Tuesday, December 29, 2015

5-Star Review of "The Choir Immortal"

Review of The Choir Immortal

by Katie Schuermann

The people of Zion are at it again. 

Two of their very own are getting married, and everyone is pleased as punch to be hosting Bradbury’s wedding of the century. Their collective joy is short-lived, however, as busted air-conditioners, melting cakes, and a trip to the emergency room intrude upon the celebration.

Yet the congregation rallies. Led by Pastor Fletcher and the stalwart Mrs. Scheinberg, they turn in faith to God’s promises of life and salvation to see one another through trying days that demand patience, prayer, and perhaps another batch of cinnamon rolls. 

Emily Duke, Pastor Fletcher, and the rest of Zion’s quirky flock return in this compelling sequel to House of Living Stones, proving that life in a small-town is anything but small.
MY REVIEW:  Who can resist a bunch of lovable choir members?   Not me!  This bunch of sweet, lovable sinners captured my heart when I read the first book in the series and this sequel certainly warmed my heart.  I was reading it on my kindle as my husband drove us to visit my daughters for Christmas and found myself sobbing.   I expected humor and did not know that this one had its fair share of deep sadness as well.   It broke my heart.  I was thinking about it later before bed as I wondered what would turn the heartache around for the characters.   Things did turn around for the characters but not without significant grieving first.
         This book is full of emotion and will delight readers as forgiveness is a key for several characters.   I rated this book 5 stars and feel sure that other readers will find it just as engaging as I did.
         I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Katie Schuermann

Honest, sincere, and lyrical, Katie's writing reflects her Midwestern roots and her interest in the arts. After earning graduate degrees in music, she taught music history and literature at various colleges, directed children's theater camps, and sang in various concert halls, theaters, and churches across the Midwest.

While Katie's upbringing and curriculum vitae factor heavily into her writing, it is her Lutheran confession of faith in the Triune God that readers have come to expect and trust in her writing.

When she's not working on a writing project, Katie can be found gardening, cooking, hiking, singing, and enjoying fellowship with friends and family.

Friday, December 25, 2015

5-Star Review of "Whispers in the Reading Room"

Review of Whispers in the Reading Room

by Shelley Gray


Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

MY REVIEW:  This book has a dark, brooding nature to it and is beyond intriguing!  Lydia hardly seems the sort of woman who would capture the attention and heart of club owner, Sebastian Marks, but that is precisely what happens.   She has led a dull and boring, though peaceful life until she meets Mr. Marks in the "reading room"....the library where she works as head librarian.  She loves to discuss books and he loves books.  They seem a match made in heaven in the reading room, but outside these walls, just being seen with him marks her as a different sort of "lady".    
          This book kept me hungering for more time to sit and read, it kept me on the very edge of my seat, and I highly recommend it to readers.   I am a huge fan of Shelley Shepard Gray's works and this one is very different and yet equally addicting.   Check out this unique book by Shelley and see what you think.   
       I rated this book 5 stars because it is just that good!  
       I received a free copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
 Shelley Gray
from goodreads' bio:
I live in southern Ohio with my husband, two teenagers, and two dogs. My days are filled with busy activities like most any other mom and housewife. But I also love to write books.

Each morning, after my kids go off to school, I sit at my desk, look out my window, and dream of other places. The hours fly by as I make up people and places and drink way too much coffee.

Writing for Avon Inspire has truly been a dream come true. Being able to spend my days in my make-believe world of the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast is a true blessing. I have enjoyed getting to know more about the Amish culture and tapping into my faith as I show each character’s progression toward a personal relationship with our Lord.

Before becoming a full time writer, I taught elementary school in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. A job transfer to Ohio led my husband to encourage me to finally give writing a try. After all, I had notebooks full of made up stories.

I’ll never forget that first book I typed in our unfinished basement. It was exciting to make up a story, but also very scary. I was also so embarrassed, sure someone would come out of the woodwork and point out that I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. But I persevered, and sold my third manuscript.

Things have changed a bit. Now I have a real office of my own. (think old guest bedroom!) My walls are painted pink, and more than a couple of book covers decorate my walls. But my days are still the same. I wake up, dream about other people, and do my best to type out stories.
Shelley Gray also writes Amish and Christian fiction under the name:   Shelley Shepard Gray

Monday, December 21, 2015

4-Star Review of "Once Upon a Christmas"

Review of Once Upon a Christmas

55 Heart-Warming Short Stories Bring Meaning to the Season
Rosanne Croft, Linda Reinhardt, Sharon Bernash Smith
Once Upon a Christmas: 55 Heartwarming Short Stories Bring Meaning to the Season

A mysterious package left in the snow on Christmas Eve. A startling encounter with the homeless. A treasured gift of love. Set in the 1800s through the present, in colorful settings that span the globe, beloved inspirational writers Sharon Bernash Smith, Linda Reinhardt, and Rosanne Croft pen charming holiday stories to warm, delight, and romance the heart. Travel to small towns, to the tropics of Africa, to the wilds of Montana, to battlefields, and many more fascinating locations with 55 short stories featuring unforgettable characters who discover, in the midst of difficult circumstances, the true meaning of Christmas.

MY REVIEW:   This is a fun, light reading for the Christmas season but the stories would certainly warm your heart any time of year.   Most of the stories are highly engaging and take place in various time periods and places.   Some of the stories were a little slow for me and I will admit to skipping through portions on those particular ones as I read.   I love the ones set in war times as it called to mind possible scenarios for relatives of my own who served in World War II in particular.   
        These stories can be read one at a time or enjoyed in one sit-down.
        I rate this collection of short stories 4 stars and would be happy to recommend it to readers of inspirational fiction.
        I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

4-Star Review of "Journey to the Manger"

Review of Journey to the Manger

by Paula Gooder


Journey to the Manger explores the New Testament's various accounts of the birth of Jesus: their origins in Old Testament prophecies, the genealogies, the angelic announcements, the journeys and arrivals, and the aftermath of Jesus' birth for the powerful and the poor alike. 
Although many biblical scholars have puzzled over historical details in the accounts, Paula Gooder argues that doing this risks missing the point. Engaging seriously with biblical and historical criticism, she uncovers key similarities running through the Gospel writers' accounts and focuses on their shared understanding of the significant events they describe. 
Her detailed exploration of the texts is a goldmine for preaching and teaching, and will breath new life into the familiar Christmas stories heard year after year in churches, carol services and nativity plays. Devotional reflections and discussion questions also make this ideal for personal and group study. 
Biblical Explorations is an exciting series from bestselling author and scholar Paula Gooder that offers an accessible and informed study of the best loved texts in Scripture. Rooted in the conviction that greater understanding of the Bible leads to deeper discipleship, it is an essential resource for preachers, teachers and study group leaders, as well as those who simply wish to get to know the Bible better.

MY REVIEW:   As we celebrate the Advent season and prepare for the birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I thought that this would be a good way to spend more quality time in the Word.   This is a very thorough, insightful look at the manger and Paula Gooder looks at the manger scene in ways that I never thought of doing.  Was the Christ child even born in a stable?  Was he actually placed in a manger?   I think this would be a wonderful resource for pastors, Sunday School teachers, and leaders of Bible study groups or for those who like myself just want to do an in-depth study of the birth of Christ.   I don't think I would recommend it to the average reader as it may easily become confused with fictional books on the subject.  This is a work of non-fiction and works well for reading a portion on each of the Sundays in Advent.   It has study questions for group leaders to use.  Some readers may feel that some of their longheld beliefs as absolute fact are challenged and they may not wish to accept this writer's interpretation which is of course their right.    I found it very interesting to look at things from a different perspective.
          I rate this book 4-stars and would highly recommend it to Bible scholars and serious Bible students.
          I received an ebook of this title from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Paula Gooder
Paula Gooder is a writer and lecturer in biblical studies and is Theologian in Residence for the Bible Society in the UK. 
She was born in Manchester, UK, where she grew up. She went to the University of Oxford where she did both her undergraduate degree and doctoral research (first at Worcester College then at the Queen's College). After that she taught for twelve years in two different colleges which train people for ministry (Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, and the Queen's Foundation, Birmingham). Her research areas are 2 Corinthians and Paul's religious experiences.
In the end she left teaching in colleges because she realised that trying to juggle looking after children, teaching and desperately trying to write something was impossible. So she worked freelance for seven years before beginning work with Bible society. This involves teaching and lecturing to a wide range of different people and, at last, writing the many books that have been waiting to be written for a very long time. She continues to juggle but now only has herself to blame when it all goes wrong.
Paula's passion is to communicate to best of biblical scholarship to an audience that would otherwise not read it. She seeks to bring the Bible alive again for Christians for whom it has become over-familiar and stale.

Friday, December 11, 2015

5-Star Review of "Joline's Redemption"

Review of Joline's Redemption

(Land Rush Dreams #2)

by Vickie McDonough


Joline had lofty dreams of love and luxury, but after her husband leaves her and she makes a series of fateful decisions, Jo has fallen as far as any woman can. Bereft of all hope and with the threat of losing her son, Jo seeks refuge at her sister’s home. Jo has a long list of secrets to keep and has to look over her shoulder, as the man she’s running from may show up anywhere, anytime. Is it possible that God can redeem Jo, and give her hope for a happy future? Find out in Joline’s Redemption—book 2 in Vickie McDonough’s Land Rush Dreams trilogy.

MY REVIEW:   I loved this book!   Joline or "Jo" as she is called is so lovable and Baron is every woman's dream come true!   I did not read the first book in this series and it did not keep from understanding the storyline.  I would like to find and read it now though, after reading Joline's story.   Book one tells Lara's story and book three will focus on Sarah.  It really was a sad time in our history when women had to be so dependent on men that, when alone, they were often forced into horrible conditions and situations.  Jo finally runs back to her sister and her family for help.  They are definitely glad to see her and happy to welcome her back into the fold.  Who or what will be Jo's redemption?   Readers will love finding out!  
         I have often thought I would like to live in the 1800's but many things in this book make me rethink that desire.   Would you want to live in this time period?    If so, what would be your favorite part?  What would you dislike the most?   
          I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to those who love historical fiction and Christian romance.
          I received an ebook from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Vickie McDonough

Bestselling author, Vickie McDonough, grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams in her fictional stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen and others living in the West during the 1800s. Vickie is the award-winning author of over 30 published books and novellas. Her books include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July, 2013. A Pioneer Christmas Collection was on the CBA Bestseller’s list for Jan. & Feb, 2014, and South Carolina Brides made the ECPA Bestseller's list in March, 2014.

Vickie is a wife of thirty-eight years, mother of four grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and grandma to a feisty eight-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website and sign-up for her newsletter: www.vickiemcdonough.com 

Friday, December 4, 2015

5-Star Review of "Huckleberry Hearts"

Review of Huckleberry Hearts

by Jennifer Beckstrand

Young-at-heart octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never miss the chance to find a perfect match for one of their grandchildren. And when their beloved Cassie returns to Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, Anna has a feeling they might soon have a doctor in the family…Though Cassie Coblenz left her Amish community to go to college, Mammi and Dawdi’s farm will always feel like home. It’s the ideal place for an extended study break—at least until her grandmother’s handsome Englisch doctor becomes a regular distraction. Zach Reynolds is the kind of heartbreaker Cassie has learned to avoid, no matter how charming he may be. 
Unlike every woman Zach has met in recent years, Cassie doesn’t fall at his feet. Strong, generous, beautiful within and without —she’s everything he could want. Yet the gulf between them deepens when a tragedy shakes his faith. Now the good doctor has one goal—to become a man who could be worthy of Cassie’s love…

MY REVIEW:   I love love love Anna and Felty Helmuth and their matchmaking!   I would hate to have to eat her awful cooking but would love to have one of her beautiful handknit sweaters, scarves and beanies!    Cassie and Zach don't stand a chance with Anna setting her mind of matchmaking the two of them!    This is the cutest story and most heartwarming that I have read in a while.    It is full of sweetness and mean attitudes as well.   Zach is Anna (Mammi's) doctor and she will do just about anything when it comes to finding good Christian spouses for her grandchildren.   They don't even have to be Amish as this one proves.  Cassie has left the Amish and attends a Christian church.   So Anna decides that her young handsome doctor would be the perfect husband for Cassie.   
          This book will have you laughing one minute and wiping tears the next.   I ran through the gamut of emotions.   I was drifting away to Huckleberry Hill.   I was in an Amish buggy and prayer kapp.   I could almost taste the maple syrup.    The details that Jennifer provides allow all these various emotions to occur as one reads.  
         I rated this book 5 stars and am delighted to recommend it to readers.
         I received a free ebook of this novel from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Jennifer Beckstrand

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.

I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.

My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all now available.

I have six Amish Romances in the works with Kensington Books. The first and second books, Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Summer, are now available in stores and online. The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill is set in northern Wisconsin Amish country.

The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.

Romantic Times gave Huckleberry Hill 4 1/2 stars and chose Huckleberry Summer as a TOP PICK.

I have four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and two adorable grandsons. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with my husband and one son still left at home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

4-Star Review of "Daily Wisdom for Women 2016 Devotional Collection"

Review of Daily Wisdom for Women 2016 Devotional Collection

by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Experience an intimate connection to your heavenly Father with the Daily Wisdom for Women devotional collection. Featuring a powerful devotional reading and prayer for every day of 2016, this beautiful volume provides inspiration and encouragement for your soul. Enhance your spiritual journey with the refreshing readings—and come to know just how deeply and tenderly God loves you.

MY REVIEW:   This book includes nice devotional collections with a scripture and short sentence prayer for each day of 2016.    The stories are applicable and Biblically sound but I would have liked to see more personal stories in the devotional readings.   The readings are short, about the length of one page each and would make a nice devotional to accompany daily Bible study time and prayer.    I would recommend adding some other scriptures to the daily collections.   These could easily be read by women while enjoying a cup of coffee or lunch.   The book would be great for busy moms and young women as well as older ladies who may find lengthy study or reading difficult.  I know my own mother has difficulty concentrating on long pieces of reading due to some dementia in her elder years.  This would be perfect for her.   
          I rate this book 4 stars and recommend it to readers and other Christian women.
          I received an ebook of this devotional collection from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

4-Star Review of "Forgiven"

Review of Forgiven

by Terri Roberts with Jeanette Windle


After a son does the unthinkable, how can a mother go on?

On October 2, 2006, a gunman entered an Amish one-room schoolhouse, shooting ten girls, killing five, then finally taking his own life. This is his mother's story. Not only did she lose her precious son through suicide, but she also lost her understanding of him as an honorable man. It was a trauma that none should ever have to face.

But the biggest headlines came when her Amish neighbors did the unimaginable, reaching out to the family of the shooter with comfort and forgiveness. Today Terri lives in harmony with the Amish and has built lasting relationships beyond what anyone could have thought possible. From the grace that the Amish showed Terri's family from day one, to the visits and ongoing care Terri has given to the victims and their families, no one could have foreseen the love and friendship that have been forged from the fires of tragedy.

MY REVIEW:   This is truly an unbelievable story of forgiveness and grace.  To think the Amish families who had lost their children at Charlie Roberts' hands could go to the parents, wife, and children of this man and offer comfort and forgiveness is truly remarkable.   If our own child had been killed by someone, could we forgive them?  Could we help them and socialize with them?  Would we block the media from seeing and filming his funeral?  And as Terri Roberts and her husband, Chuck, felt guilt and pain as they wondered how on earth their precious oldest son could perpetrate such evil on these innocent children, how could they also visit the homes of the Amish and offer love and help to them?   What an unlikely combination of grace and hope!   But the Amish did just that and the Roberts family did just that!   They all reached through their own pain and used it to help others and bless others and most importantly, offer forgiveness.    Terri and Chuck Roberts and their sons and family members also had to work at forgiving their own son, brother, husband, father.   Was that easy?  Did it happen immediately?  No and no.   It took their dependence on God and that is what this story is about.    I did feel at times that detailes could have been left out.   I loved reading about the picnics and teas the Roberts hosted for the Amish families of the school though.   That touched my heart in a big way. 
           I rate this book 4 stars and I highly recommend it to readers. 
           I received a free ebook of this book in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Authors:
Terri Roberts
Terri Roberts has lived just south of Strasburg, Pennsylvania, for nearly three decades.  She and her husband, Chuck, are approaching the half-century mark in their marriage.  She is a mother of four sons, a grandmother of eleven, including two stepgrandchildren.  They are members of Living Faith Christian Church of God.   She has survived illness and adheres, as a result, to an admirably rigorous diet.   She travels around the world speaking about the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting, forgiveness, and hope.   A documentary is being made of her life story.  For more information, contact Terri, visit her website:   www.JoyThroughAdversity.com or send mail to P O Box 102, Strasburg, PA  17579.  
Jeanette Windle

As child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than thirty on five continents. Those experiences have birthed 16 international intrigue titles, including bestselling Tyndale House Publishers release Veiled Freedom, a 2010 ECPA Christian Book Award and Christy Award finalist and sequel Freedom's Stand, a 2012 ECPA Christian Book Award and Carol Award finalist and 2011 Golden Scroll Novel of the Year finalist. Check out author interviews, reviews, and more at Jeanette's website: www.jeanettewindle.com

Saturday, November 21, 2015

5-Star Review of "A Shenandoah Family Christmas"

Review of A Shenandoah Family Christmas

by Lisa Belcastro


Where is Christmas?

Disease, freezing temperatures, and the Revolutionary War bring bitter reality to the Reed home in December 1777. Captain Benjamin Reed is ordered to sail a supply shipment south to General George Washington. Days before Shenandoah’s scheduled departure, Ben’s first mate succumbs to smallpox.

Rebecca Reed had never feared the dreaded disease until her one-year-old daughter Felicity breaks out in the telltale rash. In the cold, dark days of Advent, Rebecca, Ben, and the Reed family wait in prayerful hope as Felicity fights for her life and they wonder who could be next.

With the rest of the family at risk, they decide to obtain the forbidden cowpox vaccine. Ben's brother Jonah, his uncle Isaiah, and Shenandoah’s cook Adam Greene venture off in search of the outlawed vaccine. A blizzard hits. A tree crashes. Jonah crumbles to the ground. A woman with the face of an angel aids Jonah, but is it too late? And where are Adam and Isaiah?

As the death toll rises throughout the Colonies, the Reed family prays for more than one Christmas miracle.

MY REVIEW:   This novella is quite a different Christmas tale.   Rebecca and Melissa have both traveled through time to find themselves of the Shenandoah, and smallpox hits.   When it hits Rebecca's precious little toddler, Felicity, it becomes real and quite fearful.   She wants to travel back to the present to cure her child and her family.   But what would happen?  Would it work?  Would they be allowed to travel back if they attempted this rescue?  
         I love time travel stories and this one is such fun.   Can you imagine leaving the present time and all its conveniences and living in 1777 at Christmas?   I am not sure how I would fare in this position.   To think of George Washington being alive and well ......wow!   This is an amazing novella and is sure to fill readers with hope.   
       I rate this novella 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
       I received an ebook of this novella from the author through Celebration Lit Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Lisa Belcastro

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha's Vineyard. She was inspired to write Shenandoah Nights, the first book in the Winds of Change trilogy, while chaperoning two Tisbury School summer sails with her daughter, Kayla, aboard the schooner Shenandoah. The weeklong adventure, sans electricity, Game Boys, iPods and modern conveniences, kindled her imagination to dream of an altogether different voyage.
In addition to writing Shenandoah Nights and the soon-to-be-released Shenandoah Crossings, Lisa currently pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style magazine. She has worked as a staff and freelance reporter and photographer for The Chronicle of the Horse and as assistant editor at The Blue Ridge Leader. She has written articles for USA Today, Dressage (London), USA WEEKEND Magazine, The Blue Ridge Leader and Sidelines.
When she's not at her desk working on Shenandoah Dreams, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter's school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach looking for sea glass.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

5-Star Review of "Another Way Home"

Review of Another Way Home (Chicory Inn #3)

by Deborah Raney

Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.

Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.
MY REVIEW:   Deborah Raney has gotten right to the heart of the painful emotions of infertility for Dallas and Danae, and their extended family, who is hurting right along with them.  Dallas has special reasons for being opposed to adoption but he does not feel comfortable sharing them with his wife or family at first.   Will volunteering at the women's shelter bring it all to a head for them and break the dam open for Dallas?  Danae has feelings of resentment and envy towards her sisters and feels guilty about that.   They all feel they must walk on eggshells around Danae so they don't cause her further hurt feelings. 
       This is a beautiful, heart-wrenchging story of pain and raw emotion.  The women at the shelter are escaping abusive situations and that brings its own level of pain for them and all those who volunteer with them.  I love the setting of this series as well.  The Bed and Breakfast that Grant and Audrey have established is absolutely beautiful and the perfect setting for the family gatherings.   
        I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it.   
        I received a free ebook from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Deborah Raney

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. THE FACE OF THE EARTH released in May 2013 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and SILVER BELLS released from Guideposts in October. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four children and a growing quiver of grandchildren, all of whom live much too far away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

5-Star Review of "Return to Christmas"

Review of Return to Christmas

by Kathi Macias


Return to Christmas beautifully blends the two struggling worlds of a former marine and a little boy with attachment disorder. Former Marine Chet is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life. He doesn't need help. He needs employment. He doesn't have issues. The little boy his friends adopted has issues. But there is something about that little boy that draws him. Will the events leading up to this Christmas be able to melt his soldier heart or will he spiral into a dark depression?

MY REVIEW:   Kathi Macias has written a beautiful, stirring tale of PTSD, death, attachment disorder, and forgiveness.   This is such a timely story as we currently have so many young soldiers are returning from deployments with PTSD and desperately need counseling and love.   The families are also deeply affected by the emotions and actions of the veterans.   Jeneen and precious little three-year-old Kevin are dealing with the fallout of Chet's issues from his most recent deployment but they are not giving up on their beloved husband and daddy.   Jeneen was unsaved when Chet went away to the Middle East but she has since become a Christian and Chet is not happy about this turn of events.  He does not appreciate her efforts to get him to attend church with her and Kevin and wishes she would leave him alone about it. 
         There are other important relationships explored in the novel with the owner of Kevin's daycare and their adopted son and the young assistant and her boyfriend who hope to become involved in mission work together someday.   This book is all about Christmas miracles and how God works in the lives of three families.   I loved this book and can not say enough good things about it.   I have several relatives who are active military and know the power of prayer for each of them and their families.  
         I rate this book 5 stars and give it high recommendations.  
         I received a free ebook of this novel from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. 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. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by BookandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

Kathi is passionate about The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. To learn more about the persecuted church, please visit VOM’s website and Open Doors Website

Friday, November 13, 2015

5-Star Review of "An Amish Christmas Gift"

Review of An Amish Christmas Gift:  Three Amish Novellas

by  Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, and Kelly Irvin


Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston

Naomi has started to think that she isn
't meant to find love, but she might receive more than she ever hoped for this Christmas.

Twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love, has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches a time of family, faith, and hope for many others Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down.

An Unexpected Joy by Ruth Reid

Abigail has driven other suitors away, but can Micah find a way to show her he cares?

Abigail Kemp has managed to frighten off every bu who has ever driven her home from a singing. Sure she will live to be an old maid, Abigail starts saving her money to buy a horse so she can at least have some independence.

Micah Zook is looking for a caregiver for his grandmother, and Abigail needs a new job. He never expected that Abigail would talk so much . . . or that his grandmother would keep finding ways to set the two of them up.

Despite Abigail's constant chatter, she and Micah become friends until Micah makes a decision that leaves Abigail feeling betrayed. With Christmas in their midst, can Micah find a way to reconcile with Abigail and to reveal what's on his heart?

A Christmas Visitor by Kelly Irvin

Frannie Mast returns to Bee County for Christmas, but her heart stays back in Missouri with an Englisch farm boy.

Frannie knows her parents have the best of intentions when they send her back to Bee County, Texas, to live with her aunt Abigail and her husband Mordecai. After all, she knows nothing can come of a relationship with Rocky, the handsome but Englisch farmer boy back in Missouri. It's best to put those feelings aside, no matter how hard it is. But all bets are off when Rocky follows Frannie to Texas to plead his case. Could he be the Christmas gift to end all gifts?

MY REVIEW of Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston:  What a precious gift for Christmas for a young woman who has convinced herself that she will remain an old maid and a lonely young widower and his sweet daughter who wants a new love for her dadd for Christmas!  This is a truly endearing novella that is sure to capture hearts of readers.  It is very different from our English ways as we would not think of a young woman in her early twenties as an old maid.  But the Amish live a very different existence and do believe in early marriages and families.  5 Stars for this novella by Amy Clipston!   

MY REVIEW of An Unexpected Joy by Ruth Reid:  Ruth Reid is known for her stories involving angels and in this novella, the angel is a real live Amish young woman!   Abigail is nicknamed Gabby Abby by Micah and while it grates on his nerves, he also does not like it when Abigail becomes quiet.....too quiet....silent, in fact, for that means something is troubling her.  I've been known to get in trouble for talking too much myself, so I can definitely relate to Abigail.   As she sits with Micah's grandmother, her grandmother grows to love the young lady even while mentoring her in how to be a gentle lady who listens more than she talks.  5 Stars for this novella by Ruth Reid!

MY REVIEW of A Christmas Visitor by Kelly Irvin:  Banished to Bee County, Texas to keep her away from the Englisch farm boy, Frannie is shocked when Rocky appears at her aunt and uncle's home in Texas!   Apparently Rocky has plans for himself and Frannie and he may just find the love of God to fill the emptiness inside his heart as well as the love of a special young woman.  This is another sweet novella in the collection and just in time for Christmas cheer for readers.   5 Stars for this novella by Kelly Irvin! 

I received a free ebook of this novella collection from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Authors:
Amy Clipston
 Amy Clipston is an author of Amish and Christian fiction with Zondervan Publishing. Most of her books focus on the Amish community, faith, and love. She also writes romance novels and young adult inspirational stories. 

Please check out her bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery book Series, including the following books:

A Gift of Grace, April 2009
A Promise of Hope, April 2010
A Plain & Simple Christmas, September 2010
A Place of Peace, December 2010
Naomi's Gift, September 2011
A Life of Joy, February 2012
A Season of Love, June 2012
Kauffman Amish Christmas, October 2012

A Hopeful Heart, Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Series #1, June 2013
A Mother's Secret, Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Series #2, June 2014
A Dream of Home, Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel #3, December 2014
A Simple Prayer, Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Book #4, June 2015.

Her young adult books include:
Roadside Assistance, April 2011
Destination Unknown, sequel to Roadside Assistance, February 2014
Miles to Nowhere, April 2015
A Reckless Heart, May 2012

A Gift of Love (A Memoir), March 2014

I enjoy spending time with my family, including my hubby, my two wonderful sons, my mom, and my four spoiled-rotten cats. I love reading. 

I'm an advocate for organ and blood donation. I donated a kidney on June 14, 2011, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through my donation, my husband received a second kidney transplant. My husband and I matched another couple and we swapped kidneys with them. I gave a kidney to my husband's donor's wife. Feel free to email me and ask me what it was like to be a kidney donor. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. If you're healthy, please donate blood! Also, become an organ donor.

Visit me at www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks,...twitter at @AmyClipston or www.AmyClipston.com

Kelly Irvin
Kelly Irvin's latest book in the New Hope Amish series, A Plain Love Song, releases in July 2014. She is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. Love Still Stands, the first book in her spin-off series New Hope Amish, released in September 2013, followed by Love Redeemed in March 2014.

Kelly is now working on a three-book series for Zondervan set in Bee County, Texas. The first book in The Amish of Bee County series, The Beekeeper's Son, is set to release in January 2015.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She also serves as secretary of the ACFW San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers. 

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 19 years.Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years, and they have two young adult children. They recently became grandparents for the first time. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and play with her new granddaughter.
Ruth Reid

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

5-Star Review of "Promise to Keep"

Review of Promise to Keep (The Promise of Sunrise #3)

by Elizabeth Byler Younts


World War II Marine Joe Garrison returns home from war longing to be a father to his deaf daughter, Daisy, only to find that she is attached to Esther Detweiler, the Amish woman who has raised her since his wife’s death in this touching historical romance.

Orphaned as a child, Esther Detweiler is used to caring for herself and her ailing grandmother. They made the best out of a hard life and poverty without asking for help. They even take in her shunned cousin’s deaf daughter, Daisy, when her mother dies and her father goes off to war. When Esther’s grandmother dies, Daisy is all she has.

When war veteran Joe Garrison returns, all he can think about is recovering from the horrors of war and building a relationship with his seven-year-old daughter. Daisy, however, is unwilling to leave Esther, whom she loves. Joe and Daisy get to know each other again, but Joe struggles with nightmares and fatherhood is proving to be more difficult than he imagined. Esther loves Daisy and despite her Amish ways, Joe finds himself drawn to her as a woman and not just a caregiver.

As their love blossoms, Joe decides to send Daisy away to a school for the deaf which propels their lives into turmoil and a battle for love and family.

MY REVIEW:  I read several books each week and I have to say that this book is the favorite of the many I have read this entire year!    I would rate it more than 5 stars if possible.   This book is simply breathtaking.  Esther's pain gripped my heart but so did Joe and Daisy's deep emotional scars.   Having taught special needs' preschoolers for several years in the past, Daisy stole my heart.  I longed to reach out and help her to learn even more than her dear substitute mother, Esther, had taught her.   Esther has given her entire life to raising, loving, and teaching Daisy and now her father has returned and she stands to lose everything that is dear to her own heart.  
         Esther and Daisy both know the pain and grief of losing a father, but in different ways.  Esther's father died when she was young and Daisy's father abandoned her to run away to fight in the war after losing his wife and newborn baby son during childbirth.   What will happen to Esther and Daisy now that Joe has returned and wants to take over his duties to his daughter?   When a long held secret returns to haunt Esther, how will she handle her own pain and can she offer forgiveness ?   Can Joe overcome the ravages of the war and the nightmares that plague him and drive him to destruction?   Will Daisy ever be able to leave the only family and home she remembers?   What happens when love and sparks fly between Joe and Esther?   Readers, I will warn you that you may need a few tissues for this one.   Elizabeth addresses some major issues in this book including PTSD, forgiveness, abandonment, and deafness.  
          I rated this book 5 stars but I would give it more if that were possible.  I loved it that much and more!    This book had me shedding tears of joy and sadness both.   
          I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Elizabeth Byler Younts

Elizabeth Byler Younts is an Air Force officer's wife and a homeschooling mom with two young daughters, currently living in central Pennsylvania. Elizabeth was Amish as a child and after her parents left the church she still grew up among her Amish family and continues to speak Pennsylvania Dutch. Elizabeth is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Elizabeth's first book SEASONS: A REAL STORY OF AN AMISH GIRL, her Amish grandmother's memoir, was an #1 Amazon Bestseller and winner of a BRAG Medallion. PROMISE TO RETURN, her first novel in the Promise of Sunrise series through Howard Books (Simon & Schuster), is a finalist for a 2014 RITA Award. Through her love for storytelling and her Amish heritage, Elizabeth shares with readers worldwide authentic stories filled with little known Amish history, faith, and romance.

Go to www.elizabethbyleryounts.com to learn more.