Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review of An Amish Family Christmas

Review of An Amish Family Christmas

by Murray Pura

An Amish Family Christmas
Young Micah has returned from Iraq where he felt called by God to heal wounded soldiers.  But there is one very big problem--Micah is Amish. Amish do not believe in fighting in wars and do not allow their church members to serve in the military in any capacity--even healing. Naomi's family has been killed and her surviving brother, Luke, is in a catatonic state.  Naomi and her friend and sister-in-law, Rebecca, work to restore Luke to full health and Micah returns from the war.   The church puts him under the bann when he refuses to say that he was wrong to serve in the war as a medic.  Micah and Naomi can not speak or even sleep in the same room.   They long to be together as a husband and wife are meant to be.  Can they change the Ordnung ?  Will Luke ever speak again or get up and walk?  
MY REVIEW:  This is a very compelling story. I felt the agony that Micah and Naomi were experiencing as Murray Pura's words are so descriptive and heartfelt.  I have read many Amish Christmas stories and this one is far different from all of the others.   I simply can not imagine enduring a shunning of my own spouse!   Micah has been away from his wife and family for a year and he and Naomi long to hold each other.  They are forbidden to do so.   I will be honest and say that I do not think I could obey the rules of the Amish church in this respect.  I value many of their practices and beliefs but not this one!  So, to be preparing to celebrate Christmas, it would lack joy and wonder for me with shunning being practiced.  I was eager to read this book and when I had to stop to do housework, I was anxious to get back to my kindle to see how Murray Pura resolves these incredible conflicts.  This story shows God's forgiveness and miracles, for sure and certain.  The bann is dealt with honestly and accurately.   
I received a free kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  
ABOUT the Author:
Murray Pura
Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012.  Murray has served as a pastor and resides with his family in Canada.   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review of A Simple Song

Review of A Simple Song

by Melody Carlson

A Simple Song

Katrina Yoder loves to sing, but her Amish parents view singing as vainglory and a sin. Katrina’s best friend, Bekka, is convinced Katrina should try out for American Star, a televised singing competition that Bekka has been secretly watching. Katrina resists the temptation until her father’s health worsens. He desperately needs a surgery the family cannot afford. Katrina decides she must go against her parents’ wishes to win the money needed to help her father. But how will she handle herself as an Amish teenager out in the world?
Teen girls will be swept into the excitement as Katrina ventures out of her quiet Amish world to become a reality television star. Will she be successful? And will she be accepted back into her community when it’s over?

What a wonderful book!  I love the connection to music as I also find great joy and stress-relief from singing!   Amish do not encourage singing English songs or singing with instruments or even with "great joy and feeling".   I can not imagine singing any other way and so I can see how it was so difficult for Katrina.   This book was a fun, light read and gave me a good deal to smile about!   
I received a free copy of this book from Revell Publishing in a giveaway.   Thank you so much!

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.
Visit her website:  http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

Review of Into Magnolia

Review of Into Magnolia

by Rosemary Hines

Into Magnolia

"Amber Gamble sat on the floor beside her bed. I hate them. All of them, she thought to herself."

As Michelle Baron ascends the steps of Magnolia Middle School, her life is about to change forever. The dream of becoming a teacher leads her on an unexpected journey that will challenge her professionally and personally. Although 180 students file through her classroom daily, one demands her attention more than the others. Living in her third foster home in a year, Amber's bitterness and rebellion spark a challenge within Michelle to somehow make a difference in this troubled girl's life.

Meanwhile, Michelle's daughter develops a series of unexplainable bruises. A stunning visit to the pediatrician reveals frightening possibilities. While Michelle tries to hold her fears at bay, Amber approaches her with a daunting crisis of her own.

"Into Magnolia "reveals the internal struggles and triumphs of a dedicated teacher, and the power of love to transform lives.

As a former school teacher of elementary and middle grades, this book really touched my heart in a tremendous way.  Michelle Baron, the main character, makes a huge impact on her students' lives and she takes the most troubled students and makes them part of her heart.  Rosemary Hines also deals sensitively with the issue of foster homes.   I love how Rosemary incorporates faith into her writing.   This book is inspiring and uplifting.   
I received a free copy from a giveaway on the author's blog.  Thank you so much!   

Rosemary Hines

Rosemary Hines writes contemporary, suspenseful fiction from a Christian worldview. Her characters and their struggles and triumphs reflect life in our 21st century culture in America. Boldly tackling tough subjects such as suicide, abortion, and the ever-increasing efforts of secular society to silence the faith of many, she is known for her sensitive approach and strong messages of hope and redemption. Rosemary taught writing at a secondary level for fifteen years. Her books have been reviewed and recommended at Christian conferences across the United States. Active in her church as a Sunday school teacher and a women's Bible study leader, she and her husband have also served as missionaries in Ukraine, delivering humanitarian relief to orphanages and hospitals. They reside in Southern California where they enjoy spending time with their grown children and grandchildren.   Visit her website:  http://www.rosemaryhines.com

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review of Hallee Bridgeman Jewels' Bundle

Review of Hallee Bridgeman's Jewels Bundle:

Sapphire Ice & Greater Than Rubies

Jewels Bundle 1 -- Sapphire Ice & Greater Than Rubies 

This is the complete story of Robin Bartlett, the eldest of the three half-sisters readers around the world have come to know and love and Antonio "Tony" Viscolli, the man she is destined to marry. 
Sapphire Ice is a story of redemption and transformation that ultimately leads to a love that will span all eternity. Robin's heart is as ice cold as her sapphire blue eyes. After a terrifying childhood, she trusts neither God nor men. With kindness and faith, Tony Viscolli prays for the opportunity to shatter the wall of ice around her heart. What is a good wife worth?


Robin plans a dream-come-true wedding. Anxiety arises when she starts to realize the magnitude of change marriage will involve. Forgotten nightmares resurface reminding Robin of the horrors of her past. She gives in to her insecurities and cancels Boston's "Royal Wedding." With God's guidance, will her bridegroom convince her of her true worth? Sapphire Ice, the complete contemporary Christian romance novel and Book 1 of the critically acclaimed Jewel Trilogy, is bundled with the novella inspired by the Jewels -- Greater Than Rubies -- for the first time ever!
My Review:
I was blown away by my introduction to author, Hallee Bridgeman, with Sapphire Ice & Greater Than Rubies.  Tony meets Robin, and a spark is ignited!  The sparks definitely fly towards Tony from Robin. She is broken, bruised, wounded from past abuse and does not want ANY MAN in her life until Tony comes in and touches her in a gentle way to wipe a stray tear from her cheek. Mesmerizing would be a great adjective to describe my feelings as I read these two pieces.  I love how Hallee used her words to show God's love for us.  She used scripture and prayer appropriately through the two works to give readers hope and the news of salvation.  I love how Robin's sister, Maxie, said that "Stands with Two Fists" would be a better name for her.....she, too, suffered cruel abuse at the hands of others and is in need of a tender love.   
I received a kindle version of this book from bookfun.org (The Book Club Network) in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:

Hallee Bridgeman lives with her husband and their three children in small town Kentucky. When she's not writing Christian romance novels (hallee.bridgemanfamily.com), she blogs about all things cooking and homemaking at Hallee the Homemaker (halleethehomemaker.com). Hallee started writing when her oldest child and only daughter was a baby, but a busy professional career and being the wife of a deployed soldier had her shelve her books for another time. Two more children, a cross country move, and God's perfect timing brought the books off of the shelf to be dusted off and presented to you now. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit. She prays her books are a blessing to you and would love to hear back from you. You can reach Hallee by using the contact information on her websites.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review of A Hopeful Heart

Review of  A Hopeful Heart

by Amy Clipston

A Hopeful Heart

In Hopeful Heart, the first novel of the new Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series from bestselling author Amy Clipston, Hannah Glick, a recent widow, finds herself stuck at a crossroad in her life. Her community offers her love and support, but a new friend offers her the chance of a new life after unexpectedly losing her husband.
Wealthy businessman Trey Peterson is surprised at his attraction for the gentle Amish woman who works as a housekeeper in the Lancaster Grand hotel where he is staying. They share a common bond of loss and are able to offer each other comfort and support as they journey through their grief.
Joshua King wants nothing more than to offer his friendship and love to Hannah and her family. Not only is he her husband’s best friend and business partner in their shared horse business, he has always been in love with Hannah. Are they destined to be only business partners or will Joshua be able to convince her that they belong together for life?

My Review:
Amy Clipston has written a delightful tale of hope and healing in A Hopeful Heart. Hannah Glick, an Amish widow who is working in housekeeping at the Lancaster Grand Hotel, meets English widow, Trey Peterson, who is staying at the hotel.  He is hoping to fulfill his former wife's dream of running a Bed & Breakfast in Lancaster's Amish country.  Hannah is hoping to be able to provide for her family and find love again.  What is God's will for their lives?  To be together, one of them must give up the lifestyle they are accustomed to.   Add to the mix Hannah's teenage twin daughters and young son and a critical, harsh mother-in-law and one love struck brother-in-law and you have a very exciting tale!  I read this book within 24 hours, picking it up as much as I possibly could.  
I think there are many possible things to relate to in the book:  critical relatives, children with agendas of their own, lost love, fears of the future, and grief and loss.  I was certainly able to relate to many of the character's feelings, and I was rooting for each of the main characters to follow their hearts.  For horse lovers among readers, an added bonus is the family horse farm !   
I received a free pdf version of this book from booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:

Amy Clipston holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, and two sons and four spoiled rotten cats.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review of Chosen by Ginger Garrett

Review of Chosen:  The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther

by Ginger Garrett

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther (Lost Loves of the Bible #2)

Wrenched from a simple life for her beauty, Esther finds herself at the mercy of King Xerxes. Leaving behind her only relative, her cousin Mordecai, and her first true love, Cyrus, she is thrown headlong into the unrestrained extravagance of palace living. Quick of mind and strong in spirit, she refuses to suffer the fate of her harem sisters and boldly challenges Xerxes to give of his heart before taking his pleasure, thus sealing her place beside him a queen. While conspiracy spins its diabolical web, Esther’s mind and spirit waver, and she is forced to confront the past in order to save her future—and that of an entire nation.
My Review:  I opened the cover of Chosen:  The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther
and I was drawn into the story.  I love journaling and so the style of the text was very appealing to me.   I could feel Esther's emotions and thought of the the fear she experienced as well as anger.  She was torn from her home and all that she loved and forced to go to the palace and become one of many wives of King Xerxes.   There was naturally jealousy and competition among the women who were vying for the crown.  Esther had a choice to make:  stay and work to win the king's heart and become the queen or be dumped into a harem and serve as a breeder for the king. 
The story of Queen Esther has always been a favorite Bible story of  mine. My daughters named three kittens after Queen Esther when they were young!   I have pulled my Bible out and compared the story in the Bible to Ginger Garrett's version.  Of course, she has taken license to add details that may or may not be entirely accurate, but she has obviously researched very well.  She is bringing the Bible to life for readers in a sensitive and intelligent way.   
I was given a free copy of this book from bookfun.org (The Book Club Network) in exchange for my honest review.  

Ginger Garrett
Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Wolves Among Us, Chosen, Desired, Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA.

Focusing on ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in Theater, she is passionate about creating art from history. Ginger resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.http://www.gingergarrett.com

Review of A Revelation in Autumn

Review of A Revelation in Autumn

by Wanda Brunstetter

 A Revelation in Autumn (Discovery #5)

Book 5 of an exclusive 6-consecutive-month release Amish serial novel. Join Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus, an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. A Revelation in Autumn is part five of New York Times Bestselling Author, Wanda E. Brunsetter’s The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga.

My Review:  This series, A Lancaster County Saga (The Discovery) is a wonderful 6 part series.   They can be read quickly and I have fallen in love with the characters.  What is hard is that, not only do I like Miriam and Luke, I also like Susan and Anne and their grandparents.  I can not tell you much about the actual plot of the story as it would ruin this for readers who have not read this far.   
I will tell you that I have a hopeful feeling as I read Wanda Brunstetter's words.   She is so descriptive with her writing that I feel as though I am transported to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Amish community and I am getting a "mini-vacation".   I did not even have to pack my bags, just my kindle!  This series has made me reflect on times when I have also had both disappointments and grief, as well as joy and peace.  How can those coincide?  Read the book, A Revelation in Autumn, along with the other 5 parts to the saga to find out for yourself.   
I received a complementary pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   
About the Author:

A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has seen her book sales over the two million mark. 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.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review of Last Chance for Justice by Kathi Macias

Review of Last Chance for Justice

by Kathi Macias

Last Chance for Justice

Welcome to Bloomfield, where life is simple, love is real, and stories are shared.

Lynn Myers is still reeling from losing her husband of thirty-five years when word comes that her only sibling, an older brother, has also died. With no one else to settle the estate, she must return to her small hometown of Bloomfield, however briefly, to settle his affairs.

Lynn’s daughter, Rachel, has just graduated from Bible college and with no other commitments comes along to sort through her uncle’s huge old home, right next to the local cemetery.

It isn't long before Rachel has two men -- a handsome CPA and the youth pastor -- seriously vying for her attention. At the same time, Lynn's attention is drawn to a set of journals her brother has left behind detailing a long-standing Bloomfield mystery.

As they pursue solving this mystery, Rachel must make some personal decisions about her future, while Lynn is forced to face unexpected issues from her own past.
My Review:
Kathi Macias has touched my heart with this book.  I could relate to Lynn, even though I experienced grief due to divorce, while she was widowed.   I also loved the relationship between Lynn and Rachel.  I have three daughters and they are so precious to me.  I value time with them just as Lynn does with Rachel.   Rachel is seeking God's will for her life after graduating from Bible College.  I also attended wives' courses at seminary while my husband attended there.  Lynn has inherited her brother's home, which is right beside a cemetery.  The characters continuously refer to it as "creepy" but I love walking through cemeteries and reading the stories of peoples' lives on the tombstones.   My daughters and I visit them often.  Kathi writes with such incredible detail that I felt like I was a part of the story.   As I read, I kept telling my husband things about the book and I am sure he thought I was "off my rocker".   This story has a delightful mystery as Lynn and Rachel try to solve the mystery of the missing money and Last Chance Justice.   This kept me on my toes, trying to figure out what did happen to that money....money that ruined Last Chance's reputation.  
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.   

About the Author:
Kathi Macias

A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.  Check out her website:  http://www.kathimacias.com/

Review of The Assumption of Guilt

Review of The Assumption of Guilt

by Amanda Tru

Product Details

Nobody stops to think what it would be like to be arrested. That just doesn’t happen to normal people, right?

When a major theft happens at a party she’s attending, Sophie James finds herself the prime suspect. Has she been framed or was she just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Now Sophie must convince the police, along with her cop boyfriend, that she’s innocent. With no record, no motive, and no evidence, that shouldn’t be difficult.

Then why does no one seem to believe her?
My Review:
Could sweet little Sophie James, law student and intern for top-notch lawyer in town, really have stolen a huge diamond ???   Honestly, she has no record, no prior offenses, so what is going on?  
This novella was such a fun and exciting read!   It kept me guessing as to who did it? why did they do it?  what on earth is going on?   I was laughing through this book and my curiosity was peaked!  I finished with a big smile on my face and I think other readers will enjoy this novella by one of my favorite authors, Amanda Tru.   
I received a free kindle copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was given no compensation to give a positive review.

About the Author:
Amanda Tru

With a lifelong love of reading and writing, Amanda Tru loves to let her imagination paint pictures in a wide variety of genres. Her current book list includes everything from a Christian time travel / romance series, to an action-packed suspense, to a romance involving a mysterious department-store Santa.
Amanda is a former elementary school teacher who now spends her days being mommy to three little boys and her nights furiously writing. Amanda lives in a small town in Idaho where the number of cows outnumbers the number of people.
Find out more about Amanda Tru and her upcoming books at her website:  http://amandatru.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review of The Amish Seamstress

Review of The Amish Seamstress

by Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould

The Amish Seamstress (Women of Lancaster County #4)

Bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould provide an unexpected surprise in The Amish Seamstress, Book 4 in the Women of Lancaster County series, which tells the stories of young Amish women as they explore their roots, connect with family, and discover true love.

Izzy Mueller is an exceptional listener and gifted caregiver. She's also a talented seamstress. As the young woman sits with her elderly patients, she quietly sews as they share their stories. She's content with her life until circumstances reconnect her with someone she once loved. Zed Bayer, a Mennonite, is not what her family is hoping for in a spouse, and his creative interest in filmmaking is definitely at odds with her Amish upbringing.

As Izzy is swept up again in Zed and renews her friendship with his sister, Ella, she begins to ask questions about her own life--her creative longings and historical interests, her relationships and desire for romance, and most importantly, her faith. What is the path God has for her? Can she learn from the past of both her family's and Zed's--or must she forge a completely different future of her own?

My Review:
The Women of Lancaster County series has been one of my favorite Amish reads of late! I love following the lives of these Amish and Mennonite young women and their families as they discover secrets about their families and along the way, their own selves!   It is very intriguing to me that Izzy does not feel that she "fits" with her family.  She feels as though she doesn't belong and yet, she feels completely connected and comfortable with Zed and his family.  But Zed is a Mennonite and she is Amish.  How will they work out the complex relational differences among their faiths and will they desire to bother?  

This series has been particularly meaningful to me as it traces the Amish and Mennonite roots back to Switzerland.  This book also deals with the Native Americans among the Amish in the very early days of our nation.  My own daughters have Cherokee among their heritage on their maternal father's side so I read this part with delight and great curiosity.   Come along and read Izzy's story and feel the stitches and fabric of her life as she sews and designs fashions for Zed and her family and friends.  I love to sew and craft so I also enjoyed this portion of Izzy's story and I think readers will as well.  

I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley and the publishers, Harvest House, in exchange for my honest review.

About the Authors:
A former singer and stand-up comedian, Mindy lives with her husband and two teenage daughters near Valley Forge, PA. She enjoys speaking to churches, civic groups, and libraries across the country. Her unique blend of humor and insight make her an audience favorite. http://www.mindystarnsclark.com/
Leslie Gould, a former magazine editor is the author of numerous novels, including Beyond the Blue and Garden of Dreams. She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children.

Available for preorder at amazon.com and available on August 1, 2013.