Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review of  A Season for Tending

by Cindy Woodsmall 

A Season for Tending (Amish Vines and Orchids #1)

In a community where conformity flourishes, seeds of Rhoda’s odd behavior were planted long ago. Can she cultivate her relationships with the same care and tenderness that she gives her beloved garden?
 
Old Order Amish Rhoda Byler’s unusual gift and her remarkable abilities to grow herbs and berries have caused many to think her odd. As rumors mount that Rhoda’s “gift” is a detriment to the community, she chooses isolation, spending her time in her fruit garden and on her thriving canning business.  
 
Miles away in Harvest Mills, Samuel King struggles to keep his family’s apple orchard profitable. As the eldest son, Samuel farms with his brothers, the irrepressible Jacob and brash Eli, while his longtime girlfriend Catherine remains hopeful that Samuel will marry her when he feels financially stable.  
 
Meanwhile, Samuel’s younger sister Leah is testing all the boundaries during her rumschpringe, and finds herself far from home in Rhoda’s garden after a night of partying gone badly. But Leah’s poor choices serve as a bridge between Rhoda and the King family when a tragic mistake in the orchard leaves Samuel searching for solutions. 
Rhoda’s expertise in canning could be the answer, but she struggles with guilt over the tragic death of her sister and doesn’t trust herself outside her garden walls. As the lines between business, love, and family begin to blur, can Rhoda finally open up to a new life? And what effect will this odd, amazing woman have on the entire King family?
My Review:
I felt my heart being torn for Rhoda Byler as the community questioned her gift.   It is not just the Amish who look on "gifts" of intuition or knowing as strange and attribute it to witchcraft as they did with Rhoda.   She does have the support of most of her family though.   What I loved is that in this Amish fiction, several characters struggle with gossip, jealousy, and unkind thoughts of others.  The characters were made to seem very human and I appreciate that.   Cindy Woodsmall gives a clear message that forgiveness is available and change can be made for the better in each of us!   I am already eagerly anticipating the second book in the series to see what happens next for Rhoda, Samuel, Jacob, Leah, Landon, and the other characters.   Who will win Rhoda's heart?   Will it tear a family apart?   
Reading about all the delicious apple recipes Rhoda made in the story made me itch to make a batch of apple butter!   I may just have to get some apples and do just that!   The book also featured some of Sherry Gore's apple recipes which I am hoping to try in the near future.   
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.

I received a free copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.org in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review of The House That Love Built 

by Beth Wiseman

The House that Love Built
Brooke has only loved one man. Owen's heart is filled with bitterness. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?

In the small town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising six-year-old Meghan and ten-year-old Spencer on her own two years after her husband's death. Being a single-mom and running the family's local hardware store keep her busy.

While Meghan longs for a daddy, Spencer has threatened to run away if Brooke even goes out on a date. But the last thing on Brooke's mind is falling in love. When a stranger moves to town and buys a house with a mysterious past, Brooke can't contain her curiosity. As she spends time with the new owner, she wonders if maybe God is giving her another chance at happiness.

Owen Saunders fled the big city to start over in a small, rural town famous for baking the world's largest gingerbread man. Then he bought an old house to restore-for all the wrong reasons. If anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart in the aftermath of his failed marriage. With little hope and lost faith, Owen is tempted by happiness when he meets Brooke, but his heart remains sealed shut.
As they learn more about Owen's house, one thing becomes obvious to both of them: God has put them together for a reason.
MY REVIEW:
I am already a huge Beth Wiseman fan, and this book was frosting on top of the cake.   If I have bags under my eyes today, it is all Beth's fault as I started reading the book and could not stop until I had read to the end .......at 4 a.m.  What a beautiful story of second chances, even for those who are elderly and diagnosed with terminal illnesses, there is hope.    Even for those who have been in constant trouble with the law, there is hope.  Even for a widow and divorcee, there is hope.    
I love how Owen and Brooke create a family out of both those who are truly blood relatives and those whom God brings to them.   What a treasure to be on the lookout for a hidden bunker and "treasure" of some sort in the old house that Owen buys.   Can the spite that drove him to buy the house dissolve and leave room in his heart for love ?   This book gave me hope that there is forgiveness and love and a home for each one of us, myself included.  Another message I heard as I read this book was not to judge others. We never know the heart behind the decisions that others make and we need to treat them with love and respect, instead of pointing a finger.   Life is discouraging for me right now with my husband unemployed and me on disability, and this story truly made me feel hopeful again.  

About the Author:
Beth Wiseman
Beth is the best-selling and award winning author of the Daughters of the Promise series - Plain Perfect, Plain Pursuit, Plain Promise, Plain Paradise, and Plain Proposal. She is contracted with Thomas Nelson Fiction. Her other series--the Land of Canaan Novels--begins with Seek Me With All Your Heart, then The Wonder of Your Love and now, His Love Endures Forever. Seek Me With All Your Heart is the first Amish fiction book selected as a Women of Faith novel in 2011. Beth has also written a contemporary Christian fiction novel entitled Need You Now published in 2012. 
I received a free copy of this book from booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.  

winner of Grace Given

Winner of Grace Given 

is Ida!!  Email has been sent!  contact me with your mailing address so I can get the book out to you, Ida!  Congrats!


Thanks to all who entered!   

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review of That Summerby Jo Huddleston

That Summer

To escape his poppa's physical abuse and their dirt-poor farm life, Jim flees to an imagined prosperous city life where he can make his own choices, ignoring God patiently knocking on his heart's door. Settled in town, Jim strays from God and the way of faith his momma taught him. He meets a girl and loses his heart ... and meets another girl and loses his willpower. Jim wrestles with social and moral dilemmas as he makes a choice beside Caney Creek that will alter the lives of five people.
MY REVIEW: 
This was my first book by Jo Huddleston and I wanted to read it as I live in Virginia near the Appalachian mountains.  Jo focuses on the Tennessee Appalachian mountains in her story.   I was entranced by this story and simply could not put it down until I was finished.  My heart broke for dear Caroline and the pain she had to endure due to her choices in life.    I felt deeply for Jim and Louisa as well.   It was a hard life, one filled with poverty and pain for many.  I will not reveal too much so as not to spoil the story for readers.   This story is about forgiveness and reconciliation as well as endurance.   You will not want to miss the chance to share the joy and pain of this story.   I am looking forward to Book 2 of the Caney Creek Series now.    

About the Author:
My Photo
Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN).  She holds a M. Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Meet Jo at www.johuddleston.com.  While there, sign up for her newsletter and read her blog.  

I received a free copy of this book from the CWA Review Crew (Christian Women Affiliate) in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review of Annie's Truth 

by Beth Shriver

Annie's Truth (Touch of Grace, #1)

In book one of the Amish romance series, Touch of Grace, Annie must leave the security of her family and community to find her true identity when she discovers she was adopted as a newborn and raised by her Amish parents.

MY REVIEW: 
I read the series backwards....lol.....I received a copy of Grace Given previously and read it and reviewed it.  I loved both books.  I rather enjoyed reading it this way as it answered many questions that I formed as I read book 2.   I felt really badly for Annie though.  It seemed that her family was very hard on her for wanting to find her birth mother after she discovered that she was found in a field by her Amish faither as a newborn.   I would think that it would be natural for Annie to have questions about her birth and to want to find her own answers.  I suppose it is the Amish way and that would be one of the things I have trouble over in the Amish faith.   Her boyfriend, John, also seemed rather harsh with her as well.  I don't want to spoil the book for readers by telling too much, so you will need to read both books and discover these treasures for yourself!   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  
Beth Shriver
Beth followed her passion and writes full time after working as a social worker. She received a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska.She writes in a variety of genres in both fiction and non-fiction. 

Bethshriverwriter.com

bethshriverwriter.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Giveaway of "Grace Given" !!!

Giveaway of Grace Given

By Beth Shriver 

Grace Given

To enter, simply leave a comment with your email address so that I can contact you if you are the lucky winner!  

For additional entries, share on facebook, twitter, or google +, follow my blog.  Tell me in the comments if you did some of the additional things to enter to win. Good Luck. 

GIVEAWAY WILL RUN THROUGH MARCH 29, 2013, AT 11:55 P.M. AND I WILL ANNOUNCE WINNER!  

Review of It's Just You and Me, Lord:  Prayers for a Woman's Life

by Marion Stroud
It's Just You and Me, Lord: Prayers for a Woman's Life

A woman's journey through life is marked by relationships, responsibilities, and concerns.Marion Stroud offers earnest prayers to inspire and encourage women through the daily and not-so-daily challenges of life.  
She has written beautiful prayers in poetry form.  She includes scripture and quotes to further enhance each message.   Headings within the prayer book are:  A Woman Within, A Woman and Her Marriage, A Woman and Her Children, A Woman and Her Friends, A Woman at Work, A Woman and Her Family of Faith,  A Woman and Her Wider World, and A Woman Growing Older.  So you can see that there is something to speak to every woman's heart, no matter her age or situation in life.  This devotional prayer book is small and could easily fit into a purse, diaperbag, or briefcase for reading and meditating during lunch or coffee break time.   They are short enough that one can easily read them if there is only a five or ten minute break in the daily routine.    I would highly recommend this book to those who need daily guidance to make it through the day....I know that I certainly need prayers.   This book is another avenue of my prayer life.   
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marion Stroud is an established and popular author and sought-after speaker whose books have been translated into fourteen languages.  She lives in Bedford, England.

I was given a complementary print copy of this book from Discovery House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.   

Review of The Pieces of Summer

by Wanda Brunstetter

The Pieces of Summer: Part 4
Book 4 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. The Pieces of Summer is part four of New York Times Bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunsetter’s The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga.
My Review:
I am falling in love with the characters in Wanda Brunstetter's 4th book in The Discovery-A Lancaster County Saga.   Meredith and Luke are dealing with what appear to be insurmountable hardships.   How will they ever get back together?  I can empathize with the young nurse who seems to be falling for Luke and the young Amish man who is in love with Meredith and hoping to marry her.   God can turn the impossible for us into the POSSIBLE though, and that is the message of the book series to me.  I was once again left hanging from the cliff at the ending!!  I am chomping at the bit to read the next book!   

Please see other blog postings here for an interview with Wanda Brunstetter and reviews of several other books she has written.  

I received a free ecopy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review of The Hope of Spring

Review of The Hope of Spring (Part 3 of the Lancaster County Discovery Saga)

Part 3 of 6 partsby Wanda Brunstetter

The Hope of Spring: Part 3
Book 3 of an exclusive 6-consecutive-month release Amish serial novel.  In The Hope of Spring, part three of New York Times Bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunsetter’s The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga, Meredith Stoltzfus is trying to piece her life back together, while in a hospital miles away, a young man is fighting for his life and remains in a coma. . . . Weeks away from the baby being born, Meredith has never been so scared. She aches for Luke and knows her baby will need his father. She’s nearly out of money; can she somehow manage to provide for herself and her baby—alone? 
My Review:
I read Book 2 and Book 3 in one night as I was so anxious to know what would happen for Meredith and the young man in the coma.   A lovely young nurse, Susan, is caring for the unknown young man and even accidentally meets Meredith while shopping at the market in Pennsylvania's Amish country.   An old friend, Jonas, has moved to the area and has rekindled his friendship with Meredith.  Jonas is seeking to help Meredith get the house ready for the new boppli, but his parents fear that the community will get the wrong idea with him paying frequent visits to an expectant, recently widowed young woman.   She comes up with a plan to raise money that won't be too stressful to her or the baby, but I won't spoil the book for readers.  I know that I am already getting ready to read Book 4.   Wonder what the future holds for dear sweet Meredith?   
About the Author:
Wanda and Richard 2011 Hawaii About


About


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 60 books with more than 6 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York TimesPublisher’s WeeklyCBAECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, includingTime Magazine and USA Today. Wanda’s books have been translated into four foreign languages.
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 travels, 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.
I received a free kindle copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review of The Silence of Winter

Review of The Silence of Winter (Discovery Part #2)By Wanda Brunstetter

The Silence of Winter: Part 2

Book 2 of an exclusive 6-consecutive-month release Amish serial novel.  In The Silence of Winter, part two of New York Times Bestselling  author, Wanda E. Brunstetter's The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga, Meredith anxiously waits to hear that Luke has arrived safely in Indiana for a new job opportunity. . .but Luke’s call never comes. Instead, Meredith receives news that tears her heart to shreds and leaves her just barely living—and only for the sake of the little one growing within her. How will Meredith ever go on without Luke?
My Review:
oh, my heart simply breaks for Meredith and for Luke.   Meredith must struggle with both tragedy and joy and will she ever have Luke to share her life with again?  I don't want to "spoil" the book, but I will say that I have been hanging on the edge of my seat as I read.   The volumes, I realize, have upset some readers, but I actually enjoy the quick readability of these volumes and wait with bated breath for each new installment!   I love seeing how the Amish help each other through hardtimes and truly wish that we had more of that going on among my world, the world of the Englisch.   
About the Author:
professionalbiophoto About

Wanda and Richard have two grown children — Richard Jr., married to Jean, and Lorine, married to William. Wanda and her husband have been blessed with six grandchildren — Jinell, Madolynne, Rebekah, Richard III, Philip, and Richelle.
Wanda’s family history on her father’s side dates back to 1750 with her great-great-great-great grandparents, Jacob Landess, born in Germany in 1750, and Mary Reynolds, born in North Carolina in 1760. Jacob and Mary were members of a Plain people group called the “Dutch Quakers.” They had a strong connection to the Dunkard Church, part of the Anabaptist movement, to which the Amish and Mennonite also belong.

Jacob and Mary had 13 children, among them was Henry Landess (Wanda’s great-great-great grandfather) who was born in Kentucky in 1789. Henry was married and widowed three times. His second wife, Catherine Moler, gave birth to a son named John Landess who was born in Highland County, Ohio in 1814 (Wanda’s great-great grandfather). John married Rachel (Michael) Landess, born in Virginia in 1818
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 Visit Wanda's website at:  http://www.wandabrunstetter.com/.
I received a complementary ecopy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.    

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Review of My Father's House

by Todd Saville
My Father's House: a novel

Have you ever awoken to find the life you’ve always wanted, to be a life of always wanting? A life of always chasing? Then one day you stop in your tracks, questioning what it is you are wanting and chasing? And you realize a harsh truth: you’ve been running blind for years. 

In two short weeks, that’s what workaholic Cole Jansen discovers. Still single at thirty-two, he’s more focused on managing his clients’ money and his own material success than he is with any woman who gets close, or reconciling his estranged relationship with his parents. 

But when his father’s ill health leads him from urban Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the tiny rural community of Harmony, Minnesota for a rare visit, his myopic life is suddenly questioned when he meets Rachel Miller, a young Amish woman committed to her church and family – and conflicted by forbidden dreams of meeting him, the man in the pictures she ritualistically dusts each week as part of her cleaning duties at his parents’ home. 

No sooner than such an unlikely courtship begins to flourish, a series of tragedies strike, and commitment and character must be confronted, bringing each of their paths to a crossroads and shaking the foundations of their lives. Will the threat of excommunication and career suicide be too great? Or is there hope for such an improbable love as this?
My Father’s House, a story of truth, tenderness and tragedy that will tug at your heart-strings.
My Review:
Todd Saville has written a stirring story of love, family, regrets, contentment, and more.  I sobbed as I read this book. It touched so many nerves with me.   His main character must search deep within and see what really makes him happy in life...what really matters.  Cole is a character that I can relate to.....will he continue to blame his father? to be angry with God? Will he find peace?   Read this one and keep some tissues handy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Todd Saville
Todd Saville was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, to parents who were both teachers.

Upon graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in 1993, he pursued a career in business, serving in a variety of roles, such as: corporate trainer, financial advisor and international marketing manager. After obtaining his MBA in 2003, he began teaching part-time at Mount Mercy University, which proved to be life-changing. 

In 2006, after thirteen years of corporate work, he accepted a full-time business faculty position at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

My Father’s House was inspired by his parents’ close relationship with their Amish neighbors living near their hobby farm in rural Missouri. Visit his website at:  http://www.toddsaville.com/

Review of "It Is Well With My Soul" by Shelly Beach

Review of It Is Well With My Soul

by Shelly Beach
It Is Well with My Soul: Meditations for Those Living with Illness, Pain, and the Challenges of Aging

Shelly Beach has taken the words of a beautiful favorite hymn and written a collection of meditations or devotions for those who are dealing with chronic illness, aging, daily pain and more.  She includes many examples from her own personal story which is highly moving as well as the stories of many others. She includes scripture readings and prayers with the meditations.  I have many chronic illnesses personally which forced me to quit teaching at the age of forty-nine and live on disability.  I have had to give up much, but have gained time for more prayer, more Bible reading, more study, and a deeper relationship with Christ and those I love due to my disabilities.  Shelly's writings helped me not to feel so alone and to realize that others have felt the same struggles and pains which I feel daily.   Thank you so much.   


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Shelly Beach is a writer, public speaker, communications consultant, and college writing instructor. She is the author of seven books, including Precious Lord, Take My Hand and Ambushed by Grace.  Her novel Hallie's Heart won the Christy Award in 2008. She is the founder of the Cedar Falls Christian Writers' Workshop in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  She and her husband, Dan, have two children and live in Sparta, Michigan.

I received a complementary copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review of "Breathe" by Elena Dillon

Breathe

Review of Breathe

by Elena Dillon
Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16 year old girl. It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught. That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over. Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.

In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way. Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction. On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is. Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening. Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time? Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.
MY REVIEW:
Elena Dillon has written a wonderful suspenseful romance novel that is definitely appropriate for young readers!~I think I fell in love with the young male football hero myself!  I was so entranced that I could not stop reading and just kept hoping and praying that the awful MONSTER would not find Jasmine and hurt her as he had done to her sister, Daisy.  Readers will gain great pleasure from this novel....no matter what the age!    

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Elena Dillon
Elena Dillon writes from her Southern California home with her English Bulldog, Brutus, by 
her side.   Her website is:







Friday, March 1, 2013

Review of Katie Opens Her Heart

by Jerry Eicher 

Katie Opens Her Heart
Bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry S. Eicher (nearly half a million copies sold) returns with the first book in another of his delightful and compelling series.

Here is the touching story of an awakening young Amish girl, Katie Raber, who finds she wants more from life than to be known as simply "Emma Raber's daughter."

Emma has refused to remarry since Katie's daett died soon after she was born. And in an effort to keep Katie home, Emma has forbidden her from participating in the rumspringa tradition.

When widower Jesse Mast calls for Mamm's hand in marriage, Katie hopes to move into a new phase of life and leave the old "Emma Raber's daughter" behind. But Emma is having none of it, and Katie must consider abandoning all hope of ever changing her mamm's bitterness or of ever having popular Ben Yoder notice her. Out of sheer frustration, she begins attending nearby Mennonite youth gatherings.

Sparks fly when Jesse's children object fiercely to the attentions their daett is paying to Emma Raber. And widowed Ruth Hochstetler makes her own move for Jesse Mast's hand.
Book one in the Emma Raber's Daughter series.
MY REVIEW:
Many of the Amish fiction novels are "feel-good" books, but I appreciate the way that Jerry Eicher makes his characters so real and so believable.   I noticed that Emma and Katie both engage in a great deal of negative self-talk.  I struggle with this myself and it can rob us of much joy and it certainly did that for Emma and Katie at times.   This is a wonderful book and my main problem with it was that IT ENDED!  I was left wanting more....wanting to know what happens next for Katie and Emma!   I am ready for the second book in this series NOW!   
About the Author:
Jerry S. Eicher
Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, 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 renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife,Tina Eicher, and their four children in Virginia.   http://www.eicherjerry.com/
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.