Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review of "A Christmas Gift for Rose"

Review of A Christmas Gift for Rose

by Tricia Goyer


 Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But as she prepares to marry, she's thrown into confusion when she learns the truth of her birth. She was born Englisch and abandoned when the family moved on in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind---Englischers? And was her intended's gift of discovering her birth family given out of love or fear?
MY REVIEW:   Tricia Goyer has written the sweetest Christmas story I have had the pleasure to read!    I love the parallels she draws to Heidi, as Rose volunteers at the local Amish school once a week and reads a chapter to the class.  I won't spoil it though and tell you how it relates to Rose's special story.   I have always thought of adoption as the most precious way to tell I child:  "We CHOSE you for our family!"  Rose is having a hard time understanding how her Englisch family could have abandoned her to her Amish family when she was very small.   She is filled with doubts about her own identity.    
           Added to this, the love of her life, Johnathon has returned from working as a medic in WWII, and she feels that he has abandoned her and their Amish faith too.   Her Englisch neighbor, Harold, fought in the war and has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which was referred to as "shell shock" at that time.  Can Rose, Johnathon, Harold, and Rose's family help each other discover again the true meaning of family and Christmas?   This is certainly a five-star book.    
       I received a kindle version of this book from booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author:
Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, 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.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review of Notes from Nadir

Review of Notes from Nadir

by Lisa Maliga


Notes from Nadir is a wacky and poignant look at a Los Angeles-based writer who has to return to her Midwestern home due to financial difficulties. She moves back in with her Mom in a semi-retirement community and works a couple of dead end jobs, meets a good looking bakery owner, and later finds steady work as a writer and photographer at The Factory in the depths of Nadir.
My Review: Lisa Maliga has written a book that will grab you and pull you in as you hope repeatedly with every turn of the page that life will look up for the main character, Lisa.  When she is forced to move from her beloved LA back to an air mattress in her mother's retirement home, and her mom forces her to leave every day from noon to four p.m. because "she wants her peace and quiet."  My heart ached for Lisa, her mom, her sister and niece, as each of them seemed to live empty, sad, lonely, and hopeless lives. I found myself comparing Lisa and her mom's relationship to that of my own mother and I and I wish they could find closeness with each other.  rate this book 5 stars as it is captivating and intriguing.  I literally could not stop reading.    
Something that impressed me from this book was that the characters do not have hope and will not get it without a life with Christ.  The author may not even like that I feel this way. But I do.   I would hope that Lisa and the other characters find peace.   
I received a free pdf version of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.   
About the Author:
Author of contemporary fiction, some romance, short stories, and horror. Photographer/squirrel-friend, M&P soap, shampoo bar & shea butter fan. Visit her blog:  http://www.lisamaliga.com.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review of "For Every Season"

Review of For Every Season (Book 3 in Amish Vines & Orchards)

by Cindy Woodsmall


Working hard to develop a new Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is fully committed to rehabilitating an orchard with business partner Samuel King. But an impulsive decision has created an unexpected strain in her relationship with her beau, Samuel’s brother, Jacob, threatening plans for the orchard. Amidst mounting tension in matters of the heart and business, Rhoda finds that this fledging settlement feels like the home she has always longed for, and she begins to embrace the God-given, heightened intuition that has always felt like a burden to her. She longs for Jacob to fully be free of his past, so they can work towards the future together.
But as Rhoda uses her gift to unpack an old secret with her Englisch neighbors, it is not her beau but an unlikely ally that cheers her on. With the orchard on shaky ground and Jacob’s plans in question, Rhoda is determined to see things through to harvest. But can she trust her insight to direct her path in matters of the heart?
My Review:  Rhoda has my heart torn....some moments, I want her with Jacob and some moments, I am sure she belongs with Samuel.  Even Rhoda doesn't really seem to know her own heart.   The two brothers are certainly at odds over the beautiful intuitive "seer".    Can you imagine being given the gift of "seeing and knowing things" by God?   Many in her own family and certainly her former community have rejected her because of this gift.   
Can Rhoda ever see it as a true gift or calling from God, instead of the curse it seems to be for her?  Can she ever reconcile her feelings for the men in her life?   I agonized with her as I read, for I wanted her to be happy and to have the wonderful Amish husband, children, and home that she so desires.   
So  many people say that they value the Amish lifestyle because of its simplicity and peace.   Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob have everything except simplicity and peace in their daily dealings on the orchard and in their personal lives.    And just as I get to the last page, I think with relief that all the problems will be resolved, and they are NOT!!!  I find out that I have to wait for book 4 in the series to come out in 2014.   Seriously, Cindy Woodsmall, you are going to make me WAIT to find out what happens for my favorite characters??   sigh, I guess I have no choice, do I, for I am hopelessly hooked!    
I received a free copy of this book from bloggingforbooks and Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers 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.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities—from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband, three sons, two daughters-in-law, a new granddaughter, and a dog named Jersey who wants to dominate the world, starting with the Woodsmall household.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review of "Jenny's Choice"

Book Review of Jenny's Choice

By Patrick E. Craig


In the concluding novel to the Apple Creek Dreams series, Jonathan and Jenny Hershberger are happily settled in Paradise, Pennsylvania on the farm Jenny inherited from her grandfather. But when a tragic accident takes Jonathan's life, Jenny and her young daughter, Rachel, return home to Apple Creek, Ohio to live with her adoptive parents, Reuben and Jerusha Springer.

As Jenny works through her grief and despair, she discovers she has a gift for writing. A handsome young publisher discovers her work and, after the publication of her first book, Jenny is on the verge of worldly success and possible romance.

But when a conflict arises with the elders of her church, Jenny must ask herself how far she's willing to go to pursue her dreams.

A touching story of devotion and triumph over adversity. Book 3 in the Apple Creek Dreams series.
Tissues, tissues, where are my tissues? Jenny's Choice tugged my heartstrings and had me shedding tears of sorrow and joy at different points.   I had already fallen in love with the characters from my reading of books one and two in the Apple Creek Dream series, and it feels like Reuben, Jerusha, Jenny, Rachel, and Jonathan are actually family members to me.   
Jenny and her family have many difficult decisions to make about their life.  Jenny struggles with whether or not she is truly Amish because she was adopted into an Amish family.   Then God leads her to begin writing the story of her family and the Amish leaders are not always so encouraging of her calling.   You will not want to pass up the opportunity to read the conclusion of this third book in Patrick E. Craig's Apple Creek Dream series.   I started it yesterday and read it straight through.  Now where did those tissues go?   Need some 5-Star tissues.  :) 
I received a free pdf copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  
About the Author:

Patrick Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful career in the music industry after two albums on Warner Brothers Records and years of live performances in one of San Francisco's most popular music groups to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next twenty-six years as a worship leader, seminar speaker and pastor in churches, retreats, seminars and conferences in the Western United States. After ministering in music and worship the last few years with his wife Judy to a circuit of small churches in Northern California, Patrick is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction titles.

Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency and has recently signed a three book publishing contract with Harvest House Publishers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review of "Katie's Forever Promise"

Review of Katie's Forever Promise (Book 3 in Emma Raber's Daughter series)

by Jerry S. Eicher


In book 3 of the Emma Raber's Daughter series, Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher brings the faith-filled journey of Katie Raber to its happy conclusion.

Katie Raber is trying to put her life back together after Ben Stoll's devastating betrayal of her love. When she is baptized into the church, she receives a surprising offer that will keep her close to her Amish community--much to her mother's delight.

But soon Ben is back in her life again--and at the same time she finds interest from another young man, though his bumbling efforts at winning her heart show him to be a far less desirable suitor than the more polished Ben Stoll.

Readers who have followed the saga of Katie and her attempts to escape the stigma of being just "Emma Raber's daughter" will be charmed by her new look at life as a young woman with important decisions to make. 
Book 3 in the Emma Raber's Daughter series.

MY Review:   I have been reading this series of Jerry Eicher's with great interest.  Katie Raber starts out in book 1 as shy, reserved, and with low self-esteem.  She is known as "Emma Raber's daughter", the plain one.   She took a great chance at falling in love with Ben Stoll, as he was extroverted and very popular in the community.   Ben made a grave error, however, and pays dearly for that error. He is valiantly serving his time of consequences and seeking to protect his family and Katie and her family from the backlash.   But trouble seems destined to find both Ben and Katie.   
Can their love hold strong ?  Will it survive such testing?  Can they forgive and be forgiven?   
Add to the ordeal, a sister, Mabel, who seems bent on hurting Katie and her mamm, and then her fiance, Norman.   Whew!  Trouble is definitely brewing!!!   I love seeing the strength grown in Katie as she begins teaching and finds her voice.  She is not afraid to follow her convictions nor her heart.   5 Star rating for this book, all the way.   
I received a free copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  
About the Author:
Jerry Eicher's bestselling Amish fiction includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Fields of Home series, and the Little Valley Series.  After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he's been involved in church revival, preaching, and teaching Bible studies.  Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Jerry S. Eicher

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Giveaway of Unforeseeable by Nancy Mehl and the winner is.....

Giveaway of Unforeseeable 

by Nancy Mehl

and the winner is.....Angie!  

email has been sent to you, Angie!!  Congrats and thanks to all who entered!!!  


Mystery, Romance, and Suspense Seamlessly Combined in a Mennonite Small-Town Setting 
Callie Hoffman knows she has a good life in Kingdom, Kansas. She's thrilled to be engaged to Levi Housler, the new pastor of Kingdom Mennonite Church, and she spends her days working with her friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Lizzie Housler, at Cora's Cafe. 
However, Callie's idyllic life is interrupted when a body is discovered on the road outside Kingdom and the deceased turns out to be a victim of a serial killer. As Washington County's new sheriff begins questioning Kingdom residents, Callie and the rest of the town are appalled at the prospect of a killer among them. The very reason Kingdom exists is to protect the people from the temptations and dangers of the outside world, but all the town founders' attempts to plan ahead couldn't prevent a threat like this. 
Unsettled at this unforeseen danger, Callie is concerned when it appears Levi knows more than he's telling. Desperate to find answers for herself, Callie never expected that she'd have to face some of her own past's skeletons. 
As Callie and the residents of Kingdom fear this danger for which they never planned, they must learn anew that only God knows the future and their trust must always lie in Him.


I loved Nancy Mehl's new book so much and to celebrate all the recent weddings in my family, let's have a giveaway of paperback copy of Unforeseeable.  
TO ENTER< leave a comment with your name and email.   Answer this question too, please, would you ever like to visit a town like Kingdom, Kansas?  Why or why not?  

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES<  1.  follow my blog and tell me
                                                    2.  Share on facebook, twitter, google +, or pinterest and tell me what you did
I will draw a winner on Oct. 16 at midnight.   Winner will be announced here and notified by email.   Good luck and thanks!    You can leave one comment and tell me all that you did if you like, instead of multiple comments.   

Review of The Christmas Visitor

Review of The Christmas Visitor

by Linda Byler
17801355Young Amish widow, Ruth, and her six children are still grieving the sudden loss of her husband, Ben, as Christmas arrives in Amish author, Linda Byler's, holiday novel. Ruth can barely put food on the table, let alone buy toys for her children. But then gifts begin to appear at her door. Could they be from that kind man who just joined their community?

One moment, Ben Miller was high up in the rafters at his neighbor's barn raising. The next, his foot slipped and he plunged to his death, leaving behind a young wife and six children—the youngest born four months after his death. Ruth Miller is not alone. Her Amish neighbors help her to make the difficult transition from wife to widow.

But while the community has been generous, raising six growing children, each grieving their father's death, is overwhelming. Devastated by her loss, Ruth isn't sure how she'll make ends meet or restore order to a house full of rambunctious kids. With help from her mother and her energetic, but untidy neighbor, Mamie, Ruth finds a way to start over. Preoccupied with the effort to create a new life and manage her shrinking bank account, Ruth barely notices John King, the handsome newcomer to her community. Besides, how could she—if she had a chance—replace Ben? Does one ever replace a husband?

Ruth is a widower with young children who only wants to provide for them and have a simple but happy Amish Christmas.  How will she manage?  She is doing all she can to work things out when mysterious boxes begin to appear. The boxes contain exactly what the family needs at the time.  Who is sending the boxes?  
The Amish encourage remarriage among widows and widowers but Ruth feels she can never find a love like she had with her dear husband.  Will she find love among the snow, the boxes, the fun, the spirit of Christmas or will she let it slip through her grasp?
I always desire to have a simple Christmas and have sought to teach my own children the true meaning of the season...Jesus and his birth, NOT GIFTS, GIFTS, and more GIFTS.  I think the Amish certainly have the right idea when it comes to the holidays.   The cover of this book is enchanting and just the cover alone made me want to read it.  I am a snow lover and it reminds me of times in the past with my own grandparents.   
Thank you to Linda Byler and netgalley for the chance to read this delightful book and review it with all honesty.  

Review of In Plain View

Review of In Plain View

by Olivia Newport


Annie’s quest for simplicity is about to get complicated. Nearly a year after leaving her successful but unsatisfying high-tech life, she wonders if she can truly succeed at being Amish. A lucrative job offer, a red dress, and the shadow of an Amish woman looking for a husband create a vortex that clouds Annie’s choice. Her parents seem determined to sabotage her efforts, and Rufus Beiler, an Amish carpenter who captured her heart, leaves room for doubt about their future. But when an explosion brings Annie under suspicion, can she clear her name and bring the future into plain view?

Valley of Choice Series:
Book 1 - Accidentally Amish
Book 2 - In Plain View
Book 3 - Taken for English - Available February 2014

Olivia Newport melds the past and the future...linking the lives of the ancestors to the hope of the future generations.   It does not happen without considerable pain and heartache.   Amish shun their people if they leave after baptism so the forgiveness and reconciliation do not always take a simple course.   The process seems harsh to those of us who look on from the outside world, and even to many among the Amish themselves.
        Add war to the mix and the Amish believe in nonviolent resistance.  What do you do with the Amish who choose to fight for the freedom of America from the British?   What do family members say when their own family members seem to betray their values and beliefs?  Can they reconcile?  Can the depression and pain from wartime activities ever allow Nathaniel and Magdalena to find the love they long for?   
       I enjoyed this book immensely but I did get confused at times as the author switched back and forth between time periods and characters.   I read the prequel to this book and that helped me somewhat but it took me reading through half of the book to truly feel I had a clear handle on who was who and where the story line was taking place at the time.   This is a story full of hope, even though it is laced with heartache and sorrow....just like real life. 
I received a free pdf copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I’m imagining you. You walk past as I water my front flowerbeds and we wave. You check the time as we both stand in a long line at the grocery store. You sit in front of me in church. I’m at my table in the coffee shop and you’re at yours.

We may smile politely and move on with our separate lives. Or one of us may speak, a simple invitation to conversation, and the words flow between us.

Here the adventure begins. When we meet someone new, we never know where it might lead.

I’ve been married for over thirty years and have two twenty-something kids. We live in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where the day lilies in my back yard grow as tall as I am. (No short jokes, please.)

Not every piece of my life is pretty, though. Some days I want to throw out whole chunks. But I am living each day looking for the grace of God to me, in me, and through me. Having your companionship along the way will help uncover a lot of great stories.