Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review of "Huckleberry Spring"

Review of Huckleberry Spring

by Jennifer Beckstrand


Nothing gives Anna and Felty Helmuth greater satisfaction than seeing their grandchildren happily married--except for planning their next matchmaking venture. And as springtime comes to Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, the air is filled with promise. . .
Ever since the Helmuths' grandson, Ben, abruptly broke his engagement and moved to Florida, Emma Nelson has kept busy tending her vegetable garden and raising award-winning pumpkins. She can put her heartache aside to help Ben's Mammi with her own pumpkin patch. At least until Ben shows up to lend support to his ailing Dawdi. . .
Gardening side by side with pretty, nurturing Emma is a sweet kind of torture for Ben. She could have her pick of suitors who can offer what he can't, and he cares too much to burden her with his secret. Leaving once more is the only option. Yet Emma's courage is daring him to accept the grace that flourishes here, and the love that has been calling him back to Huckleberry Hill. . .
MY REVIEW:  I have a big problem with Jennifer Beckstrand.  She caused me to experience a terrible case of insomnia last night because I started reading her book and simply could not put my kindle away and sleep!  I had to finish the book to find out what happened to Emma and Ben!  This book captured me from the very beginning and held my attention til the very last word.  I then read the excerpt of the next book in the series and am already eager for it to be released.   
      I most definitely rate this book 5 stars and I would give more stars if I were allowed to do so.   This book reminded me of some struggles several dear family members have endured and it really touched my heart.   I have never read another work of Amish fiction that dealt with this particular issue and I will not reveal what it is as it would be a huge spoiler for other readers.  This book is about true love and grace and compassion.
     I received a free kindle  version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author:
Jennifer Beckstrand
From's bio of 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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review of "Meek and Mild"

Review of Meek and Mild

by Olivia Newport


The leadership in an Old Order Amish community requires shunning friends and family whose only offense is to embrace the new Protestant practice of Sunday school among the Mennonites, but teaching Bible stories to children is one of Clara Kuhns’ great joys. Clara’s on the verge of saying yes to Andrew Raber’s marriage proposal, but now he is flagrantly refusing to submit to the bishop’s authority by owning a car. When the lot falls to Moses Beachy to become the new bishop, the community waits for him to take bold steps toward change. Clara and Andrew step together into a more progressive Amish faith as the Beachy Amish take form.

MY REVIEW:   Clara Kuhn loves Andrew Raber but a very real and very important fear is keeping her from saying "yes" to his proposal of marriage.   Clara has grown up without a mother, and did not gain her stepmother until she was around 9 years old.  She had felt close to her stepmother in the past, but for some unexplained reason, that is changing.  Clara feels abandoned, hurt and betrayed.    Who can she talk to about her unnamed fear?   Will she be able to pray and seek God's wisdom and direction?  She is even having a difficult time with prayer at the moment.   
        We all know that the Amish shun members of the Amish church if they break the Ordnung.  Imagine having to shun members of your deceased mother's family?   Can she do it?  Will she shun her aunt and cousin who have been like a mother and sister to her all her life?   Andrew, the man she loves, has an English car and could be shunned by the church for ownership of a worldly automobile.    What would that mean to their relationship?  Can she bear the possibility of one more loved one being shunned?   
        I felt deep emotions as I read this book.   I can not imagine having to shun my family.   I admire many things about the Amish, but shunning is one practice that I do not agree with.  It does not seem to show unconditional love to me.   I do not think it is biblical.  It seems to be highly legalistic.   I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport's novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. She chases joy in Colorado, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Her husband and two twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review of "Deadly Echoes"

Review of Deadly Echoes

by Nancy Mehl


After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last.  She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.  
       Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.  
       As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder.  Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong.  Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

MY REVIEW:  Mysteries are one of my favorite genres to read and I pride myself on being pretty good at figuring out "who done it", but not this time!   I had a few suspicions but never completely figured it out.   I started reading and couldn't wait to get back to the book each time I had to quit for a bit to attend to details of life.   This book will leave you on the very edge of your seat!   
        I fell in love with the characters of the little town of Sanctuary in the first book in the Finding Sanctuary series and it was such fun to get to spend time with some of those characters in this book.   Faith plays an important role in the Old Order Mennonite town and I felt that the aspects of faith included in the book were very well done and added to the story.  
       I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.
       I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl lives in Missouri with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. First published in 2001, she has now authored nine books, including an omnibus mystery collection, Cozy in Kansas, which contains three of her previously published Ivy Towers mysteries. Book three in the series, For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Mystery Book of the Year award. Nancys main writing interests lie in mystery although her new Harmony Series leans more toward the romantic suspense genre. Nancy runs a HUD program for the city of Wichita and is president of a volunteer organization, Wichita Homebound Outreach. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Kansas Authors Club. You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review of "A Woodland Miracle"

Review of A Woodland Miracle

by Ruth Reid

A Woodland Miracle (The Amish Wonders Series)

For a disadvantaged young woman and a displaced young man, alasting love is going to take more than chance—it’s going to take a miracle.
Muscle weakness has left Grace Wagler with a broken body—and her childhood best friend has left her with a broken heart. She can hold her own in the timber camp (and do everything else the other women in Badger Creek can do),but in an Amish district where women outnumber men three to one, marriage is an unlikely prospect for a girl with bad legs.
Ben Eicher just arrived in Michigan from Pinecraft, Florida. When his most recent shenanigans proved too much for his daed’s patience, Ben was sent to the Upper Peninsula to work in the lumber camp—and he’s neither proud of his behavior nor thrilled about his new home.
But when Ben meets Grace, the struggling young woman quickly piques his curiosity.Of course, the last thing Grace wants is another friendship with a man who pities her. Tired of physical pain and romantic dead ends, Grace is ready to leave Badger Creek for the muscle specialist in Ohio, even if it contradicts her father’s wishes . . . and Ben’s.
Meanwhile, two dangerous men have found their way into the district. It isn’t long before their unsavory plans ensnare Grace and Ben in a chase that will not only endanger their lives . . . but test their love.
MY REVIEW:   Can you imagine having a body that betrays you with muscle weakness and one leg shorter than the other? and living in a rugged timber camp among the Amish?  Hard work is part of every day life for the Amish but things are bound to be more difficult for Grace Wagler.  Her mother had the same problem and it turned out to be muscular dystrophy.   Grace wants to go to Ohio to see the specialist to determine if she also has muscular dystrophy but her father does not want her to go.   Her childhood sweetheart has broken her heart by telling her that he plans to marry another girl, Becky, when he returns from the timber camp.   
 But Ben's arrival from Florida has shaken the entire community up a bit.  Sparks have been flying between Grace and Ben since they first spied each other at the bus station the day Ben arrived.   They begin to care a great deal about each other but can Grace overcome her fears about her physical condition to let Ben in to love her?  They may not get the chance to find out at all when two dangerous mental patients who escaped a local hospital are found to be wandering through their timber camp.  Danger is the word of the day.  Read this book to find out what happens and how God can use miracles even today to help  His children.    You definitely will want to experience A WOODLAND MIRACLE along with Ben and Grace!   5 stars for this compelling book and high recommendations!   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  
About the Author:
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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review of "Courting Emily"

Review of Courting Emily

Wells Landing, Book #2

by Amy Lillard


Return to Wells Landing, the close-knit Amish community in Oklahoma, where a hopeful young woman struggles to find true love while staying true to her faith. . .

Emily Ebersol is the bishop's daughter, and everyone--including Emily--assumes she'll marry a faithful Amish man and live out her days within the community. But her childhood sweetheart, Luke Lambright, fell in love with racing cars during his rumspringa and decided to leave Wells Landing. Emily prays for his return, but as the months go by, she begins spending time with another young man--a man who may not be as exciting as Luke, but perhaps he's exactly what she needs. . .

Elam Rhiel knows that Emily has always been in love with Luke--but he is certain he could be the loyal, steady husband Emily deserves. Then, just as Emily begins to fall for him, Luke returns and complicates her feelings. Now, they all must learn that the greatest love requires the greatest sacrifice. . .

MY REVIEW:  Can you imagine being Amish but loving an Amish man who wants nothing more than to race cars?  in the Englisch world?  Can you imagine having loved a boy since you were both little and now having to plan to give him up?  We think we have it hard in the Englisch world and yet, these problems seem to be very very worrisome.   Luke and Emily are faced with this difficult situation even though they both care very much for each other, will it ever work out?   And to top it all off, Emily's father is the Amish bishop!  
       While Luke is away racing cars and learning to love the Englisch world, Emily befriends Elam Rhiel's entire family and helps the family out of a tough medical situation with Elam's father.   She falls in love with Elam's father and the whole family in the process, and will she fall in love with Elam as well?   Will they be able to make a relationship where Emily can remain among the Amish she dearly loves?  or will Luke come back to stay and change everything?  I loved this book and have to admit that I fell in love with the entire Rhiel family as well.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

About the Author:
Amy Lillard
from goodreads' author bio:
I'm a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

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

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

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

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

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I'll get to it or I won't, either way I'm good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I'm alone on this last one, and again, I'm good with it.)

Favorite movies--(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940's movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven't seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn's and Audrey's.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review of "The Advent Bride"

Review of The Advent Bride

by Mary Connealy


New--The 12 Brides of Christmas! You're invited to a Christmas wedding...that is twelve of them! Discover the joy of an old-fashioned Christmas romance with these twelve heart-warming stories. Brand-new stories from renowned inspirational fiction authors that take you into the heartland of historical America will releas each week starting October 6. 

#1:The Advent Bride
Melanie Douglas attempts to connect with a troubled student using an advent box with hidden rewards. When Henry O’Keeffe sees a remarkable change in his son, he has to meet the new teacher. Will more than one prayer be answered in the small Nebraska town?

Don't be late! Watch for all 12 stories:
October 6 - #1: The Advent Bride
October 13 - #2: The Nutcraker Bride
October 20 - #3: The Evergreen Bride
October 27 - #4: The Gift-Wrapped Bride
November 3 - #5: The Yuletide Bride
November 10 - #6: The Gingerbread Bride
November 17 - #7: The Nativity Bride
November 24 - #8: The Christmas Tree Bride
December 1 - #9: The Festive Bride
December 8 - #10: The Christmas Star Bride
December 15 - #11: The Snowbound Bride
December 22 - #12: The Fruitcake Bride

...have yourself a Cozy Little Christmas

MY REVIEW:  Imagine teaching in 1875 in a one-room school house in Nebraska in the miserably cold winter and having one very unruly student who attempts to keep everyone in the school from learning.   Teaching is hard enough under the best of circumstances.  I speak from experience, having taught for fourteen years in public school.   Melanie Douglas has a tough living situation in the home of a cranky, rude elderly wealthy lady and then comes to the school to deal with a student who is more than cranky.  Add to that a father who leaves him at the school late in the afternoons and Melanie has a real dilemma.   She finds a box with secrets of its own and it may just be the key to solving both problem of father and son.   Will Melanie and Simon's father work together to correct Simon's behavior?   Will both father and son learn new life lessons from the new school teacher?   
I know that as a modern-day teacher, I did not have to arrive early to heat up the school.  I did not have to rely on a cranky woman to allow me to take small bits of food for my lunch.   I did not have an unpleasant living situation to go home to each night after a day of struggling to manage a serious behavior problem in the classroom.   I felt that Melanie handled the situation admirably.  I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   
I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  

About the Author:
Mary Connealy

Bio taken from  
I wrote my first book when I was about twelve. A romance novel. I shudder to think what a twelve year old could know about romance. I have no idea what happened to the manuscript. I suppose my mother found it, and burned it while screaming in horror, but I’ve always been afraid to ask. Was it a hundred pages? Two? I have no idea, but I seem to remember just writing FOREVER! So I’m guessing two pages long at least.

As a new bride I marched straight out of journalism school and into the kitchen, I did a lot of scribbling. I still have those heartbreaking works of staggering genius, Ode to Roast Beef, things like that, all born out of the ‘Write What You Know’ school of literature.

I began writing more seriously when my baby went to kindergarten. Not writing well of course, but just putting words on paper. No one does anything well the first time. I’m sure Babe Ruth missed the first ball pitched to him. I’m sure Picasso smeared pages with paint-y fingers when he was a kid—as I remember he went back to that later in life. I’m sure Beethoven played the eighteenth century version of Chopsticks before went for the sonatas.

My writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubbornness. I just kept typing away. I think the reason I did it was because I’m more or less a dunce around people—prone to sit silently when I really ought to speak up(or far worse, speak up when I ought to sit silently).

So, I have all these things, I want to say, in my head; the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, which you think of an hour after you’ve left the store, the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn’t occur to you until they solve their problems themselves, the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don’t say because you’re not an idiot. I keep all this wit to myself, much to the relief of all who know me, and then I write all my great ideas into books. It’s therapeutic if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

So then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, “Hey, we’ll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session.” That’s as sweet as it gets.

My journey to publication is the same as everyone’s except for a few geniuses out there who make it hard for all of us. And even they probably have an Ode to Roast Beef or two in their past.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review of "Love Finds You in Last Chance, California"

Review of Love Finds You in Last Chance, California

by Miralee Ferrell


It s 1877 and Alexia Travers is alone in the world. Her father has died unexpectedly, leaving her burdened with a heavily mortgaged horse ranch. Marrying one of the towns all-too-willing bachelors would offer an easy solution, but Alex has no interest in marriage. Instead, she dons men's trousers and rides the range, determined to make the ranch a success on her own. But despite Alex's best efforts, everything seems to go wrong: ranch hands quit, horses are stolen, and her father's gold goes missing. Alex is at her wits' end when wrangler Justin Phillips arrives in Last Chance with his young son, looking for a job. But there seems to be more to Justin's story than he's willing to share. Will Alex ever be able to trust him? More importantly, will the independent woman finally learn to depend on God? 

MY REVIEW:   I've never been to California so reading about Last Chance, California was  quite a treat for me.   I could imagine being there with the beautiful horse ranch spread far and wide before me.   Alex embodies the true Christian spirit in her character and I know that I could learn some lessons from her character.   This is a delightful pleasant read that involves some mystery as well as romance.    I love books that combine the two....mystery and romance go together well in my opinion.   I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers. 
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Miralee Ferrell

Miralee Ferrell and her husband, Allen, live on eleven acres in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge in southern Washington State, where they love to garden, play with their dogs, take walks, and go sailing. She is also able to combine two other passions—horseback riding and spending time with her grown children—since her married daughter lives nearby, and they often ride together on the wooded trails near their home. 

Ironically, Miralee, now the author of eight books, with many more on the way, never had a burning desire to write—at least more than her own memoirs for her children. So she was shocked when God called her to start writing after she turned fifty. To Miralee, writing is a ministry that she hopes will impact hearts, and she anticipates how God will use each of her books to bless and change lives.