Monday, June 27, 2016

5-Star Review of "A Fistful of God"

Review of A Fistful of God


by Therese M. Travis


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She's never taken a drink, but she's recovering from alcoholism all the same. After the death of her father, teenager Aidyn Pierce spends all her time cleaning up her mother's messes. So when Mom announces she's getting sober, Aidyn doesn't believe her. Mom has tried before, and Aidyn knows there will come a time?a day, a week, maybe even a month from now—when the cravings will be too much, and her mother will start drinking again. So, when Aidyn is encouraged to attend support meetings, she refuses. No point in wasting her time when her mother's going to drink again, anyway. But what Aidyn doesn't count on is the healing power of love and friendship, and the incredible strength of God to walk both mother and daughter through the dark valley of addiction and recovery.

MY REVIEW:   Is she really going to remain sober? How can I ever by sure?  I know she's going to drink again.  She's probably lying anyway.   She never keeps her word.  I can't let anyone know either.   These thoughts and many others like them are constantly running through Aidyn Pierce's mind.  As if it isn't difficult enough to be a teenager.  Only Aidyn does not allow herself to be a normal teen because she's too afraid if anyone gets close to her that they will find out about her drunk mother. But when her mother insists they go to Mass together (and Aidyn doesn't trust that this will last either), Aidyn finds some teenagers reaching out to her, pulling her into their youth group, and actually including her and caring about her.  Is this for real? why would the popular kids from school want anything to do with her?

       This book touched me in so many ways. I grew up with an alcoholic father and even though he didn't actively drink during my growing up years after a car accident while drinking that almost killed him, he exhibited "dry drunk" behaviors because he did not seek any help such as counseling or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  The feelings Aidyn experiences will help many teens to feel that they are not alone and this book certainly appeals to adults as well.   

       I rated this book 5 stars and am delighted to recommend it to readers of YA novels.       I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:

Therese M. Travis, author of the powerful coming of age, young adult novel, A Fistful of God.  Therese has been writing since she found out that her beloved books were written by real people—about the age of eight. Since then, she’s always had a story going on in her head, and sometimes forgets reality. She loves going to church, volunteering there, spending time with her family, crafting with friends, and reading.

Friday, June 24, 2016

5-Star Review of "The Amish Firefighter"

Review of The Amish Firefighter

by Laura V. Hilton

The Amish Firefighter

Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she'd never even heard of, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She's desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody's making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn't seem willing to help.

Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a paramedic-in-training. With suspicious barn fires escalating, and the Miller family being among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam. 

When their paths first cross at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warms of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or fight. And they'll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

MY REVIEW:   Talk about being in the wrong place at the right time.  Poor Abigail is accused by several people in their church.  Sam, the volunteer firefighter, believes that Amanda does not do anything drastic.   Talk about fire!  There are definitely sparks that turn to flames as Sam and Abigail meet.  There are many secrets and the two are not sure they want the truth revealed.  This book will keep readers on their toes.  There are many twists and turns.  Will everything work out for Sam and Abigail?  Why did her parents send her away?  Why is God allowing Sam to think she started the fires?  Is God there? Is he listening? Does he even care?   
        I rated this book 5 stars and am delighted to recommend it readers.  

         I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she'd never even heard of, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She's desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody's making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn't seem willing to help.

Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a paramedic-in-training. With suspicious barn fires escalating, and the Miller family being among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam. 

When their paths first cross at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warms of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or fight. And they'll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

Friday, June 10, 2016

5-Star Review of "Murder Handcrafted"

Review of Murder, Handcrafted

Amish Quilt Shop Mystery, Book #5

by Isabella Alan


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Amish quilt shop owner Angie Braddock crosses wires with a killer in the latest from the national bestselling author of Murder, Plainly Read...

Spring has arrived in Holmes County and Angie couldn’t be happier. She’s got great friends, a thriving business, and is in the perfect relationship with Sheriff James Mitchell. The only thing raining on her parade is her mother drafting her into a massive home renovation project—and using their sudden mother/daughter bonding time to comment on Angie’s ticking biological clock.

The house’s repairs and upgrades between the Amish craftsmen and their Englisch counterparts are proceeding well until a tremendous shock comes to the workers when the electrician is found dead on site. With the sheriff suspecting foul play, it falls to Angie to root a killer out of the woodwork. . . .
 

MY REVIEW:  Big Foot???  Seriously??? Did Big Foot commit the crime of murdering Angie's parents' electrician, Griffin Bright?  If so, why is Angie's best friend, Jonah, the prime suspect.  He is Amish after all, and he simply wouldn't do such a thing.  Would he?  Angie has been solving crimes for a good while, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend who happens to be the Sheriff of Holmes County, Ohio.  Sheriff James Mitchell tells Angie not to investigate on her own.  He knows there is danger involved and he doesn't want her hurt.  Does she listen?  Well, of course not, she has to vindicate her dear friend.   Will she solve the crime?  Will she find that Jonah is innocent?  Or will her heart be broken when she finds out Jonah is in fact guilty.  It does look pretty bad for him. And still there is Big Foot roaming the county and stirring up commotion.  
       I love a good mystery and this one was no disappointment. I never figured out who committed the crime.  Isabella Alan kept me guessing and on pins and needles til the very end.   It is so fun to meet characters that seem like old friends now with book five of the series.   What did I dislike about this book?  It ended.  
      I rated this book 5 stars and am thrilled to be able to recommend it to readers of Amish fiction, mysteries, and Christian Fiction.
      I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Isabella Alan

Isabella Alan is the pseudonym for Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.   Connect with Isabella Alan at:  http://isabellaalan.com/

Sunday, June 5, 2016

5-Star Review of "The Tankman's Son"

Review of The Tankman's Son: A Memoir

by 


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In the tradition of "The Glass Castle" and "Angela's Ashes" comes the most unforgettable memoir you'll read this year!""What did it mean to be the Tank Man's son? To grow up overwhelmed by my father's presence and personality? It was as if I didn't exist, as if I was just something else for my father to crush." So begins the haunting memoir of Mark Bouman as he recounts the events of his childhood at the hands of his larger-than-life, Neo-Nazi father in brilliant, startling detail. From adventure-filled days complete with real-life war games, artillery fire, and tank races to terror-filled nights marked by vicious tirades, brutal beatings, and psychological torture, Mark paints a chilling portrait of family life that is at once whimsical and horrific--all building to a shocking climax that challenges even the broadest boundaries of love and forgiveness.   An epic tale of redemption and reconciliation, "The Tank Man's Son" is a literary tour de force that is sure to become an instant classic.

MY REVIEW:   Gripping!  Fascinating!  Horrific!  Frightening!   Unbelievable!  Heart-wrenching!   This memoir by Mark Bouman is all of these adjectives and more.  I know plenty about abuse....too much, in fact....but his father puts what I know in a new perspective.  He was so cruel to Mark and his brother, Jerry, and their mother,  and sister, Sheri.  He did not beat Sheri as he did their mother and the boys, but he had far too many awful things he forced the three children to do in his wrath.  I'm actually surprised that he did not drink alcohol or use drugs.  I almost could have excused some of his rage if he had an addiction but he was just filled with rage, cruelty, and anger.  I was also surprised that the government did not target him as a potential threat, due to his Neo-Nazi activity and interest, but oddly that never seemed to be a  problem.  Amazingly, Mark is able to forgive his father and make peace.  This memoir will grab you and hold tight to your heartstrings as you ache with these precious young children.   
        I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of Christian non-fiction.
        I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Authors:
Mark Bouman

Mark Bouman and his family served as missionaries to Cambodia for more than 20 years. Mark, his wife Joan, and their two sons, Andrew and Nik, currently reside in Anchorage, Alaska.

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David Jacobsen has a BA in English from Westmont College and master’s degrees in theology and creative writing from Regent College and Seattle Pacific University. His essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies, and he is the author of Rookie Dad: Thoughts on First-Time Fatherhood(Zondervan, 2007).
As a collaborative writer (credited as D. R. Jacobsen), he’s had the privilege of partnering with entrepreneurs, pastors, professors, business leaders, parents, and other ordinary people with extraordinary stories to tell.
He and his wife have lived in Southern California, Austria, and British Columbia, and now they make their home in central Oregon with their two boys. When not thinking about words, he enjoys playing soccer, rooting for the Timbers, and exploring Oregon’s craft-brew scene, as well as writing bios that make him seem cool.

Friday, June 3, 2016

5-Star Review of "Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter"

Review of Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter

by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter

In a land fraught with religious strife, they must break the barriers between status and faith to forge a fresh future in a new world… After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family’s farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne’s brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee. With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia. Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding—a reality made worse when Johan spots the “priest” who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. Are their wedding vows valid? When Suzanne's former fiancĂ© arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again—but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever?

MY REVIEW:  This book is filled with adventure and suspense as Suzanne tries desperately to save her mother and then to get safely to the American colonies when all other plans fail.  She and Johan are then forced to become indentured servants to gain their passage to the colonies.  Suzanne barely survives the illness that killed many aboard the ship, but at a price, she loses much of her memory.  Losing her memory includes forgetting that she and Johan married aboard ship when she was at death's door.   Will they ever work things out?  How will they be a married couple with both of them having to fulfill their contracts as indentured servants to different masters?  What will happen will her former fiance' arrives to claim his bride and take her back home to Versailles? 
        I absolutely adored this book!   It is well written, filled with incredible, rich details that made me feel like I was a part of the action of the story.  Suzanne and Johan are both such lovable characters.   Carrie Fancett Pagels has truly written a  topnotch novel.   
       I rated this novel 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
       I received a pdf version of this book from Celebrate Lit Bloggers and the author in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Carrie Fancett Pagels

Carrie Fancett Pagels is a multi-published award-winning author of Christian historical romance. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! She resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which is perfect for her love of history. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time!

5-Star Review of "A Simple Vow"

Review of A Simple Vow

(Simple Gifts #1)

by Charlotte Hubbard

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Housed in a rustic red barn, the Simple Gifts crafts shop celebrates the talents of the Amish of Willow Ridge--and the faith that inspires them. For the acceptance of simplicity opens the path to love. 

As far as Edith Riehl is concerned, the baby twins thrust suddenly into her arms are a heaven-sent gift. Unable to conceive, she longs to be a mother with a home of her own. She's going to abide by her promise to handsome Asa Detweiler to take care of them while he looks for their real father. And even if her domineering dat Cornelius refuses to countenance Asa's suit, she can only pray the bachelor's honesty and persistence will uncover the truth--even as he's kindled an impossible hope for a love of her own . . . 

Asa can't understand why anyone would think he would be so dishonorable as to father babies and then abandon them. He's determined to clear his name--but Edith's caring ways also inspire him to help heal her wounded spirit and earn her trust. In the face of heartbreaking deception, he and Edith must find the strength to understand, forgive . . . and claim their own hearts' joy. 

MY REVIEW:  I can not say enough good things about this book !  It is the first in the series:  Simple Gifts.  I am very excited to read the next book in the series.  Charlotte Hubbard has created real, believable characters who sin, lie, fear, scheme, love, and struggle to forgive just like the rest of us. Some of the characters are Amish, some are Old Order Mennonite, and some are English.  This creates a nice blend of the real world.  
      I could not help but fall in love with Edith and her sisters, Asa, and the darling twins, Leroy and Louisa.  Edith will never be able to have babies of her own and she quickly falls in love with the twins she readily agrees to care for when Will brings them to her after his wife dies.  Readers will be eager to see if Edith and Asa will find love and build a home together.  They will also want to see what happens with Will and the twins. If or when will he return for them and break Edith's heart?  
      I rated this book 5 stars and am delighted to recommend it to readers of Christian and Amish fiction.
      I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard (a.k.a. Naomi King) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

5-Star Review of "The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch"

Review of The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch

The Adventures of Punkin and Boo--Book One


The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch: The Adventures of Punkin and Boo

The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch is the gripping story of two teenage cousins who are thrown together for the summer at their Grandparents' ranch in California. While exploring the old ranch, the girls stumble on a mystery that involves desperate crooks, the ghost of a long-dead Sioux War Chief, a young Native American man on a mission to save his tribe, and secret tunnels and caves left over from an old Spanish Mission. Throw in a guardian angel who protects the girls from some evil spirits that want to bring the story to a bad end, and you have The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch, the first in a series of faith-filled mystery adventures for kids, featuring Punkin and Boo.

MY REVIEW:    Boo is not thrilled about spending her summer at Grandma and Grandpa's Ghost Dancer Ranch in California until she discovers a hidden wall and cave.  Punkin is not happy about having to go to visit at Grandma and Grandpa's to meet Boo and spend time with her.   Boo hopes that she and Punkin can become friends and not just cousins.  She also hopes that Punkin will help her solve the mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch.  They don't hit it off at first, until Boo shows Punkin what she has discovered. Then they are off on a great adventure, but it's a dangerous adventure too.  Will they solve the mystery together?  Will they remain safe or will someone get hurt?
         This is a wonderful piece of literature that is designed for young adults but I could not stop reading it myself.  As a former middle school teacher, I am sure that children of that age would enjoy this book greatly.  It is Christian based fictional work.   Private Christian schools would be able to use this in the classroom and it would make an excellent addition to a classroom library.  
          I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
          I received a copy of this book from the author and P & J Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patrick E. Craig
Best-selling author, Patrick E. Craig, is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next twenty-six years as a worship leader, seminar speaker and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the Western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches in Northern California, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. In November, 2011, Patrick signed a three book deal with Harvest House Publishers to publish his "Apple Creek Dreams" series. His Latest work, "The Amish Heiress" (Book One in The Paradise Chronicles series) has been on the best seller lists on Amazon since August. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency. 


Patrick has an extensive background as a writer. Throughout his school years he edited high school and college newspapers. In 1964 he won a national editorial contest sponsored by the Wall Street Journal for an editorial he wrote on the death of President Kennedy, and, in the same year, acted as Senior Editor for a special issue of the University of Washington Evergreen during a summer internship for High School Editors. After a year at Whitman College, where he was a journalism major, he moved to the San Francisco Bay area where he became a fixture on the local music scene.

As a professional songwriter, he wrote with and for such artists as Bill Champlin (Chicago), David Jenkins (Pablo Cruise), Buddy Miles, The Tazmanian Devils, and many others in the secular music industry. His songs were recorded by such artists and music groups as West Coast Natural Gas, Indian Pudding and Pipe, Joey Covington's Fat Fandango, The Sons of Champlin, The Tazmanian Devils, Buddy Miles, David Jenkins, Laura Allen, The Fairfax Street Choir and in Europe by the Swedish Band Seid. He had two music albums released on Warner Brothers records, and contributed to best selling albums by artists such as Chris Isaak and others. Recently a compilation of his early work was released in Switzerland as a specialty music album.