Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review of "The Journey Home"

Review of The Journey Home

by Hope Kessler

In the eyes of the community, Birdie Miller is a loyal daughter and a church member in good standing. 

Birdie knows this is a lie. 

Soured to the faith by an unhappy childhood, she made the difficult decision to leave her home and not make final vows to the church. But when a terrible accident injures her mother, Birdie is forced to return home, where her father’s act of deceit results in her vowing to follow a path she’d planned to reject. 

Caleb Troyer is as certain in his commitment to the Amish path as any young man can be. He’s mapped out his future, and those plans include marriage, a home and possibly church leadership. 

When the woman he loves derails those plans by choosing another, he decides to start fresh in a new community, so he takes a position left vacant by the young farrier killed in the same accident that injures Birdie’s mother. 

For Birdie, the arrival of a handsome single man of marriageable age does not interest her. For how can a man of such deep and certain faith find common ground with a young woman who feels every inch a prodigal fraud? 

As Caleb grows to understand Birdie, he longs to help her. But can a man of faith reach the heart of a spiritually wounded young woman with a reputation for rebellion? Is the spiritual path home lost to Birdie forever, or can love’s light guide the way?

MY REVIEW:   I read a lot of Amish fiction and this one is quite different in that the young Amish woman, Birdie, is not submissive to others as the Amish teach women to be.  She has a difficult relationship, especially with her father.   He lied to get her to return home to care for her mother.   Birdie sees her father acting in a cruel and gruff manner with her mother, in particular.   
Birdie's father is a deacon of the church and is ashamed of the fact that Birdie left and lived in the English world for a time.  He is not entirely honest with the community concerning the issue.   But Caleb has come to the community and he and Birdie immediately take notice of each other.   I think I saw much of myself in Birdie and so I related to her.   It was a very interesting view of a young Amish woman.   I greatly enjoyed this book and hope that readers will read it to find out if Birdie can work out her differences with the world and live happily as an Amish woman.   Will she find love and marriage or be doomed to live alone for the rest of her life? The book is a lesson in forgiveness.   I rate this book 4 stars and highly recommend it.   
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Hope Kessler is not new to writing but she is new to the Amish genre.   She makes her home in Virginia.  Hope enjoys reading, sketching, gardening and spending time with her two cats and corgis.   

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review of "House of Living Stones"

Review of House of Living Stones

by Katie Schuermann


In the small Illinois town of Bradbury, change doesn't come often, and it certainly doesn't come easily. So when Pastor Fletcher hires Emily Duke as the new choir director at Zion Lutheran Church, he unknowingly sets in motion a chain of events that turns the life of his congregation upside down.

The crusty church secretary, Mrs. Scheinberg, must learn to adjust her curmudgeonly ways. Zion's talented but pompous organist, Evan Ebner, must recognize his shortcomings. Emily must come to terms with her past. Even Pastor Fletcher must face reality when his world is shaken by the baggage Emily brings and by the handsome Zachary Brandt who pursues her.

With its host of lovable and relatable characters, House of Living Stones will find a special place on your bookshelf and in your heart.

MY REVIEW:   This novel is absolutely hilarious and refreshing!!   I found myself laughing through parts and then crying!   I was a former pastor's wife and Katie has captured the antics of mannerisms of church life in such an amusing and tasteful way.  I fell in love with Emily, Alice, Rebecca, and Pastor Fletcher while feeling equal amounts of distaste for Candice and Evan.    Before the story had come to a close, many of my feelings had changed about characters and assumptions.   
I felt for Emily trying to take over a church choir in a long-established church with an equally well-established choir membership.  New pastors in churches experience many of the same things......change one thing at a time, don't change too much, as there are always many opinions and thoughts on matters of the church and choir.   I love how this book shows that people can change, people can make unfounded assumptions and there is always someone or a few someones who like to spread gossip in the church.   It can tear churches apart if allowed to fester and grow.  I really appreciate the way young Pastor Fletcher handled the problem of gossiping in the church.   Music lovers will surely appreciate the many references to musical instruments, singing, and choirs.   
I highly recommend this book to readers and rate it 5 stars.   
I was given a kindle version of this book from netgalley and the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Katie Schuermann
Honest, sincere, and lyrical, Katie's writing reflects her Midwestern roots and her interest in the arts. After earning graduate degrees in music, she taught music history and literature at various colleges, directed children's theater camps, and sang in various concert halls, theaters, and churches across the Midwest.

While Katie's upbringing and curriculum vitae factor heavily into her writing, it is her Lutheran confession of faith in the Triune God that readers have come to expect and trust in her writing.

When she's not working on a writing project, Katie can be found gardening, cooking, hiking, singing, and enjoying fellowship with friends and family.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review of "Miriam's Secret" by Jerry Eicher

Review of Miriam's Secret

by Jerry S. Eicher


Bestselling author Jerry S. Eicher (more than 600,000 books sold) brings new characters and surprising challenges to lovers of Amish fiction in the Land of Promise series.

In this first book, Miriam Yoder has a secret. Her compassionate care for Amos Bland during his last days resulted in her receiving a large inheritance. When Ivan Mast indicates his intentions at romance, Miriam suspects he's discovered her hidden wealth and has plans that aren't inspired by his love for her.

Seeking a fresh start where no one knows her, Miriam accepts a teaching position in faraway Oklahoma where she meets Wayne Yutzy, a local greenhouse employee. His interest in her seems genuine and when he proposes, Miriam accepts. Happiness surely awaits the newly engaged couple....or does it?

Book one in the Land of Promise series

MY REVIEW:  I discovered Jerry S. Eicher's Amish fiction several years ago and his books never disappoint me but they do always surprise me.  Jerry does not write the typical Amish fiction.    This one is no different as Miriam inherits a HUGE fortune along with the family farm from Mr. Bland, the elderly gentleman she had been caring for in his home.   She tells others about the farm but keeps a secret of the even greater fortune she has inherited.  When she decides to leave town and go to Oklahoma and visit with her Aunt and Uncle to be the helper when she has their first baby, she takes wayward sister, Shirley. along with her.   Shirley has been dating an Englisch boy and promises her parents to give him up but doesn't.   Miriam thinks going far away for a while may help both of them.  I really like Miriam,  she is mature and independent.   Generally the Amish fathers make all the decisions but she is the one to suggest they go away.   It must have been a scary decision to leave all that one knows and travel clear across the country to the great unknown.  I have great admiration for Miriam.   Living in Oklahoma brings with it new excitement for Miriam and she loves living there.  She falls in love and begins teaching in the Amish one-room school.   Shirley is still immature and does not seem to find her happiness so easily.  I love the surprises that Jerry Eicher brings to this book and I won't spoil the story for the reader by revealing too much.   I have always fantasized myself about just running off somewhere unknown and experiencing life, but that has not happened for me so I was able to live vicariously through Miriam.   
I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   This is book one in the Land of Promise Series and I am very excitedly anticipating the other two books in the series.  
I received a pdf version of this book from netgalley and the publishers, Harvest House, in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author:
Jerry S. Eicher

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, December 3, 2014

Review of "Nurturing Great Kids Devotional"

Review of Nurturing Great Kids Devotional

365 Practical Insights for Parenting with Grace


We strive to do what is best for our family, but there are many differing opinions on how to be a good parent. Truly successful parenting begins with focusing on God and making him the center of all we do. The Once-A-Day Nurturing Great Kids Devotional helps you to bring God into your parenting by providing 365 daily devotionals written specifically for parents who are seeking to build a stronger relationship with their kids and put God first in their family. These devotionals will inspire you as a parent to embrace the role that God has given you, while also equipping you with the tools you need to be a strong Christian role model for your children.

MY REVIEW:  Zondervan Publishing has put together a wonderful collection of devotions for parents for an entire year.   Each day's devotion includes a Bible verse, a story to illustrate the verse, a parenting principle, and points to ponder.  Each of the story's give parents thoughts on how to help their child or children learn important life lessons.   Some of the topics covered include:  "Name Game", "Be Honest", "Avoid Wicked", "Get Over It", "Choosing Friends", "Financial Peace", "Purity Test", "Be a Blessing to Grandparents", "Make a Difference", "The Prodigal Child", "God's Instruction", "A Matter of the Heart", "Keeping Balance", "Exercise Control", "What they Want to Hear", "Speak Positively", "Honor First", "Family Matters", "Teach His Word", and "Pray, Pray, Pray".    The verse featured with "Pray, Pray, Pray" is "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."  Colossians 4:2; The Parenting Principle with it is:   "A life dedicated to prayer will be a life filled with peace." and Points to Ponder:  "How are you dedicated to prayer?   Where do you struggle in your prayer life?   and How do you pray for your children and teach them this dedication?   This would be a wonderful devotional book for parents to use in their own private couples' time along with prayer.   I think that older children and teenagers could be included in this devotional reading and it could be adapted to their needs and thoughts.  Parents would be able to guide their older children and answer questions they may have about the lesson for the day.   The only thing I would have liked to see added to this book would be a little color and illustrations.   I rate this book 4 stars and recommend it to readers.   
I received a free copy from Zondervan and BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review of "An April Bride"

Review of An April Bride

by Lenora Worth


War changes everything . . . even their love.
Bride-to-be Stella Carson can’t wait to marry her longtime sweetheart Marshall Henderson. But Marshall has been away serving his country and after suffering a head wound and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, he has distanced himself from Stella by asking her not to visit him in a Washington, D.C. hospital.
Marshall returns to Louisiana just four weeks before the wedding, but as the big day draws near, Stella wonders if the man she’s loved for most of her life still wants to marry her.

MY REVIEW:  This is a book full of hope.   Marshall has PTSD after returning from deployment and he has lost his memory due to the head injury he received.    He and Stella have loved each other since early childhood and are to marry in one month.   Will he remember Stella?  Will he still want to marry her?   The future is highly uncertain for both of them.    I suffer from PTSD personally so this book was very interesting to me.   I certainly could feel the emotions of Stella and Marshall as I read.  I have had short lapses of memory but not to the extent that Marshall has.   I had to wonder what it was like for him.   It must have been very confusing and disturbing.  It would definitely cause most people to question their faith and ask God "Why me?"   I have read several of the features in "A Year of Weddings Novellas" and this one is my favorite at this point!   My husband was in the U. S. Air Force, my uncle was killed in WWII, several of my nephews are currently serving in the armed forces and have deployed numerous times and this book made the experience more real for me.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers. 
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Lenora Worth
Lenora Worth has written over 45 books for three different publishers. Her first Love Inspired “The Wedding Quilt” won Affaire de Coeur’s Best Inspirational for 1997, and “Logan’s Child” won RT’s Best Love Inspired for 1998. Her suspense “Code of Honor” finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award and her “Body of Evidence” made the New York Times Bestseller list in Mass Market Paperbacks. With millions of books in print, Lenora continues to write for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense and she recently sold three books to Harlequin’s SuperRomance, still writing as Lenora Worth. Lenora also wrote a weekly opinion column for the Shreveport Times and worked freelance for SB magazine. She has now turned to full-time fiction writing and enjoying adventures with her retired husband, Don. Married for 36 years, they have two grown children—Kaleb and Carly. Lenora enjoys writing, reading and shopping … especially shoe shopping.

Pen name: Lenora Nazworth

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review of "The Wishing Season"

Review of The Wishing Season

by Denise Hunter


She daydreams of whipping up sauces and souffles in her own restaurant. His heart is set on helping foster children. Both dreams are at stake. So are their hearts.

With grand plans to open her own bed & breakfast in Chapel Springs, PJ McKinley can't afford the most crucial part: the brick and mortar. But when the owner of a local historic home announces a contest and promises her property to the worthiest candidate, PJ makes a fervent wish and tosses her name into the hat.

Cole Evans is cool, confident, and successful, but he'll never forget his roots. He's thankful for how far he's come and knows his life could have turned out drastically different. If he can win the stately old mansion, he'll turn it into a home for children aging out of the foster system.

When the eccentric house owner narrows the entries down to only two applicants, she extends the contest, giving PJ and Cole one year to prove which one of them can make the best use of her beloved home. As the pair competes in close proximity, something deeper than rivalry sparks between PJ and Cole. And in this battle, they're likely to lose their hearts.

MY REVIEW:    Surprises, surprises, surprises......I thought this was a Christmas book based on the cover, but it is not.   PJ and Cole are both competing for ownership of the Wishing Mansion.  PJ wants to turn it into a Bed-and-Breakfast and restaurant and Cole wants to provide housing for 18 year old foster children to transition.   Then they have to share it for one year before the board determines who will receive ownership.  Chemistry flies between PJ and Cole and things become heated and not just in the restaurant's kitchen.   
This romance is very cute, very funny and completely endearing.  I could not help but like PJ and Cole and I was torn about the potential outcome as both deserved the Wishing Mansion.   Cole has some issues to deal with as he himself was a foster child after his parents and little sister were killed in a car accident for which he blames himself.   PJ has not always made wise choices in men and so she has some things to overcome as well.   I could picture the mansion in my mind and wished I could visit the restaurant and taste some of the delicious food prepared there.   Denise Hunter has written a lovely ending and readers will have to get a copy to find out what happens!    I rate this novel 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author:
Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of 20 novels, including The Accidental Bride and Convenient Groom

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview with Author, Anita Higman and Giveaway

  Interview with Author, Anita Higman and Giveaway!  

Q&A for A Question of Destiny

Can you tell me a little bit about your novel, A Question of Destiny?

I’d be happy to. It’s basically a rags-to-riches story with a few surprises along the way.
Here’s a short blurb to give you a few more details.
Lucy O’Brien is about to be given ten millions dollars and a chance to live a life she never imagined. Will this new found wealth be Lucy’s undoing, or can she rise above the temptations within high society and choose to become a nobler version of herself? And will the solitary Andrew Whitfield—a man who watches over Lucy as she adapts to her new lifestyle—cause her to close the door on her dreams or be the key that opens the rest of Lucy’s destiny?

How did you come up with this story?
I’ve always thought the rags-to-riches concept was fascinating. There’s so much ready-made conflict. Even though we’ve been told by the world that to receive a windfall would be an idyllic situation, in reality, a lot can go wrong. You can truly lose your way. In life, love, faith. Everything. Since a writer needs a lot of conflict to keep those loverly readers turning the pages, I thought this would be a good plot element to add to a love story.

In A Question of Destiny you have the hero loving the city while the heroine loves the country, and it becomes a sticky point between them. Where did you get your inspiration for this conflict?
I suppose both of these viewpoints are inside me. I grew up on a farm, but I now live near Houston. I love the city and the country equally, and so does my husband. So, we are building our retirement home in the country, but because of a soon-to-be-built freeway nearby, we will have access to the city. But I won’t tell you how my heroine and hero work out this intense disagreement!

What is the farthest place from home you’ve ever been?
Melbourne, Australia. I loved it there. It’s such a beautiful and fascinating city. So much so, I set part of a novel there, which was entitled,Winter in Full Bloom. I’d love to go back to Australia someday, but it’s expensive, and it’s a very, very long flight!

Want to share one of your dreams?
I would love to have one of my books made into a movie. Right now two of my novels are optioned for movies, so I’m hoping something exciting will transpire from that.

How long have you known that you wanted to be a writer?
Growing up I dreamed of telling stories. When I was very young I started working on a novel about a man from Mars who wanted to go to college in New York. I never finished that novel, but it left an impression on me. I knew deep down that writing was my dream, even though I didn’t get around to fulfilling it until I was in my thirties.

What do you hope your readers will come away with after reading one of your novels?
I would love for them to be inspired, challenged, and entertained. If I accomplish even one of those things I would feel my writing time wasn’t wasted.

If you could have dinner with two well-known people, who would they be?
Josh Groban, because his music inspires me and Leif Enger, because I love the way he writes.

Is there something about you most people wouldn’t know?
I love licorice ice cream, but it’s a rare find.

Any advice for new writers?
My advice would be, “Don’t rush the process. Take your time. Read and learn about the craft, network, and attend conferences. Start a blog, and find your own unique voice. Be faithful to your stories and write every day. If you really have a passion for writing, you won’t find my suggestions to be a punishment—but a pleasure.”

How can your readers connect with you?

I would love for you to visit my website at www.anitahigman.com and connect with me through the “Contact Me” button, or you can go to my Facebook Reader Page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnitaHigman.

Lucy O’Brien is about to be given ten millions dollars and a chance to live a life she never imagined. Will this new found wealth be Lucy’s undoing, or can she rise above the temptations within high society and choose to become a nobler version of herself? And will the solitary Andrew Whitfield—a man who watches over Lucy as she adapts to her new lifestyle—cause her to close the door on her dreams or be the key that opens the rest of Lucy’s destiny.

To celebrate the release of A Question of Destiny, Anita is offering to giveaway 2 kindle copies of her book and a surprise that Lucy (main character in book) would enjoy.   
To be entered to win, leave a comment.  For extra entries, follow my blog; Like my facebook page, Rhonda's Doings; share on facebook, twitter, or google +.   Leave a separate comment to tell me if you did something for extra entries.   
Don't forget to leave your email so that I can contact you if you win.   Contest will run til Thanksgiving day at midnight 2014.