Thursday, May 21, 2015

5-Star Review of "As Waters Gone By"

Review of As Waters Gone By

by Cynthia Ruchti

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Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again. Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Cafe, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders if she's ready for Max's release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?

MY REVIEW:  Cynthia Ruchti has written a beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances.  Marriage is difficult enough under perfect circumstances, but for one's spouse to be in prison for five years while trying to repair the remants of a relationship is even more trying.  This story is a gripping tale.   It had me crying along with the characters.   Emmalyn wants a child desperately but now her chances seem to be dying.  God blessed me with the privilege of giving birth to and mothering three beautiful daughters so I can definitely imagine Emmalyn's heartache at never having the chance to be a mother.  Children are a blessing from God, and Emmalyn feels she is being robbed of that blessing due to Max being imprisoned while her biological clock sounds its ugly alarm.   
Readers will find this book of second chances and forgiveness completely captivating.  I certainly did not want to rest until I had read "the end".  Read this heart wrenching story which also highlights love and redemption.   Some Christian authors seem to add scriptures and prayers just to make the book seem Christian in nature.  Cynthia Ruchti writes it into every fiber of her characters' being.   
I rate this book 5 stars and would highly recommend it to fans of Christian fiction.
I received a free ecopy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Cynthia Ruchti

Taking multi-tasking to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of recent releases "All My Belongings" (novel), "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (novel), and "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices" (nonfiction). She makes potato corn chowder for her husband of 42 years, loves on her three kids and five grandchildren, recently retired from 33 years of writing and producing a daily radio broadcast called THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HOME, is past president of the 2,700-member American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves as ACFW's Professional Relations Liaison, all while working on more book projects in addition to the eight already on the shelves. The year 2010 saw the release of her debut novel--"They Almost Always Come Home" by Abingdon Press (a Carol Award finalist)--and a Christmas collection novella, "The Heart's Harbor" in A Door County Christmas, a Family Fiction Reader's Choice, by Barbour Publishing. "His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not," released Nov 1, 2011. Another novella collection--"Cedar Creek Seasons" (Barbour) released in spring of 2012. "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (April 2013) was followed by "All My Belongings" (2014, also from Abingdon Press). Her books have recently been honored with two Selah Awards, two Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and awards from CAN Golden Scrolls and AWSA Golden Scrolls. She tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through writing and speaking, but she gave up knitting, counted cross-stitch, sewing her own clothes, naps, and dusting baseboards a long time ago. You can find her at www.cynthiaruchti.com, at www.facebook.com/cynthiaruchtireaderpage, or in the kitchen, brewing herself another cup of tea.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

5-Star Review of "A Simple Prayer"

Review of A Simple Prayer

Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, book #4

by Amy Clipston


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Life has taken much from Linda Zook. Now she dares to hope for a chance at love and a new beginning.

Linda Zook, 32, works part-time at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. As the sole survivor of a buggy accident that left her orphaned at age four, she was raised by her unwilling Uncle Reuben. Linda longs to be worthy of someone, but the life-long effects of her injuries and her upbringing under the care of her embittered uncle have destroyed her self-worth.

Aaron Ebersol, 32, left the Amish community 17 years ago when he could no longer bear the restrictions or the constant tension with his father. He'd written too many unanswered letters to his mother and found himself incapable of putting down any roots in his new home in Missouri. Success in work could not replace the family that denied Aaron, even after all of these years.

Aaron hastily returns to the Amish community of Paradise, PA, after receiving word of his mother s stroke. Hesitant to get too close to the family he was once a part of, he decides to stay at the Heart of Paradise Bed & Breakfast. He soon encounters Linda, working there part-time, and they begin to develop a friendship.

Aaron's return allows him to reconnect with his family as he jumps into home improvement projects, hoping to make his parents house more accessible to his handicapped mother. But before long, he is enraged to learn that his brother, Solomon, had hidden all of Aaron's letters to their mother.

Linda and Aaron must each learn to forgive the family members who have deceived and forsaken them. And Aaron must also show Linda that she is worthy of his love.

MY REVIEW:  I have been following the characters of the Lancaster Grand Hotel from book one and feel like the characters are family now.   As with any family, there are growing pains and issues.   This family is no exception.  Aaron returns home to see his mamm after her stroke and his brother Solomon does not exactly roll out the red carpet or kill the fatted calf.   This story reminds me of the story of the prodigal son in the Bible.   Aaron's parents, other family members and friends are thrilled to have him home but not Solomon.   Solomon has practiced some deception of his own as well.  
Readers will enjoy seeing how Aaron fits back into the Amish community he grew up in and will be most anxious to see how his new found relationship with Linda develops.  Many readers will be able to relate to family difficulties of all sorts.   Whether readers have the same issues or different ones, the pain is real.  Amy manages to make her characters come to life and seem like real family members or friends.   So get ready to have a great adventure with the workers of the Lancaster Grand Hotel as you read book four of the series.  While this is a series, I believe that readers would be able to read the book as a stand-alone.  Reading all of the books in the series will add depth to the characters and their lives however.   
I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a free ebook copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.   

About the Author:

Amy Clipston

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing "career" began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series with Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. An advocate for organ and blood donation, Amy donated a kidney in 2011 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through her donation, her husband received a second kidney transplant. Amy and her husband matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. Amy's memoir, A Gift of Love, will be available in early 2014. She hopes her story inspires others to become organ and blood donors. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats. You can find her on the web at www.AmyClipston.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks.

Monday, May 4, 2015

5-Star Review of "Finding Me"

Review of Finding Me

by Kathryn Cushman

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A Contemporary Drama of Family Lies and Forgotten Loves
After her father and stepmother's accidental death, Kelli Huddleston sorts through their belongings and learns a shocking secret. Years before, her father faked his death during a boat wreck at sea--and faked Kelli's as well. He'd run from a wife, a son, and a daughter back in Tennessee, meaning Kelli has a family she's never known. 
She's already cashed the payout on her dad's life insurance check and looks at it as her ticket to a new life. The lure and puzzle of digging into this hidden past is too much to resist, and she soon finds herself in Tennessee. When the trip threatens to open doors to the past better left shut, and her plans for the future are threatened, Kelli must make an agonizing choice that will change her life forever.

MY REVIEW:   This novel had me wondering what it would feel like to find out that one's entire life was one big huge lie!  I felt like I truly knew the characters in this story.  Kelli, Beth, Shane, Allison, and Kenmore felt as though they might actually be my own sister, mother, and friend.  Maybe I am the only one who has contemplated running away and disappearing before, but I have fantasized about it and David (Kelli's father) carried through with his plans!   Wow!   what a incredibly moving and exciting story this is!   I had to stop reading several times to go to church, to visit with family, and I could hardly wait to get back to my kindle to continue reading.   I was mesmerized!   
I rate this book 5 stars and wish I could assign it 10 stars!   
I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Kathryn Cushman

Author Kathryn "Katie" Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. 

She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction. 

She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh. 

Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California. 

Visit her Web site at www.kathryncushman.com

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5-Star Review of "For I Know The Plans"

Review of For I Know the Plans

by Dawn Ridley


When Ava's grandmother passed away, leaving her all alone, she had to learn to be independent fast. She has to work hard to get through college and she has a plan—a plan that doesn't include dating. When Blake's teasing kisses take away Ava's ability to remember that plan, he quickly adds steps to her life itinerary she had never even considered. Things change altogether too soon— and Ava finds out she is pregnant. Being a quick thinker, Blake has never had problems making decisions. So once he had decided he loved Ava, all he had to do was convince her that they were a match made in Heaven. But did Heaven have anything to do with it? Could God use their relationship in a special way? A verse that Ava's Granny had lovingly given her as a child keeps reminding her that God has a plan for her. With indisputable evidence that Blake has cheated on her, Ava's new faith is shaken. Will Ava learn to trust God, whatever the outcome? Blake does everything in his power to prove his love for Ava, but will he give up when the evidence is stacked against him? Pictures don’t lie. Could they tell a different story?

MY REVIEW:   Dawn Ridley grabbed my attention at the very first page!   I was greeted by the image of a lovely young pregnant wife who is deeply, madly, hopelessly in love with her husband as she retrieves pictures from her mailbox of him with another woman!   I read through the night and missed my sleep because I simply HAD to know what would happen with Ava and Blake.  He was the perfect husband and I truly could not imagine the character doing such a deceitful thing to his beautiful bride. This debut novel has peaked my interest and I will definitely be looking for more novels by Dawn Ridley!   
I rate this book 5 stars and I am happy to be able to recommend it to readers of Christian romance.
I received a digital copy of this book from Lazy Day Publications in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author:

An image posted by the author.
From Amazon Author's Page:  
 I love Bible Study, magazines, crafts, games and BBQ's. I love to read romance novels and I have way too many favorite books to list. I make my own laundry soap and biscuit mix. I cut my Children and husbands hair. I love canning, sewing, and decorating. I love to cook and love to feed people. I love to plan and put together brunches or luncheons.
I love to make coffee and sit down with friends to visit for hours. I am the mediator, the people pleaser, the organizer, the leader, the adventurous one, the one everyone is always laughing at, the one who will be at every function, always there if you need a shoulder or a pick me up, the set up and clean up committee. Fill in the blanks....

With everything else under the sun: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, mentor, chef, taxi, secretary, laundress, seamstress, maid-service, nurse, instructor of personal health and hygiene (bottom wiper), nutrition advisor, event planner, product sampler (play-DOH cookies), professional shopper, movie and book critique, gift-bag finder, band-aid pro-curer, and I believe the song goes, "Keeper of the Cheerios..."

When I find time, I like to write. :)
What else can I say?

I have always loved to read, but at times I also like to rewrite books in my head. I love to discuss them. My husband and all of my friends love to read, so it's not surprising that a lot of conversations around me revolve around books. Movies, those too. I love to change the endings. I always want to talk about the character arcs, and the sub plots and scenes that make or break them.

So, my mom likes to tell people I taught myself to read. It was before I went to kindergarten. You know how our kids have us read the same book over and over and over again until they can repeat it word for word, well, you got it! That's what I did too, but that isn't all. After I memorized the words, I slowly matched them with the ones on the page, lined them up and sounded them out. Then I matched them to other words in other books, until I figured out what they said and showed it to my mom. 

Of course, she labeled me a genius. And I know I excelled at many things because of her love and praise. (Thank you, Mom.) 

I do believe a love for books and learning is hereditary since my grandmother, mother, and uncles all have the same passion. 

Following my husband and I and our family's examples, our children now love to read as well. There isn't much that gives me more joy than to see my children hanging around reading a book on their own.

We have four beautiful, bright, thoughtful, (and did I remember to say miniature terrorists) children, whom we homeschool. (Did you just clear your throat?) 

I believe the Lord gives each of us gifts to use for His glory and I pray that I will use my gift of gab only in ways that would please Him. I have wanted to write for a long time and actually started when my oldest was a baby, but the timing was wrong. Now, I know it's in God's time. 

While I hope that my books are entertaining, I pray that they will be encouraging and show my readers that Christians have life battles too. They are not perfect, just forgiven. I hope that my characters will always show spiritual growth and a relationship with Jesus that will minister to others, and encourage them to work through their own struggles in a God-honoring way. 

I hope that this introduction shows a little bit of me, and that I always strive to live up to the standards Jesus set for us.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

5-star review of "Amish Promises"

Review of Amish Promises

by Leslie Gould

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When Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home on Juneberry Lane in Lancaster, PA, they’re looking for peace. Joel’s recently returned from Iraq and is recuperating, and Shani is just happy to have her family back together. They can’t imagine any trouble with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, but things get off to a rocky start when their son accidently hurts Simon, one of the Lehman boys.

Timothy Lehman, a widower, is the family patriarch and demands the Beck boy work in Simon’s place. Tensions escalate, but Shani can’t help but be drawn to Eve Lehman, Timothy’s sister, who runs the household. The two begin to form a strong friendship forged on faith and family, and things seem like they’ve quieted down until Joel’s single and handsome army friend Charlie catches Eve’s eye. Suddenly, life for both families becomes more complicated than any of them could have ever imagined.

MY REVIEW:  This is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill Amish novels.  It is a wonderful refreshing look at Amish and English families working to live next door to each other.   Add a romance between the Amish woman and the military friend of the English family and you just might have a formula for disaster.   Readers are certain to enjoy seeing if the two families can learn to exist peacably together.   
Leslie Gould addresses PTSD among former military in the book and does it with respect, dignity and honesty.  Grief plays a part in the characters' lives as well, in several different forms.   
I have always thought it would be great fun to live next to Amish and be able to form close friendships with them, but from this book, I learned that it might not be as simple as one would think.   What do you think would be most challenging in this situation?   Read and see if your thoughts are accurate.    See if the two very different worlds will be collide and explode or coexist and thrive.
I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
I received a print copy of this book from the author and a pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author:
Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller The Amish Midwife (CBA and ECPA), co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. The novel, the first in The Women of Lancaster County series, was a 2012 Christy Award winner. The Amish Nannyand The Amish Bride, the second and third novels in the series, also hit the bestseller list.
One of Leslie’s stand-alone novels,Beyond the Blue, won of the Romantic Times Book Club Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Inspirational Novel in 2006.
Leslie received her master of fine arts in creative writing from Portland State University in 2009 and has taught fiction as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. She also teaches workshops at public and private schools and at writers’ conferences.
A varied work history, from curating a historical museum to editing a bridal magazine, preceded her fiction-writing career. She is also an Army Reserve wife who has supported her husband, Peter, through many years of service, including a deployment to Afghanistan as the commander of a field hospital. Leslie and her husband live in Oregon with their four children.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

5-Star Review of "An Empty Cup"

Review of An Empty Cup

by Sarah Price

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Amish woman Rosanna Zook lost her self-confidence within the confines of a loveless and abusive marriage. In the years spent quietly dealing with her burdens and dutifully caring for others, she forgot her sense of self and ability to feel. But after her first husband’s untimely death, she gets a second chance with Reuben Troyer, a godly man who welcomes Rosanna and her two children into his life.
Despite the love and respect she finds in her new marriage, Rosanna soon learns that juggling the demands of her family and church community is more than she can handle. When Rosanna becomes ill, she is forced to confront a hard truth: one empty cup cannot fill another. For a woman who has spent her life giving, will Rosanna finally be able to let go and receive?
MY REVIEW:   What an incredible book Sarah Price has written.   Some may think this book is depressing, and there are parts that are sad and downright depressing.  Sarah deals honestly and openly with mental illness in this book and frankly, mental illness is not always pretty.   It is sad and it is difficult.  It hurts.  It causes pain to the ones who are suffering with it and those who love them. 
      The book also deals with those who are givers and can't say no to requests for help.   Overdoing it and feeling used and abused can certainly lead to feelings of isolation and depression.   I had this problem in my past and it does cause stress and burnout for sure.   We must learn to take care of ourselves and not just do everything there is to do in the world for others.  Healing comes with balance.  Readers will struggle and cry right along with Rosanna as she seeks to find her own balance in life.  
     I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
     I received a free ebook copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own. 
About the Author:
Sarah Price
Sarah Price self-published her first book, Fields of Corn, in 2009, a book she wrote thirty years earlier while studying anthropology and writing at Drew University (Madison, NJ). With her Anabaptist upbringing, she was drawn to the amazing culture of the Amish of Lancaster County where Ms. Price is heavily involved with numerous Amish communities where she is considered family by some and friend by most others. Fields of Corn became an Amazon bestseller and fans began asking her for more books. 

In 2013, she signed with Realms, a division of Charisma House, to publish the Amish Classics series. Initially focusing on the retelling of Jane Austen's timeless classics from within an Amish setting, her first traditionally published book, First Impressions, A Retelling of Pride & Prejudice, debuted on the ECPA bestseller list. She intends to continue retelling classics, including the Bronte sisters and Victor Hugo, as she enjoys "raising the bar" on her own intellectual stimulation as well as that of her expansive base of loyal readers. 

In 2014, she signed with Waterfall Press and published An Amish Buggy Ride which because the #1 bestseller in Religious Romance. 

In 2015, she also began writing Young Adult fiction with her first book, Diehard Fangirl launching on April 17, 2015. Her focus is on helping young teenagers with self-esteem issues as well as educating parents about the good and the bad impact of social media on their daughters

Follow her on social media: 
Blog:http://www.sarahpriceauthor.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.
Twitter: @SarahPriceAuthr
Instagram: @SarahPriceAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SarahPrice

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5-Star Review of "From the Start"

Review of From the Start

by Melissa Tagg
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Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. 

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?

MY REVIEW:  Are you looking for a clean, sweet romance to read?  Check out Melissa Tagg's From the Start.   It is full of good clean fun!   I would not hesitate to recommend this romance to teenagers as well as adults.   
       I don't like football, I don't understand football, but this book actually got me excited about football for once.  The Walker family and friends stole my heart and captured my attention in Melissa's Three Little Words and I was thrilled to get to spend even more time with them in this book.   We all need dreams in our lives and it was really enthralling to watch as Colton and Kate work to discover their dreams and then figure out how to bring them to reality.  Readers will love following along as Colton and Kate follow their dreams and maybe, just maybe even find love and romance in the bargain.  
     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.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.