Monday, September 29, 2014

Review of "Trading Secrets"

Review of  Trading Secrets

by Melody Carlson


Back in fifth grade, Micah Knight got an Amish pen pal, and over the years, they've exchanged many letters--and many secrets. At age seventeen, Micah finally has the chance to meet her pen pal face-to-face. The only problem is that because of confusion about her name when the pen pals were assigned, her pen pal was a boy, Zack Miller. And all this time, Micah's never told Zack that she's actually a girl! While she wants nothing more than to experience life on Zack's Amish farm, she's afraid he'll hate her for deceiving him all these years. But she makes up her mind to face the music--and that's where the fun really begins. 
Bestselling author Melody Carlson brings young adults another fascinating tale of worlds colliding, secrets being revealed, and friendships forming. Teens will love this story of miscommunication and mishaps along the way to the truth.

MY REVIEW:  This is a work of Young Adult Amish fiction, but I would recommend it to adults as well.  This was a fun, light read.   Micah and Zack have been penpals for six years and because of her name, Zack assumes she is a he.   He even chose her for that reason.   She has the chance to visit his family farm during her spring break and she goes dressed as a boy and does not reveal her secret until the family dinner that evening.  I will not spoil the book for readers by revealing what happens when she tells them that she is actually a girl.  Zack loves education and reading and spends a great deal of time reading science and history books.  I hope that there is a sequel to the book as I am curious to know what happens later with Zack and Micah.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to teens and adults alike.  
I received a pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. 

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. 

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Giveaway of $5 Amazon Gift Card

Giveaway for $5 Amazon Gift Card

To enter, tell me what you like best about autumn.  I love the changing colors here in Virginia. 

you can enter here or at my facebook page:

Giveaway ends Sept. 30, 2014 at midnight.  
eGift Card design previeweGift Card design previeweGift Card design preview

Leave an email with your comment so I can contact you.  The giftcard will be delivered via email as well.   

Review of "A Love Undone"

Review of  A Love Undone: An Amish Novel of Shattered Dreams and God's Unfailing Grace

by Cindy Woodsmall


A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?
At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

MY REVIEW:  This one is sad.  I felt deep sadness for Jolene and Andy.   I also felt extreme sadness for Jolene's brother, Ray.  Jolene has to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders....raising all her younger siblings when both her parents are killed in a tragic drowning.   Andy's wife left him and his young son,Tobias.  It seems to me that he and Tobias are punished for that.  Will Jolene and Andy ever find a love ?  How can that with him still being married to Eva?  Jolene seems to do it all with a heart of thanksgiving and gratefulness.   I don't know how she does it.  I don't think I could be that gracious under the same circumstances.  I won't reveal too much as I would never want to spoil a wonderful book for readers, but this book will draw you in and tug on your heartstrings.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  Horse lovers will also find a great deal of interest in this book, as Andy and Jolene help to save many horses that have been rescued by the Humane Society.   
I received a pdf and print version of this book from the publishers and bloggingforbooks. 

About the Author:

Cindy Woodsmall

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author who has written six novels, three novellas, and Plain Wisdom, a work of nonfiction coauthored with her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. She’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life.

She is also a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn’t allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy’s house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them—afraid that if they didn’t, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann’s because her family didn’t own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults’ disapproval and the obstacles in each other’s lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy’s family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities—from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband, three sons, two daughters-in-law, a new granddaughter, and a dog named Jersey who wants to dominate the world, starting with the Woodsmall household.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review of "NIV Once A Day Bible for Women"

Review of NIV Once a Day Bible for Women

The NIV Once A Day Bible for Women combines helpful summary information before each reading with application questions after each reading to deliver the most satisfying daily reading plan ever. It includes the full text of the most read, most trusted NIV translation. The NIV Once A Day Bible - Understand and Apply Edition for Women is a must-have Bible for any woman committed to growing in her relationship with God through the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading, reflection and application.

MY REVIEW:  This is a lovely soft-bound Bible designed for women in a beautiful shade of pink for the cover.   It is composed in the NIV, New International Version.  The NIV is one of  my personal favorites to read as it makes the Bible clear and easily understandable.  Each day is clearly marked, one through 365 for reading the Bible through in one year.   Each day's reading contains some chapters from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.   The chapters are read in order as they appear in the Bible.   After each day's reading, there is a short "Reflection" which features one portion of the passages for the day and expounds on that particular passage more.  The print was a bit small for my personal taste.  It is an inexpensive Bible to purchase and would be a good choice for someone who does not have a great deal of money to invest in the Bible. I think it would be a nice gift for a teenage girl or a new Christian woman.  I honestly am unsure what makes it especially for women except for the cover design and color.  I would rate this Bible 3.5 stars.   
I received a copy of this Bible from booklookbloggers in exchange for my honest review.  

Review of "940 Saturdays"

Review of 940 Saturdays 

by Harley Robart, M. D. 

There are 940 Saturdays between a child’s birth and the day he or she turns 18. 

That may sound like a lot when there are adventures to plan and hours to fill. But as your child learns to walk, ride a bicycle, and drive, the years pass quickly. This beautiful package includes both a removable booklet with a thousand ideas for family activities that you and your child will love at every age, and a keepsake journal for preserving what you saw and did, thought and felt, so you can savor these memories in the years to come.

My Review:   This is a beautiful hardcover journal for parents to record 940 fun Saturday events with their child/children.  The book consists of blank pages marked with the day (as in Day One).  The pages are lined for easy recording.   There is a small pocket at the back which holds a small paperback book with ideas for activities to do for children birth thru teens.   Ages are listed with developmentally appropriate activities included.   It might have been nice to include a place for photographs ...although they can be glued or taped to the pages.  I was honestly expecting a bit more in the book on activities and was surprised to find the small book at the back but I think this would be a lovely gift for a new parent to be able to record fun things with their family.  The activities could of course take place any day of the week and it does encourage family quality time.   
I received this book from the publisher and  

Review of "The Brickmaker's Bride"

Review of The Brickmaker's Bride

by Judith Miller


Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters  over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.

MY REVIEW:  Judith Miller has produced a 5 Star historical romance novel.  She has obviously invested a great deal of time in researching the brickmaking business of the past.  Laura, her mother, and Ewan definitely exhibit strong Christian characteristics and witness to the others around who do not exhibit these same characteristics.   They set an example of love, forgiveness, and mercy.   I was drawn into this book and felt I was riding along in the horse-drawn buggies and could envision the graceful home that Laura and her mother share and the orphanage that is in dire need of repairs.  I would highly recommend this book to those who also enjoy historical romance.   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author:
Judith McCoy Miller

Judith McCoy Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.

Review of "A February Bride"

Review of A February Bride

by Betsy St. Amant 

Happily ever after guaranteed. Allie left the love of her life at the altar—to save him from a lifetime of heartbreak. When a Valentine’s Day wedding brings them back together, she struggles against her family’s destructive history. Can Allie ever realize that a marriage is so much more than a wedding dress? History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—in the same dress passed down for generations and worn by all the women in her family—women with a long history of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus, but fears she’s destined to repeat her family’s mistakes. She can’t bear to hurt Marcus worse. Marcus Hall never stopped loving Allie and can only think of one reason she left him at the altar—him. When the two are thrown together for his sister’s Valentine’s Day wedding, he discovers the truth and realizes their story might be far from over. Can Allie shuck expectation and discover who she is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she ever walks down the aisle, what dress will she wear?

MY REVIEW:  Allie is a delightful character who makes the perfect nervous in "she's in love, but afraid to marry due to her family's curse".....Allie thinks her family is cursed.  The women in her family have been married many, many times and they all wore the same dress.  How can she doom her love, Marcus, to the CURSE?  Now, to top it all off, her best friend who happens to be Marcus's sister is marrying and she is her maid-of-honor.  So she and Marcus have to see each other a great deal after she recently ran and left him standing at the altar ALONE!  To make matters even worse, it would just have to be February and Valentine's Day with hearts and love and kisses floating all around.  This is a cute love story.   It is a quick read and I rate it 4 stars!   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Betsy St. Amant
Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy is multi-published through Steeple Hill and has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, ‘Kickboxing or Chocolate’, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. She has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly freelances for her local newspaper. Betsy is a fireman’s wife, a mommy to a busy toddler, a chocolate-loving author and an avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.