October 27th, 2014

our first christmas

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” Join four of your favorite authors for tales of Christmas romance to remember forever.

“Under the Mistletoe,” Lisa Jackson

Megan Johnson’s marriage is over—or so she thinks. When her husband Chris lands in the hospital, fighting for his life, she remembers the unexpected joy of their first Christmas together…

“A Ranger for Christmas,” Mary Burton

The holidays bring painful memories for history professor Marissa Thompson. Agreeing to help Texas Ranger Lucas Cooper solve a case offers the perfect distraction. But as danger threatens, the joy of love has never been more tempting.

“A Southern Christmas,” Mary Carter

Reporter Danielle Bright is heading home for the holidays to write up a feature story about Christmas down south—and possibly win back her ex. But Sawyer, the sexy photographer along for the ride, is determined to jingle her bells…

“Christmas in Montana” Cathy Lamb

Family is the ideal antidote to getting fired, but Laurel Kelly isn’t prepared for the changes at home in Montana—or the fact that her college boyfriend Josh Reed now owns the family land. But a blue Christmas could be the perfect surprise for a holiday to remember.

My Comments:  Every year I read tons of Christmas books, and I’ve already read one Amish, now I’m reading one secular. I love this type of book because there is mystery and suspense as well as romance. The first story A Ranger for Christmas was full of content – especially for a short story. I loved it! The characters were not perfect, yet they were totally interesting and people I would love to know. The pull towards family is strong, but the pain some people feel at the holidays was also very present.

My favorite stories were the first two, A Southern Christmas and A Ranger for Christmas. I read and enjoyed the other two, but the first two really caught my interest. Short stories put into an anthology are great for this time of the year, when I still enjoy reading, but don’t have the time for a long novel. I get it read quickly and completely.  Thanks NetGalley for the free review copy. This opinions are totally my own.

October 25th, 2014

An Amish Family Christmas

Celebrate the holidays in Amish Country

Heart of Christmas by Marta Perry

Amish teacher Susannah Miller suddenly has two new students: the children of her former love. Widowed father Toby Unger broke Susannah’s heart ten years ago, but now the handsome Amish man desperately needs help with his troubled little ones. Can the joy of the season reunite two lonely hearts in time for Christmas?

A Plain Holiday by Patricia Davids

Outspoken nanny Sally Yoder left her Amish community for her rumspringa. Though her heart is back home, the Amish man she loves, Ben Lapp, will never love a bold woman like her. But when a snowstorm strands her, her young charges and Ben on a remote farm at Christmastime, they both might discover that love is the true holiday spirit.

Amish teacher Susannah Miller suddenly has two new students: the children of her former love. Widowed father Toby Unger broke Susannah’s heart ten years ago, but now the handsome Amish man desperately needs help with his troubled little ones. Can the joy of the season reunite two lonely hearts in time for Christmas?

Outspoken nanny Sally Yoder left her Amish community for her rumspringa. Though her heart is back home, the Amish man she loves, Ben Lapp, will never love a bold woman like her. But when a snowstorm strands her, her young charges and Ben on a remote farm at Christmastime, they both might discover  that love is the true holiday spirit.

My Comments: I love reading Amish Christmas books. They are full of what makes the holidays important and devoid of the materialism so rampant in our society. This book is no exception, in fact, the important side of Christmas in emphasized! Both stories in this book are written by two of my favorite authors – Patricia Davids and Marta Perry. The stories are engaging and emotional. One other thing about these stories as in so many other Amish books is that there is a sweet predictability embedded. I love that. I need the escape that a happily ever after contains. There is danger, there are accidents, there is romance, there is some suspense as to what will happen – all of this caused me to continue to the end. Thanks for writing and publishing these stories!

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

October 20th, 2014

image

Celebrate Second Christmas, a treasured, lighthearted time of community, with four Amish romances.

“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman

Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid

Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.

 

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller

Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.

“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer

Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

My Comments: Another winning Amish novella series. This was the second book I read for the 24-hour marathon, otherwise I could have read each in one sitting and been totally immersed and engaged. I loved each of these stories – they were uniquely different and different from each other.  The romance was super sweet and touched me deeply. I like the tradition the Amish have of a Second Christmas with the first being totally focused on the birth of Christ, then the second being focused on family and friends. I would love that tradition. Instead we try to cram it all in one day. I enjoy reading books by all four of these authors – Tricia Goyer, Ruth Reid, Beth Wiseman, and Kathleen Fuller. They each have a great style of writing and pull a reader right into the story. I have trouble sometimes getting into a story if it doesn’t have an immediate hook, each of these short stories did!

I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given!

 

 

October 18th, 2014

imageWhen she moves to Amish country to find peace and healing, Madeleine finds a special community—and a special man—who pull her out of her solitude into a new life.

Moving to Pennsylvania wasn’t in Madeleine’s original plans. She should still be in California and should have married her pilot fiancé a year ago—but death has a way of changing everything. Now the former Air Force flight nurse is living alone in Paradise, Pennsylvania, and working as a maid at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. She isn’t exactly a widow . . . but she sure feels like one.

Saul Beiler isn’t exactly a widower . . . but his wife is long gone. His eleven-year-old daughter, Emma, doesn’t know that her mother fled the Amish community—and married another man—but she does know that her dat is lonely, and that a pretty young maedel just moved in next door. Madeline’s numb heart begins to thaw as she spends more time with the innocent and ever optimistic Emma. The stronger her friendship grows with the young girl, the more intrigued Madeline grows about the humble, strong, man raising her on his own.

But even as a strange attraction pulls Saul and Madeleine across a stark cultural divide, they—and everybody else—have to wonder: What could they possibly have in common besides heartache? Will love allow Madeleine to finally find the home she’s been dreaming of all along?

My Comments:  This is the first book I finished for Dewey’s Readathon!  WooHoo!  I liked this book quite a bit, but it ended abruptly.  I hope ther’s a book 4 in the series. The story is very hopeful and romantic, ut I don’t know how anyone can convert to being Amish. I love reading about them because the stories are sweet, clean, and full of family, but the legalism would kill me – figuratively speaking. this story seems to being Madeleine back to her roots, she has Amish in her blood, that’s why I think it works and is believable.

this is the first Amish book I’ve read where divorce is mentioned at all, and also done believably

Thank you NetGalley for opportunity to review this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

October 18th, 2014

I am ready to kick back, relax, and READ. My goal is to make a dent in my huge TBR pile :-) I’m doing a modified version 8-12 hours – and I’m planning on reading Christmas books after I finish Amy Clipston’s latest A Dream of Home, i have about 40%!more to read.  Reading from So Calif.

October 15th, 2014

French Pastry

Lucy Stone is saying “Au revoir!” to Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and “Bonjour!” to Paris to take in the sights, learn how to bake authentic French pastries, and experience some joie de vivre. But her dreams of la vie en rose are put on hold when the City of Lights turns deadly. . .

Tinker’s Cove is abuzz with excitement when Norah, the queen of daytime TV, comes to town and selects Lucy and her pals to be featured in her “Women Who Make a Difference” episode. In recognition for their charitable work, the ladies and their husbands are awarded a dream vacation in Paris, complete with classes at Le Cooking School with renowned pastry chef Larry Bruneau. But their bon voyage is cut short when Lucy discovers the chef in a pool of blood on the second day of class. . .

Lucy always dreamed of visiting Paris, but with Chef Larry on death’s doorstep and Lucy and her friends detained for questioning, she’s worried she’ll be trading in her luxury accommodations for a sojourn in the bastille. If she’s going to enjoy her vacation, she’ll have to unpack her sleuthing skills and clear her name.

Lucy’s search for the truth takes her from the towers of Notre Dame to the gardens of Versailles and a dozen charming bistros in between. But will she be able to track down a killer more elusive than the perfect macaron?

My Comments: The Lucy Stone books are some of my very favorite cozy mysteries. This book took us out of  the now familiar Tinker Cove Maine and into Paris, France – totally engaging! Elizabeth, the Stone’s eldest daughter was the star child and we heard very little about the two girls at home and Toby and his family, so that in itself was kind of different and refreshing. The mystery truly kept me guessing until the end (I like that!) Lucy Stone is such a down-to-earth all American mom and wife, so it is easy to relate to her. She loves her family – they always come first. Her husband is very typical and likable!

Although not “Christian” fiction, I don’t think there is anything offensive in these books to Christians. They are clean and family friendly. I have read all 21 books now and will continue to read them. They are very entertaining and engaging.

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

October 10th, 2014

Mr. Miracle


Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.

After trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.

Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.

Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.

My Comments: This is a novella and rather short, so the characters aren’t extremely developed, nor is the story. Also, angels are involved which makes it more unrealistic, but sweet. Debbie has a Christmas series with angels, but I could never really get into those. In this book the angels had a role to help the humans – kind of guardian angels. I like the story, and I was engaged. It was a quick read. Hallmark will have a movie based on this book coming out for the holidays. The ending seemed kind of abrupt to me. I felt like I was left hanging. This book could be read at any time of the year even though the setting was Christmas time. After having read the book, I am now looking forward to seeing Hallmark’s movie.

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

October 10th, 2014

 

promise to cherish 

World War II draws to a close, nurse Christine falls in love with roguish Amish boy Eli and must choose between a new, uncertain life in the Amish faith or face the judgment of a conservative postwar American society for her past mistakes.

It’s 1945, and Christine Freeman is a nurse at Hudson River State Hospital, where she works alongside members of a Civilian Public Service unit. Eli is one of the conscies—conscientious objectors to the war—and he is doing his best to become a man of character instead of the immature heartbreaker he used to be back home in his Amish community.

Christine and Eli are friendly, but when an old acquaintance, Jack, returns home from the war, Christine’s world is violently turned upside down. Eli, heartbroken to see his friend so hurt, offers her an escape within his Amish community. Despite her misgivings, Christine is fully embraced by Eli’s community. She slowly begins to feel valued and loved as she learns the Amish way of life.

Christine finds herself falling for Eli. But soon, the abusive Jack discovers Christine in her Amish hideaway and starts causing trouble for the quiet community. Christine can’t see herself becoming Amish, and she knows that if Eli leaves the church to be with her, he will be shunned. Will she escape Jack and possibly have to give up the one thing she holds most dear, or will she follow her heart and promise to cherish the Amish man who loves her?

My Comments: I love this book! I never realized or really thought about what the Amish did during the World Wars and this story gave me an explanation. WOW! One Amish man + one girl who lost two brothers and had a permanently disabled father from the war meet and become close? What a story line! The storyline kept me engaged throughout. I had a hard time putting it down when I had to get ready to go to work or go to sleep at night. What a dilemma these characters faced, and genuine help came from unexpected places. I will read more by this author. She tells a great story steeped in history that few know about!

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

October 6th, 2014

 

This is the story of David Wilkerson, the man who believed against the odds that God could do great things in the rejected and ignored of New York City, who refused to give up on those on the streets even when they had given up on themselves, and who saw in the eyes of the drug addicts and gang members what others failed to see—the love of Jesus Christ.

 

But who was David Wilkerson?  Many Christians don’t really know. More often than not, we saw the fruit of his faith in God rather than the man himself.

David Wilkerson

When Wilkerson moved to New York from rural Pennsylvania in 1958 to confront the gangs who ran the streets, he was a skinny, 120-pound man. After the initial publicity that brought him face to face with some of the most dangerous young men of the city, he largely flew under the radar of the media, using the Word of God and a bit of tough love to help men and women of the street escape the destructive spiral of drugs and violence. Wilkerson was always the real deal, full of passion and conviction, not interested in what others said was the “right” or political thing to do.

Wilkerson later founded the Times Square Church, now a non-denominational mega-church of 8,000 members, to this day a crossroads for those battling sin, drugs, and pornography, and a place where the message of Christ is discussed. He created the faith-based program Teen Challenge to wean addicts off drugs, and then World Challenge, dedicated since its beginning to promoting and spreading the Gospel throughout the world. Both now have branches worldwide, continuing the work that God began in the life of one man who believed

David Wilkerson was a man of faith who trusted God would give him what he needed to enter a world of crime and killing.  He was a man of conviction who took the dream God gave him and marched forward without ever looking back.  And he was a man of vision who could not be shaken from his beliefs—sometimes even when counseled otherwise. David Wilkerson was the preacher of New York City.

My Comments: I requested this book to review because I grew up with David Wilkerson, Nicky Cruz, and Teen Challenge. I became a Christian  in the 60′s during the Jesus movement and this man was like a rock star to us in central Jersey. The book did not disappoint. I don’t think his son had one negative thing to say about this Godly man. His life was quite exciting! He really couldn’t do everything well, but his family seemed important to him even though he was on the road a lot. I didn’t know much about David Wilkerson other than Teen Challenge, so I learned a LOT! His heart seemed to be only to please God. Wow! We need some David Wilkersons and Billy Grahams right NOW! The book was well written and definitely kept me riveted throughout. I recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about men and women God used in historic ways!

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review which I have given! Great book!

October 6th, 2014

caroline's secret

Caroline Hostetler arrived in Oklahoma determined to forge a new life for herself and her daughter, Emma. As a single mother, she values the warmth and safety she’s found in close-knit Wells Landing. She’s even caught the eye of a handsome newcomer–a man who just may be the partner she longs for and the father Emma deserves. But the arrival of an Englisher threatens to lay bare the secrets she’s worked so hard to leave behind. . .

After losing his life-long sweetheart, Andrew Fitch moved to Wells Landing to work in his uncle’s furniture business and nurse his broken heart. Finding love again seems all but impossible–until he meets Caroline and Emma. But his plans to join their lives together may be shattered when the truth of Caroline’s past comes to light–unless, together, they can learn the true meaning of sacrifice and forgiveness. . .

My Comments: Amish fiction at its best. Caroline, part of a heavily legalistic Amish sect, has a huge secret. I believe this book shows the frustration of the legalistic side of the Amish. It also shows that not all Amish are super legalistic and show more grace instead. I love the characters. While reading, my heart went out to Caroline who wanted a relationship with her dad, but he could not forgive her.  In fact, she had to leave the state and move to a new place entirely in order to be accepted. Andrew Fitch also moves to the same new place with hurt and secrets of his own. This creates a recipe for a tragic love story. I enjoyed the story, it kept me engaged throughout.

Thank you NetGalley for an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.