Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Upon a Spring Breeze" book review

Review of Upon a Spring Breeze

Every Amish Season, Book #1

by Kelly Irvin

30649243

Book Description

After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.

Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.

When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?
 

MY REVIEW:   Plans, dreams, memories, Bess and Caleb had so many plans, dreams, and happy memories together in their short married life.  Plans and dreams for their precious bopli to arrive soon.  There would be cuddles and snuggles with their darling bopli together.  Then those plans and dreams were shattered in a flash.  Caleb would not be snuggling and cuddling their precious bopli with Bess.  He would not be holding her close in their bed or brushing her long, glorious hair ever again.   Never.  Never. Never.   Bess wonders how a good and loving Gott could do such a horrible thing as to take her mann just before their bopli was to arrive.  But he did take him. 
      Bess needs love, support and encouragement now and Aidan promised his best friend, Caleb, who asked with his last breath for him to take care of his bopli.   He works to keep his promise to Caleb.   But poor Bess is sad and angry and grieving.  Can she come around and learn to love and have joy and laughter again?   Or will she drown in her sorrow?
     My heart went out to Bess and to Aidan.  I grieved along with them as they dealt with the loss of their dearest friend.  I don't know how I would have been able to handle life or to get out of the bed every day and walk around as though nothing had happened.   I don't agree with the Amish way of handling grief with never mentioning the name of the deceased.  I feel that people need to express their grief and talk about their loved one.  Kelly Irvin tells the story of love and loss in a way that is gut-wrenching and raw with emotion.  She tugs on the heartstrings of her readers as she tells their story.    I am so excited that this is the first book in the Every Amish Season series.  I am looking forward to hearing more about Bess, Aidan and their friends and family.
        I simply had to give this book a star rating of five!  because it's just.that.good!
        I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publishers.  While netgalley would like for me to review the book if I choose to do so, I was not required to review this book and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin's newest series, Every Amish Series, begins with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker's Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop's Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper's Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it "a beautifully woven masterpiece." The Beekeeper's Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly has novellas in The Amish Christmas Gift and The Amish Marketplace, both of which were also ECPA bestsellers. She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine..

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW's San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have two grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review of "Clementine & Claudia"

Clementine & Claudia

by Piper Milton

31032372

The First World War is raging and sisters Clementine and Claudia are coping in very different ways. Clementine is a nurse on the front line, doing her best to save the lives of soldiers wounded while serving their country. Claudia, on the other hand, is living the good life in England, deliberately oblivious to the horrors her sister and so many others are living through. When they both meet their perfect man, their already fractured relationship is tested in ways they could never imagine.

The d├ębut novel from Piper Milton, Clementine and Claudia is a powerful and beautifully written story of romance and war and a wonderful addition to the romantic traditions of Penny Vincenzi, Soraya Lane, Brief Encounter and Downton Abbey.
 

MY REVIEW:  Historical fiction fascinates me.  I particularly love to read about the World Wars.   They are sad stories of love and loss, in most cases.   The stories of couples eager to marry and even to conceive a baby just in case the man does not return from the warfield are hauntingly beautiful.  The tragedy that many do not return is heartbreaking.  When I read knowing that, though this is fiction, the reality is that this was all too often the truth for far too many couples.   
   Two sisters who already have a volatile relationship both find the man they wish to marry.  Claudia realizes her dream before her husband, Alexander leaves for the warfield.  Clementine discovers her own true love but does not marry before they both return to the battlefield.   She saves lives and he is forced to take them.  Life continues to be volatile for the two sisters and in fact, it worsens and may never be repaired.   
     What a story!   This is the debut novel for Piper Milton and I would love to read more!   I can easily see the adventures of the characters of Clementine and Claudia continuing.  I know that I would love to meet the characters again.   So Piper, please consider this if you have not already.   Thank you for a beautiful, if sad, story.  
     My rating for this debut novel is 5 stars *****.
     I highly recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction.  
     I received a gift of this book from netgalley and the publishers.  I was not required to write a review and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

Piper Milton is a mother of three and grandmother of four and lives on the south coast. Clementine and Claudia is her first novel.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Monday's Child" Book Review

Monday's Child Book Review
(Monday's Child Book #1)

by Clare Revell
15896003

Monday's Child must Hide for Protection... This was not the assignment Luke Nemec expected when he came to the UK—babysitting a beautiful widow. It wouldn't be so bad if Sara wasn't such a hostile witness. Despite her complaints and continued jibes, Luke finds himself falling for her. When, Sara Barnes is thrown into the witness protection program, she becomes the 'wife' of Lt. Luke Nemec, an American cop on temporary assignment with the British police. Despite Luke's American bravado, she finds he's kind and considerate in ways her late husband never was. But things aren't always what they seem, and Luke soon realizes he's fighting a battle of two fronts to keep Sara safe. Loyalties are called into question, and he's no longer certain who he can trust. Luke is way out of his depth. As the threats against Sara escalate, it's a race against time to find her husband's killer before Sara is silenced forever. 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK:  Oh, my goodness, Clare Revell, you are responsible for the dark circles under my eyes today, because I just had to stay awake last night until I knew how the conflict would be resolved!  Sara and Nick are two of the most adorable people.  The tension and sarcasm between them was so cute as there was obviously instant attraction between them.  But Sara is grieving, hiding from her husband's killer, and in witness protection and NICK is assigned to be her guard 24 hours a day.   She feels like a prisoner.  She feels alone.   
         Who wouldn't feel these emotions under the circumstances?  I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to go through the Witness Protection program.  It would also be unthinkably horrific to witness your husband's murder and suffer injury from gunfire yourself.   This novel was full of suspense, romance, and humor!  
         I would definitely recommend this novel to readers.

My Star Rating: (1 being poorly written and 5 being excellent book)   5 Stars!  *****
I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publishers .  I was not required to write a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
An image posted by the author.

Clare is a British author. She lives in a small town in England with her husband, whom she married in 1992, and her three children. Writing from a early childhood and encouraged by her teachers, she graduated from rewriting fairy stories through fanfiction to using her own original characters and enjoys writing an eclectic mix of romance, crime fiction and children's stories. When she's not writing, she can be found reading, crocheting or doing the many piles of laundry the occupants of her house manage to make.
Her books are based in the UK, with a couple of exceptions, thus, although the spelling may be American, the books contain British language and terminology. 
The first draft of every novel is hand written.
She has been a Christian for more than half her life. She goes to Carey Baptist where she is one of four registrars.

"Fixing Perfect" Book Review

Fixing Perfect

by Therese M. Travis


24408469

In the community of Avalon on Catalina Island, a psychopath is kidnapping children and perfectly posing and painting the bodies of adult victims to resemble disabled artist, Robin Ingram. 

Robin struggles with feelings of imperfection, and knowing some madman has a macabre agenda—which includes fixing her—is unsettling. She’s relieved when paramedic Sam Albrecht steps up to help. 

Sam believes he knows the identity of the killer, and he wants nothing more than to prove it in order to keep Robin out of danger. Then Sam is arrested as a suspect for the crimes, and Robin’s life is thrown into a fresh whirlwind. She may not know who the real killer is, but she does know Sam is innocent…and she will find the proof to set him free, or she’ll die trying.

My Thoughts on this book:  I love the show "Criminal Minds" and this book reminded me of an episode of the show.  A psychopath is on the loose and in his sick, twisted mind, he thinks that he can fix a disabled female artist by kidnapping and killing innocent children and women. He then poses and paints the bodies and leaves them until the public understands his message.  This was a new author to me.  I had never even heard of her, but the description of the book drew me in.   I felt that her writing was well-structured and exciting. It left me eager to read more.  The only thing that bothered me as I read was that when I reached the middle of the book, I had already figured out who the psychopath was.  I like reading books where I don't know how the conflict will be resolved.  It makes the book more exciting when I am left to guess.  The suspense built and there were definitely many scenes with gory details.
        I highly recommend this book to those enjoy suspense.

MY STAR RATING:   4 Stars  (Scale of 1-5, with 1 beginning poor and 5 being excellent)
I received a copy of this book from netgalley.  A review was not required.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Therese M. Travis started writing when she discovered books came from people--around the age of eight. At eleven, she produced her first book, a single, handmade copy of The Ghost of Scotland Yard. She has since discovered that Scotland Yard is not in Scotland. Short stories and plays followed, and then she discovered Christian fiction, which combined writing stories and God, two of her favorite things.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Review of Chocolate Soldiertru

Chocolate Soldier Book Review

(The Story of a Conchie)

by Hazel Barker

31427901

When World War II breaks out and men over eighteen are conscripted, Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector, refuses to go rather that compromise his principles. Instead, he joins the Friend's Ambulance Unit. From the London Blitz to the far reaches of Asia the war tests Clarence in the crucible of suffering. In the end, will he be able to hold his head up as proudly as the rest and say, to save lives, I risked my own?

One man will stand as God's soldier, not the war's soldier.
 

MY REVIEW:  World War II holds a true fascination for me. My uncle was killed in WWII in Normandy, France at the age of nineteen.  As I read the true story of Clarence Dover's conscientious objector status, I did not see why soldiers would be so offended. He did after all join the Friend's Ambulance Unit (FAU).  He risked his own life to save the lives of those who were fighting and killing.  He was serving and honoring God in the best way he knew how by refusing to bear arms and kill other young men.  I can also see the viewpoint of those who chose to fight to protect our freedom.  They also were doing what they felt was right for them.   
      Clarence Dover has a reason for being referred to as Chocolate Soldier but I will let the reader discover that for themselves so as not to spoil the book.  Readers will also be interested to see how Clarence's family and friends view him at the end of the war when they all return home.  
      I rated this book 4 stars as I would have liked a little more emotional connection with Clarence and the other main characters.   
       I received a copy of this book from netgalley.  I was not required to write a review of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:Hazel Barker


Hazel Barker is married to Ev Barker's son, Colin.  Clarence was Colin's uncle.  This is how Hazel came to know this true story and recorded it in this novel.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review for "The Case for Christ"

The Case for Christ:  Review

by Lee Strobel

73186

Using the dramatic scenario of an investigative journalist pursuing his story and leads, Lee Strobel uses his experience as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune to interview experts about the evidence for Christ from the fields of science, philosophy, and history.


My Review:  The Case for Christ uses scripture and commentary to explore the existence of Christ and how to prove it to oneself or others.  The author uses theologically sound arguments based on a series of questions listed below: 

Questions raised:  Can the biographies of Jesus be trusted?Do the biographies of Jesus stand up to scrutiny?Were Jesus' biographies reliably preserved for us?Is there credible evidence for Jesus outside his biographies?Does archaeology confirm or contradict Jesus' biographies?Is the Jesus of history the same as the Jesus of faith? Was Jesus really convinced that he was the son of God?Did Jesus fulfill the attributes of Gof?Did Jesus-And Jesus alone-Match the identity of the Messiah?Was Jesus' death a sham and his resurrection a hoax?Was Jesus' body really absent from his tomb?Was Jesus seen alive after his death on the cross?Are there any supporting facts that point to the resurrection? What does the evidence establish--and what does it mean today?    

In reading reviews of this book, I noticed that many who are non-believers did not feel that it convinced them of Christ's existence.  They felt the book was only useful to Christians.  I personally feel that this book would be a helpful tool for Christians to study for the purposes of witnessing to non-believers.  Expecting non-believers to voluntarily pick up this book to read it is likely unrealistic if they simply do not care to know as many did state was the case for them.
        I give this book a 5-star rating and recommend it for seekers and for believers as tool to study or to witness.  
        I received a copy of this book from netgalley.  I was not required to write a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Author:

Lee Strobel
                                                                                                                                                                                               Lee Patrick Strobel (born January 25, 1952) is an American Christian author, journalist, apologist and pastor. He has written several books, including four which received ECPA Christian Book Awards (1994, 1999, 2001, 2005) and a series which addresses challenges to a Biblically inerrant view of Christianity. Strobel also hosted a television program called Faith Under Fire on PAX TV, and runs a video apologetics web site. Strobel has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC's 20/20, Fox News, and CNN.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ?

Monday, March 27, 2017

4-Star Review of "The Idea of You"


Review of the idea of you

by Amanda Prowse


31828961

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…
This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?
MY REVIEW:  Wanting a child with your husband is a reasonable desire and Lucy wants a baby very badly.  She and Jonah conceive three times, with each conception ending in miscarriage in the first trimester.  Lucy is heartbroken.  Jonah is upset but already has a teenage daughter from his previous marriage.  His teenage daughter comes for the summer at Lucy's urging, but things are not so great between Lucy and Camille. Learning to live together proves challenging.  
         I definitely relate to wanting a child so badly. I felt that I could not bear to live if I did not have a child of my own when I first married at age eighteen.  I now realize that I could have lived a fulfilling life without children, but the young me did not feel that way.  I did have a miscarriage scare when I was early in my marriage and it was devastating to me.  I became absolutely hysterical once I was away from the doctor.  I really enjoyed this book and I felt it handled infertility and adoption well, but I am very emotional and I cry while reading many books and seeing movies, and I only cried once briefly during the reading of this book.  I just felt that the author did not quite hit that deep part of me that completely connected with the characters, Lucy and Camille in particular.  I really liked Lucy.  I felt great empathy for Camille.  I just felt something was missing in the emotions of the characters.  I needed MORE.  The final portion of the book seemed to cover too many loose ends in a quick fashion and left some important details out.  
          I highly recommend this book and think readers will anxiously return to finish the book as I did.   I give this book a 4 star rating.
          I received a copy of this book from netgalley and I was not required to write a positive review.   All opinions expressed are my own.   
About the Author:
Amanda Prowse
Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.