tending to the beehives on the family farm and keeping her aunt’s unruly cats in line than attending social gatherings with the rest of the die youngie. A childhood trauma and secret shame keep her heart under lock and key, and Rose just can’t accept the sweet attention she’s receiving from a handsome neighbor. But the more she shies away from Josiah Yoder, the more their families sneakily plot to bring them together. And when a vandal who’s been plaguing the Honeybee Farm starts targeting Rose, Josiah’s steadfast protection—and patience—just may lead her into his waiting arms…

MY REVIEW:  I love this family and community.  Yes, they're supposedly fictional characters, but author Jennifer Beckstrand brings them to life so that they feel like true friends.   Rose is afraid to love and feels that she ruins everything she touches.  She blames herself for her parents' deaths.   But Josiah loves her unconditionally and unequivocally.   He thinks that she is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.  He wants nothing more than to win her heart and marry her.   
         This story is such a precious one.   Readers are sure to fall in love with this family all over again.  This book could probably be read as a stand-alone but I personally recommend reading the other two books in the series before this one as it will help explain a great deal of the events and traits and behaviors of characters.   The author has obviously researched bee-keeping for this series.  
        I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
       I received a copy of this book from netgalley and celebrate lit bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:   

Jennifer Beckstrand

From Goodreads' bio:

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.

I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.

My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all now available.

I have six Amish Romances in the works with Kensington Books. The first and second books, Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Summer, are now available in stores and online. The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill is set in northern Wisconsin Amish country.

The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.

The Honeybee Sisters Series Banner

Giveaway:

giveaway
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away five copies of The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a20d

Blog Stops:
August 25: A Reader’s Brain
August 28: The Power of Words
August 28: The Power of Words
August 31: cherylbbookblog
August 31: Quiet Quilter
September 1: Rhonda’s Doings
September 1: Book Babble
September 2: Lighthouse Academy
September 4: Bukwurmzzz
September 5: Donna’s BookShelf
September 7: Blogging with Carol