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!  

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

To purchase this book click here.

I'm on tour!!!  I think the best part about being a Celebrate Lit blogger is all the great new books I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing.  I've "met" so many great authors and have gotten to read lots of books.  This is Book 2 in An Amish Beginning.  
From the back:  In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It’s a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World–isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father–his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not–bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

Wow.  Normally I have words and a lot of them.  But this book absolutely blew me away and I'm afraid that I may not be able to do it the justice that it is due in my review but I'm going to try. 

First, this is not a fluffy Amish book where boy meets girl, they ride in a buggy, fight over something, then they make up and get married.  Nope.  This book goes back in time when the Amish were escaping to America in hopes of finding a better way of life.  Being a history buff I can always tell when an author does their homework and Ms. Fisher must have spent a great deal of time doing hers. The details of the time period and the area were amazing.  

The main characters, Anna and Bairn, walked off the pages and lived.  They started a romance in book 1 (which I need to go back and read, I think it will give me a deeper understanding of some of the story lines) that is so beautiful to see.  

Bairn has been reunited with his birth family and is struggling to find himself.  He accepts a position on a ship and I seriously wanted to sit and yell at him!  I mean what was he thinking here?!?  Anna is upset (and so was I, what was he thinking?!?!).  When Henrik joins the group he beings lavishing attention on Anna and leads the new colony while they are figuring out what to do since Bairn's dad and mom have gone missing.  Will Anna wait for Bairn or succumb to Henrik's charms?  

There were also wonderful secondary characters and a famous American makes an appearance in the storyline.  Felix won me over with his spunk!  The character that resonated with me was Dorothea. Her struggles with her new life, the fear of possibly loosing her husband, and the peace she finds in the most unlikely place.  Her story echoes parts of my life and drew me to her.  

This book was amazing.  I truly loved it.  I have a special shelf of books that I go back and read again and again.  This book is going on that shelf.  If you love a good Amish story I would encourage you to pick up a copy today!  Also enter the contest to win a Kindle below!  Happy Reading!  

About the Author
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher

Pennsylvania of 1737, the setting for The Newcomer, is like a foreign country. Parts of it might seem familiar—the same hills and creeks and blue sky, but we’d hardly recognize the settlers. People like Anna, or Bairn, or the mysterious Newcomer. We wouldn’t be able to understand their language, their customs and traditions. Their world was that different from our modern one.

The first group of Amish immigrants (first written about in Anna’s Crossing and followed up in The Newcomer) settled northwest of Philadelphia, then a vast wilderness, and relied on each other for safety, security, building projects, and church. In nearby Germantown, settlers were tradesmen, so they clustered houses together in small knots. The Amish farmers took out land warrants for sizeable properties and lived considerable distances from each other.

In The Newcomer, Anna cooked food in a cauldron over a large hearth. One-pot meals can trace their beginnings to open-hearth cooking when ingredients for a meal went into a large kettle suspended over the fire. Traditional dishes—ham and beans, pork and sauerkraut—used sturdy, available, and simple ingredients that improved with long, slow cooking. The dishes could be easily expanded when the need arose to set a few more places at the table. And it did, often. Large families and unannounced company inspired Amish cooks to find ways to “stretch the stew.”

Noodles (including dumplings and rivvels) could be tossed into a simmering broth to make a meal stretch. Most farms had a flock of chickens, so eggs were easily at hand. Today, homemade noodles are still a favorite dish.

Another “stew stretcher” was cornmeal mush, originally eaten as a bread substitute. Early German settlers who made their home in eastern Pennsylvania roasted the yellow field corn in a bake oven before it was shelled and ground at the mill. The roasting process gave a nutty rich flavor to the cornmeal. Mush is still part of the diet the Old Order Amish—cooked and fried, baked, added into scrapple, smothered in ketchup. Dress it up and you’ve got polenta.

Now here’s one thing we do have in common with 1737 Pennsylvania immigrants…a love of good food and a shortage of time! Here’s one of my favorite one-pot recipes—probably not the kind of stew Anna might have made for ship carpenter Bairn or the mysterious Newcomer (ah, which man one stole her heart?)…but definitely delicious. Enjoy!

Lentil Chili

Here’s one of my favorite “stew stretchers.” You can expand it even more by serving over rice.

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced
10 c. water
1 lb. dry lentils
1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt (season to your taste)

½ tsp. pepper
2 c. salsa (your favorite variety)
29 oz. canned tomatoes, crushed

Giveaway
To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!   Click here.

Blog Stops

February 7: cherylbbookblog

February 7: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 7: inklings and notions

February 8: Just Commonly

February 8: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 8: Ashley’s Bookshelf

February 9: A Reader’s Brain

February 9: Genesis 5020

February 9: A Simple Life, really?!

February 10: Lane Hill House

February 10: Blogging With Carol

February 10: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 11: Quiet Quilter

February 11: Daysong Reflections

February 11: Southern Gal Loves to Read

February 12: Christian Bookaholic

February 12: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 12: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 13: Karen Sue Hadley

February 13: Just the Write Escape

February 14: Rhonda’s Doings

February 14: Bigreadersite

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

February 15: Blossoms and Blessings

February 15: Connie’s History Classroom

February 16: Bibliophile Reviews

February 16: Book by Book

February 17: Pause for Tales

February 17: A Holland Reads

February 18: A Greater Yes

February 18: The Power of Words

February 19: Lighthouse Academy

February 19: A Baker’s Perspective

February 20: By The Book

February 20: Giveaway Lady

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Two Suitors for Anna (A Keepsake Pocket Quilt Novel) by Molly Jebber

To purchase the book click here

I'm back on tour with Celebrate Lit.  Yay!  These are always so much fun for me because I get a chance to read books by authors that are new to me and then I get to share them with you.  This tour stop is a great new book out by Author Molly Jebber. 

This is book is book 3 in the Keepsake Pocket Quilt series.  From the back: In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for and a new, very different future…

Since Anna Plank moved to Berlin, Ohio, with her widowed mamm and two schweschders, she’s found a real sense of belonging. As soon as her beloved Noah Schwartz proposes, they’ll begin a new chapter here together. But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves.

Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share…

This was a wonderful book.  Even though I haven't read the other two books (I plan on going back and getting that done!) I was able to easily follow right along.  Anna is a lovely character and her compassion towards others and her love of her family shines through in the story.  She wants to marry Noah but all he seems to want to do is change her.  Discontent with his life here he also wants to travel to other communities.  Anna is a homebody and likes things the way they are.

When Daniel comes Anna now finds two suitors vying for her attention.  Anna has to make a choice. Which gentleman will win her heart and hand?

There were also smaller story lines threaded throughout that added a beautiful depth to the story.  One sister's bad choice and the consequences that happened and a foundling child.  This book drew me into the story and was hard to put down.  My only regret is not finding Molly Jebber's books earlier!

So pick up your copy of Two Suitors for Anna today!  And follow the tour.  Don't forget, as always, there is a giveaway!  So enter that as well!  Happy Reading!

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away the entire Beacons of Hope series. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!  Enter here


About the Author

Molly Jebber’s books have been featured in Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today’s HEA, and Romantic Times has given them a near excellent rating. She’s on RWA’s Honor Roll. She’s a speaker for Women’s Christian Connection, and she offers presentations on writing, publishing, Amish lifestyle and traditions. She has received widespread media coverage, including live interviews, across the United States for her books and speaking engagements.

She’s just signed a new contract for four more Amish books! She loves interacting with her readers. She loves God, her husband, family and friends. She has a hard time saying no to cupcakes, swimming, nine holes of golf, and walks on the beach. Coconut, oatmeal, and onions, on the other hand, are not hard to say no to!

Guest Post from Molly Jebber

What prompted Two Suitors for Anna?
Have you had to choose between two men you love? Or maybe a friend?  I gave Anna this dilemma and added to her turmoil by throwing in a bundle of twists and turns to the story.
Noah proposes to Anna, and he takes her rejection as hesitation and leaves town. Daniel moves to Berlin and offers her friendship which is blossoming into something more, when Noah returns and asks her forgiveness and another chance. I hope you enjoy it!

Blog Stops

January 31: cherylbbookblog

January 31: Giveaway Lady

January 31: Bibliophile Reviews

February 1: A Greater Yes

February 1: Blossoms and Blessings

February 2: Lane Hill House

February 2: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 3: Just Commonly

February 3: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 4: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 4: Bigreadersite

February 5: Quiet Quilter

February 6: Ashley’s Bookshelf

February 7: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

February 7: Pause for Tales

February 8: Splashes of Joy

February 8: Connie’s History Classroom

February 8: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 9: Christian Bookaholic

February 9: Eat, Read, Teach Blog

February 10: Singing Librarian Books

February 10: inklings and notions

February 11: Carpe Diem

February 11: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

February 12: Donna’s BookShelf

February 12: A Simple Life, really?!

February 13: autism mom

February 14: A Holland Reads

February 14: Through the Open Window

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray

I've been a woman on the go lately!  So many appointments with the kids where I have plenty of time in car rides and offices for reading, which is a good thing.  I was in a rush and and asked my son to choose a book from my stack.  He brought me this one:

According to  my son there is no guy making "cow eyes" at the lady and there is a solider in it so it probably has "more action than kisses".  Life with a nine year old to keep me on the straight and narrow is always fun.  From the back:  Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

Sooo the good news is that my son didn't read the book or he may have changed his mind.  Let me state that I really love a good romance interwoven into a really good story line.  this book fits the bill. A rich story line and beautiful historical detail.  The way Ms. Gray uses her descriptions you feel as if you are right there in the story walking beside the characters.

Christianity is woven through the tapestry of the storyline and the characters with all their flaws that make them seem so real.  I love it when authors nail this aspect.  It really makes the book so much better.

Thomas and Laurel are a wonderful match.  Their romance builds throughout the story.  It isn't rushed.  The way we see them grow throughout the book, the suspense, and an altogether beautiful story kept me coming back for more.

So pick up your copy of An Uncommon Protector!  Happy Reading!