April 15th, 2015

chasing-sunsets-9781451687507_lg

Growing up in a comfortable home, Mary Catherine wanted for nothing. Though she loves her wealthy parents, their lifestyle never appealed to her. Instead, Mary Catherine pursues meaning through charity work, giving away a part of herself but never giving away her heart.

Mary Catherine lives in Los Angeles with her roommate, Sami, and volunteers at a local youth center with coach Tyler Ames and LA Dodger Marcus Dillinger. Despite Mary Catherine’s intention to stay single, she finds herself drawing close to Marcus, and their budding romance offers an exciting life she never dreamed of. That is, until she receives devastating news from her doctor. News that alters her future and forces her to make a rash decision.

My Comments:  I wish life was like a Karen Kingsbury novel. Seriously, there are usually one or more happy ever afters. Having said that, this book has the flavor of Frank Peretti books in that there is serious spiritual warfare. We’re talking angels and evil spirits. Thankfully, this book does not have the after-effect those books had on me. There is a lot more feel good about this story. It is easy to read and a quick read. The characters are somewhat multi-faceted and lack perfection. Most of them are trying to live for Jesus. They are Christians of various spiritual maturity levels. I think this book would appeal to young adults and young marrieds, although I usually read all of Kingsbury’s novels and I’m past that age group. In fact, I knew a 90 year old women who loved and read all of  them! I recommend this and all of Kingsbury’s books.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

April 11th, 2015

faith of her own
Can Anna Mae heed God’s call on her life, even if it means leaving behind everything she knows . . . and everyone she loves?

Ever since Anna Mae’s childhood friend Jeremiah left their Amish community, she’s questioned her own place in the Amish world. The Amish life feels as if it’s closing in on her, and with her mother trying to set her up with potential suitors, Anna Mae feels trapped in a life she’s not sure she wants anymore. But she’s never told anyone that she longs for a tiny taste of freedom—freedom that could be very costly.

When Jeremiah suddenly reappears in Middlefield to help his mentor, Yankee veterinarian Dr. Miller, new questions surface for Anna Mae, along with feelings she’d never fully acknowledged before.

As Anna Mae and Jeremiah rekindle their friendship, old feelings take on new meaning. Yet the question still lingers: What is God’s plan for her life? Should she stay, keeping loyal to her Amish family, or does God have a bigger plan—one that provides more freedom than she could imagine? The answers do not come easily, and the answer to God’s call may lie in different directions . . . for both of them.

Includes Reading Group Guide

My Comments: Amish Fiction at it’s best – Not everyone is cut out to be or stay Amish. Jeremiah and Anna Mae certainly were not. They had a deeper calling of service – Jeremiah’s to veterinarian service and Anna Mae’s to something she wasn’t quite sure of yet. Three love stories occur simultaneously as well – Bekah and Caleb, Anna Mae and Jeremiah, and Judith and David – all different scenarios yet all similar in many ways.  An interesting mix of Amish and English. God is definitely at work here. Great book, great writing – with so much going on. I recommend this book to Amish fiction lovers, romance lovers, and to anyone who loves a good story!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. Thank you Thomas Nelson.

 

April 8th, 2015

second sister

Years of long workdays and little sleep as a political campaigner are about to pay off now that Lucy Toomey’s boss is entering the White House. But when her estranged older sister, Alice, unexpectedly dies, Lucy is drawn back to Nilson’s Bay, her small, close-knit, Wisconsin hometown.

An accident in her teens left Alice mentally impaired, and she was content to stay in Nilson’s Bay. Lucy, meanwhile, got out and never looked back. But now, to meet the terms of Alice’s eccentric will, Lucy has taken up temporary residence in her sister’s cottage–and begins to see the town, and Alice’s life, anew. Alice’s diverse group of friends appears to have little in common besides an interest in quilting. Yet deep affection for Alice united them and soon Lucy, too, is brought into the fold as they share problems and stories. And as she finds warmth and support in this new circle, Lucy begins to understand this will be her sister’s enduring gift–a chance to move beyond her difficult past, and find what she has long been missing. . .

My Comments: Imagine living a fast-paced political life in Washington D.C. Does this appeal to you? It really doesn’t to me, especially after reading this book and discovering the sacrifices involved. Lucy and Alice were sisters – not especially close, but they had been in years past. Alice, the golden child, saved Lucy’s life. Lucy, however, as a teenager felt responsible for a tragic accident which left Alice mentally challenged. Wow! Imagine living with that kind of guilt. Lucy seemed to stay busy possibly trying to block out this life-altering event in her life. Never, did Lucy wish to return to her hometown, but the unexpected death of Alice caused her to run home to attend her funeral. What she finds there shocks her. She’s remembering that not everything was bad and evil about her hometown. The people are real, they care about each other and although they don’t embrace Lucy at first, it happens. Then there’s Peter…

I enjoyed this book and found it thought-provoking. I received the book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

April 5th, 2015

the decision

Discover along with Jonah Miller how life can begin anew in the prairie state of Illinois. Moving from Pennsylvania, finding rewarding work, and leaving heartbreak behind is the best decision Jonah ever made. But is he ready to consider love again when he meets Elaine Schrock? Will his scarred heart mend when she chooses family loyalty over love?

See video on Wanda’s website below:

http://www.wandabrunstetter.com

My Comment: This book had a lot of things going on and not too many of them were happy, but they WERE real to life. I read this book almost all the way through because it kept me wondering what was going to happen next. The main characters, Jonah and Elaine had some major issues to work through, and although I didn’t always agree with how they handled these issues, I had to admire their choices. They were definitely not choices I would make. This is one reason I love reading about the Amish. I can’t wait to read the rest of this new series and find out what happened to all of the characters I became bonded with.

April 1st, 2015

be afraid

 

The Fear Is Terrifying – When police rescue five-year-old Jenna Thompson from the dark closet where she’s been held captive for days, they tell her she’s a lucky girl. Compared to the rest of her family, it’s true. But even with their killer dead of an overdose, Jenna is still trying to find peace twenty-five years later.

But The Truth – On leave from her forensic artist job, Jenna returns to Nashville, the city where she lost so much. Instead of closure, she finds a new horror. Detective Rick Morgan needs Jenna’s expertise in identifying the skeletal remains of a young child. The case jogs hazy half-buried memories–and a nagging dread that Jenna’s ordeal hasn’t ended.

Is Even Worse – Now other women are dying. And as the links between these brutal killings and Jenna’s past becomes clear, she knows this time, a madman will leave no survivors. . .

My Comments: Mary Burton’s books keep me going back for more. Even though this book is out of the norm for me (not super clean – some language and semi-graphic sex scenes), I enjoyed it. The mystery and suspense kept me reading. The characters were interesting and real. Several twists and turns kept me guessing until the end when all was revealed. I felt sad during much of this tragic story. Jenna needed answers, at least she could make good come from her tragedy by becoming a police officer and a forensic artist – interesting life – very different from anyone I know. This is a great next story to Burton’s previous book, Cover Your Eyes. Many of the characters reappear and we get insight into how they are doing. The setting is in Nashville and we are surrounded by law enforcers. This is a great book for people who enjoy mysteries and suspense. This book will be available on April 28, 2015. I look forward to reading the next book, I’ll Never Let You Go, which will be published in November 2015.

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

 

 

March 27th, 2015

Blessing for Miriam

In the second book of bestselling author Jerry S. Eicher’s new Land of Promise series, Miriam Yoder is looking forward to her wedding day with Wayne Yutzy. But when beautiful Esther Swartz arrives to care for her ailing grandmother, Miriam is wary of Wayne’s past relationship with Esther.

When storms rip through the small Amish community in Oklahoma, Miriam’s daett arrives to help in the rebuilding efforts. Under pressure from Miriam’s daett the relationship with Wayne is upended, leaving Miriam to wonder if she must now build her new life as a single Amish woman.

My Comments: Love this author and love this book.  I read someplace that reading Amish fiction is like taking a vacation in your mind, and I so concur with that. This book took me to a place I would not normally get to go and visit. Miriam and her relationship with her parents intrigues me. It is SO not like my experience with my family, especially my parents – father in particular. The submission  of Amish women is mind-boggling to me. Miriam had  very rough go in this second book. Everyone wanted to run her life (in my opinion). She became stronger as she fought tragedy after tragedy. I so admire her and I wonder if there are many women Amish or otherwise quite like her. I finished this book with high opinions of the women and not so high opinions of the men. They definitely rule the roost! I recommend this book and this author to fans of Amish fiction – it is a definite vacation for the mind.

I received this ebook free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

March 24th, 2015

regimen

About the Book: Maggie Malone inevitably experiences the effects of war firsthand—first, with her brothers joining the Missouri Irish Brigade and again when a group of unknown bandits attack her farm. Desperate to hear news from her brothers, Maggie sets off to find them at the Federal Army camp. There, she quickly captures the admiration of Sergeant John “Colt” Coulter, who immediately notices her skill and dedication. When circumstances require that Maggie remain with the brigade, she discovers that there’s a lot a good woman can do to help the brave men she comes to think of as “her boys.”

As the hostess of an acclaimed Missouri plantation, Miss Libbie Blair has learned to play her part and remain uninvolved in the business affairs and political aspirations of her brother, Walker. When his endeavors lead him to organize the “Wildwood Guard,” a group of locals in support of the Confederacy, Libbie must gracefully manage the house with officers camped out on the lawn. With war drawing closer to her doorstep, she must find a way to protect those who depend on her.

When military maneuvers and a subsequent battle bring the Irish Brigade (and Maggie) to Wildwood Grove, Libbie’s home is commandeered as a field hospital. The two women whose brothers have fought on opposite sides of the same battle come face to face while tending the wounded in the aftermath of a battle won by Union troops.

MEET THE AUTHOR (especially for Nebraskans):

Saturday, April 11 at 2:00 p.m. @ Barnes & Noble Southpointe Pavilions (Lincoln, NE)

Friday, April 17 @ 11:00 a.m. @ Crete Public Library (Crete, NE)

Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’
April 24-25, Panel & keynote address @ Wordsowers Christian Writer’s Group Conference (Omaha, NE)

Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. @ Wisner Heritage Museum (Wisner, NE)

Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’

Saturday, May 2, time TBA @ Chapters Book Store (Seward, NE)

Thursday, June 11 at 7:00 p.m.  @ Lexington Public Library with Plum Creek Quilt Guild (Lexington, NE)

Program lecture ‘Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield’

Additional events TBA.

DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT: A Novel by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Faithwords | Hachette Book Group

March 24, 2015 | 978-1-4555-2903-2

336 Pages | $15 | Trade Paperback Original

 About the Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson is the author of over twenty-seven titles. A frequent ECPA bestseller, Whitson is a RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Winner and a two-time Christy Award finalist. When she isn’t writing, speaking, or trying to keep up with her five grown children and perfect grandchildren, she loves to take long distance rides aboard her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. Her church and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum take up the rest of her free time. She received her Master of Arts degree in history in 2012. Stephanie and her husband reside in southeastern Nebraska.

My Comments: I learned a lot from reading this book. I had interest because even though I’m not Irish, I have an Irish name from my husband of 42 years. I loved the character, Maggie Malone. She is strong and independent and way beyond her years and the time in which she lives. I didn’t know how badly the Irish were treated. The time in history is interesting to me. I didn’t get as attached to Libbie Blair. I couldn’t relate to her, and being a born and bred Yankee, I had little understanding of her life. This book also interested me because Whitson took two completely different characters and wove their lives together – fascinating!  This book has action, romance, and historical interest.  If you are interested in history and like reading about fascinating characters, this book needs to be on your TBR list!

E-mail links:

Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1zFz8bI
BAM: http://bit.ly/1yDj7i1
B&N: http://bit.ly/16ePonI
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Db1NGM

March 14th, 2015

River's Edge

Was Lisa Jackson’s disappearance related to politics, her husband’s affair, or her long-term infertility?

Ben Jackson is going head to head with Jonathan Cleary in Cape Refuge’s mayoral race—and he’s even expected to win—when his wife Lisa turns up missing the day before the major debate. Suddenly the town is in turmoil as proof of an alleged affair surfaces, indicating that Ben Jackson might have had motive to kill his wife.

Meanwhile, newspaper owner Blair Owens has other suspicions—and so does Police Chief Cade. Together they dig deeply into the mysterious disappearance that soon spirals into a web of confusion, dark secrets, and unsettling fraud.

Then the town’s psychic reveals the location of Lisa’s body—at the bottom of the river. Even though Blair doesn’t believe his paranormal gift is real, she can’t imagine how he knew where the body was.

The small-town scandal quickly turns into a national media event. Is the murderer one of the obvious suspects . . . or someone they have no reason to doubt?

My Thoughts:  This book was first published back in 2004. I read it then and loved reading it again. I think I’ll go and read the whole series again. Terri Blackstock is a great writer. She pours over her story until she gets it just the way she wants it. You can definitely tell this when reading. I was surprised at the ending – was not expecting it. This story has romance, suspense, mystery, politics, and Christianity woven throughout. The characters are sharp and likable. There are twists and turns – a couple which were surprising. I know there were probably more, but I enjoyed the two main female characters – neither were perfect, each had their flaws making them easier to relate to than most characters. The same with the two male characters. If you like clean, but suspenseful novels – this may be one you want to put on the top of your TBR pile.

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

March 9th, 2015

if you find

 

A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher—founder of The World Needs More Love Letters—who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.

Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York, expecting her life to look like a scene from Sex and the City. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange—she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled “If you find this letter, it’s for you…” on the front and left it behind.

When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city—in doctor’s offices, in coat pockets, in library books, in bathroom stalls. Feeling crushed within a culture that only felt like connecting on a screen, she poured her heart out to complete strangers. She found solace in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.

Hannah’s project took on a life of its own when she made an offer on her blog: She would handwrite a note and mail it to anyone who wanted one. Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world. Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, she started the website, The World Needs More Love Letters, which quickly grew.

There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world—and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.

My Comments: Usually I don’t care for this genre, and this one isn’t so different. It was just ok for me. I love the idea of writing love letters though, so I gave it a chance. I’m glad this has turned into a website and type of “movement.” Many people are lonely and someone going out of their way to write a letter telling these people that they matter is a very useful and caring idea. We are beginning to lost the personal touch in our culture, and love letters helps bridge the gap.

Basically the book is about a girl trying to find her way. It takes us through her later teenage years and early twenties. We delve into some of her relationships, I especially enjoyed reading about Hannah’s relationship with her mom. If you want to check out her website try this: MoreLoveLetters.com. If you want to know more about the author, Hannah Brencher, try the book. 

March 8th, 2015

simply brewed

When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery.

Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops—until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register.

When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends—as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren’t convinced.

Clues that don’t add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance—all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to reveal answers to the mysteries around them.

My Comments:   Vannetta Chapman weaves together an interesting mystery full of romance, faith, and friendship. I love the mix of Amish and English characters working together. The characters believe that the coffee shop manager is murdered and seek to find evidence to prove it. The two main sleuths, Hannah and Amber, stop at almost nothing to find the truth and to discover who killed Ethan. There are hints a long the way and the ending is not too shocking, but the story flows well, and I’m glad that I didn’t have to wait until the end to find out “who done it.” If you enjoy mystery and Amish fiction, you will like this book! I did!