Monday, September 28, 2015

5-Star Review of "The Lopsided Christmas Cake"

Review of The Lopsided Christmas Cake

by Wanda & Jean Brunstetter

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Join the Hochstetler twin sisters on stage as they bumble their way through baking a cake for a charity auction in front of a live audience. The take-charge Elma and the klutzy optimist Thelma manage to entertain their audience—and attract the admiration of two bachelors, an outspoken woodworker and a shy harness maker from a neighboring Amish community. As fall leads into the Christmas season, could romance be blossoming for one or more of the Hochstetler twins? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

MY REVIEW:  Laughter is good for the soul and this book is filled with humor!   Elma and Thelma have quite an amusing presentation at the Cooking Show to Benefit Amish Medical Bills but that doesn't stop Joseph and Delbert and a mystery man from bidding on the lopsided Christmas cake.   The cake gets the highest bid of any item of the day in fact!   The bachelors, Joseph and Delbert, want to get to know the cute identical twins.   The antics of the couples as they court are at times amusing and sometimes, the relationship issues made me sad.   I won't spoil things for readers as to why but I loved this book and had to keep reading until the very end without stopping!   This book really captured my attention from the very beginning.   I admire the twins and the determination they show as they take over the store and home their grandparents left to them.    I am not sure that I would have handled myself with the courage that Elma and Thelma showed.   
        I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it.   The recipe for Grandma's Special Christmas Cake is included as well.  
       I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchage for my honest review.   

About the Authors:


A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has sold more than seven million copies of her fiction and nonfiction books. Wanda enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish and continues to visit their communities throughout the country. Her books have won numerous awards and topped several bestselling charts.
Jean Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish when she first went to Pennsylvania to visit her father-in-law's family.  Since that time, Jean has become friends with several Amish families and enjoys writing about their way of life.  She also likes to put some of the simple practices followed by Amish into her daily routine.  Jean lives in Washington State with her husband, Richard Jr. and their three children, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish communities in several states.  In addition to writing, Jean enjoys boating, gardening, and spending time on the beach.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

5-Star Review of "Mystery Rider"

Review of Mystery Rider

(Horses and Friends #3)

by Miralee Ferrell

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In the third installment in the Horses and Friends series, thirteen-year-old Kate Ferris already has one problem. Snooty, well-to-do Melissa is boarding her horse at Kate’s family stable. When Melissa suddenly turns nice, Kate is shocked ... and suspicious.

The last thing she needs is more trouble. So when a hooded rider appears—and then disappears—on a stunning black horse outside her home, Kate isn’t sure if Melissa is playing a trick or something more dangerous is going on. Either way, Kate and her friends will need an extra measure of faith and courage to solve this mystery.

MY REVIEW:   This third installment in the Horses and Friends series is sure to please both young readers and adults.   I think that horse lovers and mystery lovers, in particular, will find much in this one to hold their attention and keep their interest!   Kate and her friends see a "mystery rider" on a beautiful, black horse who only rides at night and with a hood covering the face.   They are determined to solve the mystery of the horse and rider but first they have to find them.   
       Melissa has now joined their little group and since she used to treat Kate badly, Kate does not trust her and wonders why she is being so nice to them now.   Does she want something?  Is the "mystery rider" a trick Melissa and her old rich friends are pulling?  
Read the book to find all these answers and many other surprises.
       I rate this book 5 stars and think other readers will love it as I did.
       I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley 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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

5-Star Review of "We Never Asked for Wings"

Review of We Never Asked for Wings

by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.

For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.

Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

MY REVIEW:  I can not say enough good things about this book and new-to-me author.  This is Vanessa Diffenbaugh's second novel and now I want to find the first novel she wrote and read it as well.   The characters are real and lovable and complex.   I could easily feel the raw emotions of each of the main characters.  I honestly did not have a great deal of knowledge concerning illegal immigrants in the United States and the struggles they must face in an attempt to better the lives of themselves and their families.   Living in meager, cramped spaces and working many jobs while being away from their children is the plight of the immigrants in this book.  
          The author also deals beautifully with youth and the bad choices that are often made in the name of love.  Letty spends her time trying to get ahead and helping her children to have the best opportunities in life after her parents move back to Mexico and force her to finally become a true parent to Alex and Luna.  It is a tough road for the children and Letty, but hope and help may appear in unexpected ways.   
          I rate this book 5 stars and eagerly recommend it to readers of dramatic fiction.  
          I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Vanessa Diffenbaugh

VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After graduating from Stanford University, she worked in the non-profit sector, teaching art and technology to youth in low-income communities. Following the success of her debut novel, The Language of Flowers, she co-founded Camellia Network, a non-profit whose mission is to connect every youth aging out of foster care to the critical resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive in adulthood. She currently lives in Monterey, CA, with her husband and four children.

Follow Vanessa at facebook.com/vanessadiffenbaugh

Follow Vanessa on Twitter @VDiffenbaugh

Follow Vanessa on Instagram @vanessadiffenbaugh

Sunday, September 20, 2015

5-Star Review of "Midnight on the Mississippi"

Review of Midnight on the Mississippi

(Secrets of the South Mysteries #1)

by Mary Ellis

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Midnight on the Mississippi begins the new Secrets of the South Mysteries from bestselling author Mary Ellis. These complex crime dramas follow an investigator's quest to make the world a better place...solving one case at a time.

New Orleans--Hunter Galen, a stock and securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, may be involved in embezzling their clients' money, but he's reluctant to jeopardize their friendship based on suspicion alone. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.

Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker's murder, recover the missing millions from the client accounts, and establish herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen Investments, Hunter's fiancee, Ashley Menard, rubs Nicki the wrong way. Nicki doesn't trust the ostentatious woman with an agenda longer than the Mississippi River. Ashley seems to be hiding something, but is Nicki's growing attraction to Hunter--a suspected murderer--her true reason for disliking Ashley?

As they encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and murder, Nicki and Hunter's only option is to turn to God as they search for answers, elude lethal danger, and perhaps discover love along the way.
 

MY REVIEW:  Warning!  Reading this book will likely make you hungry!   Nicki and Hunter are constantly enjoying New Orleans cuisine and I have not tried any of it and wow, it made me so hungry to try some!!!   Even crayfish and boudin!   But unfortunately, Hunter is in deep trouble and in danger of a life in prison and Nicki is a new private investigator who is determined to prove him innocent.  Meanwhile someone is out to get rid of Nicki permanently!   
         If you love mysteries and romances that just seem like they'll never make it, then this is the book for you to read!   Mary Ellis hooked me from the very beginning and oh, yes, who wouldn't want to attend a birthday bash on a huge private yacht??   I could definitely imagine being a guest in the crowd.    
      I rate this book 5 stars and I am certainly eagerly anticipating the second book in the series.    
      I received a kindle version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   

About the Author:
Mary  Ellis

Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at:www.maryellis.net

Monday, September 14, 2015

5-Star Review of "Brightest & Best"

Review of Brightest and Best (Amish Turns of Time, #3)

by Olivia Newport

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The collapse of a schoolhouse puts pressure on Amish families and their long-held educational values. Ella Hilty anticipates marrying Gideon Wittner and becoming a mother to his children. In a whirling clash of values, Ella seeks the solid ground that seems to have slipped away. Margaret Simpson, an English schoolteacher, wonders if she is losing her last chance at love. As the local authorities draw lines in the sand, Margaret puts romance at risk one final time. All eyes turn to Ella to make a sacrifice and accept a challenge that can bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.

MY REVIEW:  If it isn't bad enough that the Amish have a one-room schoolhouse in desperate need of repair and the schoolteacher is marrying which means that a new teacher must be secured quickly, the entire roof collapses on the Parent Committee as they examine the school to determine what repairs must be made.   I love that the author, Olivia Newport, has researched the struggle the Amish experienced in seeking their religious freedoms in educating their children and used it as a theme for this book in the series.   It reminded me a great deal of my own grandmother, who was born in 1901 and was only allowed to attend school through the eighth grade as only rich children could afford to go to one of the regional boarding high schools in Virginia.   She wanted to go to school so badly that she was allowed to attend the eighth grade twice so that she would not have to quit that year.  Some of the Amish young people in this story have a great desire to learn, even though their parents have plans for them to remain at home after 8th grade to learn the trades of the parents or become homemakers in the case of the young girls.   This book truly took me back in time to another period and certainly a trying one for many, Amish and English.   I worked as a public schoolteacher for 14 years and wonder if students today truly appreciate the opportunities for learning they have in our public schools.   
      I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers of both Amish and historical fiction.
      I received a copy 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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

5-Star Review of "The Gift"

Review of The Gift (Prairie State Friends, Book 2)

by Wanda Brunstetter

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Follow the heart-wrenching story of Adam Beachy, whose mother walked out on him and his family—and away from the Amish faith. Now he balks at the idea of ever marrying and having a family of his own. But when tragedy strikes, Adam is suddenly a father figure to his three nieces and finds himself needing a wife. Despite their differences over her practice of reflexology, Leah Mast seems the best option to fill that role. Can they make it work in a modern-day marriage of convenience?

MY REVIEW:  Leah has a gift from God that she takes great pleasure in using to help others in the community.  But her neighbor who is now her new employer does not approve of it or believe in its effectiveness.   Leah works for Adam as she cares for the three nieces he is now raising alone.   She and Adam become quite close but will the differences from his past create problems for their future?   He is looking for a mother for the three precious nieces and he needs a mother for them now!    The girls have grown attached to Leah.  Will she agree to marry a man without love?    Will love grow between them?    
         The secrets from Adam's past come to haunt them as Leah finds a special patient for her reflexology.    But will this secret come between Adam and Leah?   Or will this newfound secret bring them together?   
         This book is definitely filled with surprises.   I had read book one so it was really wonderful to see the story continue.  The characters are lovable and real.    They could be my own next door neighbors and in fact, I would quite enjoy it if they were my own neighbors.    
         I rated this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   Wanda Brunstetter's followers will be certain to fall in love with this book.    
         I received a print copy of this book from the publisher and a pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:
Wanda E. Brunstetter

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 7 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, CBA, ECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, including Time Magazine and USA Today.

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. For more information, visit: www.WandaBrunstetter.com