Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review of "Forever Amish"

Review of Forever Amish

Legacy of Lancaster trilogy, Book 3

by Kate Lloyd

22405436

Sally Bingham needs some time away to sort through the changes in her life and to rethink her upcoming marriage.  Despite her ailing father's hesitations, she drives to Lancaster County for a  weekend away.  But her best-laid plans leave her in a near collision with a bishop's buggy and in the home of a mysterious Amish woman named Lizzie.  Lizzie introduces her to a different perspective on life, a charming farmhand named Armin---and opens a Pandora's box that will forever change Sally's life.

The last book in the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy, Forever Amish introduces us to a young woman about to uncover a shocking secret and find an invitation to a new way of living.   This is a story of forgiveness, legacies, and the ties that bind through generations.  

MY REVIEW:   Kate Lloyd has outdone herself with this final book of the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy.   It is so good that it arrived in the mail yesterday and I finished within 12 hours!   It is certainly a well-written book on forgiveness and family and the love and problems that accompany families.   Sally and Armin are delightful characters as is Rhoda.  Some of the other characters are rather crochety and grouchy and take a while to get to know before the love starts to grow for them.   This book takes Sally, a young Englisch woman, on the journey of a lifetime and might just turn her world upside down.   Get a copy and read this one soon!
I received a copy of this book from David C. Cook and the author.

About the Author:
Kate Lloyd

Kate Lloyd is a novelist, a mother of two sons, and a passionate observer of human relationships. A native of Baltimore, Kate spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the inspiration for Leaving Lancaster & Pennsylvania Patchwork. She is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. Kate and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, the setting for Kate's first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite. Kate studied painting and sculpture in college. She has worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur. Find out more about Kate Lloyd on her website at www.katelloyd.nethttp://www.facebook.com/katelloydbooks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review of "The Amish Baking Cookbook"

Review of The Amish Baking Cookbook

Plainly Delicious Recipes from Oven to Table

by Georgia Varozza and Kathleen Kerr


20262918


Building on the success of The Homestyle Amish Kitchen (more than 58,000 copies sold), Georgia Varozza partners with experienced baker Kathleen Kerr to give you a cookbook filled with the foods most associated with the Plain and simple life: baked goods. This delicious collection of more than three hundred classic baking recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, bars, and breads inspires you who love Amish fiction and are drawn to the Plain lifestyle to roll up your sleeves and start baking!

Whether you consider yourself a novice or a veteran in the kitchen, Georgia and Kathleen make it easy to make delicious baking recipes such as Amish Nut Balls and Brown Sugar Pie. Find the perfect recipe to prepare for that large weekend potluck, tonight's intimate family dinner, or a fun activity with the kids.

MY REVIEW:   5 Stars!  ***** 
I love to bake and I love Amish recipes, so this book was a big hit with me!   There is also a brief history of the Amish at the beginning of the book and short introductions to each category throughout the cookbook.   The recipes were clear and concise with easy-to-follow directions.  Some of the recipes are more complex and many are very simple and easy to prepare.  
I especially loved the recipes for brown sugar pie, impossible coconut pie, and the delightful breads.   In the bread section, many hints were given for how to use different flours such as wheat, all-purpose, white, etc and I learned a great deal of things that I had never been taught as I read.   I am looking forward to trying even more of the recipes.   One big problem with the cookbook, you are sure to get hungry and start to drool as you read through the many wonderful Amish recipes!   
I received a free kindle Advanced Reader Copy of this cookbook in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review of "Caroline's Secret"

Review of Caroline's Secret

Some Secrets, Book #1

by Amy Lillard

18188123

In Amy Lillard's poignant introduction to Wells Landing, a small Amish community is home to two brave souls hoping to forget their painful pasts and rebuild their faith in the future. . .Caroline Hostetler arrived in Oklahoma determined to forge a new life for herself and her daughter, Emma. As a single mother, she values the warmth and safety she's found in close-knit Wells Landing. She's even caught the eye of a handsome newcomer--a man who just may be the partner she longs for and the father Emma deserves. But the arrival of an Englisher threatens to lay bare the secrets she's worked so hard to leave behind. . .

After losing his life-long sweetheart, Andrew Fitch moved to Wells Landing to work in his uncle's furniture business and nurse his broken heart. Finding love again seems all but impossible--until he meets Caroline and Emma. But his plans to join their lives together may be shattered when the truth of Caroline's past comes to light--unless, together, they can learn the true meaning of sacrifice and forgiveness. . .

MY REVIEW:  "The ever-cheerful sweetly plump widow turned her attention to the dark-haired delivery man.  It was better by far for Caroline to think of him in those terms rather than as the most attractive man she had seen in a long time.  Or ever.  Those were the thoughts of a carefree teenager, and she was neither a teenager nor carefree any longer."
***** Wow, I would love to give this book more than 5 stars!   This is a fresh, new way to approach Amish fiction from Amy Lillard.   Caroline and Andrew captured my heart immediately and little Emma stole it!   It is so cute how they are matchmaking for elderly widow, Esther, and Andrew's uncle Abe, and Esther is hoping to get the two of them together.   This book is a precious story of second chances and forgiveness.   I think readers will find it as fresh and exciting as I did.   I couldn't wait to finish chores around the house to get back to reading this one!   You will even get some of the delicious recipes for foods the characters create in their bakery.  Cowboy cookies, which were Andrew's favorite, sound especially yummy and the recipe does not look terribly complicated.  Come to Wells Landing and fall in love.   Now I am just awaiting book two in the series!   
I received a free kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Amy Lillard

from Goodreads.com's author bio:
I'm a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review of "The Bible Promise Book: Too Blessed to be Stressed" edition

Review of The Bible Promise Book:  Too Blessed to Be Stressed edition

compiled by Debora M. Coty
18492014

Where do you turn when you need God’s thoughts on life? The Bible Promise Book, now in a brand-new Too Blessed to Be Stressed edition. Barbour’s Bible Promise Books are perennial bestsellers, with millions of copies in print, and this unique edition features inspiring themes from the popular women’s title by Debora M. Coty. With Bible promises arranged into more than a dozen topics—including Faith, Gratitude, Laughter, Mercy, Peace, Trust, and Relationships—each scripture will speak directly to your heart, drawing you ever closer to your heavenly Father.

MY REVIEW:   I love the Bible verses with the promises of God in them.  They are unique for a variety of topics:  faith, gratitude, laughter, mercy, peace, trust, etc. They were compiled by Debora M. Coty and also feature very short paragraphs for each topic which begin with "girlfriend" so this book is only for women but I found the promises to be appropriate for men and women.   I would have liked to have read some other devotional type entries along with the paragraphs as well.   I rate this book 3 stars for the reasons stated here.  
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for my honest review.   



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review of "Safe Haven"

Review of Safe Haven

Peacemakers, Book 3

by Anna Schmidt

19300141

When journalist Suzanne Randolph hears about FDR’s plan to bring a boatload of displaced WWII refugees to America, she knows it may be her last chance to redeem her flagging career. Suzanne follows the story to Oswego, New York, where she meets Theo Bridgewater, a Quaker dairy farmer from Wisconsin who has come to reunite with his uncle and aunt and cousin. Theo’s fight to spare his relatives the return to Germany becomes Suzanne’s fight as she does everything that the "power of the pen” can muster to help win public sympathy for the cause.

MY REVIEW:   Anna Schmidt has written lovable, believable characters in the third book of the Peacemakers' series.  Suzanne is a very determined young woman who has been injured so much that she has lost the ability to trust men.  Then she meets Theo Bridgewater and things begin to change.  The research that went into this historical romance was vast and well-done.   I loved reading about the refugees who came from Germany to Fort Oswego during World War II.   They signed an agreement with President Franklin Roosevelt that they would return to their homes when the war ended.  What would be left of their homes?  Would they all be forced to return even though many had relatives in America who wanted them to live with them?  
I highly recommend this book and give it 5 Stars!   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:Anna Schmidt is the award-winning author of over twenty works of historical and contemporary fiction. A reviewer from Romantic Times notes that “Schmidt is not timid about presenting her characters with their faults laid bare for the reader to see.” 
Currently Anna is working on a new series set in WWII Germany with an American Quaker protagonist. The first novel--ALL GOD'S CHILDREN-has already been praised by Publisher's Weekly! Her trilogy of contemporary novels about Mennonites living in the community of Pinecraft just outside Anna’s winter home of Sarasota, Florida will be complkete with the publication of the third and final book A MOTHER'S PROMISE in Dec.. 
Anna is a three-time finalist for the coveted RITA award from Romance Writers of America and has finals and won the Reader's Choice award from Romantic Times magazine. Critics have called Anna "a wonderful storyteller"! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review of "Thank You, Billy Graham"

Review of Thank You, Billy Graham
A Tribute to the Life and Ministry of Billy Graham
Compiled by Billy Graham's Grandchildren:  



18492028
You know his name, his faith, his ministry—now enjoy the inspiring, heartwarming, personal stories of his legacy in Thank You, Billy Graham.This brand-new book contains scores of thank-you notes collected on the website ThankYouBilly.com, sharing moving stories of God’s grace, love, and power in the lives of real people. Compiled by three of Billy Graham’s grandchildren, Thank You, Billy Graham will encourage and inspire you with a beautiful picture of a life well lived—a life lived in faithfulness to the God who made you, loves you, and offers you salvation through His son, Jesus Christ.

MY REVIEW:   I have long been a fan of Rev. Billy Graham as he exemplifies the life of a true Christian evangelist and family man.   I have heard many of his televised evangelistic crusades and even saw him in person in Wilmington North Carolina when he appeared one night during his son, Franklin Graham's crusade at University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  He spoke briefly and his wife,  Ruth, was on stage with him.  I have also read several of Dr. Graham's books as well as several of his wife, Ruth's.   Their books were inspirational, honest, and encouraging.   
This is not your typical "book".....it is a compilation of letters and notes left for Dr. Graham on the website:  ThankYouBilly.com.   Regular folks are encouraged to leave notes of thanks and encouragement to Billy Graham on the website.  Three of his grandchildren have taken some of these notes and put them together as a tribute to "Daddy Bill" as they call him.   The notes are also honest and encouraging, as people share how Billy's sermons, books, messages, a chance meeting or handshake have helped to shape their lives and for many, been the catalyst to lead them to salvation (being a "born again Christian" as Billy would say).   They are heartwarming messages and they have encouraged me as I read them.   I hope they will do the same for other readers.  4 Stars as I would have liked to read a brief history of Billy Graham's life and ministry as some readers may be unfamiliar with him.  The inclusion of such would have brought my rating to a 5 Star rating.  
I received a free digital copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for my honest review.  


Monday, June 30, 2014

Review of Seasons of Tomorrow

Review of Seasons of Tomorrow 

Amish Vines and Orchards, Book 4 

by Cindy Woodsmall
18240198

As love restores Rhoda, a sudden tragedy is the test of faith she never saw coming... 
More settled in her heart than ever before, Rhoda Byler feels a newfound confidence living in the Old Order Amish settlement she helped establish in Orchard Bend, Maine. Though it has been almost a year since one brother left, Rhoda is happy to be working alongside the other brother as they tend and nurture the settlement's orchard. Time has helped to heal Rhoda's wounds, and she finds that even her unusual gift of profound intuition is less of a burden as she continues to seek God's wisdom and purpose for her life. 
But when an Englischer friend's grandchild is taken deeper into hiding from her grandmother, can Rhoda's gift make a difference or will it simply be a catalyst to another season of doubt and misunderstanding? As she resolves to stay on course, suddenly a shocking tragedy challenges the young settlement like never before, threatening to uproot Rhoda's peace and the future of everything she holds dear.
MY REVIEW:   This has been one of my all-time favorite series and this one was no exception among the four books.   Rhoda is highly misunderstood and mistreated due to her gift of "knowing" or "intuition" in my opinion.   I think the church needs to be more understanding of her.   Jacob also seems to be rather misunderstood, even by his own family.  In this book, he is hurt in a deep and lasting way.   I truly feel for him and was rooting for his happiness as I read.   Landon and Leah's relationship seems destined for heartache as well.  Can any of these characters catch a break?  
Cindy tops off a great book with some amazing apple recipes featured in the book on the Apple Orchard and perfected by Rhoda.  I can hardly wait to try out some of these recipes.  Yummy apples!   
I love the book and highly recommend it to readers.   5 Stars all the way!!!   *****
I received a copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.org in exchange for my honest review.  
About the Author:  
Cindy Woodsmall

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author who has written six novels, three novellas, and Plain Wisdom, a work of nonfiction coauthored with her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. She’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life.

She is also a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn’t allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy’s house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them—afraid that if they didn’t, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann’s because her family didn’t own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults’ disapproval and the obstacles in each other’s lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy’s family moved to another region of the US.