Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Quilting Circle by Amy Lillard

I've had to give up my beloved porch swing because it's freezing here.  But my husband bought a ton of firewood and I've managed to find a cozy spot by the fire with some hot tea.  


I also get to go back to one of my favorite places, Wells Landing.  Amy Lillard brings together all three of her novellas into one book.  From the back:

MORE THAN FRIENDSHIP
Youngest quilter Clara Rose Yutzy is planning her wedding to her longtime beau—which is why she resolutely ignores newly warm feelings for her best friend, Obidiah. But Obie is certain God intends them to be together. With the Lord’s help, he’ll prove to Clara Rose how much he loves her . . .

MORE THAN A PROMISE
Mariana Miller prayed for a child throughout fifteen years of marriage. But now, newly widowed, Mariana discovers she’s pregnant—with twins! She’s more grateful than ever for her caring community—especially Reuben Weisel, her late husband’s business partner and best friend. Reuben’s quiet strength comforts her—until he proposes marriage . . .

MORE THAN A MARRIAGE
Tess Smiley is new to Wells Landing and newly married. But her marriage isn’t the harmonious union she envisioned. Tess loves Jacob with all her heart, but her heart tells her she must take a stand—and ask for support. Only then does Jacob see how he has hurt her. But is he too late? . . 

In More Than a Friendship we see what happens when we rush and not think about what we really need in our lives.  Clara Rose has two people vying for her heart.  Will she be able to trust and not second guess her emotions?  Will Obie be able to win her heart?  

I really liked Obie in this story and his persistence in this story.  Amy Lillard has a way of really bringing her characters to life.  

In More Than a Promise Mariana is pregnant, with twins!  Newly widowed and needing space to grieve she faints and needs to go on bedrest.  I loved the way the community rallied around her while she was going through this difficult time.  

Rueben, another great character, was so thoughtful and kind.  His generous nature and kind acts tugged at my heart.  

In More Than a Marriage Tess finds herself trying to compete for her husband Jacob's affection with a smartphone!  She feels ignored and unhappy.  Jacob is frustrated that his wife wants to keep pesky goats and he can't provide for her in the way he feels that an Amish man should.  This story delves into the heart of a marriage and you find yourself wondering if Tess and Jacob can ever find common ground.  

Amy Lillard gives us a glimpse into a world that isn't all buggy rides and picnics.  She draws you in with characters that have beautiful real life flaws and you find yourself rooting for them.  With the help of caring neighbors will Tess and Jacob find their way back to each other?  Or will they hang on to their pride and keep comparing what others have to what they have?  

This was a really great series and I'm so glad that they all are in one place for you to enjoy.  So come home to one of my favorite places and pick up your copy today. Welcome to Wells Landing, where there is a story on every corner and a place you will enjoy visiting every time.  Happy Reading. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Love Held Captive (A Lone Star Hero's Love Story) by Shelley Shepard Gray

I'm always excited when a new book in a series I enjoy has come out . 


Love Held Captive is well worth the wait!  From the back:  After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.

Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.

In the third installment of this wonderful series we are transported back in time.  With masterful story telling, twists and turns, strong characters and emotions this is a powerful read.  I was drawn in very quickly to the story and had a hard time putting the book down.  

There are some adult situations in the story and Shelly Shepard Gray weaves in forgiveness and recovery.  We get a good look into the time period and what people's lives were like.  The romance was compelling and this book was a great addition to the series.  I will say that you need to read the other two first so you get a better understanding of the story line. 

If you are a civil war fan, historical fiction fan, or a Shelley Shepard Gray fan this is the book for you.  So pick up your copy today!  Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

The Promise of Dawn (Under Northern Skies Book 1) by Lauraine Snelling

Sometimes I see a new book that catches my eye by a new to me author and I'm really excited to pick it up and read it.  
Lauraine Snelling begins a new series in The Promise of Dawn.  From the back: In a Compelling New Saga, One Family Strives to Make Their Own Future

Opportunities are scarce in Norway, so when Rune and Signe Carlson receive a letter from Rune's uncle, Einar Strand, offering to loan them money for passage to America, Rune accepts. Signe is reluctant to leave her home, especially as she is pregnant with her fourth child, but Einar promises to give them land of their own, something they could never afford in Norway.

But life in Minnesota is more difficult than Signe imagined. Uncle Einar and Aunt Gerd are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone to pay off their debt. Afraid they will never have the life they dreamed of, she begins to lose her trust in God. When the dangers of the North Woods strike close to home, will she find the strength she needs to lead her family into the promise of a new dawn?

This book was a mixed bag for me.  I loved the historical aspects of it.  The author did her work and understood the time period and how hard it was to be an immigrant.  The Carlson family find themselves reduced to little more than live in help when they come to America.  Despite the hardships they went through they let their Christ like attitude shine through.  

On the flip side, the book was often repetitive and the plot was slow so I didn't find myself drawn in the way I had hoped to be.   Also there were mentions of characters from another series of hers in the beginning and since I hadn't read any of her other books I was a little lost. These made the book a little harder for me to loose myself in the author's world.  I may go back and try her other series to see if I can connect some dots in this book.  

All in all this book left me feeling conflicted.  I really wanted to connect with it.  It has so many good points going for it.  If you want to explore and decide if this book is a good fit for you you can look here.  

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

The Gift (The Amish of Hart County) by Shelley Shepard Gray

Welcome back to Hart County where there's a mystery around every corner. 
In the third installment of The Amish of Hart County we are treated to another great book in the series.  From the back:  New York Times Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray gifts us with a special Christmas story about love and blessings in this next book in her Amish of Hart County series.

The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous “accidents” that someone wants them gone.

Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.

Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt…or worse.

This series gets better and better with every story.  Set in the Christmas season we meet the Schwartz family.  They are exited to be apart of the new community and have a farm but are given nothing but an ice cold snub!  

The characters are well done and enjoyable.  I loved Amanda, she reminds me of a dear friend who happens to have the same name. Neil and Susanna are made for each other.  Will they be able to move past everything?  Who is causing all the accidents?  The story will leave you guessing!

With forgiveness and trust as the themes in the book and a fantastic story line this book is a must read.  So pick up your copy and see if you can solve the mystery.  Happy Reading! 

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*


Monday, November 13, 2017

Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper by Amy Lillard

We've had a glorious autumn and I've made use of my beloved front porch swing on a regular basis.  I was digging through my stack of books to read and this one literally fell on my foot!  

Isn't the cover adorable?  I know the old adage, but honestly I do look at cover art.  This one really grabbed my attention from my love of Amish books to my love of puppies.  

From the back: Content to be unmarried and plain-spoken, Kathryn “Kappy” King is an odd-woman-out in the Amish community of Blue Sky, Pennsylvania. But she’s skilled at making the special kapps local women need to cover their hair. And she might be the only one who can unearth the danger hiding in this peaceful valley . . .

When Kappy's neighbor, Ruth Peachey, turns up dead in her yard, everyone in Blue Sky believes it’s a tragic accident. Until the Englisch police find the gentle dog breeder was deliberately struck down—and arrest her mentally-challenged son, Jimmy, for the crime . . . 

Jimmy’s sister, Edie, returns to Blue Sky clear his name, yet no one will speak to a shunned former Amish woman, much less give her information. Determined to help, Kappy starts digging for the truth among her seemingly-innocent neighbors. But suddenly a series of suspicious “accidents” threatens Edie and the Peachey farm—property Edie is determined to protect for her brother’s future. 

Now, as danger looms large in the small community, Kappy must bait a trap for a killer snapping hard at her heels. And Edie must decide whether to make a home once more in the town she thought she’d left behind . . .

This was just a fun book and a great start to a new series!  With humor, mystery, and strong fictional characters that Amy Lillard is known for this book is sure to appeal to a broad audience.  

Kappy, who is quirky, shines as a leading character in the book.  I really adored her and wished that I had a grandma Kappy in my life.  When Jimmy is arrested his sister, who is shunned, tries to help him.  Will Jimmy be cleared of the crime?  Will Edie stay?  Will Kappy accept a proposal of her own?  

Pick up your copy of Kappy King and the Puppy Caper to find out!  The book comes out on the 26th of December.  Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*


Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Christmas Admirer by Laura V. Hilton



To purchase click here.

I'm back on board with Celebrate Lit and it's time for Christmas! I could read Christmas stories year round so I was super excited to get a chance to read The Christmas Admirer by Laura Hilton.  

From the back:  Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but when his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, he was now the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters. What woman would want to put up with that? Still, against his better judgment, he can’t help leaving her a gift now and then, anonymously addressing her name in big block print, just to catch a smile. Roses one month, maple syrup candy another; and maybe this time, something special for Christmas. 

Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, but now the clock is ticking. Her father is selling his glass-blowing business, remarrying in January, and moving to Iowa with his bossy wife-to-be. Angry and frustrated, Susanna realizes she’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah?

With a little bit of a Nancy Drew like mystery, a dash of Cinderella, and a little Christmas magic and wonder come together you get a delightful story.  Laura Hilton's work is new to me and I enjoyed getting to know the characters.  She has a lovely way of writing that draws you into the story and makes it hard to put down. 

The book moves along well and you spend time wondering who the secret admirer is.  I also love the scriptures interlaced in the story.   It was a hard book to put down and the recipes at the end are the icing on the cake (or gingerbread).

So pick up your copy of The Christmas Admirer, join the tour, and enter to win a prize package.  Happy Reading!


About the Author




Laura Hilton Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.


Guest Post from Laura V. Hilton


Glass Blowing and The Christmas Admirer

Right before my youngest son joined the Coast Guard we went on a short mini-vacation to Springfield, Missouri, actually going farther north almost to Kansas City to see another Amish community near there in Osceola. There is a cheese factory there and my son wanted to try some of their cheeses – such as a ghost pepper cheese. Too spicy for me.



But upon the return to Springfield, Steve read about a glass blowers shop in the downtown area. We found the address and went to visit it. It is owned by an older gentleman and his son. They had a display area set up where people could see their wares and buy them and then a work area where the son mostly worked, and talked about how the fire needed to be so hot, and showed us how he worked and made things. As we watched, he made a lovely flower, a lily, in different colors of glass, green, white, pinks.



It was fascinating.



And I got to thinking what if…



So I did some more research. Asked questions. Probably drove them nuts. But when Whitaker House indicated they’d be interested in a Christmas novel, I proposed one about a glass blower.



The story is set in Jamesport, Missouri, and while completely stand alone, it does have some continuing characters from other books I’ve written set in Jamesport. If you are interested, the books set there are:



Amish Books set in Jamesport, Missouri:

The Snow Globe

The Postcard

The Birdhouse

The Amish Firefighter

The Amish Wanderer

The Kissing Bridge (part of Springs of Love collection)

The Christmas Admirer

Gingerbread Wishes (part of A Plain Thanksgiving collection–November 2018)

Love by the Numbers (February 2018)



glassblowing-experience04I haven’t read any books about an Amish glass blower, but that’s not to say they aren’t out there. I haven’t read all the Amish books available. Jamesport is an area that is more tourist-oriented than the books set in Seymour / Webster County Missouri. They give buggy tours, have bed and breakfasts, open their homes for visitors to eat supper with them, and have businesses.



All Amish districts are different and the rules vary depending on the bishop and preachers. Some are more liberal and some more conservative. Some keep themselves distant and don’t welcome attention from non-Amish and some embrace it. While Jamesport is not as touristy as some districts in Lancaster Pennsylvania or in Ohio, it is much more so than others.

SUSANNA’S CRANBERRY SALAD

Ingredients

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 medium apple, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Directions

In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients until blended. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
In a large bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, fold cream and walnuts into cranberry mixture.Makes 16 servings.


SUSANNA’S CRANBERRY SAUCE

For on top of turkey sandwiches as Becca requested

Ingredients

4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water or orange juice


Directions

In colander, rinse cranberries. In sauce pan, add water or orange juice and sugar, boil until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook about 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries had burst. Let cool.



SUSANNA’S “LOVE PORTION” GINGERBREAD

Ingredients

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 T ground ginger
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1 t ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted slightly
1 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
½ c water
1 egg
1 t vanilla
Directions

Shift together flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.

In mixing bowl, mix shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are absorbed. Divide dough into three pieces, pat down until about 1 ½ inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on wire racks. When cool, decorate as desired.


Blog Stops

ASC Book Reviews, November 9

Books n Baubles, November 9

Janices book review, November 9

Avid Reader Book Reviews, November 10

Have A Wonderful Day, November 10

A Greater Yes, November 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 11

God’s Little Bookworm, November 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 11

Eat, Read, Teach, Blog, November 12

A Holland Reads, November 12

Simple Harvest Reads, November 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 13

Beck To Basics, November 13

Carpe Diem, November 13

Christian Bookaholic, November 14

Blossoms and Blessings, November 14

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 15

Reader’s cozy corner, November 15

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, November 15

Baker Kella, November 16

Quiet Quilter, November 16

Karen Sue Hadley, November 16

Pause for Tales, November 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 17

Pursuing Stacie, November 17

For The Love of Books, November 18

Blogging With Carol, November 18

Pink Granny’s Journey, November 18

Bigreadersite, November 19

Vicky Sluiter, November 19

SusanLovesBooks, November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 20

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 20

New Horizon Reviews, November 20

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 21

A Simply Enchanted Life, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 22

Daysong Reflections, November 22

Splashes of Joy, November 22


Giveaway



In honor of her tour, Laura is giving away

Grand Prize Package: The Christmas Admirer, “Unto Us a Child is Born” painting on decorative serving plate by Donna White, The Hearthside Collection, Inc., and commemorative Whitaker House/Anchor Distributors coloring book (not in photo).

1st Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and The Very First Christmas by Juliet David with interactive illustrations by Pauline Siewert (children’s book).

2nd Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and “The Woman Who Honors The Lord Shall Be Praised” myrrh-scented candle from abba Jerusalem!

To enter click here

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda, Jean and Richelle Brunstetter

It's never too early in the year to start reading Christmas stories.  I pretty much read them year round.

What happens when three generations get together and write a story of a quilt handed down to three generations.  Pure magic.  From the back: One Quilt Binds Three Generations of Amish Women
Enjoy the gift of a brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, along with stories by her daughter-in-law, Jean and granddaughter, Richelle.

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. Psalm 31:3
The scripture embroidered on the back of a beloved quilt brings hope to three generations of Pennsylvania Amish women at Christmastime.

Luella’s Promise
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Luella Ebersol has been caregiver for a dying woman and her young son. When Dena Lapp gives Luella her favorite quilt, she makes Luella promise to pass it down to her daughter. But Luella isn’t sure she will ever marry if she can’t find someone with maturity and faith like Dena’s husband Atlee Zook.

Karen’s Gift
By Jean Brunstetter
Karen Allgyer and her husband moved to a slow-paced village to raise their children, but Karen longs for the closeness of family to help her through the challenges of managing three girls with one on the way. When life’s pressures rise, will Karen cave to her fears?

Roseanna’s Groom
By Richelle Lynn Brunstetter
When the unexpected happens on the day of her wedding, Roseanna Allgyer can’t help blaming herself, despite not understanding why. Then an old friend returns to town, and she battles feeling for him—afraid of being hurt again.

Wow.  Just wow.  This book was a pleasure to read.  When you put three very talented women together and weave a story about a family, a special quilt, and Christmas you have magic.

In Luella's Promise we start our journey.  Luella is so sweet and wonderful.  Her family made me batty at times meddling in life and choices she was making but her nature and faith in God working things out for the good shone through.  It was a real tearjerker and you will need kleenex by your side.  Daryl stole the show in the scenes he was in.  Wanda has a special gift for portraying little ones. Atlee's loss early in the book was hard and a reminder that just because you are Amish doesn't mean that everything is a happy buggy ride. This was a good story to kick off the book.

In Karen's Gift Jean takes up the tale and we meet the next generation.  This is the story that resonated most with me.  Karen's story echoes the rhythm of my life.  A place far away from the family and a child with special needs is born.  Karen and Mike struggled, as does any couple, as they try to adjust to something they didn't plan.  Both feel like they are right and they have to make some hard choices.  I loved watching them grow closer together and their faith deepen as their world was shaken.

Then we finish up with Roseanna's Groom.  Richelle finishes up the beautiful book with another lovely story.  Roseanna and her groom to be both have a bad case of the wedding jitters.  But then her groom to be hightails it and leaves her.  What's a girl to do?  I loved the close bond that Roseanna shares with her sisters and how her mother really watched over her through everything.  The story had some unexpected surprises and I was really happy with how it turned out.

This book was a delight to read and a must have for Amish fiction and Brunstetter fans.  So pick up your copy today!  Happy reading!


Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*