September 15th, 2014

child of mine

Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his eight-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents’ lives. When he travels, Natalie is tenderly cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own.

Eight excruciating years ago, Kelly Maines’s baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignites a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile.

Can this be, at long last, Kelly’s beloved daughter?

My Comments: I enjoyed this book so much! It veered from Beverly Lewis’ usual Amish fiction, but there was still an Amish major character! The story had so many twists and turns which kept me quite engaged throughout. I don’t want to say too much about the story, except to say that it was well worth the read. It included mystery, romance, and tragedy. This book was a little longer than my preferred reading length, but well, well worth the time I invested in it. The characters were interesting and flawed. Beverly Lewis is one of my favorite authors, but writing with her husband added depth. Christianity is portrayed throughout as well.

I received a free review e-copy from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review which I have given with joy.

September 1st, 2014

when we were on fire

In the strange, us-versus-them Christian subculture of the 1990s, a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye.Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware that the flame was dwindling—until it burned out.

Addie chronicles her journey through church culture and first love, and her entrance—unprepared and angry—into marriage. When she drops out of church and very nearly her marriage as well, it is on a sea of tequila and depression. She isn’t sure if she’ll ever go back.

When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from what is expected to arrive at faith that is not bound by tradition or current church fashion. Addie looks for what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping. It’s a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.

My Comments: I can’t really relate to this book. The author grew up in the 90s and I was long grown by then with three kids. My kids can relate to this book possibly. I think if you grew up in the Christian culture of the 90s, you might get something out of this book. I’m not sure about the whole being hurt by the church and Christians thing although I once went to a counselor who dealt solely in that issue, so it must exist. Nevertheless I believe the author had some valid struggles. Thankfully she found a great husband who stayed with her throughout and still remains with her. The book ended and I still didn’t know where the author was with her faith journey. Maybe our expectations are too high and too unrealistic.
This book made me think and that is always good. I mentally went back over my own faith journey which is full of ups and downs. I don’t think life is meant to be without struggles and doubt. However, it is always about choices we make – how do we choose to live, what do we choose to believe, etc. We can make the choice to feel a certain way (I know easier said than done). There are some good questions at the end. This would be a thought-provoking study to do with friends. Every generation wrestles with these issues in one way or another. If you are looking for something to read to get you thinking about your own faith journey, this might be the book.
I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.


August 30th, 2014

About the book:angels walking

When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom. Across the country, Tyler’s one true love Sami Dawson has moved on.

A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer’s who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks.

A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step.

It is time for the mission to begin…

http://youtu.be/h-PyPGV2PMw

My Comments: Karen Kingsbury has done it again! After the Baxter series I didn’t think a series of books could be better, but this one is just as good if not even better. Normal, struggling people involved in living life to the fullest despite huge problems. Sometimes Kingsbury is a little too sentimental for me and this book has some of that, but not everything turned out happily every after in the traditional sense. We see God definitely working in lives and I love that as well. People have choices and Tyler Ames displays both bad and great choices in his life, with the consequences shown for each.

Even though I don’t really like angel books, the difference in this story is that even though they are an integral part of the story, they are not the main characters. I’m sure they will continue for continuity as the series goes on, but as long as they are not the main characters, I will definitely continue reading this series. I loved this book! I wept, I laughed, and I could relate to the characters! Thank you Karen Kingsbury for great thought-provoking entertainment!

I received a free review copy of this book from Howard books in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

August 24th, 2014

 

Four Weddings and a Kiss

Four best-­selling romance novelists bring tales of feisty heroines, stubborn heroes, and unlikely
love in the Wild West. Get lost in Four Weddings & a Kiss today.

“Spitfire Sweetheart” by Mary Connealy
Maizy MacGregor is an unruly tomboy. When she causes an accident, injuring neighbor Rylan Carstens, she becomes his unlikely caregiver. Rylan has never noticed how pretty his infuriating neighbor is, and he never expected to fall in love.
“Love Letter to the Editor” by Robin Lee Hatcher
Molly Everton is the outspoken daughter of the town newspaper’s owner. When her father brings in an outsider to be editor, she tries to drive him out of town. But Jack Ludgrove is not intimidated. He’s resolved to change Molly’s mind about him–as an editor and as a man.
“A Cowboy for Katie” by Debra Clopton
Katie Pearl is uninterested in men and love. But she needs help on her ranch and hires Treb Rayburn, a wandering cowboy looking to make a buck. Will Treb change Katie’s mind?
“Courting Trouble” by Margaret Brownley
Grace Davenport is either the unluckiest woman alive–or a killer. When her third husband is found dead, Grace is arrested. Attorney Brock Daniels isn’t interested in the case–until he meets Grace. Only a miracle will prove her innocence, but the joining of two lonely hearts may be their saving grace.

My Comments: What a fun read – full of romance between such unlikely characters! I like reading about strong women and men who can handle them! This is a great book for picking up and reading a story in a day or two, or even maybe a couple of hours.  I would have loved to have this book while traveling – one story would last for one plane ride.

The stories are not too terribly detailed or developed, but enough to keep the reader engaged. Each story averages about 100 pages. I think this book would make for good fall reading! The characters are not of traditional age – they are somewhat older. The stories are well written and each story is independent meaning they don’t intersect characters, settings, or events.

I have read three of the authors books before, the only one I hadn’t read was Debra  Clopton.  My favorite writer in this group is Robin Lee Hatcher, but I enjoyed all, and will look for more writing by each of them.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for my review copy in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

 

 

August 23rd, 2014

mercy like sunlight

About the book:

Who Will Set Her Free from the Darkness Inside?

Mary Margaret Delaney hides in the shadows, her arms scarred, her heart wounded by grief and weighed down with regret. Adrift on the streets of Chicago, she is surrounded by strangers and hounded by demons, both real and imagined. Her neighbors in Lincoln Park call her Mad Mary—until a fearless young pastor dares to call Mary his friend.

Inspired by the biblical account of Mary Magdalene, this touching contemporary story first appeared in Liz’s nonfiction book, Mad Mary,later titled Unveiling Mary Magdalene. Now updated as a stand-alone novella, Mercy Like Sunlight is a powerful tribute to God’s boundless compassion and unending grace.

My Comments: I usually do not like biblical fiction, but this book is an exception. It kept me riveted. I have been in churches like Pastor Jake’s church – with both self-righteous people and extremely needy people. This is life. I also love Pastor Jake’s mom. They call her Mad Mary – how incredibly hurtful! Jake shows her Jesus and His grace. It touched someplace deep within me, as it seemed to for Mary. Jake changed her name from Mad Mary to Mary Margaret. I will now look for more books like this – a quick read based on the Bible and powerful.

August 10th, 2014

rival hearts

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter’s Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he-said, she-said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

My Comments: If you enjoy sweet, quick-read romances this book is for you. I enjoyed the rivalry and the stretching the characters went through. What a concept – pitting two employees against each other in totally uncomfortable and stretching situations. I like the way families are strengthened and characters grow. I enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed all in this Quilts of Love Series. Keep them coming!

Thanks NetGalley for providing this book for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

August 6th, 2014

Herb of Grace Blog Tour_graphic
                                                                                    About the book: 

Amish widow Sarah Yoder has been struggling to raise her two teenaged sons and provide a home where family and members of her Old Order Amish church can find fellowship and friendship. Though she is close to her in-laws, lately it feels like her relationship with her boys is splintering. Her stepson Simon wants to move out west with his cousins to find work. And her youngest, Caleb, is spending far too much time over at the tumbledown home of a man who left the church long ago. Henry Byler only returned recently to Willow Creek when he inherited the family farm–under protest–and now seems caught in a struggle between the faith of his childhood and the world he’s come to know.Ruth Lehman, the local Dokterfraa, believes Sarah should use her gift for growing plants to become an herbal healer, too. Sarah is reluctant, however, uncertain if caring for others will take her away from her family–the place where she believes God wants her. But when she feels called to help members of her community, she soon discovers that the heart can be scarred as deeply as the body. As she compiles her herbs, she waits for God to do his healing work in a man who rues a harsh decision, in a lonely prodigal who has lost everything, and maybe even in a herbalist-in-training who firmly believes she will never love again.
My Comments:  I found this book different yet engaging. I have a real interest in herbs as healing agents and found this part of the story line interesting. Sarah Yoder, the main character, is a single mom  raising two boys – one, Simon, is her stepson and the other, Caleb,  her biological son. Her husband, Caleb’s dad, died of cancer, and Sarah is struggling to make ends meet. This is felt by her two boys who want to be involved.
Caleb in particular takes an interest in Henry, a prodigal. Henry recently returned to the Amish community after at least 20 years away because he inherited a house from his aunt. Henry’s Aunt Sadie left Henry her home in the hopes that he would return both to the community and to his Amish roots. Caleb is relentless in his pursuit of employment of any kind from Henry which also results in an interesting relationship between the two.
I like the cover of this book because instead of a photograph, it is a painting. The colors are very earthy and herb-like. If you like stories with depth, you will enjoy this book. It is not necessarily the “typical” Amish fiction book. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Adina Senft-bio-photo-thumb
Adina Senft


Thank you to FaithWords publishing for a free review copy of Herb of Grace in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

August 4th, 2014

Crossroads

Emma decided long ago that she was going to marry Isaac Stoltzfus. Since she was ten, she’d dreamt of being Isaac’s wife, of fixing up a small farmhouse, of raisingboppli together. But now, Isaac’sRumschpringe has introduced him to new ways—and much to Emma’s dismay, Isaac seems to be enjoying them.

Is the man Emma now sees in Isaac the same man she fell in love with all those years ago? He seems more like a stranger who wears jeans and a short haircut and listens to rock music. He has moved out of his parents home, gotten a job, and worse, wants Emma to join him in the Englisch world. How can she possibly leave behind her family, friends, church—and all the dreams she once had for her future with Isaac? But if she loves him, how can she not? Emma is at a crossroads. And her decision will change her life forever.

My Comments: First of all, I LOVE the cover! It invited me to want to read this book. Second, I like Barbara Cameron’s books and I have read most of them – another reason to choose this book. I would say for the most part this is a slice of life Amish fiction novel. The characters are likable, having the same questions and doubts we do, and most importantly they have the capacity and ability to grow and change. There are no huge issues visited, but many smaller ones that we Englisch can certainly relate to. It was kind of nice to read a slice of life with normal and understandable problems. One thing that surprised me was that the use of a cell phone seemed normal to this group of Amish. I am always surprised at how different groups view modern conveniences, and how different bishops respond. This was a great summer read!

I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

August 1st, 2014

 

Amish Garden

 About the Book:

“Where Healing Blooms” Vannetta Chapman

Emma discovers a run-away teen in her barn, and the bishop asks her to provide a haven for a woman and her two children. Then her mother-in-law reveals a secret about her garden. Will Emma choose loneliness or learn to accept God’s gifts?

“Flowers for Rachael” Kathleen Fuller

Rachael’s garden is beautiful, but she is lonely. Gideon is in love with Rachael, but when Rachael finds her garden in shambles after a crisis, she rejects his help. Will she realize she doesn’t have to do everything on her own?

“Seeds of Love” Tricia Goyer

When a corporation shows interest in buying Sadie’s heirloom seeds, she panics. They are all she has left of her Dat and Mem. Eli believes he can help Sadie, but a misunderstanding leaves her heartbroken. Will she trust him again, and will the seeds of a new relationship take root?

“Rooted in Love” Beth Wiseman

Rosemary is doing her best to run her family’s household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul has been interested in her for years, but Rosemary has turned him down repeatedly. Saul begins helping with her family’s garden, but someone is sabotaging his efforts—and keeping a secret that could change their lives.

My Comments: Engaging, short stories all with a gardening theme.  Although I’m not really a gardener, there is something homesy and cozy about reading about people who enjoy it. The stories do not really intersect with each other, the communities differ, but all are sweet and typically Amish. The romances caught my interest, and the characters are likable.  The stories are all a little over 100 pages.

Thank you NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

 

July 27th, 2014

critical condition

Dr. Frasier couldn’t save the gunshot victim on her front lawn. Now she’s fighting for her own life.

It began as a quiet dinner party honoring Dr. Shannon Frasier’s colleague, but became a nightmare when a man was shot on her lawn, reviving emotions from a similar episode a decade ago. Then a midnight call from her sister, Megan, causes Shannon to fear that her sister is on drugs again.

Her “almost-fiancé” Dr. Mark Gilbert’s support only adds to Shannon’s feelings of guilt, since she can’t bring herself to fully commit to him. She turns for help to her pastor-father, only to learn that he’s just been diagnosed with leukemia.

Shannon thought it couldn’t get any worse. Then the late-night, threatening phone calls begin, the rough voice asking, “What did he say before he died?”

With everything around her in a critical state, simply staying alive will require all the resources and focus Shannon has.

My Comments:  I love books that combine suspense and medical information. Not only does this book have that, but the main characters are preacher’s daughters, which hits close to my home and heart. There are a few interesting twists and turns. I was led to believe someone was involved in the crime who wasn’t. I like that. I don’t want to be able to clearly figure it out. I do like having options which this story provides. I read this book in about two days while on vacation. It was hard to put down. I felt vicariously involved in Shannon’s faith journey. I felt it real to life that she was struggling, and her boyfriend who wasn’t raised “in the faith” had a strong, vibrant faith. I have read all of the books written so far by Richard Mabry and I will continue reading as long as he keeps writing! 

I received a free e-copy of this book from BookLook and the Publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.