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.

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

derailed

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.