Monday, November 27, 2017

"Twice Blessed" Book Review

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Twice Blessed

(Two Amish Christmas Novellas)

by Barbara Cameron

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Two Amish fiction novellas:  

Her Sister’s Shadow
Katie and Rosie Stoltzfus work part-time in an Amish store and part-time in Two Peas in a Pod, their own business raising vegetables and fruits and canning them for sale. Although they are identical twins, their personalities are very different: while Katie has always been more outgoing and attractive to boys, Rosie has always felt in her sister’s shadow. It will take an unexpected business opportunity and one very special man to help Rosie see that she’s a unique woman of her own.


 His Brother’s Keeper
Ever since they were boys, Ben Fisher has trailed after his brother, Mark. Ben has always envied Mark because he’s always been more adventurous, but he's even more jealous now that Mark is engaged to Rachel, a woman they both love. When a terrible accident on Christmas Eve results in their mistaken identity, Ben suddenly has an opportunity to create the life he’s always wanted. While everyone believes he is his brother, who’s still in a coma, Ben finally has a chance with Rachel. But how can he realize an opportunity for real happiness if it means deceiving his kin? 

MY REVIEW:  Her Sister's Shadow:  Twins have always intrigued me.  It is so interesting in this novella that Katie and Rosie know when something is wrong with the other.  Katie is the one who is a magnet for the young men in the Amish community and Rosie has not even dated any young men yet.  So Katie is shocked when her sister takes an interest in Jacob and even more shocked when he returns the interest.  This seems rude and hurtful to me as an observer.  Obviously, since they are identical twins, Katie doesn't think looks are what is keeping Rosie from dating.  Katie thinks that she has the perky, friendly personality and that Rosie....well, doesn't.   
               I really enjoyed this novella.  It is fun, light reading.  I love reading novellas as they can be read quickly.  I sit a number of hours per week with my mother who is recovering from a massive stroke and is now in a nursing home. So quick reads suit my needs quite well at the present time.   
              While the two novellas are called Christmas novellas, I felt this novella was lacking in details that made me feel they were Christmas themed.  In an Amish Christmas novella, I expect to read of the Amish Christmas traditions which are quite different from those of the English world.  
              I highly recommend this book to readers of Amish and Christian fiction.   I am giving this novella 4 stars.
              I received a copy of this book from netgalley and Abingdon Press in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

MY REVIEW:  His Brother's Keeper:  Ben and Mark are not just identical twins; they are best friends. 
But they are facing a problem that threatens to drive them apart.  They are both in love with Rachel.  How on earth can they ever resolve this problem?  Neither of them wants to hurt the other and Rachel feels deeply for Ben, but she is engaged to Mark.   An accident allows the truth to be revealed but Rachel may not forgive Ben.  
               While I truly enjoyed this book, I had some moments of confusion when Mark and Ben were hospitalized where I did not know which was which brother.   I had to go back through the book to figure it out.  This left me feeling a bit undone as I read this novella.   
                While the two novellas are called Christmas novellas, I felt this novella was lacking in details that made me feel they were Christmas themed.  In an Amish Christmas novella, I expect to read of the Amish Christmas traditions which are quite different from those of the English world.
A bonus for readers is the Amish recipes featured at the end of the two novellas that were mentioned in the book as characters made and enjoyed the food created from the recipes.    
                I do give this novella 4 stars as it captured my attention immediately and drove me to put other things aside to read.   
                I highly recommend this book to lovers of Amish and Christian fiction.
               I received a copy of this book from  netgalley and Abingdon Press.  


About the Author:       


Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 35 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara currently resides in Edgewater, Florida. Find out more about Barbara at BarbaraCameron.com and Amishliving.com.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"The Barbour Bible Study Companion" Book Review

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The Barbour Bible Study Companion:

Easy-to-Understand Study Notes for Genesis–Revelation

Book Review

by

Do Bible commentaries seem huge and daunting? They don’t have to be! The Barbour Bible Study Companion addresses key passages of scripture in a simple, easy-to-use (and understand!) format. With nearly 6,500 notes, covering verses and passages from Genesis through Revelation, this commentary is concise and accessible—perfect for the non-scholar. Introductions to each of the Bible’s 66 books provide additional background and insight. Ideal for personal Bible study or for Sunday school or small group preparation, The Barbour Bible Study Companion is usable with any Bible translation.

MY REVIEW:  This is the perfect study guide for those who are not scholars of the Bible.  I had been looking for a Bible Commentary and this one is perfect for me.  It is easy to understand and contains vocabulary appropriate to those with a high-school education.  This study companion has proven very beneficial for me as I've been reading my Bible daily.  My only complaint was the fact that not every verse is included.  The book includes historical information for each book, authorship, dates and to whom each book of Bible is addressed and for what purpose.  

I've even taken my kindle with this downloaded book to share with the Sunday School class I teach for 4th through 6th graders and they found it helpful to better comprehend the scripture verses included in our lessons.  The notes created great discussion among students which thrilled me. I would highly recommend this to other seekers, Bible study leaders and those who are reading the Bible for the first or the 100th time. The book is designed to be used with any Bible translation.  I believe this guide will allow readers to learn new things about their Bible.

I am rating this book 5 stars.   I received a copy of this non-fiction Christian book from netgalley and Barbour Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

            
About the Editor:
Christopher D. Hudson
Christopher Hudson-- mission is to help people read, understand, and apply the Bible. He has contributed to over fifty Bible projects, sixty study guides, and over a hundred books.

Chris is the author or editor of:
* Heaven & Hell: Are They Real
* Navigating the Bible
* The Bible: 100 Ways it Can Change Your Life
* Layman's Concise Bible Commentary
* The Illustrated Book of Bible Lists
* Once-A-Day At the Table Family Devotional: 365 Daily Readings and Conversation Starters for Your Family
* Bible Atlas & Companion (Barbour)
* 40 Day Bible Adventure (Barbour)
* Fascinating Bible People (Barbour)
* What the Bible Says About series (Barbour)
* 12 Volume QuickNotes Simplified Commentary Series (Barbour)
* Angels and Miracles (American Bible Society/Time, inc.)
* The Life of Christ (American Bible Society/Time, inc.)
* Inside the Mysteries of the Bible (American Bible Society/Time, inc.)
* The Year Long Bible Reading Series (TheBiblePeople.com)
* Bible Jumble (Tyndale)
* Bible Jumble for Kids (Tyndale)

He has served as managing editor for best-selling Bibles such as:
* The Love Languages Devotional Bible with Gary Chapman (Moody)
* The NIV VerseLight Bible series by Zondervan (titles include: Find Hope, Find Love, Find Faith, Find Prayer)
* Inspirational Bible with Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson)
* The Extreme Teen Bible (Thomas Nelson)
* The Case for Christ Study Bible with Lee Strobel (Zondervan)
* The College Devotional Bible (Zondervan)

In addition to writing and editing, Chris is passionate about softball and baseball and has coached athletic teams at the youth, high school, and college levels. He's a graduate from Wheaton College (IL) where he served as the Head Softball Coach between 2006-2012. Chris has been an active teacher in his church for nearly twenty years and lives outside Chicago with his wife and three children.

There are additionally twenty-one contributors to The Barbour Bible Study Companion; they are Christopher Hudson, Tremper Longman, Mark Strauss, Carol Smith, Peter Barnes, Stan Campbell, Ralph Davis, Bob Deffinbaugh, Ian Fair, Joe Guglielmo, David Guzik, John Hanneman, W. Hall Harris III, David Hatcher, J. Hampton Keathley III, Stephen Leston, Stephen C. Magee, Doug McIntosh, Eugene H. Merrill, Jeff Miller, Richard D. Patterson, Robert Rayburn, and Derek W. H. Thomas. 


Sunday, November 19, 2017

"A Plain Leaving" Book Review

A Plain Leaving 

(The Sisters of Lancaster County #1)

by Leslie Gould


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Book Description: 
Gould Offers a New Amish Series in Idyllic Lancaster County
At age twenty, Jessica Bachman left her two beloved sisters and her Amish community after clashing with the new bishop about her role in the family and the future of their farm. She tried to convince Silas Kemp, who'd been courting her for two years, to join her, but when he said no, she fled anyway.

Three years later, she returns home for the first time since leaving Lancaster to attend her father's funeral. Her arrival back revives all sorts of emotions--yearnings and sorrows alike. Jessica knows things will never return to how they were. But in seeing Silas again, she can't help but wonder what might have been.

Struggling to decide where her next step should take her, she learns the story of a Revolutionary War-era ancestor that echoes her own choices. Will Jessica leave her family and community forever, or is there peace and healing and love yet to come?


MY REVIEW:  I truly could not figure out how this book was going to end.  I could feel the romantic conflict early in my reading.....Jessica with Tom, the Englisher, or Jessica with Silas, the Amish ex-boyfriend, but then as I continued to read, it also became...or Jessica remains single as Amish, or Jessica remains single as Englisher....I've read a LOT of Amish romance novels in my time and I will admit that I find the majority of them predictable though enjoyable.   So when I find one that leaves me guessing until the last page, I'm impressed.   Jessica Bachman is a highly likable character, as are Silas and Tom, but some of Jessica's family members leave a bit to be desired.  Jessica's story is juxtaposed with one of her ancestors, Ruby and her feelings for two men, one Amish and one English.  I got a little confused at times as the two stories were told in alternating paragraphs with Jessica's Aenti Suz telling Ruby's story to Jessica. I got the two main characters, Jessica and Ruby, confused as I read and would have to look back in the story to figure out which time period I was currently reading about.   
         I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
         I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould is the best-selling and award-winning author of twenty-five novels. She loves traveling, research, Shakespeare's plays, and church history. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon and are the parents of four children. http://www.lesliegould.com/

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Shameless Surrender" Book Review

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Shameless Surrender Book Review

(Surrender #1)

by Cheyenne McCray (Writing as Jaymie Holland)

Book Description: 

Chessie burns for Nick, but locks the flames in her heart. She’s not a stunning beauty like the women he dates—but when she finds an envelope waiting for her on her desk…dare she open it and accept the invitation into the unknown?

Chessie Lane burns for Nick Tarantino, but circumstance has forced her to keep the flames locked deep in her heart. Drop-dead-gorgeous bosses only fall in love with their administrative assistants in the movies. Besides, she’s plain and na├»ve about his world, nothing like the flawless cultured females he knows. Still, no other man has existed for Chessie since she met Nick. All her erotic fantasies revolve around this powerful man and his sexy, commanding voice. When Nick sells Tarantino Investments, Chessie is heartbroken and sure her fantasies will never come true. But when she receives a mysterious invitation, her life changes…forever.

Publisher's Note: This book has previously been released elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Totally Bound Publishing.

My Review:  Office romance?  Not with Nick Tarantino....he has a strict policy against mixing business with pleasure.  His administrative assistant who has been with him for several years is secretly in love with him and has been pining away for him since she came to work with him.  Now he's sold his company and she will never have a chance at love with him.  Then a mysterious envelope appears on her desk.  When she responds to the note by doing what it says, here life changes forever.  It changes in ways she never imagined they actually would, even though it has been her fantasy since she first laid eyes on the gorgeous man.   
        The world of BDSM has recently received great attention due to the books and movies in the Fifty Shades series.  This book did include much of that element.  The story of Chessie and Nick was very exciting and sexy and it was hard to put my kindle down.  I felt the ending was rushed and the relationship between the two characters changed overnight.   (Warning: Sexual 
Content)
I am rating this book 4 stars.
I received an ebook of this novel from netgalley and Totally Bound.


About the Author:


Jaymie Holland

Jaymie Holland is the romantic erotica alter-ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cheyenne McCray. Jaymie’s work should always be handled with oven mitts!
Cheyenne McCray’s books have received multiple awards including three “RT Book Review Magazine’ Reviewer’s choice awards” and three nominations.

Cheyenne has three sons and three dogs. She grew up on a ranch in the southeastern part of the state and is an Arizona native.

Visit Jaymie's website and get all of the latest info at JaymieHolland.com and CheyenneMcCray.com and meet up with her at Cheyenne McCray’s Place on Facebook! Feel free to contact Chey at chey@cheyennemccray.


Monday, October 23, 2017

"Gladden the Heart" Book Review

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Gladden the Heart Book Review

 (Amish Turns of Time #5)

by Olivia Newport 

Book Description:

“When you have experienced the Holy Ghost as I have, you would see that it is difficult to turn back.”

When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna's intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.

Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith..  Now they must grapple with whether love is possible...even if they come to different conclusions.
           
When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs.  But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives? 

More in the Amish Turns of Time Series:
Wonderful Lonesome
Meek and Mild
Brightest and Bes
Hope in the Land

MY REVIEW:  This book is exciting and fresh!  I have many, many Amish novels and the plots are usually very similar.  Gladden the Heart presents a situation that I do not ever recall seeing in any of the works of Amish fiction that I've read.  Noah is not a preacher, but begins preaching while in trances and his wife seeks to keep him safe during these times.  The community is divided over this unusual thing and Adam is against it, while his girlfriend, Susanna, approves of Noah's preaching and helps her aunt to ensure his safety when he is in a trance.  I have never personally heard of someone who receives the Holy Spirit and is gifted with this amazing ability to preach the Word.  
        Noah and Adam both fear that their differences will keep them from marrying, but maybe they will work things out.  They could also split over their differences.
       Readers will anxiously read ahead to see what happens for Noah, Adam, and Susanna.   I highly recommend this book to others.  
       I am giving this book a 5-star rating.  
       I received an ebook of this selection from netgalley and Shiloh Run Press   in exchange 
for an honest review.

About the Author 



From  goodreads bip:
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.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"The CEB Student Bible" Book Review

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The CEB Student Bible



About this Bible:

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"The Beloved Hope Chest" Book Review

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The Beloved Hope Chest 

(Amish Heirloom #4)

by Amy Clipston

Book Description: 

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:
Amy Clipston

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

My books include:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Non-Fiction
• A Gift of Love (2/2014)


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

Visit me at www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks  at @AmyClipston or www.AmyClipston.com