Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"The CEB Student Bible" Book Review


The CEB Student Bible

About this Bible:

Inviting young people into deeper forms of holiness, The CEB Student Bible helps them make connections between the world of the Bible and their own.
Reading the Bible will change your heart and life. Living the Bible will change the world. The CEB Student Bible will help you to read and live by asking challenging questions, connecting the Bible’s words and today’s world, and showing you how to participate in the story of God’s people.
The CEB Student Bible is a Bible by and for young people that invites them into deeper forms of both personal holiness and social holiness, helps them make connections between the world of the Bible and their own world, offers resources for engaging the text in personal and group study, and embodies a commitment to taking young people seriously as Christian leaders now, not just in the future. It is a resource that helps young disciples of Jesus Christ as they transform the world.

Available in two editions: a durable paperback cover, designed by Hatch Show Print, and a high-quality, leather-like cover with burnished text. The CEB Student Bible is perfect for confirmations and other gift-giving seasons.
• An introduction to each book of the Bible by a top biblical scholar who has also worked in youth ministry. Each introduction gives an overview of the book, key themes, helpful tips for reading, and a list of quick facts.
• More than 400 articles by a diverse group of biblical scholars and youth ministers from over a dozen different denominations. These articles handle difficult topics and model what it’s like to really engage the Bible.
• Discussions for each book of the Bible by youth ministers. These include discussion questions, activities, and “Reading Differently” exercises for youth groups and small groups.
• Prayers and reflections by students—because young people aren’t just leaders for the future but prophets for the present, with unique insights and perspectives that the world needs to hear.
• Article indexes and a guide to the stories and passages of the Bible, both familiar and bizarre
• 16 pages of maps by National Geographic with a 12-page map index
MY REVIEW:  This is an excellent translation of the Bible.  In comparing it to other modern translations, it is quite true to the original Greek and Hebrew verbage.   The questions which appear through out each book of the Bible are very appropriate to teenagers which this Bible is designed to appeal to.  The Bible would also be a useful tool for adults.  It includes explanations and descriptions of each book of Bible.  Youth ministers prepared the discussions.  They are applicable to today's world. They invite the one studying the Bible to question and consider what the best course would be for them to be like Jesus in their daily lives.
            The only thing I thought could be changed was the readability of the discussions.  I felt the words might be above a teenager's reading ability.   
            I am rating this CEB Bible 4 stars and highly recommend it to those who are searching and to those who are serious Bible scholars.
             I received an ARC ebook of this Bible from netgalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.   All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Editor:
Elizabeth Corrie
Dr. Elizabeth Corrie’s teaching draws on commitments to both peace with justice and the education of young people, particularly the development of teaching and ministry that empower people for global citizenship. She joined Candler’s faculty in 2007, and is also the director of the Youth Theological Initiative, a partner organization with Candler that leads socially conscious ministries with youth and young adults.
Having focused her doctoral work in 19th century philosophy and theology, Corrie became increasingly interested in practical theology as her work with youth and in peace and justice activism deepened. Her research interests include transformative pedagogy, theories of nonviolence, and conflict transformation. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"The Beloved Hope Chest" Book Review


The Beloved Hope Chest 

(Amish Heirloom #4)

by Amy Clipston

Book Description: 

In the final installment of the Amish Heirloom series, the Fisher sisters learn the mystery behind their parents’ marriage—and about the sibling who has never been spoken of.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it's a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it's past time to share it.

MY BOOK REVIEW:   Hope chest are often given to young Amish girls to begin to collect things for the home and family they are expected to have soon after their baptism into the Amish faith.  Mattie's hope chest began that way, but now many years later, it holds treasures of her past and secrets known only to her and those from her past when she experienced several painful losses.   She has never shared these stories with her own daughters and as they find the items in their mother's hope chest, they want answers.  They want to understand. But is Mattie ready to open her heart to memories so painful that she has locked them away for decades?   

             I have read all the previous three volumes in this series and it would be helpful to have read them  before reading this one, but I think it could probably be read as a stand-alone as much previous backstory is given for the reader to understand.  This is a delightful novel and series, even though many parts are painful and may well bring tears to readers' eyes.  It is not a bad thing to feel the pain of characters though and it may be cathartic for readers who have had similar experiences in their own lives.   With all that being said, I love this book!   I loved the whole series of four books.  Amy Clipston is a master story teller and deserves much praise for The Beloved Hope Chest.

             I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.

               I received an ebook of this novel from netgalley and Zondervan publishing.   I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Amy Clipston

From Amy Clipston Goodreads Bio:
Hi, I’m Amy Clipston. I am an author of Amish and Christian fiction with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Most of my books focus on the Amish community, faith, and love. I also write romance novels and young adult inspirational stories.

My books include:

Kauffman Amish Bakery Series
• A Gift of Grace (3/2009)
• A Promise of Hope (3/2010)
• A Place of Peace (2/2011)
• A Life of Joy (1/2012)
• A Season of Love (6/2012)

Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel Series
• A Hopeful Heart (5/2013)
• A Mother’s Secret (4/2014)
• A Dream of Home (11/2015)
• A Simple Prayer (5/15)

The Bird-in-Hand Heirloom Series
• The Forgotten Recipe (11/2015)
• The Courtship Basket (6/16)
• The Cherished Quilt (11/16)
• The Beloved Hope Chest (5/17)

Amish Homestead Series
• A Place at Our Table 11/14/2017
• Room on the Porch Swing 6/18
• Book #3 (Untitled) 11/18
• Book #4 (Untitled) 6/19

Amish Anthologies
• An Amish Kitchen (12/2012)
• An Amish Cradle (2/2015)
• An Amish Christmas Gift (11/2015)
• An Amish Market (1/2016)
• An Amish Harvest (8/2016)
• An Amish Home (2/2017)
• An Amish Summer (7/2017)
• Amish Sweethearts (1/2018)
• An Amish Heirloom (5/2018)
• An Amish Homecoming (10/2018)

• A Plain and Simple Christmas (9/2010)
• Naomi’s Gift (8/2011)
• Kauffman Amish Christmas Collection(9/2012)
• An Amish Christmas Gift (8/2016)
• An Amish Christmas Love (8/2017)

Young Adult
• Roadside Assistance (4/2011)
• Reckless Heart (4/2012) (Kauffman Amish Bakery young adult book)
• Destination Unknown (2/2014)
• Miles from Nowhere (2/2015)

• A Gift of Love (2/2014)

I'm an advocate for organ and blood donation. I donated a kidney on June 14, 2011, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through my donation, my husband received a second kidney transplant. My husband and I matched another couple and we swapped kidneys with them. I gave a kidney to my husband's donor's wife. Feel free to email me and ask me what it was like to be a kidney donor. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. If you're healthy, please donate blood! Also, become an organ donor.

Visit me at  at @AmyClipston or

Monday, September 25, 2017

"The Farmer's Market Mishap" Book Review

The Farmers' Market Mishap: A Sequel to The Lopsided Christmas Cake by [Brunstetter, Wanda E., Brunstetter, Jean]

The Farmer's Market Mishap 

A Sequel to The Lopsided Christmas Cake

by Wanda Brunstetter & Jean Brunstetter

Book Description:

Return to Amish Country in Topeka, Indiana, and the Hochstetler twin sisters who are pulled apart by life's changes. Elma is living alone for the first time in her life after Thelma married. Elma has dated some, but she wonders if she is just too picky to find love. Will she remain alone while Thelma moves on to build a family? 
Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

MY REVIEW:  Twins are fascinating characters to read about and Elma and Thelma Hochstetler are two very interesting characters, for sure and certain. Thelma has married Joseph and they're now expecting their first boppli.  Elma has now living alone in the big house they twins had shared.  It is a lonely house as well.   Thelma and Joe live just across the street, but Elma and Thelma have never lived apart from each other until now.  
      Elma fears that she will never know the sweet love of marriage and even sweeter kisses of a newborn.  The twins are in their mid-thirties which is considered old to be marrying and starting a family amongst the Amish.  Elma longs to know the happiness that her sister has found.  Up to this point, Elma has not found her perfect man.  Will she ever find him?  
     This is such a light-hearted, fun read.  It made me laugh and find great pleasure in the lives of the characters.  I really enjoyed The Lopsided Christmas Cake and this sequel might be even better. I highly recommend this book to lovers of Amish fiction and Christian romance. 
     I am rating this book 5 stars!
     I received a free copy of this book from the authors and Shiloh Run Press in exchange for an 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 almost 90 books with more than 10 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:

Jean Brunstetter

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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"Abiding Mercy" Book Review by Ruth Reid

Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid

(Amish Mercies #1)


Book Description:

When doing the right thing will only lead to more heartache, how do you know what you are supposed to do? 

Sixteen-year-old Faith has worked full time in her parents' Amish restaurant since she finished eighth grade. She loves her Amish community--and the recent romantic attentions of her longtime friend, Gideon. When her sister seems to be getting too friendly with Englischers, and her parents are in a buggy accident, Faith only wants to escape into her dream of joining the church and getting married.

But then a local newspaper runs a story about a child named Adriana who was kidnapped fifteen years earlier, and everything Faith has held true comes into question.

Suddenly the community Faith has known her whole life seems unreal. Can she even trust her own family? And how will she ever find home again if she no longer belongs in the world she knows best?

MY REVIEW:  Hebrews 13:2 (NAS) Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.  Ruth Reid conveys this verse with her novel, Abiding Mercy".  A red-headed man continually appears to Faith and her family.   They show mercy, compassion and hospitality to the stranger.  Are they in fact, entertaining an angel unaware"?  This story looks at the pain and sorrow of Roslyn and her husband.  They lost their daughter to a kidnapper fifteen years ago and they are still looking for her. Will they find her after all these years?  Readers will enjoy reading this novel to find out if Roslyn's broken heart will finally be healed.  
         While this story is predictable for most of the situations presented, it is a very enjoyable read.  I am quite happy to recommend this book to readers who enjoy Christian fiction, Amish fictions and romance.
     I am rating this novel 5 stars.
     I received an ebook of this novel from netgalley and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Ruth Reid

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"In Your Embrace" Book Review


In Your Embrace

By Amy Miles

Book Description:  

Life has not been kind to Timothy Lewis these past few years. With the sudden loss of his first love and a construction business barely staying afloat during the recession, Timothy will be the first to admit that faith isn’t exactly at the top of his priority list. When a direct hit from a hurricane rocks the Outer Banks, Timothy is forced to face not only the demons of his past but also a potential of a future that leaves him terrified.

Hannah Green has a big heart and that tends to get her in trouble far more than she’d like to admit. After her aunt and uncle offer her free room and board for the summer at their fixer upper bed and breakfast on the beach, Hannah finds herself caught in the mother of all storms. The devastation left in the wake of the hurricane rocks her world, leaving her faith and health in the balance.

Draven Young hates coming back home. There are too many bad memories, too little to do and far too many ex-girlfriends who would like to get their hands on him. When his father forces him to do some community service at the local hospital or risk losing his monthly allowance, Draven will discover that although terrible things happen to good people, there is a reason for everything.

Book Review:
Wow!  Amy Miles has captured the struggle of faith in characters as Timothy and Hannah question bad things happening to good people.  They are both dealt some pretty rough times by God and they are wondering why God has not answered their prayers in the way they wish.   They meet with Draven, a young, wounded young man, and Hannah is able to influence him in a very positive manner. She feels that this may be why this tragedy has be an encouragement to others in the same situation.

Amy Miles is a new author to me and I was very impressed.  I chose to read this book because it is set in Rodanthe, North Carolina.  I lived at Holden Beach, NC, for fifteen years and while I have never been to Rodanthe, the setting made me want to read the book.   Amy puts faith in the lives of her character and it is so natural and constant that it doesn't seem contrived as it often does in other works of Christian Fiction.  Hannah and Timothy are both very compassionate and are helpers.  I could see this book continuing as a series.

Hats off, Amy Miles! I am rating this book 5 stars.
I received an ebook of this novel from netgalley and Red Coat PR publishing in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Amy Miles

Amy Miles is the author of multiple published novels, including her bestselling young adult immortals books, The Arotas Series. Unwilling to be defined by any one genre, she has written paranormal romance, science fiction/fantasy, post-apocalyptic, romance, inspirational, and plans to continue to explore new genres. She is the co-Founder of Red Coat PR, a firm helping indie authors build a marketing base for their career. Amy is also the co-Founder of Penned Con, an annual two day convention held in St. Louis MO bringing readers and authors together with industry professionals to learn, grow and give back. She and her husband are heavily involved in charity work through Action for Autism, a St. Louis based organization aiding families with autism and founded the Penned Con scholarship to benefit area families. She is an avid reader, urban homesteader, weekend golfer and netflix binge addict who lives with her husband and son in South Carolina.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"The Knight's Bride" Book Review


The Knight's Bride

Chivalry Lives in Six Stories from the Middle Ages

by Tracie Peterson, Dianne Christner, Pamela Griffin, Yvonne Lehman, & Jill Stengl

Book Description:

Where Angels Camp - by Dianne Christner 
A Legend of Mercy - by Pamela Griffin 
The Stranger’s Kiss - by Yvonne Lehman 
A Kingdom Divided - by Tracie Peterson 
Alas, My Love - by Tracie Peterson 
A Child of Promise by Jill Stengl

Take six romantic adventures back in time to the Middle Ages along with five authors including Tracie Peterson, who tell the stories of couples challenged by the injustices of their times. Some couples are pulled apart by wars and feuds, while others have their futures determined by their oppressors. Can a faith be found to keep hope alive and give joy in all circumstances?

MY REVIEW:  Take a step back in time....way back in time....with these six romantic novellas.   The five authors: Tracie Peterson (she writes two of the novellas which are linked together as Alas, My Love is a sequel to A Kingdom Divided), Dianne Christner (Where Angels Camp), Pamela Griffin (A Legend of Mercy), Yvonne Lehman (The Stranger's Kiss), and Jill Stengl (A Child of Promise).   While this collection promises novellas set in the Middle Ages, Tracie Peterson's two novellas and Pamela Griffin's are the only two in the collection which are actually set in the Middle Ages.   Each of the novellas has been published previously so some readers may recognize them or find them vaguely familiar.   
        These novellas are a quick read and one can read them separately and stop and come back to them later or read the entire collection in one setting.  They are strictly romance and I actually prefer romances that include mystery or suspense.  I do like novellas because I enjoy finishing the stories quickly at times...they are very relaxing and nice stress relievers.  Faith and hope are woven into each story, making them very uplifting to read.
      I am giving this collection a rating of 4 stars and recommend it to readers of romance and Christian fiction.   
      I received an ebook of this novella collection from netgalley and Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Authors:

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Tracie Peterson is a bestselling author who writes in both historical and contemporary genres. Her novels reveal her love for research as well as her strong desire to develop emotionally meaningful characters and stories for her readers. Tracie and her family live in Montana.

pen name: Janelle Jamison

Yvonne Lehman

Yvonne Lehman, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for twenty-five years. She now directs the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. Lehman earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and creative writing on the college level. She is the author of a three-book series set in Savannah GA (Harlequin Heartsong), and Hearts of Carolina, a series of eight novels (four in NC, four in SC) published by Greenbrier Books.

Her fiftieth novel, Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC, (Abingdon), is available in bookstores and at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN where she periodically holds book signings. Her first non-fiction book is Divine Moments (Grace Publishing) is a compilation of 50 articles written by various authors. She blogs at and Novel Rocket Blog.

Jill Stengl

Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

Jill is is the mother to Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Pamela Griffin

Pamela Griffin lives in Texas with her family. She fully gave her life to Christ in 1988 after a rebellious young adulthood and owes the fact that she’s still alive today to an all-loving and forgiving God and to a mother who steadfastly prayed and had faith that God could bring her wayward daughter “home.” Pamela’s main goal in writing Christian romance is to help and encourage those who do know the Lord and to plant a seed of hope in those who don’t.

Dianne Christner

Dianne Christner - Christian Fiction Author - writes Christian romance novels. She writes both Historicals and Amish Fiction. Raised in the Mennonite church, she brings authenticity to "The Plain City Bridesmaids" series. 

She keeps a lighthearted reality blog called plain girl romanticizing. 

Her passion is reading and connecting with other readers and writers.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Sisters One, Two, Three" Book Spotlight


Sisters One, Two, Three

                                by Nancy Star

Book Description: 

After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.

When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.

At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.

MY REVIEW:  Dysfunctional families fascinate me...reading this book about one very dysfunctional family was intriguing.  Honestly, I truly could not imagine why a family would keep such a secret and erase some very important treasures from their shared history.   I mean this family is a master at hiding secrets until one fateful day when Ginger, one of the sisters, whispers about the "unspoken memories" and her daughter, Julia, happens to catch the forbidden words.  Things begin to unravel but perhaps things will actually become pieced back together.  Glory's family reminds me of a puzzle with crucial pieces missing.  Glory loves to work jigsaw puzzles. It is her favorite past-time, in fact.   A missing piece would drive her crazy, and yet her own family is just like that and she doesn't  even recognize it.   Denial keeps this family going for a long time....but it's about to crumble.  Will the revealing of the truth bring the needed healing to this family?  
         I found the Tangle family to be quite sad and I couldn't help but feel pity and compassion for them.   I'm very familiar with secrets and denial, so perhaps that's why I feel this way.  I also was very eager to find the "big secret" as I read.  It seemed that it would never be told.  When I discovered it,  I was shocked that the family hid it for so many years.  This was a family who desperately needed to grieve.  
        I am rating this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction and family drama.  
        I received an ebook of this novel from netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

         Nancy Star

Nancy Star, the author of five novels, started out in the movie business where her first job was scouting for books to turn into movies. Born in Queens, she now divides her time between New Jersey and Martha’s Vineyard, which is where her newest novel, Sisters One, Two, Three—slated for release on January 1, 2017—is set. Her works have been translated into multiple languages and optioned for TV and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle and Diversion magazine.