Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gems of Wisdom: The Treasure of Experience (Grace Under Pressure Radio series Book 1) by Angela Breidenbach

I'm often on the hunt for devotionals and books that help challenge me to grow spiritually.

I found a hidden treasure in this beautiful book.  From the back:  Gems of Wisdom: The Treasure of Experience, helping women cope with the past while they gain courage, confidence, and candor. Rereleasing as the first book in the new Grace Under Pressure Radio series that supports becoming a woman of courage, confidence, and candor! Updated material and new cover, (originally published as Gems of Wisdom: For A Treasure-Filled Life) you'll embark on a treasure hunt for God's unique gems of wisdom. Be empowered, learn to influence through your own life lessons, and preserve important relationships. Gems of Wisdom invites the reader on a treasure hunt to find important life concepts represented by the beautiful stones God created. Excellent for Bible study and book clubs. 

I really love Angela's fiction books so when I saw this for free for my Kindle I decided to grab it.

I'm so glad I did. Packed with practical advice, beautiful stories woven with wisdom and good advice for dealing with the hardships we face in life. This book takes you from being reactive in situations to proactive. I felt encouraged as I read through topics that aren't always talked about in society. This book doesn't shy away from some tough issues. It helps you work through them and not let pirates steal the beautiful gemstones.

I plan on getting a hardback copy of the book so I can go through it again and do the journaling with it. This is a good book to go over more than once because there is so much richness and depth in it that you honestly need more than one read through.

Pick up your copy (free if you have Prime Unlimited!) and enjoy a wonderful book!  Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

We've been having terrible storms down here so I was in the mood for something to match the weather.  Something not typical with a twist of suspense.

Boom!  I had just the right book.  From the back:  New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Secrets have a way of haunting us.  Ms.  Grey weaves an Amish thriller packed full of secrets, suspense, twists and turns.  You feel Hannah's fear and tension as a stalker makes her life miserable. What links would you go to to protect your child?  Would you move and try to hide your secrets?

This book often left me with chills running up my spine and kept me drawn in turning page after page.  Will the family ever find peace?  Can Hannah turn to God after all that has happened to her? Can secrets stay hidden or will everything be brought to the light?

Pick up your copy of Her Secret and visit Hart County for a suspenseful and fast paced read!  Happy Reading!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Once Upon A Book Club

Sometimes people try to reinvent the wheel and it falls flat.  Sometimes it is a smashing success.

In a new service I discovered thanks to my book loving friends, Once Upon A Book Club,  a monthly book club takes the wheel and rolls with it!

The idea is to fully immerse you in the author's world.  You receive a pretty box:

In that box you find the book of the month (This month's book was From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon) and other goodies wrapped up to go along with the story.  

This is so cute!  In typical me fashion I had to pull everything out right away, shake packages and see if I could guess what was in there.  
Everything was boxed up so prettily and I couldn't tell what was in a single box.  So because I was so excited to unwrap stuff and the book looked so inviting, I started reading right away.  

This was amazing.  The book itself was powerful and could have stood alone. Originally I was going to review the book and the service together but both are so outstanding that I felt that each needed the limelight of an individual post.  I looked forward to getting to each page so I could open each package.  

I want to say that there was a lot of thought that went into each individual present.  I found that even though you can open each gift when you get to the post it note (I did that with the first one) it's so much better if you read the whole page first and even the next page.  I found myself reflecting more on the item and thinking about that part of the story. 

So I am putting a spoiler in here.  If you haven't read to wear the first post it note is DON'T PEEK!
 Wow!  The first gift and all the other ones just blew me away.  I repeat, someone put an amazing amount of thought into these gifts.  As I sat looking at Eva's purse and passport I was transported to her side as she was being brought in for questioning.  Her fear became mine.

From start to finish this was such an immersive experience for me.  I loved it all.  Plus, there is a bonus online community and book discussion.  I'm excited to take part in it!

So if you are looking for an amazing new way to jump into a good book I would strongly recommend signing up!  You can see their website here!  March's book box will be shipping out soon and  I can't wait to see what I get!  So pick up your subscription and plan on being transported and immersed in a good book!  Happy Subscribing!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Annie's Recipe (Book two in The Hope Chest of Dreams Series) by Lisa Jones Baker

I love it when I get to discover new writers and I love getting to share them with you!  With spring happening in February in Virginia and temperatures in the 70s I'm back in my favorite reading spot, the front porch swing with my glass of sweet tea enjoying some good books.

From the back:  Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true…

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

"She wanted to spend her life with one man.  And that very individual was the one person off-limits to her." 

Lisa Jones Baker writes a sweet and gentle novel about star crossed lovers Annie and Levi.  Levi's father was shunned and Levi feels bitter and betrayed.  Annie questions the church's practice of shunning throughout the story and tries to come to grips with her growing attraction to Levi and what to do about it.  

Annie confides in her diary and Sam, an elderly Amish gentlemen who carves special hope chests. Will Annie find a recipe for love or heartache?  Will Levi let go of past hurts and come to embrace a simpler lifestyle?  Will they trust in the creator's will for their ultimate good? 

If you are looking for a sweet and gentle read this is your book.  I truly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Lisa Jones Baker's books.  So pick up your copy of Annie's Recipe today and enjoy a great book.  Happy Reading!  

Friday, February 24, 2017

Amish Weddings (Neighbors of Lancaster County Book 3) by Leslie Gould

I have gotten to read a lot of new to me authors recently and I've really enjoyed it.

Amish Weddings is book three in Neighbors of Lancaster County.  From the back:  Gregarious Rose Lehman, who's always the life of the Amish youth singings, is determined to marry the bishop's son, Reuben Byler--until the handsome Army buddy of her future brother-in-law shows up in Lancaster County. In comparison to Trevor, Reuben seems downright boring. Trevor shares Rose's sense of fun and adventure, and her easygoing disposition.

When her sister Lila's buggy is rear-ended and Lila is horribly injured, Rose finds herself with more freedom than she's ever experienced. Everyone is so concerned about Lila that no one realizes Rose is sneaking out with Trevor. Except for Reuben. But in his usual passive way, he doesn't confront her, nor does he address the situation with her Dat or anyone else in the district. Rose appreciates Reuben's discretion, but she also resents it. Part of her relishes the freedom she's found with Trevor, but the other part of her wishes Reuben would "fight" for her, as much as any Amish man would. Too late, she realizes the foolish choice she's made. Has she ruined her best chance at love, or is there another path to happiness she just hasn't seen yet?

I walked into a book that already had a lot happening.  I'm no stranger to coming into the middle or end of a series but I really wish I would have read the other two books first.  It was easy to pick up but I feel as if I would have had a richer understanding of characters and some of the story lines.  So I'm going to be reading the first two books soon.  

Rose is ready to marry Reuben but he's taking his time.  She's getting frustrated and impatient when a smooth talking Englisher shows up.  Trevor is a flirt and brings trouble with a capital T to the story line.  Rose is torn between doing what's right or having fun.  Will Rose make the right choice or will her path in in heartbreak? 

There are many other twists and turns.  Between a near fatal auto accident, two lovers being kept apart by the church, and a fiancee converting to the Amish faith this is a fast paced action packed story that keeps you turning page after page to see what happens next.  I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more.  

So pick up your copy of Amish Weddings and get ready to hold on to your bonnet!  Happy reading! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton

To purchase your copy click here.

Hop aboard!  It's time for another Celebrate Lit tour!  This tour takes us to Jamesport, MO the home of Bethany Wade in the book The Amish Wanderer.  
From the back: Desperate for a Ticket Out
Bethany Weiss is ready to leave town. Tongues haven't stopped clacking in Jamesport, MO, since her daed, the bishop, was admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community. But her sharpest wounds Bethany hides from prying eyes, quietly biding her time until she can take a chance at a new life—away from Jamesport and away from God.

Searching for a Home

Silas Beiler was kicked out of his own family's home. Dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, he begins hitchhiking across the country, sleeping in barns where he can, working for food when possible—headed for Pennsylvania, in the hope of some stability.

A Memory of Lemonade

When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Now, however, those months of bliss seem naïve and idyllic. Will their old love overcome new pain? Or will hurt and rejection continue to haunt their path?

This book was intense.  Laura Hilton delivered an action packed read that I totally did not expect. This book was powerful.   Packed full of suspense and twists and turns that I didn't see coming I just could not put it down.  There were parts in the story that took my breath away.  

The book deals with real life issues and the characters come to life in the story.  Ms. Hilton takes on some very difficult topics and weaves them into a tapestry of grief, pain, salvation, and hope.  This story was wonderful and so different from the books I normally read.  I will definitely be picking up more of her books!

So pick up your copy of The Amish Wander and get ready for an action packed and emotional read! Follow the tour stops and enter to win some awesome goodies!  Happy Reading! 

About the Author

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 Hilton

I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew who’s story I was writing.

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)


To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away  Amish Wanderer, Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour #1), Snow Globe (Amish of Jamesport #1),
a 10 x 17” canvas banner: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly” (Micah 6:8), and
Abba Scripture Candle (3” natural, clean-burning wax, scented) – “With God All Things Are Possible”! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! Enter here

Blog Stops

February 14: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 14: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

February 14: inklings and notions

February 15: A Rup Life

February 15: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 15: Lane Hill House

February 16: Daysong Reflections

February 16: A Simple Life, really?!

February 16: Blogging With Carol

February 17: Reading Is My SuperPower

February 17: Bigreadersite

February 17: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

February 18: Rhonda’s Doings

February 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 19: A Greater Yes

February 19: A Holland Reads

February 20: Connie’s History Classroom

February 20: Blossoms and Blessings

February 21: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 21: Mom Is Forever

February 22: A Baker’s Perspective

February 22: Splashes of Joy

February 23: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 23: Carpe Diem

February 24: Pause for Tales

February 24: Quiet Quilter

February 25: For The Love of Books

February 25: Donna’s BookShelf

February 26: Christian Bookaholic

February 26: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

February 27: Giveaway Lady

February 27: Autism Mom

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Seekers by Wanda Brunstetter

Do you remember the first time you discovered a new genre and fell in love with it?  I do.  If you follow the blog I'm pretty sure you already know what books I enjoy best.

Amish fiction is a personal favorite.  The first Amish book I ever read was by Wanda Brunstetter. After that I was hooked.

The Seekers is book one in a wonderful new series that Wanda has put out.  From the back:  Will Heidi's cooking lessons turn into life lessons for five unlikely students?

Heidi Troyer cooks up the idea of teaching classes in the art of Amish cuisine in her Holmes County, Ohio, home. But is it a recipe for drama when five very different men and women answer the advertisement?

Join a class of unlikely Ohioans who take cooking lessons at Lyle and Heidi Troyer’s Amish farm. A woman engaged to marry, an expectant mother estranged from her family, a widowed mom seeking to simplify, a Vietnam vet who camps on the Troyer’s farm, and an Amish widower make up the mismatched lot of students.

Class members share details of their disappointing lives, work to solve a mystery, and stir some romance into the pot. Soon Heidi’s cooking lessons turn into life lessons as they each share their challenges. . .and their souls are healed one meal at a time. Is this what God had in mind when Heidi got the idea for cooking classes?

Wanda brings a beautiful cast of characters to life.  Her gift of bringing flawed people together to make something beautiful is the reason I keep reaching for her stories over and over again. I find myself becoming friends with her book characters every time.   

Heidi believes that each person is sent by God.  Everyone comes somewhat bruised and battered. What lessons will they learn?  Will they find healing along with learning to cook?  Will Heidi find the answer she is looking for?  

This is such a beautiful story and at the end of the book you are treated to some fantastic recipes from the story!  I have made a couple (German Pizza and Amish Country Breakfast) and they were awesome!  I felt like Heidi was there coaching me while I cooked.  

So pick up your copy today and enjoy a great read!  Happy Reading!