June 25th, 2015

sweet side of suffering

About the book: Suffering is often a reality you don’t choose. However, you do have a choice in how to respond to it. In The Sweet Side of Suffering, M. Esther Lovejoy explores the character of God to help you find a response that can sweeten the bitter waters of suffering.

In an engaging way, she shares biblical truths and practical insights from her own experiences. She says, “In the brightness of good times we often miss some of the most wonderful and intimate details of God, but against the blackness of suffering we see pinpoints of light that we never noticed before.”

Through her message of hope and encouragement, M. Esther Lovejoy helps you gain a better understanding of God’s love and provision and reveals how you can taste the sweetness of His peace. Discover how you can follow the light of His Word even in the darkness of life’s most painful circumstances.

My Comments: This book piqued my interest because the author, Esther Lovejoy, has a similar background to mine. She was a pastor’s wife and involved in ministry for many years. This is where our similarity ends. Her husband was involved in life and game changing sin and her life completely changed. Although I have not experienced this, I find it happens way too often and I’m interested in how these people cope and continue to trust, love, and serve God. Mrs. Lovejoy is definitely a role model and has a lot to say for women who have suffered in this way, as well as to women who have suffered serious financial loss.

Actually, very often I get tired of the idea that Christians don’t suffer and that ALL things always work out for good in THIS life, because I don’t find that true. Life is hard. Period. Many of us suffer – either physically, emotionally, mentally, or all of the above. I for one find comfort in a book like this. It helps me discover who the complete God is — and that He can and does meet my needs, maybe not in the way I would choose, but always in the way that is best for me and causes me to be more like Him.

This book is easy to read and packed full of useful information.

Thank you Ms. Lovejoy, Discovery House Publishers, and NetGalley for this book. I received it free in exchange for my honest review which I have given. Love the cover!!

June 18th, 2015

when grace sings

When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion?

Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren’t what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she’s operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk.

But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths.

Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.

My comments: This was an interesting, engaging read – a mix of English, Amish, and Mennonite groups. It was written by multiple points of view but clearly labeled so it wasn’t confusing. The characters were extremely likable and open to change which served the story well. I love the idea of a Bed and Breakfast story line and setting and this one did not disappoint. The Englishers whose car broke down and subsequently visited for a few days added modern times to a story that was basically steeped in the past (Amish and Mennonite faiths seem to be like a step back in time). Briley, looking for dirt on these groups, was charming most of the time, but he was surprised at all he found out during his visit. The story moved along well with many surprised embedded along the way. I recommend this book to Amish fiction and romance book lovers!

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

June 2nd, 2015

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=tYFoSv5juAoframeborder=0allowfullscreen

An investigator who knows tragic loss firsthand,
and his new client, missing far too long…

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She might have enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator Matthew Dane, a former cop, to help her navigate her reentry into society, he quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.

My Comments: I couldn’t finish this book. It is too involved and slow moving for me. I was getting bogged down. I read about half of it, then decided to move on. I normally love Dee Henderson’s book, and maybe in a different mood I could have finished this one–but for my mood – too many details and the story just wasn’t moving fast enough. Maybe this summer I’ll try again.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my free e-copy. This is my current opinion.

taken

May 23rd, 2015

prayer

About the book:

Linda is no stranger to hardship. Now she dares to hope for a chance at love and a new beginning.

As the sole survivor of a buggy accident that left her orphaned at age four, Linda Zook was reluctantly raised by her Uncle Reuben. She longs to be worthy of someone, but the lasting trauma of her injuries and embittered upbringing have destroyed her self-worth. When Hannah Peterson asks her to work at the Heart of Paradise Bed & Breakfast, she’s finally able to realize some confidence.

Aaron Ebersol left the Amish community seventeen years ago when he could no longer bear the restrictions or the constant tension with his father. Despite years of unanswered letters to his parents and the roots he’s put down in Missouri, Aaron rushes back to the Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania, after receiving word of his mother’s stroke. Hesitant to get too close to the family he was once a part of, he decides to stay at the Heart of Paradise Bed & Breakfast. Talking with Linda allows him to explore his feelings about his family and his position in the Amish community.

As Linda and Aaron open up to each other, their feelings for one another turn into more than friendship, and Aaron must make a decision about his future as an Amish man.

Can Linda and Aaron forgive the family members who have deceived and forsaken them? And will Aaron be able to convince Linda that she is worthy of his love?

My Comments: I took a break from reading Amish fiction and came back to read this great one! To be Amish, or not to be Amish – that is the question! I could hardly put this book down. The ending (which wrapped up the whole series – Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel), kept me in tears. Needless to say, it was a cathartic read. Bitterness pays a high price as was played out in the characters of this story. Linda is an amazing character – someone I’d like to be like when I grow up :-) I wish real life could be like these books – sometimes it is, that is our hope.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review which I have given – great read – especially for fans of Amish fiction. Thank you Amy Clipston for another engaging story!

May 10th, 2015

the woods edge

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

My Comments: I was anxious to read this book ever since I read that it was predicted to be one of the best Christian fiction books written in 2015. I have read Lori Benton before and enjoyed her writing. I was not disappointed.

I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction anymore, but there are always a few exceptions and this is one. I enjoyed the story – very different from other books I’ve been reading. I enjoyed the depth of the writing including the rich and interesting characters. The research done by Benton was remarkable and the writing is very in tune to the time period including the language.

The story is about how two families become interwoven and connected to each other in a very unusual way. We go through deep regret and guilt with Reginald – there are always consequences to our actions.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys great writing and historical fiction. You won’t be disappointed!

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

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.