Saturday, December 24, 2016

3-Star Review of "Seeds"

Review of Seeds

by Wendy Stenzel Oleston


Temptation is a battle of the flesh... 
In SEEDS you will meet a dirty, sexy mechanic with passion… a stand-up family man with faith… a handsome business man with plenty of money… and a cute, shy programmer with a loving heart. Which one would you choose? Don’t be too quick! One of them has a sex addiction, one thinks he might be gay, one has no respect for women and the other… loves pornography more than himself. 
Sexual sin is a battle for everyone, but what would you do if you were faced with a make or break moment that was bound to change everything? Would you try half-heartedly, would you ignore it, would you follow the crowd, or would you do whatever it took to succeed? Only one of them will get it right… but don’t worry… everyone gets a second chance. 
This book will make you swoon, scream, smile, shake your head, and swoon again. Come meet Cory, Blaine, Holden, and Lawrence and pick your favorite. 

SEEDS contains strong language and sexual content, representing the reality of the world we live in, while maintaining a moral Christian backbone.   


           

MY REVIEW:   Sex,  pornagrapy, gays, and behind it all is a desire of the person with these issues to turn away from it.  This book is well written, but I'll be honest.   I have never read a "Christian" book that is filled with graphic sexual content and I think it could have been written without such extreme examples of sexual activity. The language is bad also.  One man is addicted to pornagraphy, one is addicted to sex, and one is fighting the urge to express his attraction to the same sex.
      I don't exactly know how to say this, but I would recommend this book only to a certain audience. Many of my friends who read and review Christian novels will never pick it up.  Then there are others who will gladly read it.  The sexual content and strong language will keep some readers from picking it up and non-believers to God will be turned off by the Christian references and put it down.  I frankly never imagined anything to the degree expressed in the book and I think the sexual scenes and the language could have been toned down in a Christian novel.   
       I rated this book 3 stars.   I would only recommend it to readers who are not easily offended by strong language and sexual content.  Many readers have high morals and high morals and these make them choose not to read this type of book. My Christian friends and social media groups have stated this many times, both publicly and privately.
       I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   All opinions expressaed are my own.

About the Author:
Wendy Stenzel Oleston

Sunday, December 18, 2016

4-Star Review of "The Amish Christmas Kitchen"

Review of The Amish Christmas Kitchen

by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Lisa Jones Baker


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A dash of joy brings everything together . . . 

Something’s always baking in an Amish oven, and at Christmastime, all the ingredients for joy are at hand. Wrap yourself in the warmth of the Amish home—and the Plain peace of hearts joined by love. Each story includes a recipe from the author!

BAKING LOVE ON ICE MOUNTAIN
Kelly Long


Newly married, Clara Mast and Daniel Kauffman have little to give but love during their first Christmas season together. But generous hearts are always willing to be creative in this “Gift of the Magi” inspired story.  {Inaccurate description!  This is not accurate in depicting a teaser of novella, please see my review for accurate account.}


MY REVIEW of Baking Love on Ice Mountain:  WORD OF CAUTION:  the book description/teaser for this novella is NOT correct.  This is not based on the "Gift of the Magi".  I looked in various different published descriptions to see if this was a one-time error in printing, but this is the one released by publishers for the novella collection.  I didn't realize how much I had missed visiting with the Amish community on Ice Mountain until I read this novella.   Ice Mountain is not an easy place to live.  It is not close to other communities, it requires a great amount of effort to get on or off the mountain and even to visit others on the mountain, and it has meant great hardship for many who live there.                 When Daniel felled the tree that claimed the life of his friend, Seth, he promised to marry Clara and care for Seth's widow.  Clara refused his hasty proposal though, but now there's a baking challenge going on and Daniel is out to win the heart of Clara as well as her hand in marriage with a special cookie recipe.  Clara is just as determined to win the baking challenge, but does she want the praise or does she just want to win the heart of Daniel?  
         I rated this individual novella 5 stars.  It put me in the Christmas baking mood too!

 
THE CHRISTMAS BAKERY ON HUCKLEBERRY HILL
Jennifer Beckstrand

When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .

MY REVIEW:  I couldn't help but feel sorry for poor Katie Rose.  Her parents forced her to leave home and stay for a month with Anna and Felty Helmuth during the Christmas season and spend the time cooking incredible meals for Adam in order to secure his proposal in marriage by Christmas day!   Katie is quiet and shy and Adam is loud, arrogant and dishonest.   The two don't seem to be a suited pair for marriage.  Anna and Titus both agree and furthermore, Titus has decided that he might want to court Katie as well.  Titus helps Katie with her Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill by taking orders and delivering baked goods for her.  Katie finds it easy to talk with Titus but Adam is her almost husband-to-be.  
           I love Anna and Felty and their amusing antics!   It was such fun to be in their home again for Christmas.  Anna is the family matchmaker and Felty will do anything his lovely bride asks of him.  This time, Anna feels that Titus needs a match made in heaven and she knows just the girl!  She puts Titus and Katie together caring for her Christmas goat.  Titus and Katie discover they are interested in more than the goat as they spend time together.  
           This is a cute romance with lots of humor thrown in the batter!  
            I rate this individual novella 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.

THE SPECIAL CHRISTMAS COOKIE

Lisa Jones Baker

A charity auction, an unexpected friendship, and a stubborn spirit combine in an unusual courtship. But for Emma and Jonathan, overcoming obstacles is just one of the lessons to be learned about special blessings this holiday season.


MY REVIEW:  This novella has a nice idea behind it.  The Amish community holds a charity auction to raise money for little Amos's heart surgery.  His older brother who cares for him since their father's death and their mother's recent flare of Epstein-Barr Virus does not want to accept help from anyone and tells Emma to cancel the auction.   But I kept thinking that my kindle was messing up as I read because the same lines and thoughts kept repeating.  Unfortunately it was not a kindle error.  The author does seem to continue to have the same or similar conversation between characters through the novella.   I realize that this is the first published attempt by this author, and hopefully the constructive criticism can help the author to improve the work.  
             I rate this individual novella 3 stars.  

OVERALL Rating of novella collection:  4 stars (two 5-star reviews and one 3-star review on the individual novellas)

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.

Jennifer Beckstrand

Jennifer Beckstrand 
http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/ 
https://www.facebook.com/jenniferbeckstrandfans
Twitter: @JenniferBeckst1

Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014. 

Her much-anticipated Amish series, The Honeybee Sisters, was released summer of 2016 and has created a lot of romantic buzz. Sweet as Honey received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and Sweet as Honey and A Bee in her Bonnet were both awarded Top Picks from RT Book Reviews. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy. 

Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. She and her husband have been married for thirty-two years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Books by Jennifer Beckstrand:  
The Honeybee Sisters Series:
Sweet as Honey
A Bee in her Bonnet 
Like a Bee to Honey 

The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill Series:
Huckleberry Hill
Huckleberry Summer
Huckleberry Christmas
Huckleberry Spring
Huckleberry Harvest
Huckleberry Hearts
Return to Huckleberry Hill (June 2017)
Courtship on Huckleberry Hill (Oct. 2017)

A Perfect Amish Christmas in "An Amish Christmas Quilt"
The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill in "An Amish Christmas Kitchen"
The Reluctant Groom in "Amish Brides" (June 2017)
Honeybee Christmas in "An Amish Christmas Candle" (Oct. 2017)

Forever Apple in Apple Lake Series:
Kate's Song
Rebecca's Rose
Miriam's Quilt
Lisa Jones Baker

Lisa Jones Baker grew up near a small Amish town in Illinois that she frequented with her family on weekends. She's also a dog lover and a fan of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she spent nearly two decades. Lisa graduated from Illinois State University with a French major, has been on 5 out of 7 continents, and considers her parents the best in the world. Raised in a Christian home, Lisa has always been blessed with love and support.

Monday, December 12, 2016

5-Star Review of "The Christmas Secret"

Review of The Christmas Secret:  

Will an 1880 Christmas Eve Wedding Be Cancelled by Revelations in an Old Diary?

by Wanda E. Brunstetter



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Bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter delivers a poignant historical story of a couple on the threshold of marriage who are suddenly pulled apart. Elizabeth Canning discovers an awful secret in her aunt's diary. Believing her chances for a happy marriage are spoiled, she leaves her fiancé a letter and flees town. Anticipating a Christmas Eve wedding with Elizabeth, David Stinner is confused by her letter and desperate to find her. Can David root out the truth about the past and bring back his bride? Or is the truth destined to bring an ultimate end to their romance?

My Review:  Christmas Eve holds a special meaning for Elizabeth Canning as it is her birthday and she plans to make it even more special.  It will an unforgotten moment.  She and David are working to clean the little cabin they plan to make their first home.  When she discovers some awful, terrible secret, she must leave. She won't tell David where she has run, but he is determined to find this beautiful lady.  Will David be able to make this incredible Christmas surprise come to fruition?  
     This book was very different from the books that Wanda as they have all been works of Amish. I love the Amish books, but this historical fiction was so well written that it made up for the fact that Wanda Brunstetter had strayed from her Amish genre. That's a bit of a joke. But I DO LOVE her Amish fiction! :)  
      The Christmas Secret is set in 1880 and the town sounds simply enchanting in its simplicity.  The little cabin they plan to live in for sentimental reasons intrigues others but many of them don't understand their decision.  They know they could live in a more modern cabin.  They plan to marry there as well even though her best friend, Helen, doesn't think it is a wise choice.  Unfortunately for the happy couple, Elizabeth discovers her aunt's secret diary as she is cleaning the cabin and when she reads it, she finds a horrible, horrible truth that means she can never marry David.  In her shock and grief, she hastily writes a letter to David to cancel their marriage and flees without even talking with him first.  He is confused and upset and all he wants is to find her and bring her home for their wedding.  He may never find her though and when he does, the secret may indeed end their chance of a lifetime of married bliss together.  But David isn't giving up on this beautiful, wonderful young woman and God isn't giving up on either of them.   If only Elizabeth would trust God to shape their future.
         This is the perfect time of year to spend time reading The Christmas Secret as we approach the Christmas holiday.   Of course, any time of year is the right time to read books in my opinion, but I love to read Christmas books at this time of year.  Wanda has tackled this historical fiction piece with as much style and grace as she does with her Amish works.  The story has a shocking element that leads to a mystery for David as he searches to bring his bride-to-be home.   I love a good shocking bit of a mystery when I read and I think that other readers will enjoy it too.
          I rated this book 5 stars and give it my highest recommendation.
          I received a copy of this book from the publishers and netgalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Wanda E. Brunstetter


Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning romance novelist who has led millions of readers to lose their heart in the Amish life. She is the author of over 70 books with more than 9 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, CBA, ECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, including Time Magazine and USA Today.

Wanda's fascination with the Amish culture developed when she met her husband, Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, and whose family has a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Meeting her new Mennonite sister-in-laws caused Wanda to yearn for the simpler life. In their travel
s, she and her husband have become close friends with many Amish people across America. Wanda's desire to explore their culture increased when she discovered that her great-great grandparents were part of the Anabaptist faith.

All of Wanda's novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Many of her books are well-read and trusted by the Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

Wanda's primary attraction to the Amish is their desire to live a devout Christian life that strives to honor God, work hard, and maintain close family ties. Whenever she visits her Amish friends, Wanda finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties, which is in stark contrast to the chaos and busyness that plagues so many modern "Englishers." Time and time again, Wanda loses her heart in the Amish life, and she hopes her readers will, too. For more information, visit: www.WandaBrunstetter.com

Sunday, December 11, 2016

4-Star Review of "small great things"

Review of small great things

by Jodi Picoult


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Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
 

MY REVIEW:  I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult's writing, but this one was hard for me to become interested in. Once I had read a few chapters, the pace picked up and I was invested in the story and the lives of the characters.  One thing I love and could always count on in Jodi's books are the surprise endings.  Unfortunately, I was able to figure out what was coming in this book.  I have never been able to do that in one of her books previously.   
        Ruth was one of the most likable characters and she was "real". She did not pull any punches.  She is an excellent nurse, according to all her colleagues and former patients, and she takes pride in her work.  So when she was pulled from nursing duty for a couple who had just delivered their firstborn, a son, she is furious.   The father makes no attempt to hide his racist tattoos and his rude behavior.    Ruth is raising her teenage son alone and she is worried how this will effect him and she wants him to stay on path towards college. Ruth and her attorney, Kennedy, are not too sure about each other.  They butt heads quite a few times, but Ruth has to trust Kennedy to save her from a prison sentence.  Kennedy doesn't want race to be brought into the case at all, as she insists that it has nothing to do with the case and will poison the jury against Ruth.   So will they come to an agreement?  Is Ruth headed for prison?  Who will care for her son if she's locked up?  He just has to go to college, and Ruth insists on this.   
         It is truly shocking to think that there are actually people still behaving as though we still have slavery and hating people of different races, cultures, religions, and sexual orientation.  It is also shocking that these racist people hate enough to hurt and kill to express their hatred.   Jodi did bring attention to issues that we are still dealing with and need desperately to end.
       I rated this book 4 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
       I received a copy of this book from netgalley and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-three novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her new novel, SMALL GREAT THINGS, is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio on October 11th.

Website: http://www.jodipicoult.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodipicoult 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Buy a Mystery & Help Feed a Community

Buy a Mystery:  Prose and Cons 

by Amanda Flowers

and Help Feed a Community





Buy a mystery and help feed a community!
By Amanda Flower

Six years, twenty published books. It’s a staggering statistic for any author, and it’s still hard to believe that it’s mine. I’m living my version of a fairy tale. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been blessed. I’ve worked incredibly hard. But I wouldn’t be where I am without the kindness of others. My agent, my family, my friends, my editors, and my readers have all been on this incredible journey with me, and in honor of all those people, in honor of you, I’m giving back to a local food pantry with the release of my twentieth novel, Prose and Cons. I hope you will join me!

Pre-order or purchase any edition of Prose and Cons, the second novel in the Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, between now and Tuesday, December 20, 2016, and I will donate $1 for every book sold to a local food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio.

My brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Nicole Flower, manage the Landing in the basement of Akron Christian Reformed Church with a group of dedicated volunteers. The food pantry feeds over sixty families in its neighborhood on $200 a week.


The Learned Owl will donate $1 to the Landing food pantry for every copy of Prose and Cons it sells before or at my book signing there on December 10th in addition to the $1 that I will donating to the Landing for every copy of Prose and Cons sold by any bookseller by December 20th. For those of you who cannot make the signing, the Learned Owl is also selling PERSONALIZED AND SIGNED copies on the novel. They can ship anywhere.

PROSE AND CONS
RELEASE DECEMBER 6, 2016

Buy a mystery and help feed a community! And as always thank you for reading! I hope Prose and Cons brings a smile to your face.

Enter to win one of four $25 gift cards to Barnes and Nobel or Amazon. Winner’s choice. Visit http://www.amandaflower.com/giveaways.html to enter!

*****
Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning 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. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.
Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram


Monday, December 5, 2016

5-Star Review of "Healing of the Heart" & Giveaway

Review of Healing of the Heart

(Secrets on Sterling Street #3)

by Loree Lough



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Ruby McCoy is haunted by her father's sins....When Ruby McCoy arrives in Fairplay, her ornate carriage is followed by an entourage who heft steamer trunks, hatboxes, and traveling bags into the hotel?  where she has booked the entire second floor.   Upon her notorious gangster father's death, the now-wealthy Ruby, hiding under her mother's maiden name, set out to right her father's wrongs.  Ruby is determined to spend every penny of the inherited "blood money" on those who paid the price for her father's crimes. Sheriff Rex Truett doesn't trust Ruby and doesn't care who knows it.  The keeper of Fairplay's law and order makes it his business to find out why a stranger; especially a beautiful, spoiled, rich, female stranger; would set up businesses, donate to schools, hire workmen to rebuild houses, and provide access to the best medical care.  But when a typhoid epidemic sweeps through the city, he is forced to reconsider.  Will Rex blame Ruby for her father's sins?   Or will he accept the possibility that she is trying to create; and feel; the peace her father stole? 


MY REVIEW:  Ruby feels tremendous guilt and responsibility for the crimes her father committed on so many innocent lives, and she feels that she needs to repay all those innocent people.  How can one young woman ever repay people for such incredible losses?  And she plans to do it in secret.  They will never know her true identity as she plans to use her mother's maiden name.  Her mother intends for Ruby to be adorned at all times so that she can catch her dream man and start a family.  She is well on her way to completing her mission when they finally arrive in the final town of Fairplay, Colorado.  She and her mother have also found a town where they feel they can permanently live, but there's a sheriff in town and while Ruby finds him quite attractive, he finds her quite suspicious.   He is harboring his own secrets, and is busy with his own responsibilities but that doesn't stop him from his mistrust of Ruby.  What will come of Ruby and Rex's interactions?  Can they both live cordially in the same town?  Readers must read the book to discover answers to these questions and more.
         I love historical fiction and Loree Lough has mastered the art of capturing the old world charm and danger of the 1800's. I have a fascination with this time period and simply cannot imagine having a "Old West Robber" for a father.  I definitely cannot imagine my father being hung in a tree for his crimes.  I most definitely cannot imagine inheriting all that "dirty money" but I do see the desire to "donate" the money by doing good in the places where my father created such loss and fear.  Ruby is a character I greatly admired as I read the book due to her exemplary character and goodness.   I felt as if I were traveling along with Ruby as she sought to correct the wrongs of her father.   This book is the third in a series and while I have not read the previous two books in the series, I was able to follow along and did not notice information missing that was important to my comprehension of the story.  I would love to read the entire series now though.  
        I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of historical fiction.
      
*I received this book as a gift from Celebrate Lit and the author.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.*





GIVEAWAY:
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In honor of her tour, 
Loree is giving away her books: 
Secrets on Sterling Street series, Prevailing Love (3 in 1), 
Pricilla Hires a Husband, Lone Wolf, and Emma’s Orphans, 
a KJVER Study Bible, 
and an Abba pillar candle in a wicker basket! 
Click the link below to enter; 
be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine bonus entries for this giveaway!  
To enter giveaway,   Click Here
Leave a comment below with email (at) address (dot) com


About the Author:


Loree Lough

With 107 books (more than 6,000,000 copies in circulation!), best-selling author Loree Lough's writing style has been compared to Nicholas Sparks and Mary Jo Putney; readers and reviewers call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.”

With a long list of industry awards, it isn't likely this prolific author will ever retire...not even to her cozy li'l cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. She loves to hear from her readers and personally answers every letter sent to http://www.loreelough.com/.

Visit http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APRS7S to see some of Loree's available titles.

Blog Stops
November 22: Bibliophile Reviews
November 22: Jeanette’s Thoughts
November 23: Neverending Stories
November 23: Lane Hill House
November 24: Christian Bookaholic

November 25: Redeemed Hope Dweller
November 26: Moments Dipped in Ink
November 27: inklings and notions
November 27: Splashes of Joy
November 28: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 28: Daysong Reflections
November 30: Bigreadersite
December 1: Pause for Tales
December 1: Smiling Book Reviews
December 2: A Greater Yes
December 2: Genesis 5020
December 4: Karen Sue Hadley
December 5: Rhonda’s Doings