Thursday, April 28, 2016

5-Star Review of "Hope in the Land"

Review of Hope in the Land

by Olivia Newport 

26113234

When Henry Edison turns up in Lancaster County to survey farm women about their domestic contributions during the 1930s, the last thing Amish housewife Gloria Grabill has time for is the government agent’s unending questions. Gloria’s hands are already full with a farm to run alongside her husband, a houseful of children, and an English neighbor, Minerva Swain, who has been trying Gloria’s patience for forty years. Gloria’s oldest daughter, Polly, wants nothing more than the traditional path of an Amish farmer’s wife, but everything she does seems to push Thomas Coblentz further away. While the Great Depression shadows the country in gloom, can Amish and English neighbors in Lancaster County grasp the goodness that will sustain hope?

MY REVIEW:  Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1936, Ernie had rolled up his shirt sleeves and was scrubbing his arms all the way up to his elbows.  Minerva's stomach sank.   "We're going to the Grabills' for lunch."  Ernie flashed a grin.  "Did you invite yourself again?" "It was Marlin's idea this time."  
Minerva is the English neighbor and Gloria, the Amish homemaker, and the two have never gotten along.  The two women attended school together as youngsters and they didn't get along then and they still don't get along.   But Marlin had invited them all to dinner so Gloria would play the dutiful housewife and serve the neighbors a decent hot meal.   Times are very hard as the Great Depression is upon the country and Ernie comes along to survey the local farm wives about their domestic contributions.   Gloria again does what a good Amish housewife would do and offers Henry a place to stay in their barn.  
This book greatly saddened me in many ways as I thought of my mother and father being born during the early 1930's and I knew that times had indeed been very hard for them.  What I loved, though, was their hope in the land.....hope that the vegetables they grew in their little family gardens would sustain the family through the winter.   Minerva and her daughter, Rose, had many things they would learn from Gloria and her daughters.  The dynamics of the two families was quite interesting.  This book evoked great emotion for me.   I believe that readers will feel torn between many emotions as well as they read.   
I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers/
I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
 Olivia Newport
From goodreads' bio:

I’m imagining you. You walk past as I water my front flowerbeds and we wave. You check the time as we both stand in a long line at the grocery store. You sit in front of me in church. I’m at my table in the coffee shop and you’re at yours.

We may smile politely and move on with our separate lives. Or one of us may speak, a simple invitation to conversation, and the words flow between us.

Here the adventure begins. When we meet someone new, we never know where it might lead.

I’ve been married for over thirty years and have two twenty-something kids. We live in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where the day lilies in my back yard grow as tall as I am. (No short jokes, please.)

Not every piece of my life is pretty, though. Some days I want to throw out whole chunks. But I am living each day looking for the grace of God to me, in me, and through me. Having your companionship along the way will help uncover a lot of great stories.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

5-Star Review of "Covered Bridge Charm"

Review of Covered Bridge Charm

by Dianne Christner

25784974

Carly Blosser may not match the typical description of a conservative Mennonite woman—unmarried at 27, living alone, and careening around her Oregon neighborhood on a pink bicycle—but she has a soft heart for the elderly Mennonite residents at Sweet Life Assisted Living Facility, where she works as a caregiver. When Carly’s plans for a new volunteer program go awry, she shifts her focus to one lonely resident named Martha. Adam Lapp, a wood shop instructor at Sweet Life, joins with Carly to reunite Martha with an old flame before her 85th birthday. Carly and Adam’s hunt involves carved initials on covered bridges, digging up the past, and the appearance of a newcomer, who hinders the budding romance between the two. Soon, new clues sweep them all in a harried race to the finish line where love is sure to be the ultimate prize.

MY REVIEW:   This is such a fun story.....so many of the characters are so lovable and amusing!    I love reading of the antics of the elderly and Carly Blosser works in a conservative Mennonite assisted living facility called Sweet Life Assisted Living Facility.   They have nicknames for the residents and repeater, nines, klepto, and the other residents endeared themselves to me and I just fell in love with them, much as Carly loves them.   She gets the idea to help dear Martha to find an old beau that she met at one of the local covered bridges and Adam Lapp agrees to help her.    Adam and Carly have a definite spark between them as well.   Will they discover more than old romance while helping Martha locate James?   They have an obstacle though.  Adam's dad does not like Carly and does not want them together in a romantic sense.   Will they listen to their hearts or obey his father?    
               Readers are sure to enjoy the funny and sometimes sad events that take place at Sweet Life Assisted Living Facility.   There are quite a few furry and feathered friends in the story to peak the interest of animal lovers too.   
               I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of Mennonite fiction and Christian fiction.
               I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
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 plaingirl romanticizing.

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

Connect with dianne at:   http://diannechristner.net/

Saturday, April 16, 2016

4-Star Review of "My Mother's Quilts"

Review of My Mother's Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith



by Ramona Richards


25943168

Inspired by thirty family heirloom quilts, each devotion shares the enduring legacy of faith, family and tradition in our lives.
Rich, personal, sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, readers will find their own lives reflected in the author's memories and the lessons and encouragements drawn from the quilters whose legacy lives on in their work. Woven through it all is the message of God's grace and faithfulness, as strong as the bonds of the generations and as comforting as the oldest and softest quilt that your grandmother ever sewed. Beautiful, four-color photos of each quilt are included.

MY REVIEW:   I am only an amateur quilter but it certainly gives a great deal of satisfaction to sew tiny stitches and piece beautiful fabric and patterns together to form a work of love, a work of love which can warm both the body and the heart.   I made a quilt for my oldest daughter for Christmas this past year as she always loved a quilt that friends had made for us while we were in seminary and it needed repairs that I didn't think I could handle to continue being used.   So I made a new one for her.   Ramona Richards uses quilts that her mother and grandmother made to share beautiful stories of love, faith, and trust.   Each story includes a Bible verse and a prayer.   I love the heartfelt stories of the handpieced and machine sewn quilts made by women with great love intended.   Sometimes grief and sadness were melted away along with the stitches.   The work of quilting seemed to bring healing to both the quilter and the receiver of the quilt in many of the cases shared.   The pictures and colors are captivating and memorable.  Readers may well be inspired to create their own attempt at quilting after reading these delightful memories.    I felt like this book would be a nice accompaniment to a devotional time.   
I rated this book 4 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Ramona Richards

I started making stuff up at 3, writing it down at 7, and selling it at 18. I've written 10 books. My Mother's Quilts, a devotional based on the quilts I inherited from my mother, is my latest. Memory of Murder, from Love Inspired is the latest novel. 

I'm also an editor, with more than 400 publications to my credit. My specialty is fiction, although I've also worked on CD-ROMs, magazines, non-fiction, children’s books, Bibles, and study guides. Lot of publishers have helped my bottom line, such as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, etc.

And, as I say on Twitter (@RamonaRichards), I'm Rachel's mom. Music nut. Film buff. Lifelong geek. Former Bible editor. Usually a fun person to eat a burger with. And I love living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville. 
Connect with Ramona Richards at:   http://www.ramonarichards.com/

Friday, April 8, 2016

5-Star Review of "Promise Lodge"

Review of Promise Lodge

by Charlotte Hubbard

Promise Lodge

It's a better life, a fresh start--and a heaven-sent second chance. Founded by three Amish sisters determined to put misfortune behind them, Promise Lodge is a colony where faith's abiding promise can be fulfilled--and love can make all things new…

Energetic widow, Mattie Bender Schwartz is working day and night to get Promise Lodge going. She's also hoping the change will help her son Noah's heart to heal after his broken engagement. But his former fiancĂ©e, Deborah, is looking for a fresh start too. Filled with regret, and cast out by her dat for a reason she can't yet reveal, Deborah can only pray Noah will forgive her foolishness. 

Deborah is the last person Noah expected to show up at Promise Lodge. But with her cruel words still ringing in his head, he's reluctant to accept her apology--even if the Old Order ways demand he try. If only he could obey Christ's most important commandment: love one another. But one thing is certain--his mother and aunts, and their beloved Preacher Amos, will do their best to help him get there. 

MY REVIEW:    
Noah grimaced.  "Deborah's here.  Begging for my forgiveness."
His brother's eyebrows shot up.  "And you said--?"
He thrust the canister at Roman and then walked around,
 checking out the progress on the remodeling.  
"I told her I wanted no part of courting her again."

Forgiveness.  It is certainly not easy to offer or to ask for and Deborah has come seeking Noah's forgiveness, but he does not plan to extend it towards his former fianc`ee.  Preacher Amos is not very pleased with Noah's hardened attitude.   Noah and his mamm and others from their former Amish community have come to Promise Lodge to get a fresh start.   They have many who have written letters to them to say that they wish to come and live in Promise Lodge and begin a new Amish community.   But there are many obstacles for the folks who have come seeking refuge, safety and forgiveness.  Can they find fresh beginnings or will the new community fizzle before it even gets off the ground?   

This book grabbed my attention and held it fast.   There are several members of the former community who have a serious problem in abusing others.   Will they find the strength to repent and change their ways?  Will the victims of the abuse be able to move past their hurts and wounds and find healing?   The abuse may seem shocking to some, but I appreciate that Charlotte Hubbard shows that even Amish are human, and none are perfect. This book is the first in a new series.   I am already anxiously awaiting book 2.   I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   

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

About the Author:

Charlotte Hubbard

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard (a.k.a. Naomi King) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.  You can connect with Charlotte at:  http://www.naomikingauthor.com/

Sunday, April 3, 2016

5-Star Review of "Crime and Poetry"

Review of Crime and Poetry

(Magical Bookshop #1)

by Amanda Flower 

25894026

From Amanda Flower—who writes the national bestselling Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries as Isabella Alan—comes the first in the new Magical Bookshop Mystery series.

Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you...

Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good...

MY REVIEW:   
I wrapped my arms around her, and she buried her face in my shoulder.  We had stood that way so many years ago when my mother had died.  Back then, the roles had been reversed, and I had been the one crying in her arms.   " I knew this would happen," she mumbled.  "I hoped that I was wrong.  I hoped that the book was wrong, but I knew this would happen."   

What a fun book!  This book had me guessing til the very last moment when the killer was revealed at last.  I am usually very good at guessing "who did it" but not this time.    I love it when an author stumps me in a mystery.   Grandma Daisy's book shop is very unique as the books are known to "pick the reader" and not the other way around.   Violet is not happy to be back in the little town since her last experience there was very traumatic.   But her grandma Daisy called and said that she was dying and needed her and so she dropped everything and came from Chicago.   Now she just wants to leave, but maybe the handsome Chief of Police will change her mind.   

I really enjoyed reading the history of Niagara Falls also and even though I've never been to visit there, Amanda Flower made me feel like I was there with the spray of the water hitting my face.   Readers will love helping Violet solve the crime to keep Grandma Daisy from going to prison!   

I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it.  


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

About the Author:
Amanda Flower


Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel.   She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words.   Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel.   Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland.   She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.
Connect with her at:  http://www.amandaflower.com/

Saturday, April 2, 2016

4-Star Review of "Under the Sea Holy Bible" and Giveaway!

Review of Under the Sea Holy Bible and a Giveaway!  

New International Reader's Version

26309332

The Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV is a perfect gift for children ages 6 to 10. Themes of underwater fun and sparkling fish grace the interior of this wonderful children’s Bible. The outside is covered in foil and sparkle. The interior has color inserts featuring whimsical underwater scenes with themes of God’s care and love for each of us and all of creation.

My Review:    The cover of the Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV, reminds me of the movie, Finding Nemo.  I took it to church to a Bible study and showed it to several children and they said the same thing.  They really liked it too.  This is a new translation for me and it was very easy to understand.  It will be wonderful for 6-10 year old children.   There are several beautiful insert pages which are all in color and featuring the theme of "Under the Sea":  Books of the Bible, Prayer Is......, The Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments for Kids, Love Passage for Kids, Famous Children of the Bible, and the ABCs of Becoming a Christian.  These insert pages all use lovely thinking maps and illustrations with easy-to-understand words for children.  In the back of the book, there is a dictionary, and listing of Great Bible Stories.  The only thing I would change is that the font is very small, and some children have visual problems and this could create difficulty in reading it.   The cover is hard and will make this a sturdy Bible to carry to church or camps.   I know that my own daughters would have loved this and the children at church all gave it a "thumbs up".   
   I rate this Bible 4 stars and would love to buy it as a gift for young children and would highly recommend it to others.  
   I received a copy of this Bible from flybypromotions in exchange for my honest review.

GIVEAWAY:
To enter to win a print copy of this Bible, leave a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL so that I can contact you if you win.   The giveaway will end on April 7, 2016, at 12 noon.   
For extra entries, share on facebook, twitter, instagram, or google+ and leave a comment to tell me what you did to share it.   
For extra entries, follow my blog with google+.   


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

5-Star Review of "The Imposter"

Review of The Imposter

(The Bishop's Family #1)

by Suzanne Woods Fisher

25178167

Katrina Stoltzfus thought she had life and love all figured out: she was going to marry John and live happily ever after. Those plans started to crumble when her father moved the family to Stoney Ridge, then completely collapsed when John decided to marry someone else. Katrina is devastated. How could she have felt so loved, yet been so deceived?

As she struggles to face a future without him, a widow asks for her help to start a new business and Katrina quickly agrees. She needs time to heal her broken heart, to untangle her messy life, to find a purpose. What she doesn't need is attention from Andy Miller, a farm hand who arrives at the widow's farm just when help is most needed--and who always seems to say the right thing, and be in the right place, at the right time. Is Andy for real, or too good to be true? Deceived once before, Katrina is determined to keep her feelings in check.

When a cascade of events is set in motion by some surprising information, the little Amish church is turned upside down. Soon, everyone has a stake in the outcome, and the community struggles to find the best response to an imposter in their midst. Can they forgive even the most deceitful deeds?
 

MY REVIEW:   
Finally, Hank looked at David with tears rimming his eyes.
He bobbed his head in almost schoolboyish fashion, 
evidently not trusting his voice. 
Clearing his throat, he said,
"I'll teach your boy everything I know."

Katrina fell in love with John and was sure he was planning to marry her, but that is not the case at all. He has someone else he will wed.  Andy Miller comes along to help on Thelma's farm at the same time that Katrina moves in with Thelma to help her and Andy is far too goodlooking for his own good.  Katrina's father, David, has apparently stepped into a hornet's nest, in moving to Stoney Ridge to serve as a leader in the Amish church there.  But he constantly butts heads with Freeman.  What will happen to soothe Katrina's broken heart?  What will David have to deal with?  

I read a lot of Amish fiction and Suzanne Woods Fisher has written an Amish romance story with a huge twist to the story.   I loved that the story was so different from other works of Amish fiction.  The story explores the notion of pride, for one, which is considered a sin by Amish.  Forgiveness is offered and some unlikely relationships are explored.   From the title, I was obviously expecting someone who was hiding their true identity, but the title is revealed in some surprising ways.  David was a refreshing character as so many Amish bishops are close minded and only care about the rules of the Ordnung.   I appreciate the fact that David offers grace to the others in the community.  I hated having to put the book down for even one moment to complete the tasks of life, but I did have to stop a few times, and I was quite happy to be able to return to the highly engaging characters.  The idea of quieting a bishop was presented in the story.   This is basically a way that the Amish can remove a bishop from his calling.  
I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  I read the preview of book 2 in the series and can hardly wait for it to be published.  

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Giveaway:  https://promosimple.com/ps/941f


About the Author:
Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. 

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living. 

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can't life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. 

Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com