Thursday, May 21, 2015

5-Star Review of "As Waters Gone By"

Review of As Waters Gone By

by Cynthia Ruchti

22945111

Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again. Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Cafe, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders if she's ready for Max's release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?

MY REVIEW:  Cynthia Ruchti has written a beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances.  Marriage is difficult enough under perfect circumstances, but for one's spouse to be in prison for five years while trying to repair the remants of a relationship is even more trying.  This story is a gripping tale.   It had me crying along with the characters.   Emmalyn wants a child desperately but now her chances seem to be dying.  God blessed me with the privilege of giving birth to and mothering three beautiful daughters so I can definitely imagine Emmalyn's heartache at never having the chance to be a mother.  Children are a blessing from God, and Emmalyn feels she is being robbed of that blessing due to Max being imprisoned while her biological clock sounds its ugly alarm.   
Readers will find this book of second chances and forgiveness completely captivating.  I certainly did not want to rest until I had read "the end".  Read this heart wrenching story which also highlights love and redemption.   Some Christian authors seem to add scriptures and prayers just to make the book seem Christian in nature.  Cynthia Ruchti writes it into every fiber of her characters' being.   
I rate this book 5 stars and would highly recommend it to fans of Christian fiction.
I received a free ecopy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Cynthia Ruchti

Taking multi-tasking to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of recent releases "All My Belongings" (novel), "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (novel), and "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices" (nonfiction). She makes potato corn chowder for her husband of 42 years, loves on her three kids and five grandchildren, recently retired from 33 years of writing and producing a daily radio broadcast called THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HOME, is past president of the 2,700-member American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves as ACFW's Professional Relations Liaison, all while working on more book projects in addition to the eight already on the shelves. The year 2010 saw the release of her debut novel--"They Almost Always Come Home" by Abingdon Press (a Carol Award finalist)--and a Christmas collection novella, "The Heart's Harbor" in A Door County Christmas, a Family Fiction Reader's Choice, by Barbour Publishing. "His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not," released Nov 1, 2011. Another novella collection--"Cedar Creek Seasons" (Barbour) released in spring of 2012. "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (April 2013) was followed by "All My Belongings" (2014, also from Abingdon Press). Her books have recently been honored with two Selah Awards, two Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and awards from CAN Golden Scrolls and AWSA Golden Scrolls. She tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through writing and speaking, but she gave up knitting, counted cross-stitch, sewing her own clothes, naps, and dusting baseboards a long time ago. You can find her at www.cynthiaruchti.com, at www.facebook.com/cynthiaruchtireaderpage, or in the kitchen, brewing herself another cup of tea.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

5-Star Review of "A Simple Prayer"

Review of A Simple Prayer

Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, book #4

by Amy Clipston


22536123

Life has taken much from Linda Zook. Now she dares to hope for a chance at love and a new beginning.

Linda Zook, 32, works part-time at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. As the sole survivor of a buggy accident that left her orphaned at age four, she was raised by her unwilling Uncle Reuben. Linda longs to be worthy of someone, but the life-long effects of her injuries and her upbringing under the care of her embittered uncle have destroyed her self-worth.

Aaron Ebersol, 32, left the Amish community 17 years ago when he could no longer bear the restrictions or the constant tension with his father. He'd written too many unanswered letters to his mother and found himself incapable of putting down any roots in his new home in Missouri. Success in work could not replace the family that denied Aaron, even after all of these years.

Aaron hastily returns to the Amish community of Paradise, PA, after receiving word of his mother s stroke. Hesitant to get too close to the family he was once a part of, he decides to stay at the Heart of Paradise Bed & Breakfast. He soon encounters Linda, working there part-time, and they begin to develop a friendship.

Aaron's return allows him to reconnect with his family as he jumps into home improvement projects, hoping to make his parents house more accessible to his handicapped mother. But before long, he is enraged to learn that his brother, Solomon, had hidden all of Aaron's letters to their mother.

Linda and Aaron must each learn to forgive the family members who have deceived and forsaken them. And Aaron must also show Linda that she is worthy of his love.

MY REVIEW:  I have been following the characters of the Lancaster Grand Hotel from book one and feel like the characters are family now.   As with any family, there are growing pains and issues.   This family is no exception.  Aaron returns home to see his mamm after her stroke and his brother Solomon does not exactly roll out the red carpet or kill the fatted calf.   This story reminds me of the story of the prodigal son in the Bible.   Aaron's parents, other family members and friends are thrilled to have him home but not Solomon.   Solomon has practiced some deception of his own as well.  
Readers will enjoy seeing how Aaron fits back into the Amish community he grew up in and will be most anxious to see how his new found relationship with Linda develops.  Many readers will be able to relate to family difficulties of all sorts.   Whether readers have the same issues or different ones, the pain is real.  Amy manages to make her characters come to life and seem like real family members or friends.   So get ready to have a great adventure with the workers of the Lancaster Grand Hotel as you read book four of the series.  While this is a series, I believe that readers would be able to read the book as a stand-alone.  Reading all of the books in the series will add depth to the characters and their lives however.   
I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.  
I received a free ebook copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.   

About the Author:

Amy Clipston

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing "career" began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series with Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. An advocate for organ and blood donation, Amy donated a kidney in 2011 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through her donation, her husband received a second kidney transplant. Amy and her husband matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. Amy's memoir, A Gift of Love, will be available in early 2014. She hopes her story inspires others to become organ and blood donors. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats. You can find her on the web at www.AmyClipston.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks.

Monday, May 4, 2015

5-Star Review of "Finding Me"

Review of Finding Me

by Kathryn Cushman

22504485

A Contemporary Drama of Family Lies and Forgotten Loves
After her father and stepmother's accidental death, Kelli Huddleston sorts through their belongings and learns a shocking secret. Years before, her father faked his death during a boat wreck at sea--and faked Kelli's as well. He'd run from a wife, a son, and a daughter back in Tennessee, meaning Kelli has a family she's never known. 
She's already cashed the payout on her dad's life insurance check and looks at it as her ticket to a new life. The lure and puzzle of digging into this hidden past is too much to resist, and she soon finds herself in Tennessee. When the trip threatens to open doors to the past better left shut, and her plans for the future are threatened, Kelli must make an agonizing choice that will change her life forever.

MY REVIEW:   This novel had me wondering what it would feel like to find out that one's entire life was one big huge lie!  I felt like I truly knew the characters in this story.  Kelli, Beth, Shane, Allison, and Kenmore felt as though they might actually be my own sister, mother, and friend.  Maybe I am the only one who has contemplated running away and disappearing before, but I have fantasized about it and David (Kelli's father) carried through with his plans!   Wow!   what a incredibly moving and exciting story this is!   I had to stop reading several times to go to church, to visit with family, and I could hardly wait to get back to my kindle to continue reading.   I was mesmerized!   
I rate this book 5 stars and wish I could assign it 10 stars!   
I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Kathryn Cushman

Author Kathryn "Katie" Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. 

She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction. 

She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh. 

Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California. 

Visit her Web site at www.kathryncushman.com

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5-Star Review of "For I Know The Plans"

Review of For I Know the Plans

by Dawn Ridley


When Ava's grandmother passed away, leaving her all alone, she had to learn to be independent fast. She has to work hard to get through college and she has a plan—a plan that doesn't include dating. When Blake's teasing kisses take away Ava's ability to remember that plan, he quickly adds steps to her life itinerary she had never even considered. Things change altogether too soon— and Ava finds out she is pregnant. Being a quick thinker, Blake has never had problems making decisions. So once he had decided he loved Ava, all he had to do was convince her that they were a match made in Heaven. But did Heaven have anything to do with it? Could God use their relationship in a special way? A verse that Ava's Granny had lovingly given her as a child keeps reminding her that God has a plan for her. With indisputable evidence that Blake has cheated on her, Ava's new faith is shaken. Will Ava learn to trust God, whatever the outcome? Blake does everything in his power to prove his love for Ava, but will he give up when the evidence is stacked against him? Pictures don’t lie. Could they tell a different story?

MY REVIEW:   Dawn Ridley grabbed my attention at the very first page!   I was greeted by the image of a lovely young pregnant wife who is deeply, madly, hopelessly in love with her husband as she retrieves pictures from her mailbox of him with another woman!   I read through the night and missed my sleep because I simply HAD to know what would happen with Ava and Blake.  He was the perfect husband and I truly could not imagine the character doing such a deceitful thing to his beautiful bride. This debut novel has peaked my interest and I will definitely be looking for more novels by Dawn Ridley!   
I rate this book 5 stars and I am happy to be able to recommend it to readers of Christian romance.
I received a digital copy of this book from Lazy Day Publications in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author:

An image posted by the author.
From Amazon Author's Page:  
 I love Bible Study, magazines, crafts, games and BBQ's. I love to read romance novels and I have way too many favorite books to list. I make my own laundry soap and biscuit mix. I cut my Children and husbands hair. I love canning, sewing, and decorating. I love to cook and love to feed people. I love to plan and put together brunches or luncheons.
I love to make coffee and sit down with friends to visit for hours. I am the mediator, the people pleaser, the organizer, the leader, the adventurous one, the one everyone is always laughing at, the one who will be at every function, always there if you need a shoulder or a pick me up, the set up and clean up committee. Fill in the blanks....

With everything else under the sun: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, mentor, chef, taxi, secretary, laundress, seamstress, maid-service, nurse, instructor of personal health and hygiene (bottom wiper), nutrition advisor, event planner, product sampler (play-DOH cookies), professional shopper, movie and book critique, gift-bag finder, band-aid pro-curer, and I believe the song goes, "Keeper of the Cheerios..."

When I find time, I like to write. :)
What else can I say?

I have always loved to read, but at times I also like to rewrite books in my head. I love to discuss them. My husband and all of my friends love to read, so it's not surprising that a lot of conversations around me revolve around books. Movies, those too. I love to change the endings. I always want to talk about the character arcs, and the sub plots and scenes that make or break them.

So, my mom likes to tell people I taught myself to read. It was before I went to kindergarten. You know how our kids have us read the same book over and over and over again until they can repeat it word for word, well, you got it! That's what I did too, but that isn't all. After I memorized the words, I slowly matched them with the ones on the page, lined them up and sounded them out. Then I matched them to other words in other books, until I figured out what they said and showed it to my mom. 

Of course, she labeled me a genius. And I know I excelled at many things because of her love and praise. (Thank you, Mom.) 

I do believe a love for books and learning is hereditary since my grandmother, mother, and uncles all have the same passion. 

Following my husband and I and our family's examples, our children now love to read as well. There isn't much that gives me more joy than to see my children hanging around reading a book on their own.

We have four beautiful, bright, thoughtful, (and did I remember to say miniature terrorists) children, whom we homeschool. (Did you just clear your throat?) 

I believe the Lord gives each of us gifts to use for His glory and I pray that I will use my gift of gab only in ways that would please Him. I have wanted to write for a long time and actually started when my oldest was a baby, but the timing was wrong. Now, I know it's in God's time. 

While I hope that my books are entertaining, I pray that they will be encouraging and show my readers that Christians have life battles too. They are not perfect, just forgiven. I hope that my characters will always show spiritual growth and a relationship with Jesus that will minister to others, and encourage them to work through their own struggles in a God-honoring way. 

I hope that this introduction shows a little bit of me, and that I always strive to live up to the standards Jesus set for us.