Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Blessing (Amish Cooking Class Book 2) by Wanda Brunstetter

I love to cook and to read.  Putting the two together is a recipe for success!

Wanda's books always hold a special place in my heart and I was so excited to get the second book in her series!  From the back:  Return to the Troyer farm where, despite stressful changes occurring in their lives, Joel and Heidi once again open their Ohio home up to those seeking to learn about Amish cooking. This time a teenager helping her divorced dad cook for the family, a caterer needing new recipes, a food critic, a hunter looking to impress his buddies, a wife given the class as an unwanted gift, and a mailman lured in by the aroma of good cooking gather around Heidi s table. More than good food is exchanged, though, as friendships form, a romance blossoms, and hearts are healed.

Wanda is a very detail oriented writer who also puts her characters in situations that you don't necessarily find in Amish stories. That makes her books unique and I love to take my time and read through them.  This book follows up on the Troyer family.   I suggest reading book one, The Seekers first.

I found myself really wrapped un in the characters and drawn in to the story.  I just ached for Nicole and her situation.  Heidi also goes some very turbulent waters that left me in tears.  The cooking classes bring together another unique group that have their own stories to tell.  With a heaping helping of love, a pinch of faith, and a dash of forgiveness this class bakes up some surprises!

You will also see some great recipes in the back and it's a good thing because I was pretty hungry during the book!  Having food allergies I will say that I am able to adapt most of the recipes to fit our family.  That's a bonus.

So pick up your copy of The Blessing and enjoy!  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, July 23, 2017

An Amish Summer by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvine

It's been so hot here in Virginia.  Every day is code orange and my beloved porch swing seems to be a memory.  On a good note, since it's too hot to do much more than turn a page lots of reading has been happening!

I was so excited to get this in the mail a few days ago!  I love novella collections and was waiting not so patiently for this one.

From the back: A new novella collection of sweet, summer romances from some of our favorite Amish authors!

A Reunion in Pinecraft by Shelley Shepard Gray

When sisters Sharon and Sherilyn Kramer attend a wedding in Shipshewana, one of them returns with a new penpal while the other returns to her job at the bakery. After sending weekly letters back and forth, Sherry and Graham Holland arrange a reunion in Pinecraft. Upon Graham’s arrival, however, he realizes he’s been writing to the wrong sister. He decides to use the reunion as a way to get to know both sisters, but can he sort through the confusion in time to turn the worst vacation ever into something truly wonderful?

Summer Storms by Amy Clipston

Ariana is counting down the days until her wedding to Jesse. They have been friends longer than Arianna can remember, and that friendship turned into love over the past couple of years. But when Arianna’s brother Tobias, who happens to be Jesse’s best friend, gets them both into trouble, Arianna’s father puts an end to her engagement to Jesse. Some summer storms pass quickly, but Arianna is afraid the damage from this one may be too much to repair.

Lakeside Love by Kathleen Fuller

Esther has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful younger sister Sarah. Even the boy she has known—and loved—her entire life, Judah, only has eyes for Sarah. But when a handsome young Englischer comes to live with the family for a summer, everything begins to change.

One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin

Everybody in little Bee County, Texas, can see the obvious: Jacob King and Martha Byler are meant to be together. Everyone, that is, but Martha. Ever since her mother died when Martha was a young girl, she has taken over the role of caregiver to her large family. And reckless Jacob, who has had a little too much fun on his rumspringa, only seems to add to the list of people to manage. But one summer changes everything, and these two may just find a way to meet in the middle and share one sweet kiss.

He didn't know what to think.  And he didn't know what to do.  He'd written to the wrong sister and hadn't even been brave enough to come out and tell either of them.  A Reunion In Pinecraft

Shelley Shepard Gray knows how to write a novella!  It's hard to cram in a full story line in a very short book but she more than delivers.  This is a beautiful and funny story about how a case of mistaken identities lead to a very interesting summer vacation.  Poor Graham was just plain lost trying to figure out what to do.   In a story full of humor, a little heart ache, twists and turns and a Romeo who can't figure out which Juliet to court will Graham be able to trust God and know what to do?  Or will all end in heartache?  This was a great start to the book and the ending caught me by surprise.

In our second story Amy Clipston brings in some Summer Storms.  This story had dark undertones and shows that the Amish don't always live the perfect life.  With a cruel and hard father and her brother resorting to alcohol to escape his problems Arianna is banned from her being with her fiancee.  I felt that Arianna really let herself be pushed around in the story. What will happen to a family with so much turmoil?  Will Arianna be able to be with the love of her life?  With Amy hitting her stride as a writer I really enjoy reading her books.

As Rhett and Sarah started discussing quilt patterns, Judah contemplated jumping out of the buggy.....Meanwhile Judah would bang his head against a tree or walk into some thorn bushes. Either would be preferable to a quilt discussion.  Lakeside Love

Kathleen Fuller brings a fun and light story to the party.  This was a perfect follow up after Amy's story and some much needed comic relief.  Esther is a beautiful character inside and out.  Everyone sees it but Judah.  I felt in all the stories I really connected with Esther the most.  She feels like she lives in the shadows and just isn't good enough.  By putting her trust in God and the visit of a pretty cool Yankee Esther sees that she has more value than she realizes.  Will Judah see that as well or will he be stuck listening to quilt conversations?

In the last story, One Sweet Kiss we head to Texas with Jacob and Martha.  While I love quirky this story line was a little over the top for me.  It also had three love story lines that I sometimes got a little lost following.  Will Martha be able to see what everyone else does?

Altogether the book was a wonderful read, so pick up your copy today and enjoy some summertime fun!  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.*

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crazy About Alaska (Book 3 An Alaska Dream Romance)

Hop on board!  It's time for another tour from Celebrate Lit!

To purchase click here.

It's summer, a million degrees in Virginia.  So I'm virtually traveling to cooler climates.  First stop is Alaska! 

In Shannon Brown's third installment of her series we meet Holly and catch up with the rest of her family.  From the back: Two men are interested. She picked the wrong man once. Will she choose the right one now? 

As a single mother and a real estate agent, Holly works hard. Climb a roof? Check. Work with her former, difficult professor? Maybe. She wants a husband who can love her and her twin girls. When other men run because she has kids, they become her secret. 
College professor Adam enjoys his work, his dog . . . and his secret life. After his home burns, he needs to find a house in a hurry. Oh-so-appealing former student Holly is perfect for the job—and his heart. Adam has to win her before the other man does. When secrets are revealed, will love grow or die?
Crazy About Alaska is the third book in the sweet and clean Alaska Dream Romance series. If you like wild destinations, adorable kids, and happy endings, then you’ll love Shannon L. Brown’s final book in this heartwarming series. 
Buy Crazy About Alaska to wrap-up—or begin—the series today!

This was a new author and series to me.  First, you need to start at the beginning.  This is not a good stand alone.  Having read this without the other two books first I felt very lost in multiple places. There were story lines that I should have read to have a better understanding of this book (I'm now in book 2 and having lots of AH-HA moments!)  I'm pretty good at connecting the dots but I think you will get more out of the third book if I read the first two.  So before you pick this one up read the first two!

Holly was a fun person to read about.  She was spunky, witty, and a girl after my own heart.  She's the kind of girl you want to be friends with and have her bake pie for you!  I enjoyed the light humor throughout the book as well.  

The books starts out strong but lags in the middle.  It picks up at the end of the book and ends strong. I wish there was a little more conflict between the two males vying for Holly's heart.  Holly's boyfriend at the beginning of the book had all the charm of an Alaskan iceberg headed right at you. 

This book (after you read the other two) is a nice easy summer read.  So check out Crazy About Alaska! Also sign up for the giveaway below! Happy Reading! 

About the Author

Writing books that are fun and touch your heart

Even though Shannon L. Brown always loved to read, she didn’t plan to be a writer. She earned two degrees from the University of Alaska, one in journalism/public communications, but didn’t become a journalist.

Years passed. Shannon felt pulled into a writing life, testing her wings with a novel and moving on to articles. Shannon is now an award-winning journalist who has sold hundreds of articles to local, national, and regional publications.

Shannon was born and raised in Alaska so she enjoyed writing the books in the Alaska Dream Romance series. “The Feather Chase” was her first published book and began the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. The eight-to-twelve-year-olds in your life will enjoy this contemporary twist on a Nancy Drew-type mystery.

Shannon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat.

Guest Post from Shannon Brown

Open Doors

When a character opens the door and steps from her world into mine, writing about her is easier. Holly Harris in Crazy About Alaska is a real estate agent, and I was once one. I’ve driven clients around and shown them houses only to have them go a different direction. My husband and I bought a new house a few years ago, so I have tales to tell from that experience too. (Readers may think the purple shower is made up. Think again.) I chose to bring a college professor into her life as a love interest. I’m married to one.

Some of myself always finds its way into a story. Sometimes, it’s just something I might like to do. Holly’s sister Jemma rehabs furniture in Falling for Alaska, book one in the series. The idea for her business came while I was watching HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. Taking trash and making it beautiful sounds like something I’d like to try. Jemma also dislikes coffee and drinks tea. (Here I am again.) But she is not exactly me. She’s cooking challenged, and I’m a good cook.

Does the story become about the author when she inserts herself into it? Reality is only a fun fraction of the book. Holly has two men vying for her affections. That never happened. (It might have been fun if it had!) She also has five-year-old twins. I never experienced that.

By far the most challenging of the sisters in the series was Bree in book two, Loving Alaska. She’s a doctor, and my knowledge of the medical profession comes from sitting on the exam table, not from doing the exam. I spoke with doctors I knew and brought her to life. But Bree isn’t all made up either. She despises being in nature, especially camping. I’ve camped on a frozen river, beside a lake after canoeing or boating in, and many more places, but I’m with Bree and hotels are greatly preferred. There I am in the story again.

Reading the books I’ve written helps you know who I am. I’m a woman with a big imagination who enjoys bringing stories to life. Oh, and that slightly sarcastic sense of humor you may notice with Jemma and Holly? That might be from me as well.


To celebrate this tour, Shannon Brown is giving away a grand prize of a book lovers gift basket – a basket filled with book-related things!!  Click here.

Blog Stops

July 20: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

July 20: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

July 21: A Baker’s Perspective

July 21: Reading Is My SuperPower

July 22: Artistic Nobody

July 22: Just Commonly

July 23: Live.Love.Read.

July 23: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

July 24: Carpe Diem

July 24: autism mom

July 25: Redeemed Hope Dweller

July 25: Baker Kella

July 26: A Rup Life

July 26: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

July 27: Karen Sue Hadley

July 27: Quiet Quilter

July 28: Pause for Tales

July 28: Have A Wonderful Day

July 29: Remembrancy

July 29: Cafinated Reads

July 30: Zerina Blossom’s Books

July 31: History, Mystery & Faith

August 1: Kat’s Corner Books

August 1: For the Love of Books

August 2: Avid Reader Book Reviews

August 2: Ashley’s Bookshelf

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.*

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Amish Princess by Patrick E. Craig (The Paradise Chronicles Volume 2)

I've been gone for two days.  These past two days I've slipped back in time 1700s and lived in a time when Native Americans and settlers were fighting over land, our country was declaring independence, and a family braved a journey to a new land for religious freedom.

In book two we meet Opatuhwe and the Hersberger twins, Jonathan and Joshua.  From the back: Opahtuhwe, the White Deer, is the beautiful daughter of Wingenund, the most powerful chief of the Delaware tribe. She is revered by her people a true Indian princess. Everything changes when the murderous Delaware renegade known as Scar brings three Amish prisoners to the Delaware camp. Jonathan and Joshua Hershberger are twin brothers that Scar has determined to adopt and teach the Indian way. The third prisoner is Jonas Hershberger, their father, who has been made a slave because he would not defend his family. White Deer is drawn to Jonathan but his hatred of the Indians makes him push her away. Joshua's gentle heart and steadfast refusal to abandon the Amish faith lead White Deer to a life-changing decision and rejection by her people. In the end, White Deer must choose between the ways of her people and her new-found faith. And complicating it all is her love for the man who can only hate her.

There is rarely a book I can't review.  But once in awhile one comes along that really gets me.  It speaks to me on multiple levels and I don't feel as if I have adequate words to say how much the story meant to me.  

This is one such book.  It honestly just blew me away.  I started the book yesterday and finished it today.  I woke up at 1am wondering about Opahtuhwe's fate.  

This story is set in a pivotal time in our nation's history.  Mr. Craig knows his history.  You can always tell when an author spends time researching.  This story takes us on an amazing journey through time. 

Opahtuhwe or White Deer is her people's princess.  Well loved and a natural leader her life is unexpectedly changed when two strangers come into her camp. 

Watching the violent death of their mother and sisters at the hands of the Lenape Joshua, Jonathan, and their father are taken prisoner.  Jonathan is adopted by the Lenape but anger consumes him.  He vows revenge.  Joshua and his father refuse to fight back so they are forced to become slaves.  

It is your daughter who will see both faces of the white man-the way of life and the way of death

White Deer is shaken as she becomes the object of love by one brother and hatred by the other.  As the story progresses and she follows the prophecy laid out for her before she was born her struggles and the pain she has to endure with her choices grip at the reader's heart.  As she adopts a new culture, takes a new name, and finds the living God you can't help but be inspired by her bravery.  

Jonathan lets his anger consume him and turns his back on his Amish roots.  Will he ever find peace or will his anger cost him the things he loves the most? 

Joshua seeks the will of the Lord and follows the ways of his faith.  Can he free himself from a love that isn't returned?  What will following his faith cost him? 

This book was amazing.  The story does have some violent parts in it.  It has sadness, but also victory.  This book reflects real life and the characters come full circle.  With a rich backdrop of history, beautiful characters, and lots of twists and turns this is a book you don't want to miss. 

So pick up your copy of The Amish Princess and be prepared to be lost in a truly awesome book! Happy Reading!   

Sunday, July 2, 2017

His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray (The Amish of Hart County #2)

It's hard to reinvent the wheel, but sometimes a new idea comes along that makes you take a second look at it!

In His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray we are taken on a wild buggy ride in the second installment of The Amish of Hart County.

From the back:  New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray delivers the next novel in her Amish of Hart County series—a suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.

Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay...

Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.

Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty.  But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?

I really enjoy Amish fiction but when an author does something different with the story I take notice. Ms. Gray takes your typical girl meets guy, bakes for him, they go on a buggy ride, everyone is happy, and turns it upside down with twists and suspense.

The romance was still there and I love a good love story.  Neeta and Mark were a good pairing and they showed lots of growth and development in the story.  The elements of suspense were woven in very well and even though I figured out who done it pretty quickly, I enjoyed being pulled along for the wild ride.

This is the second book in the series and even though it can stand alone I recommend reading the first one, Her Secret to get a better pulse on Hart County.  So pick up your copy of His Guilt on July 4th and slip into Hart County where mystery awaits you.  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.*