July 20th, 2014

penny wise

About the book: Penny Wise introduces us to yet another family in “the neighborhood”—the Jaspers, busy with demanding jobs, busy with church, busy volunteering, parents of three active teenagers, juggling sometimes crazy schedules. All good things. Until all those “good things” feed into a series of crises that affects the whole family. Something’s gotta change!The third in the Windy City Neighbors series, Penny Wise is a contemporary peek at an urban family wrestling with the spiritual and practical challenges of real life. The series employs the innovating storytelling technique of “parallel novels,” each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters’ lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another. Welcome to Beecham Street—a typical, isolated American neighborhood that is beginning to come out of its shell . . . for better or worse.
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/yLCKz
My Comments:  I enjoyed reading this book as a real slice of life type book. The characters are people I would definitely want to know. They smack of reality. Miss Estelle is definitely my favorite. She exudes enthusiasm about life and people. Michelle has much more energy than I do now or ever had. She works a full-time job, is a full-time mom and wife, and she runs the women’s ministry at church. The Jasper family stars in this book. They are a hard-working, moral African-American family. Life is hard and daily. church lays a central part in the family’s life. the three teenagers are typical. As a teacher, my classes are largely African-American, and I love reading about an intact African-American family who tries to live out their faith. I see these in my job, but also see very dysfunctional families of all kinds. I love all of the books by Neta and Dave Jackson! They tend to overlap and intersect. You cn keep up with your favorite characters in most of the books. This is no exception, even though Jaspers star in the story, we still hear about characters even as far back as the Yada Yada Prayer Group.  Love it!
I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse and the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.


July 6th, 2014

the walk

“My name is Alan Christoffersen. You don’t know me. ‘Just another book in the library,’ my father would say. ‘Unopened and unread.’ You have no idea how far I’ve come or what I’ve lost. More important, you have no idea what I’ve found.” —Prologue

What would you do if you lost everything—your job, your home, and the love of your life—all at the same time? When it happens to Seattle ad executive Alan Christoffersen, he’s tempted by his darkest thoughts. A bottle of pills in his hand and nothing left to live for, he plans to end his misery. Instead, he decides to take a walk. But not any ordinary walk. Taking with him only the barest of essentials, Al leaves behind all that he’s known and heads for the farthest point on his map: Key West, Florida. The people he encounters along the way, and the lessons they share with him, will save his life—and inspire yours.

Richard Paul Evans’s extraordinary New York Times bestsellers have made him one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. A life-changing journey, both physical and spiritual, The Walkis the first of an unforgettable series of books about one man’s search for hope.

My Comments: I began this series in the middle, now I go back to the beginning because the content compels me to, and I am glad I did. I listen to it as I drive around town and I’m hooked, and he time flies by. This story is so unbelievable. This part of the series sets the stage and gives the reason for the walk across America. WOW! The writing is so enthralling. I grew up in the northeast, lived in the southeast, midwest, and now west coast. I have traveled by car to many places in between and I know so many of these people and places, but still not on the level of someone WALKING and spending real time getting to know each character. I remember a book I read in my early twenties named “A Walk Across America” by Peter Jenkins and this book affects me in many of the same ways except I have lived life a lot longer now and appreciate the experiences more. If you have never read this series by Richard Paul Evans, I would recommend it, especially if you enjoy people and different regions of the U.S. Each region offers its own charm and beauty. Alan walks from Washington state to Florida. He experiences a lot to get him to the point of actually taking the walk, much of which is heart-breaking. I was in tears during much of the story. The character, Alan, is a man anyone would want to know and have as a friend. As I said previously, this book sets up the reason for the walk and the beginning of the walk. All of is engaging and thought-provoking. I have listened to books one, four, and five and I have ordered book two and will then order book three. Then I will listen to all again in order. I enjoy it that much!

July 3rd, 2014

finding love at home

From bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, here’s another charming book about life among the Plain People.

All Debbie Watson wanted to do was join the Amish and live a simpler life. But when she moved in with her Amish neighbors, the Beiler family, she had no idea the turmoil that lay ahead.

As this final book in The Beiler Sisters series opens, Debbie is poised to marry Alvin Knepp, the Amish farmer she’s loved all along. Ida Beiler is recovering from the tragic loss of her husband-to-be in a farming accident, while her younger sister, Lois, is still running away from her faith.
Debbie takes it all in stride as she brings calm to the sorrowing Beiler family while finding happiness with the young man of her dreams.

Book 3 in The Beiler Sisters series

My Comments: This book is not due to be published until September 2014, but I received an advance e-copy from NetGalley for review. This was an interesting series – a real mix of English and Amish, yet somehow predictable.  What the story definitely led you to feel a certain way about how the characters would end up – done well, but as I said somewhat predictable. As I’ve said before, Jerry Eicher does a great job writing from an Amish woman’s point of view. He has a unique insight into the culture since he grew up Amish.   I think this lends a certain credibility to his writing which others do not possess. The story is sweet and engaging. If you love Amish fiction, or good, clean, faith-based literature please add this author to your TBR list. You won’t be disappointed!

June 28th, 2014


Harry Bentley was a mess. Yet, with a second chance for a better life, his recent marriage, he expects a smooth road ahead. Abruptly, it feels like God is changing the road signs—left, right, stop, go? Raising his grandson was not part of his plan and now his son wants to move in! Derailed is an often humorous, contemporary tale in an urban setting, featuring characters courageously wrestling with the spiritual and practical issues of average people. The Windy City Neighbors series is set on Beecham Street—a typical isolated American neighborhood—where hope is invited to change everyone.

My Comments: A friend of my introduced me to the Yada Yada Prayer Group books by Neta Jackson several years ago, and I have been hooked on anything written by the Jacksons ever since. This series, The Windy Neighbors, takes us to Beecham Street where several of the characters we were introduced to in the Yada books reside. The stars of this book are Harry and Estelle Bentley. Wow, they have a lot to overcome: living arrangements, elderly parent, son with jail record, and raising a grandson. God works in wondrously mysterious ways in the lives of His people. Even though this book is fiction, it is realistic fiction and somewhat encouraging. We are introduced to the people who reside on Beecham Street. What a diverse group of neighbors. Most were middle-class working people, but yet a rich person moved in, built a mansion, and also lives on the street as well as a Christian music artist who travels the country doing concerts. Love reading about these folks and how they come to have a relationship with each other (thank you Estelle Bentley!). I have been challenged. Because Harry becomes an undercover security guard for AMTRACK this story even includes a mystery – a somewhat suspenseful one at that! This is the second book in the Windy City Neighbors I read and I plan to read each one!

June 27th, 2014

A Deadly Business

Mia Quinn is a Seattle prosecutor working on high profile cases in the Violent Crimes unit while juggling the impossible demands of single parenthood. Her husband, Scott, was killed in a car crash that homicide detective Charlie Carlson now believes was no accident. Charlie’s instincts and professional record make it impossible for Mia to refute the evidence she’d rather not believe.

When the powers that be refuse to reopen the case, it’s up to Mia and Charlie to investigate, all the while trying to deny a growing attraction between them. Was her accountant husband really in league with nefarious criminals? And who is the young woman whose photo they find on his computer?

Uncovering the truth may hurt Mia in more ways than one.

My Comments: Wow, talk about juggling. Mia Quinn is a busy attorney involved in a high-profile case, and a single mom of a young child. This is a great series – suspenseful, exciting, and a page-turner. It is a clean suspenseful novel. Two stories beg to be solved – one Mia may not appreciate the solution to.

June 25th, 2014

seeing your face again

Debbie Watson is a new convert to the Amish faith and still learning the plain ways of the community in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. She has already attracted two suitors: the insecure but lovable farmer, Alvin Knepp, and the brash Paul Wagler who reminds Debbie of the boyfriend she happily left behind in the Englisha world. When Alvin leaves the community for the big city, Debbie is crushed. Though her heart is with Alvin, she considers Paul’s continued interest in her. Should she simply give in and marry Paul….or wait to see if Alvin comes home?

Seeing Your Face Again is another Amish fiction treat you’ll love. With Jerry Eicher’s sales at more than half a million books, his Amish fiction fans continue to wait eagerly for his next heart-felt story, brimming with the authenticity he brings from his own Amish background.

My Comments: Great read – I am always amazed when a man writes from a woman’s point of view, but Jerry Eicher gets it right on. I wonder if this ever happens – an Englisher turns Amish. That causes me to suspend disbelief because I can’t see it happening. As much as I admire the Amish faith and the Amish people, I could never give up being English. What really attracts Debbie to the faith? Is it Alvin? He doesn’t seem like a huge prize to me, but maybe because he is unattainable he attracts Debbie. The book otherwise smacks of reality and interest. I will continue reading books by Jerry S. Eicher!

Thank you NetGalley! This is my honest review.

June 24th, 2014

seagrass pier

Seagrass Pier is the perfect place for Elin to hide from a killer, but an old love’s ability to see her true heart could be her undoing. When Elin Summerall contracted a virus that damaged her heart, she was lucky to get a transplant. At first it was an overwhelmingly good gift. But then she began to remember a murder she never witnessed—the murder of her heart’s donor. When she reveals what she knows to a disbelieving police officer, she’s exposed as a witness and must flee for her life to a remote cottage on Hope Beach. Fearing what might happen to her daughter and mother, she asks Marc Everton for help, though she hasn’t seen him since the night her father died. She remembers that night with shame, and she never told Marc about their daughter. Marc is less than convinced that Elin’s “memories” are real. He is blindsided by the news about his daughter, but for her sake, he agrees to help. Then he begins to notice the small ways Elin is different. She now likes coffee, her musical tastes have changed, and she’s ditched her jeans and sneakers for dresses and high heels. As Elin tries to stay alive and bring the killer to justice, she begins to doubt her own identity. Did her new heart save her life only to cause her to lose herself? And if she’s really changed, why does her new heart love Marc just as much as her old one did?

My Comments: This was an interesting and engaging read, although I find some of it kind of weird. What is cell memory and is it real? I found that part of the book kind of weird, but it definitely added to the story. I love the characters, especially Marc and his parents. They seem like people I would know. The story kept me with it. I read it while traveling. I usually enjoy Colleen Coble’s books. The setting is awesome, the characters interesting, the story fast paced and interesting. The story is faith-based but not overwhelmingly so. Great summer read!

I received a free c-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

June 23rd, 2014

table by window

Heirloom recipes, family secrets…and a chance for love
The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?

After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.

Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?

My comments: I loved this book and living vicariously through it.  Although I am a granny, I love reading books about travel, food, and romance.  This book was all of that and more.  The romance was online which is quite interesting to me. I’ve heard it CAN work and in this book it seems to. Having said all of that, I was disappointed that the story was not concluded in one volume and that I have to wait to find out the “rest of the story.” There are a couple of unfinished plot lines – what really did happen to Juliette’s grandmother and others. I love reading about a young woman finding her own way – separate from family and expectations. This is not my “usual” type of book to read, but I am glad I read it.

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

June 21st, 2014

a mother's secret

An unwed Amish woman yearns for real love and a family. The only thing in her way is the shame she’s been carrying for half of her life.

Thirty-one-year-old Carolyn Lapp has never been married—but she’s been a mother for fifteen years. In a community with strict standards and a long memory, Carolyn knows she might never find a man who will have her and her son, Benjamin.

Carolyn’s family tries to marry her off to a widower with a daughter who needs a mother. A marriage of convenience doesn’t sound so bad, yet despite her loneliness, Carolyn knows what she really wants: a traditional Amish family and a marriage for love.

When Benjamin gets into trouble at an auction, he finds himself beholden to a handsome horse breeder named Joshua Glick. Joshua and Carolyn feel an instant attraction, and soon a romance is budding between them. The trouble is Joshua believes Benjamin is Carolyn’s nephew, not her son.

After years of shame and loneliness, Carolyn suddenly has two men vying for her attention. Can either man give her the family—and the unconditional love—she longs for? Or will her past once again sabotage the future she wants?

My Comments:  Absolutely loved this book.  I felt the writing showed both sides of legalism and grace and both were quite believable. I loved Carolyn. She was a real person with real problems, yet strong and quite likable. It was interesting to read about unwed parenting from the Amish point of view. I read while flying across country and had to keep wiping away the tears. This series is different and engaging. Amy Clipston has another winner! Can’t wait to read the final book in the series!

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


June 13th, 2014

walking on water

In the fifth book in the New York Times bestselling Walk Series, Alan Christensen finally reaches his destination.

A year earlier, Seattle advertising executive Alan Christoffersen lost everything he held dear—his beloved wife was killed in a terrible accident; his partner stole his business from him; and the bank foreclosed on his home when he couldn’t pay the mortgage. With seemingly nothing left to live for, Alan set out to walk from Seattle to the farthest point on the map, Key West. And now, after walking more than two thousand miles on a journey filled with surprises, dangers, and revelations, he approaches his destination—and the most important decision of his life.

My Comments: This book was a great wrap up to a good series! I listened to the audiobook read by the author, so he knew exactly how to articulate and bring expression to the writing! I listened to this book back and forth to work and was able to stay pretty close on track with the story. There were some really sad parts and some happy parts as well. Alan Christoffersen was able to live the only the dream of many – that is to walk across America from Seattle, WA to Key West, FL. These books are about that walk and his relationships along the way – very engaging and entertaining!

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review which I have given.