Monday, August 24, 2015

4-Star Review of "99 Favorite Amish Recipes"

Review of 99 Favorite Amish Recipes

by Georgia Varozza

26018131

The Amish are admired for their simple lives, their intricate quilts, their bold faith, and especially their homemade meals. Straight from the heart of Amish country, this new collection of hearty, wholesome recipes will remind you of the pleasures of the family table.
Learn to prepare easy and delicious dishes for your family, including
caramel apple pie, farmer’s stew, shoofly pie, haystack supper, and homemade noodles
Bring the simple life home!
MY REVIEW:  With each section of this wonderful recipe book, there is a scripture passage and prayer.   I appreciate the fact that the author includes some of her own tips for recipes, such as variations or substitutions one might use.    There is a section for "Best-Ever Breakfasts", "Midday Meals & Snacks", and "Quick & Easy Dinners".  The recipes featured are unique to the Amish homes.  I personally tried the Baked Oatmeal (this is good but I think I still prefer oatmeal creamier),  German Potato Salad (my favorite potato salad recipe ever!),  Shoofly Pie (My All-Time Favorite Amish dish!), Layered Lettuce & Pea Salad (a great summer dish), and Poor Man's Steak (delicious and tender).  I thought that it might have been a good idea to include a separate section for desserts as these recipes were simply included in the other three categories.   I also would have loved to have seen some pictures or illustrations in the book.  
       I rate this recipe book 4 stars and highly recommend it to adventurous cooks.    
       I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

5 star review of "Made With Love"

Review of Made With Love

by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore

How many Amish women does it take to open a bakery in Pinecraft, Florida? Four...plus a construction crew made up of troublesome rumspringa teenagers and a handsome Amish bachelor. Serving up traditional Amish food to Florida-sun-kissed tourists provides plenty of surprising situations for the three sisters and their mother--not to mention love and good cooking--in this series from popular Amish writers Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore.

In the first installment of the The Pinecraft Pie Shop series, Lovina Miller has two things on her mind: to open her own pie shop...and mem to find husbands for her daughters! As the head of the construction crew steps forward to help fulfill her dream, mem wonders if he might also be the one who ruins it.

Readers who enjoy Amish novels will love this authentic series by bestselling novelist Tricia Goyer and Amish-Mennonite author Sherry Gore.

MY Review:  yummy! delicious!  pies, pies, and more pies appear in this book and recipes for many delightful dishes that Lovina Miller loves to make.    Lovina truly loves making pies for people and serving them with love.   She feels that it is a true calling from God that she opens her own pie shop.   She plans for it to be a place for folks to gather and enjoy pie and coffee or their favorite beverage as they depart from the buses coming in with Amish and Mennonites for the winter.   For Pinecraft, Florida, has warm weather year round and the doctor ordered just that for Lovina's dadd to help with the severe pain from his rheumatoid arthritis.   Lovina finds the perfect building for her shop and her dadd is planning to help her make her dream come true but her mem is concerned about the young Amish contractor who wants to help Lovina bring her dream to life.   Mem has heard rumors about Noah Yoder.   She does not want him with Lovina!   She sets Lovina up with the promising young Thomas instead.   But God may just have other plans for Lovina's life.   Mem is determined to find husbands for each of her five daughters.   She is certain that is her duty as a good Amish mother.   
        This book is filled with surprises, both good and bad ones.  I immediately took a liking to Lovina and Noah.    I was rooting for them to develop more than the concept of the perfect pie shop.   But her mem was equally determined to ruin those chances.   Lovina's sweet and talented sisters are all more than willing to help her in achieving her dream.  I am excited to find that this is book one in a series so that I can continue to follow the lives of the Miller daughters.   Readers will enjoy trying the wonderful recipes included in the book as well.  I know that I am dying to make some of them to share with my family and friends.  
     I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of Amish and Christian fiction.  
      I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Authors:
Tricia Goyer
Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.com, TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites.In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.

Sherry Gore
Sherry Gore

Sherry Gore is editor-in-chief of Cooking & Such magazine, the author of "Simply Delicious Amish Cooking", "Me, Myself and Pie" and a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper, The Budget, established in 1890. The National Geographic Channel featured Sherry prominently their documentary series, Amish: Out of Order. Sherry's culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime, the Today Show, Mr. Food Test Kitchen, and Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates across the country. Sherry is a year-round resident of beautiful, sun-kissed Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church. When not spending time with her family, writing, or eating, Sherry is a cooking show host, and an official pie contest judge.

Sherry is currently under contract with Harvest House Publishers for a 3-book novel series with best selling author Tricia Goyer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

5-Star Review of "Lorie's Heart'

Review of Lorie's Heart

by Amy Lillard

22891445

Welcome back to Wells Landing, Oklahoma, the tranquil Amish community where still waters run deep and a brave young woman sets out to discover her faith, her family, and herself…
 
Lorie Kauffman is grief-stricken when her father passes away unexpectedly. But her heartache quickly turns to bewilderment when she discovers he’d been leading two lives—one of simplicity and hard work in Wells Landing, and one fraught with painful ordeals in Tulsa. As she starts digging into her family’s past, Lorie finds herself torn between the Amish world and the Englisch world—and she’s no longer certain where she belongs…
 
Lorie knows that if she leaves Wells Landing, she may never be able to return. But what if her destiny lies in the outside world—the world her father knew so well? Change is never easy, but with a bit of courage and the help of a handsome and kind-hearted Englischer, she just may find the peace, acceptance, and love she’s been longing for…

MY REVIEW:   Can you imagine discovering that your beloved Amish father had led an entirely separate life and kept many secrets from you ?  And it all began with the discovery of his tattoo in the morgue as she and her stepmother identified his body?  To begin with, Amish do not get tattoos!   So what on earth does it mean?   Then the box filled with his belongings divulges even more secrets.  Her stepmother does not want to discuss any of it but Lorie can not leave it alone.   She must know the truth and so she sets out on a journey of the heart to find her father's secrets.   Will her family be able to survive the truths that are uncovered?   Her relationship with her Amish boyfriend is in jeopardy now as well. 
        This story continues the lives of the Amish community of Wells Landing.  What a treat to get to share in the lives of the beloved characters.   I have read the other books in the series but I believe that readers could enjoy this book even without the previous background information.  There are many surprises in this story.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of Amish and Christian fiction.  
        I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Amy Lillard

I'm a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I've retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I'm from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son--a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels--not necessarily in that order. I'm a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I'm shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that's why I adore romances. 

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I'm a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that's me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I'll get to it or I won't, either way I'm good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I'm alone on this last one, and again, I'm good with it.)

Favorite movies--(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940's movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven't seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn's and Audrey's.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review of "Among the Fair Magnolias"

Review of Among the Fair Magnolias:  Four Southern Love Stories

by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Shepard Gray, Dorothy Love & Elizabeth Musser

23582605

Four Southern women are at a turning point in history . . . and in their own hearts.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander

The Civil War cost Savannah Darby everything—her family and her home. When Aidan Bedford, an attorney from Boston, buys the Darby estate, he hires Savannah to redecorate. Can she find a mysterious treasure before her job is finished?


MY REVIEW of To Mend a Dream:  As if the Civil War weren't trial enough to endure, Savannah and her younger brother and sister have lost their father and brother in the bitter war, now their home has been sold and she has to help Aidan Bedford's spoiled rich fiance redecorate it.   Can she remain professional and complete the job?  She needs the extra income from this job to care for her siblings.  Aidan notices her beauty as well as her fine character as soon as they meet....will sparks fly or will God actually mend the dream of her heart?   
      I rate this sweet novella 5 stars.  I enjoyed the length, the characters and the storyline.   I love this story set in the period following the Civil War.   

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray


When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he’s determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother’s homestead, he discovers that she is very ill and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

MY REVIEW of An Outlaw's Heart:  I really felt the turmoil that Russell was feeling as he returned to Fort Worth after seven years of exile.  Seven years of hell where he was a member of an outlaw gang.  How would he ever reconcile things with his mother and Nora?   When he discovers that Nora has never married, he feels the love being rekindled.   Readers will love reading to see what happens with Nora and Russell in this 5-star romantic novella. 

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love

Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

MY REVIEW of A Heart So True:  Abigail has been in love for some time with the young doctor in town but her father has arranged for her to marry for money to ensure her secure position in society.   Her heart is torn into pieces but readers will enjoy reading as she makes decisions that are very difficult and heart-wrenching.   I love the setting and reading of the wonderful parties, dances, and social events of life long ago in the South.  
       I rate this novella 5 stars and again, this is a quick read.   This book will carry readers away to another time and place.    I could do without the corsets personally as I'm sure the women of that time period could also, but the dresses seem so magnificient that I could imagine I was attending the dances with Abigail.   

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser

Emily has a secret: She's in love with one of the freedmen on her family's plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.

MY REVIEW of Love Beyond Limits:  Emily, the rich daughter of the plantation owner, finds herself in love with one of her father's freedmen.  It is an impossible love and she has her dear old friend who still adores her and longs to marry her.   The KKK becomes involved in the area as they try to intimidate the freedmen and plantation owner's NOT to vote in the upcoming election.   This one felt a little farfetched to me as I wonder how often that really happened in post-Civil War times.  But I did appreciate the surprising ending in this 5-star novella.  

I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Shelley Gray

Shelley Gray
also publishes under the name Shelley Shepard Gray (Amish fiction, Christian fiction).


I live in southern Ohio with my husband, two teenagers, and two dogs. My days are filled with busy activities like most any other mom and housewife. But I also love to write books.

Each morning, after my kids go off to school, I sit at my desk, look out my window, and dream of other places. The hours fly by as I make up people and places and drink way too much coffee.

Writing for Avon Inspire has truly been a dream come true. Being able to spend my days in my make-believe world of the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast is a true blessing. I have enjoyed getting to know more about the Amish culture and tapping into my faith as I show each character’s progression toward a personal relationship with our Lord.

Before becoming a full time writer, I taught elementary school in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. A job transfer to Ohio led my husband to encourage me to finally give writing a try. After all, I had notebooks full of made up stories.

I’ll never forget that first book I typed in our unfinished basement. It was exciting to make up a story, but also very scary. I was also so embarrassed, sure someone would come out of the woodwork and point out that I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. But I persevered, and sold my third manuscript.

Things have changed a bit. Now I have a real office of my own. (think old guest bedroom!) My walls are painted pink, and more than a couple of book covers decorate my walls. But my days are still the same. I wake up, dream about other people, and do my best to type out stories.

Tamera Alexander
Tamera Alexander

Dorothy Love

Dorothy Love

Before returning to her writing roots in historical fiction, Dorothy Love published twelve novels for young adults. Her work has garnered numerous honors from the American Library Association, the Friends of American Writers, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and many others.
Elizabeth Musser
Elizabeth Musser

ELIZABETH MUSSER, an Atlanta native, writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia Backroads, 2009). All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. Two Destinies, the final novel in The Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. 

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

5-Star Review of "Set Apart: Holy Habits of Prophets & Kings"

Review of Set Apart: Holy Habits of Prophets & Kings

A Bible Study of 1 and 2 Kings  (Women's Bible Study Participant Book)

by Jessica LaGrone

23236660

Set Apart is a dynamic six-week study of 1 and 2 Kings that examines the holy habits of the prophets and kings who were set apart by their close walk with God. Each week we will explore the central story of one of these intriguing men of God and the specific practice each observed, as well as what the Bible teaches about this practice. 
Each of these characters was trying to follow God while carrying out his calling on earth. As we consider their example, we will discover that even prophets and kings struggled and grew in their faith through spiritual practices, and we will learn how to follow God's unique purposes for us in His Kingdom. 
The Participant Book contains five daily readings per week, each including Scripture, reflective teaching material with questions and space for recording responses, prayer suggestions, and ideas for practical application.

MY REVIEW:  I have participated in many Bible studies over the years and this is one of the best that I have found.  The study examines the unique lives and callings of Solomon, Elijah, Elijah and Elisha, Elisha and Naaman, Hezekiah, and Josiah.  Week one focuses on Solomon who was "Set Apart by Being Consecrated".  Week two focuses on Elijah who was "Set Apart by Listening".  Week three focuses on Elijah and Elisha who were "Set Apart by Mentoring". Week four focuses on Elisha and Naaman who were "Set Apart by Practicing Humility".   Week five focuses on Hezekiah who was "Set Apart by Worshiping God".   Week six focuses on Josiah who was "Set Apart by Discovering God's Word".  Each study begins with reading God's Word, followed by Reflect and Respond, Talk With God, Act on It, and Extra Insight.  Reading God's Word has a portion of scripture for the week and there are usually other verses given to look up.  Reflect and Respond has a guided reflection and study of the scriptures with space for recording your responses (but for those who are reading a kindle version like myself, a separate notebook will be needed).  Talk with God has a sample prayer to guide you into a personal time of prayer.  Act on It has ideas to help you act on what you have read.  Extra Insight has additional bonus insights or facts to enhance the study.  There are video portions to the study which I, of course, did not have access to but each one had a study guide for participants to record notes and fill in blanks to the material.   Each day's readings took me about one hour to an hour and a half to really study and participate.   The material in the study was highly relevant for me and I plan to look for more studies written by this author.
       I rate this study 5 stars and highly recommend it to women who are seeking to enrich their spiritual life.  
      I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
After earning an undergraduate degree in Biology from Southwestern University and serving in Youth Ministry for two congregations, Jessica LaGrone earned a Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. She served as an Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Pasadena beginning in 2002, overseeing the Missions and Evangelism ministries. She was ordained an elder in the United Methodist Church in 2005.

In January 2006, Jessica began her current appointment as Associate Pastor at The Woodlands UMC, a church with over 8,000 members. She describes it as more of a small town than a church, with lots of communities within the greater congregation and an amazing gathering of people with a great passion for growing in relationship with Jesus. Currently she serves as Pastor of Worship, a position that is best explained as Worship Architect, planning and developing four of the church’s seven weekly worship experiences and working with amazing contractors with talent in music, media and preaching.

Monday, August 10, 2015

4-Star Review of "Amish Treasures of the Heart"

Review of Amish Treasures of the Heart

(Amish Dynasty Book #2)

by Sophia Grace

26069121

BONUS MATERIAL: Recipes!!!   From the Cherry Orchard (in the back of the book) 

Being brought up as an Englisher, Jake Fisher knows nothing about Amish farming. So when he goes to work for Ellie on her farm, he makes one mistake after another. It doesn't help that Jackson, one of the farmhands, bullies him and teaches him all the wrong things just to cause trouble between him and Ellie. 
Will Jackson take his antics too far, or will Ellie find out the truth before it's too late?

MY REVIEW:   4-Stars for this Amish novella, book two in the Amish Dynasty series by Sophia Grace.....Can you imagine working on an Amish farm when you were raised as an Englisher in the city?   Could you milk a cow?   Muck a stall?   Weed the garden?  I don't know how I would fare at the task!   Jake will do anything to help Ellie though because she has a smile that makes him light up!   He seeks help from others so that he doesn't disappoint Ellie and she rewards them all with her wonderful Amish meals each day as they work hard.  Jackson is trying to make Jake look like an idiot and it does seem to be working until Jake finds help.   Read this fun novella to see what happens with Jake and Ellie.  There are several delicious recipes as a bonus to this book.    
I received a kindle version of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Sophia Grace is proud to be a stay-at-home mom. Home-schooling her four daughters on their small farm, she is able to incorporate some of the same values as the Amish in her every-day lessons. 
Sophia and her husband have cultivated a considerable-sized "kitchen garden" on their land, where she also enjoys riding her horse, Whinny.
Going only by her first and middle name, Sophia Grace leaves off her last name to maintain her private home-life.
Having always loved to write, Sophia decided to develop some of her stories into books. Her personal knowledge of the Amish has inspired her to write about them, and all her English teachers always told her to write about what she knows. She hopes you will enjoy her stories as much as she enjoys writing them.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

5-Star Review of "A Promise of Grace"

Review of A Promise of Grace

(Seasons in Pinecraft #3)
by Lynette Sowell

A Promise of Grace (Seasons in Pinecraft #3)

Rochelle Keim has lived in Pinecraft for almost twenty years among her Mennonite brethren and the Amish of Sarasota. Unlike the snowbirds who visit Pinecraft from the north, Rochelle is a year-round resident of the unique Plain community. She's quiet, content, and keenly adept at keeping her past firmly tucked away. Feeling unsettled as she nears her fortieth birthday, she decides to return to nursing school, a dream she gave up long ago during a painful time she dares not remember. Her past decides to make itself present when Silas Fry, Rochelle's former love, moves to Pinecraft. Silas spent the past two decades working as a missionary pilot, but that all changed with the sudden loss of his wife, Belinda Rochelle's childhood best friend. Now both Rochelle and Silas are on a collision course with their past, and the reunited couple must decide if they're trying to resurrect a dead romance, or if the two very different people whose paths have crossed can make a new life together.

MY REVIEW:  Whew!  I've been to Florida several times but only in the summer and the heat and humidity were awful!   I vowed that I would never want to live in Florida but reading about the quaint little Amish community in Pinecraft has actually made me rethink that .....I definitely would love to visit there in winter at any rate!  Rochelle and Silas make Florida sound glamourous to me.  Even though they have been apart for almost twenty years, the love they once shared seems to still exist in their hearts.  Grief tore them apart many years ago but can they rekindle the fire that once flamed in their hearts?  Did the love ever die to begin with?   
This is a wonderful story and while it is the third in a series, readers will be able to follow and understand the story even if the other two books have not been read.   But having read the entire series, I really enjoy seeing the delightful characters again and learning more about their lives.   This book is about second chances and grace offered freely.  
I rate this 5 stars and highly recommend it to lovers of Amish and Christian fiction.  
I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Lynette Sowell

Lynette Sowell is an award-winning author with New England roots, but she makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas Hill Country with her husband and a herd of five cats. When she’s not writing, she edits medical reports and chases down stories for the local newspaper.