Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review of "Humble Pie"

Review of Humble Pie

Mattie and Mark Miller--Double Trouble series for children

by Wanda E.  Brunstetter 

20448036

Welcome to Holmes County, Ohio, where twins Mattie and Mark Miller get a taste of Humble Pie. When their out-of-control boasting begins to stir up trouble at every turn, will these energetic almost ten-year-olds learn the value of humility before it’s too late? You’ll fall in love with the fourth release in the Double Trouble series from bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter.

Double Trouble Series:
Book 1 - What a Pair!
Book 2 - Bumpy Ride Ahead
Book 3 - Bubble Troubles
Book 4 - Green Fever
Book 5 - Humble Pie

MY REVIEW:  Mattie and Mark Miller are once again learning new lessons in life as they run and play on their Amish farm.   This is another delightful book written for children about ten-year-old twins.   Readers will get a view of the Amish lifestyle, farm life, and learn a lesson as they read.  Even though this book is written for children, it makes for a quick and fun read for adults as well.  I know that I certainly had quite a few chuckles as I read.   5 Star Children's literature!  
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Wanda E. Brunstetter

A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has sold more than seven million copies of her fiction and nonfiction books. Wanda enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish and continues to visit their communities throughout the country. Her books have won numerous awards and topped several bestselling charts. For more about her books for children, visit www.amishfictionforkids.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review of "When Mercy Rains"

Review of When Mercy Rains 

by Kim Vogel  Sawyer 

21473060

She left, heavily weighted with secrets.
But God reveals all things, in His timing. 
And He redeems them. 
Suzanne Zimmerman was only seventeen and pregnant when her shamed mother quietly sent her away from their Old Order Mennonite community in Kansas. With her old home, family, and first love firmly behind her, Suzanne moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and raised a daughter, Alexa, on her own. 
Now, nearly twenty years later, an unexpected letter arrives from Kansas. Her brother asks her to bring her nursing abilities home and care for their ailing mother. His request requires that Suzanne face a family that may not have forgiven her and a strict faith community. It also means seeing Paul Aldrich, her first love. 
Paul, widowed with an eight-year-old son, is relieved to see Suzanne again, giving him the chance to beg her forgiveness for his past indiscretion. But when he meets Alexa, his guilt flickers in the glare of Suzanne's prolonged secret--one that changes everything. 
Suzanne had let go of any expectation for forgiveness long ago. Does she dare hope in mercy-and how will her uncovered past affect the people she loves the most?

MY REVIEW:   Kim Vogel Sawyer has a true gift in her writing.   She is able to express deep emotions through her characters and allow the readers to feel those same emotions.   I most definitely felt the fear, shame, and regret that Suzanne felt in the story.  To be sent away from home as a young teen and left to bear the shame and regret is simply awful.   I can certainly imagine how horrible it was for Suzanne to experience this.   Then to be asked to return home to care for the very same mother who sent her away is almost too much to bear.  Suzanne is faced with a dilemma as she certainly had the right to refuse the request.   This book causes readers to reflect on conflicts they have had with their own families.   Can love and forgiveness occur?  Is it even possible in such a case?  
      I have a great respect and fascination for the Amish and Old Order Mennonites but I must be honest that I have a very hard time understanding their desire to send children away in shame.  I simply do not think that I could do such a thing to one of my daughters.    I would want to help them and love them unconditionally.  As I read and reflect on Amish and Old Order Mennonite works that I have read including this one, I don't see a great deal of unconditional love expressed among families. What do my blog readers feel about this issue?   Does it seem that the Amish and Old Order Mennonites show a great penchant for conditional love and do they also then place that same restriction on God?   It is just something I found myself pondering again as I read this book.   Can the characters turn this around and make it work for good?  Readers will need to read this 5 star Old Order Mennonite fiction to find the answers to this and other questions.  
I received a print copy of this book from bloggingforbooks in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author:
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren. She invites you to visit her web site at www.kimvogelsawyer.com for more information.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review of "The Discovery Saga Collection"

Review of  The Discovery Saga Collection

by Wanda E. Brunstetter

E
Originally released in a 6-part serial, now you can have The Discovery:  A Lancaster County Saga all in one book. Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus, an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. Financial struggles. Arguments. A suspected pregnancy. A last-minute trip to Middlebury,  Indiana. A drug addict on the run. A deadly encounter at a Philadelphia bus station. Will their love and faith be enough to bring them back together again, against all odds?

MY REVIEW:  I originally read this collection as it was published in 6 parts. I enjoyed it even more as I read the first 5 parts of the collection again and was able to finally read the conclusion in part 6.   I know many readers expressed a desire to wait until the entire 6-part series was published as a collection and you can now enjoy The Discovery:  A Lancaster County Saga without waiting for a short time to discover what was coming next.  Meredith and Luke endure many hardships and struggles.  But this collection is most definitely about overcoming obstacles and hope and faith play a strong part in the lives of Meredith and Luke.   
       Each of the 6 parts of the collection ends with a surprising cliff hanger.   It made me want to keep on turning those pages on my kindle to keep the excitement going.   Wanda Brunstetter has a beautiful way of making her characters seem very real and likable.  I was rooting for Meredith and Luke, but some other characters become close to them and it is hard to think of these folks be hurting by the natural consequences of the plot.   I do not want to reveal a great deal as it would "spoil" the story for readers.   
       I felt as though I was taking a "mini-vacation" from my own life and surroundings as I read.   I was able to imagine the clip-clop of the horses' hooves on the pavement and feel the warmth of the handmade quilts as I lay in my own bed.   The beauty and simplicity of the Amish way of life drew me in and allowed me to escape my own thoughts and struggles.  I deal with several chronic illnesses and it takes me away from that as I read.   I find that I am able to focus on someone and something else as I read.   I rate this collection 5 stars and am delighted to recommend it to readers.  
I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   
      

About the Author:
wanda about About


Wanda E. Brunstetter
New York Times bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish way of life when she first visited her husband's Mennonite relatives living in Pennsylvania. Wanda and her husband, Richard, live in Washington State but take every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the States, where they have many Amish friends.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review of "An Amish Second Christmas"

Review of An Amish Second Christmas

by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Ruth Reid, & Tricia Goyer

21528451

When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Wiseman

Katherine Zook and her four children are facing their first Christmas without a loved one, and the future seems dim.But when a mysterious "Englisch" man begins to show up in the most unlikely of places, Katherine can t help but be suspicious . . . and a bit curious.
MY Review of When Christmas Comes Again:  This book speaks of second chances, forgiveness, and love.  I was truly touched by Katherine Zook and her children and when the identity of the mysterious Englischer is revealed, hearts will be moved.  I know a great deal about learning to forgive myself and others.  It is not always easy to do, but it opens our hearts to freedom.   This novella had me in tears, happy tears, but tears none-the-less.  It is a special 5 star Christmas novella and one that I believe readers will find special.  

Her Christmas Pen Pal by Ruth Reid

When Joy Stolzfus' boyfriend tells her he wants to court other women, she is shocked.She pours her heart out in a letter, but it mistakenly reaches Noah Esh. The two begin writing letters back and forth, but a misunderstanding threatens to topple the relationship they're building.
My Review of Her Christmas Pen Pal:  This novella is so cute.  I am sure that many readers have mailed packages and accidentally put a wrong number of portion of an address and when Noah receives the package of cookies Joy accidentally sent to him, things get very interesting.  I had several pen pals as a young teenage girl, and was always thrilled to receive a letter or package from my special friend.  This novella brought fond memories of that time for me.   Reading about all the delicious treats that Joy created made me hungry to do some Christmas baking too.  Readers will smile and laugh along with the characters in this 5 star novella.  

A Gift for Anne Marie by Kathleen Fuller

Anne Marie Smucker's life is pretty perfect. Until she discovers her widowed mother is getting married and they're all moving. On top of that, Anne Marie's relationship with her friend Nathaniel has changed, and she's more confused than ever about her feelings for him.
My Review of  A Gift for Anne Marie:   Anne Marie is naturally shocked to learn that her widowed mother is going to remarry and plans to move the entire family far away.  I have had to move many times in my life and the most difficult was when we moved our young family from Virginia to Texas for seminary.  I cried many tears and so I could relate to Anne Marie and her siblings' concerns and fears for moving.  Leaving friends and all that is familiar is difficult.   Her biggest fear is what will happen to her relationship with her boyfriend, Nathaniel.  Readers will thrill at seeing how issues are resolved in this 5 star Christmas novella.

The Christmas Aprons by Tricia Goyer

Esther Glick bakes a Christmas pie for a fundraiser, and she soon finds herself sitting across from bachelor Ammon Schwartz. Esther receives many orders for pies, but when she breaks her wrist, she discovers what community and love are all about.
My Review of The Christmas Aprons:   Esther Glick is an amazing baker and people always love her homemade creations.  Ammon is no exception when he wins the bid for her Vanilla Crumb pie at the bachelor auction to raise money for the fire department.  Esther has a problem though, she worries about what people think of her.  She does not think she fits in anywhere.  I struggle with many of these same thoughts and so I could relate to Esther but it is a miserable way to live.   It makes life lonely and uncertain.   Read this 5 star Christmas novella to see what takes place to bring healing for Esther.   
I received a print copy of this book from booklookbloggers in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Authors:
Beth Wiseman
"I wish I had the time to review books and chat with you here, but my writing deadlines just don't allow it. Please like my Fans of Beth Wiseman Page on Facebook where I try to post any news I have to share." 
Beth is the best-selling and award winning author of the Daughters of the Promise series - Plain Perfect, Plain Pursuit, Plain Promise, Plain Paradise, and Plain Proposal. She is contracted with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Her other series--the Land of Canaan Novels--begins with Seek Me With All Your Heart, then The Wonder of Your Love and now, His Love Endures Forever. Seek Me With All Your Heart is the first Amish fiction book selected as a Women of Faith novel in 2011. Beth has also written two contemporary Christian fiction novels, Need You Now published in 2012 and The House That Love Built in 2013. 
In a daring new novel, The Promise, Beth jumps way outside the box. This story will take readers far away from Amish Country and small Texas towns to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by a true story, Beth believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time. 

You can also follow Beth on Twitter: @BethWiseman

Kathleen Fuller
Kathleen is the best-selling author of over twenty-five books, including the Hearts of Middlefield Series and the A Middlefield Family Series. She lives with her husband and three children in Northeast Ohio. Kathleen loves to hear from readers.

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
I grew up in Northern Michigan an introverted child who observed more than participated. I was the type of kid who if a sign read wet paint, I had to touch it to see if it was wet.
I spent many school hours daydreaming, mostly about horses. Coaxed by my teacher to submit a short story to the Young Authors Writing Contest, I wrote, A Dream to Remember, about a girl who daydreamed about wild horses. That contest opened my eyes to daydream with a purpose. After that, my endless imagination was limited only by how fast I could write, and sometimes I stayed up late at night writing by flashlight to finish a story.
Although the desire to write had been planted years ago, it lay dormant while I gained life experiences.
I attended Ferris State University School of Pharmacy, in Big Rapids, Michigan where I met my husband, Dan, who was a native Floridian. We married, moved to a small town in Florida, and had three children. (Lexie, Danny, and Sarah).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review and Giveaway of "The Fruitcake Challenge"

Review and Giveaway of The Fruitcake Challenge

by Carrie Fancett Pagels

23199458

When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. And she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help—and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother. 

Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave? When hope runs out, will God provide a way for Jo to achieve her dreams?

MY REVIEW:  I am one of the weird people who absolutely loves fruitcake so this book was quite appealing to me. How do you like YOUR fruitcake? or do you like fruitcake?  Do you like it hard and prefer dipping it in coffee? or with nuts?  or with a cream sauce?  My dear late mom-in-love made several fruitcakes every Christmas.  I always loved it but my husband would never touch it.  He preferred her sugar cookies.   It was great fun to read along as Jo and her fellow cooks and shanty boys tried to find the perfect fruitcake recipe to win her a hand in marriage!  
 I was very impressed with the research that obviously went into the writing of the book.  I was not familiar with the history of logging camps so I thoroughly enjoyed learning about it.  The scenery of Northern Michigan sounded breathtaking and made me want to plan a trip headed that way.   I also love historical romances and this one is set in 1890.  Grab a cup of coffee and ride along in the wagon as Jo and Tom head to town to shop and mail the letters for the camp.  Find out if Jo perfects the fruitcake that can rival that of Tom's mother.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers. 
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.  

Giveaway!!!!  Carrie F. Pagels has graciously offered to give away a kindle or nook copy of this book to one of my readers.   To enter, leave a comment and tell us if you like or hate fruitcake!   Leave an email so that I can contact you if you win.   For extra entries, share on facebook, twitter, or goggle+.   Tell me if you shared it.    Giveaway will end on Oct. 14, 2014, at midnight.  

About the Author:
Carrie Fancett Pagels

Carrie Fancett Pagels (www.carriefancettpagels.com) “Hearts Overcoming Through Time” is a Christian historical romance author. Her historical romance novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, releases in September, 2014. In July, 2014, Carrie won in Historical Genre for Family Fiction's "The Story 2014) contest, with her short story The Quilting Contest. 

Carrie's novella, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance, was an Amazon Civil War best seller and remained on the top-rated list for a year. Her short story "Snowed In" was published in Guidepost Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Nonfiction chapter contribution to Selah Finalist God's Provision in Tough Times by Cynthia Howerter and LaTan Murphy (Lighthouse of the Carolinas, 2013). 

Represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. Founder of Colonial American Christian Writers group. Owner/administrator of the group blogs "Colonial Quills" and "Overcoming With God." Member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Faith-Hope-Love Chapter of RWA, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and FaithWriters. 

Was a licensed psychologist for over twenty-five years. Has an adult daughter and a middle school aged son. Married the love of her life, Jeffrey D. Pagels, in 1987.

Carrie is the former ACFW Zone Mid-Atlantic Zone Director and Virginia/West Virginia Area Coordinator and continues to serve as co-hostess of the Tidewater Area Christian Writers group. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review of "The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain"

Review of The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain

by Kelly Long





Like most Mountain Amish girls, Mary King has always dreamed of her wedding day. But she never imagined that a sudden, irresistible kiss would result in marriage to the handsome Englischer professor studying her unique community. Or that doing the truly honorable thing means keeping their relationship chaste so both she and Dr. Jude Lyons can someday go their separate ways.

But when Mary accompanies her husband-in-name-only to Atlanta to meet his wealthy, overbearing family, she's tempted more than ever by Jude's kindness, humor--and vulnerability. And when a wrenching misunderstanding causes her to return heartbroken to her remote Appalachian home, she's certain she's lost the real love they have found...and the shared future she's come to want so much. But a crisis of more than faith will work surprising miracles--and show Mary that love is strong enough to make the impossible come true.

MY REVIEW:  I can feel the ice and the cold and the splendor of Ice Mountain as I read Kelly Long's novel.   I even researched after reading to see if this is an actual place and it appears that it is.   What a wonderful place to visit, though if I had to make the long trek up the mountain as Mary and Jude did, I don't know how I would fare.  
         It becomes a place of sadness though after a forced marriage when Mary and Jude, the professor researching the mountain and the Amish people who call it home, as Jude plans to never make the marriage a true one. He plans to take her to Atlanta to his family for a short while and then annul the marriage.   Hmmmm, does he research to discover if the Amish will accept an annulment?  They do not accept divorce.   
         This is a story of forgiveness and love.  True love expressed in all its forms.   Some readers will be taken aback as this book does focus on Mary and Jude's physical desire for one another.   I did not find it distasteful or overly erotic but it reminds me a bit more of Harlequin romances in that respect.  I found it touching in fact.  It reminded me of first love and all the tenderness a young couple (or an old couple too) feel for each other.   This book is also about relationships in many aspects.....husband/wife, siblings, friends,   parent/child, grandparents, paid household help/family they serve.  I was greatly moved by this story and found myself thinking of the characters when I had to put my kindle down and attend to life for a while.   I wanted to read more, to know more, to feel more!   I am excited to see that a second book is planned.   
       I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a pdf version of this book from netgalley and a print copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Kelly Long

Kelly Long was born and raised in North Central Pennsylvania. There was an Amish hitching post at the small grocery store in her town. She loves to write Amish romance and is the author of novel, Sarah's Garden, the novella Amish Christmas Expanded Edition with some other great Amish authors, Amish Love with Beth Wiseman and Kathy Fuller, and Lilly's Wedding Quilt--the sequel to Sarah's Garden. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and children.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review of "Trading Secrets"

Review of  Trading Secrets

by Melody Carlson

20665234

Back in fifth grade, Micah Knight got an Amish pen pal, and over the years, they've exchanged many letters--and many secrets. At age seventeen, Micah finally has the chance to meet her pen pal face-to-face. The only problem is that because of confusion about her name when the pen pals were assigned, her pen pal was a boy, Zack Miller. And all this time, Micah's never told Zack that she's actually a girl! While she wants nothing more than to experience life on Zack's Amish farm, she's afraid he'll hate her for deceiving him all these years. But she makes up her mind to face the music--and that's where the fun really begins. 
Bestselling author Melody Carlson brings young adults another fascinating tale of worlds colliding, secrets being revealed, and friendships forming. Teens will love this story of miscommunication and mishaps along the way to the truth.

MY REVIEW:  This is a work of Young Adult Amish fiction, but I would recommend it to adults as well.  This was a fun, light read.   Micah and Zack have been penpals for six years and because of her name, Zack assumes she is a he.   He even chose her for that reason.   She has the chance to visit his family farm during her spring break and she goes dressed as a boy and does not reveal her secret until the family dinner that evening.  I will not spoil the book for readers by revealing what happens when she tells them that she is actually a girl.  Zack loves education and reading and spends a great deal of time reading science and history books.  I hope that there is a sequel to the book as I am curious to know what happens later with Zack and Micah.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to teens and adults alike.  
I received a pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. 

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. 

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.