Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Most Inconvient Marriage by Regina Jennings

A Most Inconvenient Marriage

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.
With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.
After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?
 A great light hearted read - full of fun and twists and turns. Hard to put down and totally enjoyable.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up and read it.
This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonson Falcones  

Spain, 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wandering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When, by chance, she meets Milagros Carmona—a spellbinding, rebellious gypsy—the two women become inseparable. Caridad is swept into an exotic fringe society full of romance and art, passion and dancing.

But their way of life changes instantly when gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate and their world as a free people becomes perilous. The community is split up—some are imprisoned, some forced into hiding, all fearing for their lives. After a dangerous separation, Caridad and Milagros are reunited and join in the gypsies’ struggle for sovereignty against the widespread oppression. It’s a treacherous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won.

From the bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is an unforgettable historical fresco filled with characters that live, suffer, and fight for the lives of those they love, and for the freedom they can’t live without.

This is a very well researched, thought out and well written book - but there was too much violence against women for my liking.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jesus Daily by Aaron Tabor, MD

Based on the major themes found on the most active Facebook page in history, JESUS DAILY is a 365-day interactive devotional that goes beyond even the fan page to create a deeper experience and cultural movement that celebrates your redemption in Christ. JESUS DAILY presents a devotional thought but also challenges you to respond to each daily reflection using a variety of social media tools.

JESUS DAILY is a worldwide revolution in how you can connect, share, and worship the Father personally and with other believers.

Great little book with a Bible verse, short devotional and daily interaction designed to help you connect to others via social media for each day of the year. It's a quick read to give you some encouragement and set your feet on the path for the day.

The wonderful people at the Hatchette Book Group, who graciously supplied me with my copy of this book, are also giving a copy of the book and a great t-shirt to one lucky winner here on my blog. They will only be able to extend this offer to US readers. Please leave a comment and I'll pick a name next Monday, December 8th.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Unveiled Wife

About a month ago, a friend recommended this devotional to me. I went over and looked at the website and thought, gee, maybe not. You see, my husband and I are having very, very bad marital problems. Ok, let's be honest. He moved out. Told me he doesn't love me anymore and doesn't want to be married to me anymore.

But the thing is, I still love him and I'm still committed to our marriage. So I figured, I'll read the devotional and see what it has to say - what can it hurt, right?

I simply cannot believe how God has moved through Jennifer Smith to meet me where I am. Each day, I get her devotionals by email and almost every single day, she's talking about something I'm struggling with.

For example, one day when I felt particularly angry with my husband for leaving, Jennifer's devotion was on Forgiving My Husband. When trying to understand how my husband was feeling and why he choose to leave, there was a devotional on When Expectations Cripple A Marriage. When my husband told me he never felt like I supported him, there was a devotion on Working Together.

This devotional is wonderful for women who are in a stable marriage - and I have recommended it to many of my friends who are. But it is also wonderful for women who are in a floundering marriage. There is encouragement and almost a "how to" guide for making changes for the future.

Of course my prayer is that my husband will allow me a chance to show him how much I love him and how I can change and make our marriage a success with a second chance. But even if he doesn't these devotionals are a wonderful guide for how I can pray for him - and myself.

For more information on this wonderful devotional click here.

To buy a copy for yourself, click here

Highly recommended.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller

In the clay-rich hills of the newly founded state of West Virginia, two families tentatively come together to rebuild a war-torn brickmaking business.

Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it's Ewan's job to get the company up and running again.

Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he'll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work is put in jeopardy. As his hopes for the future crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. Can she help him save the brickworks, and will Ewan finally get a shot at winning her heart?

Lots of historical details, flawed but loveable characters and a "will they or won't they" plot line make for a great read.

Focusing on a few characters who have come from Ireland, who of course face the struggles of prejudice as newcomers from another country right after the Civil War, when the United States are still struggling with the after effects - including the death of Laura's father - of the war, we get to see the difficulties of traveling far from home to make a new start.

And those here in the States are making a new start too. Can everyone work together and further a lasting and enduring company?


Many thanks to Bethany House for my copy of this book.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Love Undone

A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

An exceptional novel of love that must be denied. But what do you do, when everything you do to put distance between yourself and the one you love but can't have, fails to remove the longing from your heart?

Cindy has written so many of my favorite "Amish" fiction books. Her characters are flawed but lovable and her descriptions are lush and vivid.

I love that Cindy brings her characters from one book to another - sometimes as a minor plot line and sometimes just as a name dropped in passing - each book feels like a little bit of home.

You can click here for more information about the book.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Most Inspiring Book I've Read In A Long Time

When illness completely stole Travis Freeman’s sight at 12 years old, his dream of playing football felt dead. However, the unshakable kid found a way to overcome the impossible and not only play football, but become a champion.

A severe migraine attacked Travis after he’d returned from a week at summer camp. Multiple visits to doctors in different cities yielded no diagnosis. Not until an eye doctor saw something that sent Travis to the hospital clinging to his life. The undiagnosed condition was Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis, an infection attacking his ocular nerve. Doctors saved his life, but not his sight.

Doctors warned that he would go through a period of depression, but Travis never did. Instead this determined young man attacked learning to live in a sighted world with inspiring ferocity. “God let this happen to me for a reason,” Travis said.

Opting to stay at his school instead of attending the Kentucky School for the Blind, Travis was surrounded by a support system that had known him most of his life. That included the junior high football coach who found a spot on the team for Travis, not as a manager or water boy, but as a player. That year, with Travis playing Center, his team won the championship. Travis continued to play football all through high school, astonishing other teams and officials across the state.

Write with heart warming openness and honesty, Travis gives us an inside look at what happens with the unthinkable happens.

As the mother of a child who had medical conditions that drew us from hospital to hospital and doctor to doctor for eight years, I felt for this family who was hit out of the blue with this incident.Our son was diagnosed at 3 and was healed by the time he was 11 but in those eight years I marveled at the resiliency of a child to accept and move forward. And that is what Travis has done.

As mentioned in the book synopsis, Travis did not go through depression - but what it doesn't mention is the humor Travis met his blindness with. There were more than a few antidotes in the book that had me laughing out loud.

I was truly inspired by this young man's acceptance and even embracing of his blindness.

If you only pick up one non-fiction book this year - this should be it. The book is highly recommended and I can't wait to see the movie it inspired!


My copy of this book was generously provided by Glass Road Media.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

When Mercy Rains by Kim Vogel Sawyer

She left, heavily weighted with secrets.
But God reveals all things, in His timing.
And He redeems them.

Suzanne Zimmerman was only seventeen and pregnant when her shamed mother quietly sent her away from their Old Order Mennonite community in Kansas. With her old home, family, and first love firmly behind her, Suzanne moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and raised a daughter, Alexa, on her own.

Now, nearly twenty years later, an unexpected letter arrives from Kansas. Her brother asks her to bring her nursing abilities home and care for their ailing mother. His request requires that Suzanne face a family that may not have forgiven her and a strict faith community. It also means seeing Paul Aldrich, her first love.   

Paul, widowed with an eight-year-old son, is relieved to see Suzanne again, giving him the chance to beg her forgiveness for his past indiscretion. But when he meets Alexa, his guilt flickers in the glare of Suzanne’s prolonged secret—one that changes everything.

Suzanne had let go of any expectation for forgiveness long ago. Does she dare hope in mercy–and how will her uncovered past affect the people she loves the most?

What do you do when you make a mistake that takes you away from your family and then you make a choice that means you can't go back again?

Suzanne Zimmerman was to give up her baby for adoption and then come back home - but she stays in Indiana and raises her daughter. Until the fateful day that a letter comes from her brother asking her to come home to take care of their mother, who has become paralyzed in an accident.

But what will happen when Suzanne shows up with a daughter but no husband? Can she break through her mother's bitterness? Can she face the man who fathered her child? And what about the secret that she's tried desperately to hide?

Such a wonderful story of redemption and reconciliation - and with a surprise twist at the end!

For more information on this book click here

Highly recommended.


 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

I absolutely loved these three stories. While each story focused on a different member of the Turner family, they were all tied to get because they were from the same family. Each story had the same theme of the love that a family has for each other and the way they are open to helping and learning to love others.

We first meet Abigail, who is trying to help Jackson solve a problem that she doesn't really know about. It's a legal issue and her father is an attorney. Of course they can't discuss the problem which makes it even more touching how Abigail was so willing to help when she didn't even know what was going on.

Next we meet Pete. He also wants to help. But, as it turns out, the little girl he wants to help is the daughter of one of the last women on earth who would be willing at accept his help. Can he break through her old memories and make her see that he is a different person now?

And finally we meet Merry. Well, actually now she is going by her given name of Meredith - because she doesn't think she has reason to be Merry any more. Her heart was broken - but are things really what she thought they were? Did David leave her for the reason she assumes or was there something else that drew him away?

Loved the epilogue at the end because I really didn't want the stories to end. All the characters were likeable and each was in a totally believable situation.

If you are like me and like to read Christmas stories in the weeks and months leading up to the holiday be sure to pick up a copy of this book.


 "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

Rare Bird

On the other side of heartbreak, a story of hope rises.
On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? And, Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace.

In Rare Bird, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother’s story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. “Anna’s storytelling,” says Glennon Doyle Melton, “is raw and real and intense and funny.”

With this unforgettable account of a family’s love and longing, Anna will draw you deeper into a divine goodness that keeps us—beyond all earthly circumstances—safe.

This is a book about facing impossible circumstances and wanting to turn back the clock. It is about the flicker of hope in realizing that in times of heartbreak, God is closer than your own skin. It is about discovering that you’re braver than you think.

I have to admit when I first looked at this book I thought "I don't want to read this - too sad." There's so much sadness in the world right now that I just didn't want to give myself anymore reason to feel down. But the opportunity kept presenting itself so I figured God meant me to read it.

And it was sad. How can a book about a child dying not be sad? But it was real, it was raw and it was important to read. Anna opened herself to us and laid herself bare. Haven't every one of us as mothers second guessed a decision? Haven't we all played the "what if" game?

Jack was a fun loving - but not perfect child. Anna shared his idiosyncrasies with us. There were things even Jack questioned about his personality. But in the end, he was a good brother, son and friend and he was tragically lost.

Anna's struggle to make sense of it all and to keep her faith in the midst of it all is a story that needs to be read. 

Don't miss this one.


My copy was graciously provided by Blogging for Books.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blue Ribbon Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen

National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS’s The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show. Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.

I am one of the many whose heart was won by this wonderfully genuine lady. I loved watching Francine compete on The American Baking Competition and was thrilled when this cookbook was released.

And I simply love this book. From the delicious recipes to the stories behind the recipes to the beautifully decorated pages of the book.

Chock full of recipes to satisfy any sweet tooth it's hard to decide which one to make first. Many of these recipes will seem familiar but Francine has added some wonderful twists to the familiar recipes and made them brand new.

Highly recommended. Don't miss this one.

More wonderful information can be found here.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream. But what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss?

Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.

Tender, savage, and blazingly brilliant, Barracuda is a novel about dreams and disillusionment, friendship and family, class, identity, and the cost of success. As Daniel loses everything, he learns what it means to be a good person—and what it takes to become one.

This is not my normal style book - but something about the reviews I read made me want to give it a try.

The language is horrendous. The sex is crass, vulgar and frankly there was at least one part that made my skin crawl.

But, if you look past that, the book was wonderful. It was not a page turner - and I can't pin point the exact place in the book where the author "had me" but he did. It was compelling and well written and it made me want to pick up another of Mr. Tsiolkas' books.

Dan was a perfect example of a young, talented child who dreamed of a future using his gift - until the gift failed him.His family was a perfect mixture - the mother who would sacrifice anything for her son, the father who was a bit wary of where this was all leading, the younger brother who idolized him and the younger sister who felt left out and alone.

Then there were the friends - Demet, who he grew up with but left behind when he went to school on a scholarship, Luke, the younger student who adores him and would do anything for him, and the other members of the swim team - but were they his friends? And of course the coach who was sure he had finally found his Olympian. Will he let them down - or will they let him down?

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - just remember, there's lots of bad language and quite a bit of sex.

You can go here for more information.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Repurposed & Upcycled Life by Michelle Rayburn

Have you ever wished you could...

  • Unpack emotional baggage and deal with the past
  • Confront perfectionism and negative attitudes
  • Change your perspective on your circumstances
  • Let go of regret and shame
  • Build positive healthy relationships
  • Dream big and live with purpose
Discover the repurposed and upcycled life. With her laugh-out-loud Erma Bombeck way of looking at life, Michelle will help you see how some of your greatest disappointments, mistakes, and hurts can be beautiful treasures from God. Part memoir, part inspiration and self-help, this book will help you: Through inspiration from God's Word and examples from everyday life, you'll discover the joy-filled, hope-rich way of viewing your past, present, and future.

What a fun book this is! Michelle offers tips for addressing real life issueswith a generous dose of humor. She's not afraid to let us see the real Michelle and give us comfort in knowing that the trials we are dealing with are not ours alone.

There are great ideas and if you like crafty things, there are some suggestions at the end of each chapter to make something to remind you of what you've learned.

I did the book as sort of a Bible study - a chapter a week - and really enjoyed having the week to think on what I had read before moving on to the next chapter.

Click here for a wonder Q&A with Michelle to get some insight to her life.

I highly recommend this book.


Many thanks to Michelle and KCW Communications for my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War.   Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
   With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

When I first read the description of this book I was simply fascinated. I love all things Civil War but I had never heard anything at all about women disguising themselves as men and fighting alongside their husband, fathers and brothers.

When the lists of casualties start being posted, Jeremiah and his friends decide they need to join up. Rosetta doesn't want Jeremiah to go without them being married, so in just a few short weeks time, they get married and he goes off to fight. Once he leaves, Rosetta decides she can't stay behind and be a wife without a husband so she cuts her hair, puts on a pair of pants and heads off to join him. These actions are tied to the Bible in a couple of different ways - a husband and wife leaving their parents and cleaving to each other and the story of Ruth and Naomi (wither thou goest, I will go). It's a beautiful action of a woman who can't bear to be separated from her husband - and a husband who can't bear to be separated from his wife, because when Rosetta finally reaches Jeremiah, even though he fears for her safety, he can't bring himself to insist she go home.

This book was very compelling. The descriptions make you feel like you are there. The courage of all these people - men and women - is simply amazing. The raw fear combined with the need and desire to fight for what they believed in is inspirational.

I laughed, I cried, I loved it all.

Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book - some really interesting information - and I was, quite frankly, shocked by some of it.

This is a not to be missed book.

More information can be found here:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Rumspringa's Hope by Beth Shriver

Torn between the affections of two men, will Emma's time away from home help her choose?

Although promised to the widowed neighbor Zeb, Emma is considering leaving her Amish community to watch over her younger brother Mark when he leaves for Philadelphia to explore the outside world during his Rumspringa.

There, she reconnects with her former beau Caleb, who protects the Amish teens, introducing them to his life evangelizing and helping the homeless. Unbeknownst to Emma, Caleb is glad for the opportunity to spend time with her and hopes to win her back.

Struck by the power of evangelism and outreach, Emma begins to feel a draw to Caleb's way of life. When she doesn’t return home when she promised, Zeb goes to the city to find her, forcing Emma to choose in which of their two worlds she really belongs.

I was thrilled to win a copy of this book on one of my favorite authors, Vanetta Chapman's website.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a bit different than some of the other "Amish" books I've read. I know that all Amish communities are not the same. In most books I have read "rumspringa" is a time of experiencing the outside world - and so it is in this book. But in this book it's more of a specific "time and place". What I have heard about it before is that it's mostly a secret thing - the parents not necessarily knowing where and what the kids are doing and a lot of it is done with the kids coming home at night and still, for the most part, carrying on with the normal day to day life.

In this book it's a group of kids going to the inner city and staying at a homeless shelter. The parents know where they are and they either stay there and make a life for themselves or return home after weeks or months there.

It was interesting reading about a different way to do rumspringa. This one reminded me a lot of what our local churches do as an outreach - although for only a week or two at a time.

These characters were easy to like - they had flaws, no one was perfect and they had struggles. What happened at the shelter was a good view in to inner city life and very real.

I highly recommend this book. It's book one of a series and I'm looking forward to reading the next two.

Thanks to Beth Shriver for sending me the copy and to Vanetta Chapman for the offer to win it.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Giveaway!!

The wonderful folks at Blogging for Books is coordinating a giveaway for a copy of this book. My review (I really liked this book!) can be found here.

The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email. For a complete listing of the rules, please see below.

Here's where you will go to enter the drawing:

Please make sure to read through all their rules and guidelines before entering.

Good Luck!!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Heartbeat Away by S. Dionne Moore

When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam
Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?

This is a fabulous addition to the Quilts of Love Series.Each book is by a different author and I have loved each one I have read.

This one is very special to me because I love anything and everything about the Civil War and I know the places they talk about in the book - Sharpsburg, Frederick, Hagerstown (I work in Hagerstown!).

This book highlights something that I suppose was pretty common but yet untalked about in a lot of books - the relationships that built between Northern and Southern people. Yes, by shear definition of the war, people from one side were not supposed to support or aid people from the other side. But human nature and emotions don't always go by rules.

So grows the affection between wounded Rebel soldier Joe and his Northern nurse Beth. And what of Jim, the free black man who helps Beth to take care of Joe? Can he care for a Rebel soldier?

And what about the package Beth's mother sent her - a package of quilt blocks. What could she have been thinking - sending quilt blocks to a nurse who would be overwhelmed with wounded and dying soldiers? What is so important about those quilts blocks - and how will Beth figure out the riddle.

Highly recommended - this book as well as the series.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancée, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes, by hook or by crook, she'll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home.

Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home... until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs all his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they'll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics.

Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

This was a good, light comedic story. You really had to suspend belief for a lot of it though. For example, Agatha is supposed to be hiding because some unknown person is trying to kill her. However, she parades down the streets of New York with a pig on a leash. Matilda (the pig) was certainly an unusual character and brought a lot of laughter to the book, but we're supposed to believe that a woman knowing she is being hunted to be killed is going to go to all the trouble to put on a disguise and then go out with a pig as a pet.

I have to say I did like a couple of the characters - Mr. Blackheart and Mrs. Swanson were very endearing - and I would welcome a book about them in a heartbeat.

This book is actually the fourth in a series. I have not read any of the other books so I don't know if this one is just in the same vein or if the books build on each other.


My copy of this book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill

Argentine native Inspector Héctor Salgado is one of Barcelona's leading criminal detectives. After a stint on probation—he assaulted a suspect from a human-trafficking case—Salgado is back in the office and eager for something major.
      To his dismay, he's assigned to a routine accidental death instead: a college student fell from a balcony in one of Barcelona’s ritzier neighborhoods. But as Salgado pieces together details from the victim's the life, he realizes that his death was not all that simple: his teenage friends are clearly hiding something and drugs might be involved.  Salgado follows a trail that will lead him deep into the underbelly of Barcelona’s high society, where he’ll confront dangerous criminals, long-buried secrets, and, strangely, his own past. But Salgado thrives on pressure, and he lives for this kind of casedark, violent, and seemingly unsolvable.

As it turns out, the "routine, accidental death" is neither routine or, it seems, accidental. Stories don't add up. People seem to be hiding things. And Hector is not willing to let it go as accidental.

There are actually two deaths that seem accidental and seem to be tied together - but what is the link? Or is there a link?

Nice mystery with the two deaths colliding in an unexpected way. And I didn't see the solution to either of them coming!

This was not a book that I couldn't put down. But once put down, I kept picking it up because I wanted to get to the solution.

Good, solid book - if not a page turner. Be aware that there are some things not settled at the end. So if you can't let go of a story until it's completed - you'll need to continue the series.

For more info:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries by Isabella Alan

The Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries start of with a great first book in Murder, Plain and Simple, where we get to know everyone and get the lay of the land as far as who knew who when, where businesses are located and who owns/works in them, etc. It's a great foundation book.

I love the setting and the characters and who doesn't love a good mystery? The second book was a great follow up. I can't wait for the next in the series.

From Murder, Plain and Simple

When Angela Braddock inherits her late aunt’s beautiful Amish quilt shop, she leaves behind her career and broken engagement for a fresh start in Holmes County, Ohio.

With her snazzy cowboy boots and her ornithophobic French bulldog, Angie doesn’t exactly fit in with the predominantly Amish community in Rolling Brook, but her aunt’s quilting circle tries to make her feel welcome as she prepares for the reopening of Running Stitch.

On the big day, Angie gets a taste of success as the locals and Englisch tourists browse the store’s wares while the quilters stitch away. But when Angie finds the body of ornery Amish woodworker Joseph in her storeroom the next morning, everything starts falling apart.

With evidence mounting against her, Angie is determined to find the culprit before the local sheriff can arrest her. Rolling Brook always appeared to be a simple place, but the closer Angie gets to the killer, the more she realizes that nothing in the small Amish community is as plain as it seems....

From Murder, Simply Stitched:

When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone....

Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works.

The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.

By book two, the characters all seem like old friends and they bring so much joy of a new story with them. Give these a try - you won't be disappointed.

Highly recommended.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Child of Mine - David and Beverly Lewis

Jack Livingston has been raising his nine-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents' lives. While he travels for work, Natalie is lovingly cared for by Laura, an Amish nanny who loves her as her own.

Kelly Maines is nearing the end of her rope. Her baby was kidnapped, the apparent victim of a black market adoption ring, and for eight years, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. Now, there's one last lead from a private investigator: Just a few miles away lives a girl who matches the profile. Could this, at long last, be her beloved child?

Desperately, Kelly initiates a "chance" meeting with Jack Livingston. It goes really well. So well, in fact, that Jack asks her out. One date leads to another, and before she can come clean with her original motives, Kelly realizes Jack is falling for her--and she for him.

Now how can she tell Jack why she's really here? And having gotten to know Natalie, what if she isn't her long-lost daughter, after all? This was all supposed to be so simple.

I have long been a fan of Beverly Lewis. I love her stories of the Amish culture so I was thrilled to be able to read and review this book.

This one actually doesn't revolve around the Amish as much as many of her other books do but this book was just as compelling and interesting as any of her books.

The characters are likeable, the plot is plausible - which of us wouldn't search endlessly for a child stolen from us?

There are twists and turns that I just didn't see coming! There was a point in the book when I said "wow! it all makes sense now - remember what she said, remember when that happened" but it wasn't what I thought it was.

This book will keep you guessing and hold your interest until the very end.

Highly recommended.


My copy of this book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
   But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own.

I have to admit I had a hard time with this book at first. I had read some reviews and the description above and thought "I would really like this!" - but I didn't. I wanted to, I struggled to....but I didn't. But, I said I would review it - and I really wanted to like it - so I read it.

And am I ever glad I did! Although it's set in the recent past (people use cell phones) it feels like the 60s. Rich and powerful people, stealing away to a secluded family compound. The patriarch everyone respects and fears. The lovely but aloof matriarch. The adult children with their young children visiting. The eccentric aunt. A few "outsiders" - guests of the teen-aged family members. Swimming, fishing, barbecues. Idyllic days spent in the sun. Beautiful people. New love. And mayhem and murder.

The characters were wonderful! The descriptions of the houses and the compound were glorious. There were twists and turns - things are not always what they seem.

I simply loved this book and could not put it down.

I do want to point out there is some language and some sex.


Go here for more info:


"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow

Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940 with a love of ships and high hopes. Though he leaves behind his new wife, Agnes, and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream—but things change when he is shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister in his own hometown of Boston—and finds an immediate and undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.

Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic and a historical drama that brings the streets and neighborhoods of Boston vividly to life from World War II through the civil rights era to the present day, A Life Apart takes readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, unending guilt, racial tensions, death, and the profound effects of war.

I absolutely loved this book! It has everything I like in a book - it takes place over a period of about 50 years, chapters are told from different character's point of view, the writing is believable, the characters are flawed but likeable and the emotions are raw and moving.

I found myself constantly thinking "why didn't they just....." but then had to remember it was a long time ago and the world was a different place than the one we live in now.

For myself, I wanted most for Beatrice to be happy. I know it was wrong for her to be with another woman's husband but I liked her. She was strong and confident and a woman I could admire - and I could sympathize with how she was drawn to Morris. I hated how he would stay away from her for so long and go back thinking things would just go back to the way they were. My heart broke for her heartaches.

Two things I didn't like about the book - one was some of the language I found very objectionable. But, it was used in context and it wasn't all that frequent - and it was appropriate (unfortunately) where it was used. The other thing was something in the very beginning of the book that wasn't resolved at the end of the book. When I read the last page I thought "wait - that can't be the end! What about....". I'm guessing the author wanted us to draw our own conclusion but I wanted to know what she was thinking - after all, the entire book was what she was thinking and it was wonderful.

I highly recommend this book. Here are some links that will give you some more details.

Info to buy the book:

And an excerpt from the book (just to whet your appetite):


 "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Last Bride

Of her Old Order parents' five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie's father opposes the match.

Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they'll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?

This is the fifth book in the Home To Hickory series by Beverly Lewis. And what a fabulous addition to the series it is!

Tessie and Marcus throw caution to the wind when her father refuses to let them court and marry and elope. Hoping that they can change her father's mind and live together as man and wife, they meet secretly in the home Marcus is setting up for them.

But one day something terrible happens that will change everything. Can Tessie find a way to make her commitment to Marcus, her honor of her parents and her desire to join the Amish faith come together for a happily ever after?

Beverly Lewis is the absolute queen of Amish fiction. There is simply none better. And this story is just another jewel in her crown. Though this is part of a series, it, and all of the books in this series, can be read as stand alone novels.

Don't miss this one!


This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Through The Deep Waters

Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.

The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?

I don't know when I've read a book that has pulled me closer to God than this book. The message is not subtle but it's not pushy either -  it's just incredibly moving.

This book is wonderful reading entertainment - I couldn't put it down and read it in one day (staying up way, way into the night when I should have been asleep) but it's also a good story for anyone who is hurting. Anyone who feels unloved - anyone who needs to know that they are loved unconditionally.

The three main characters - Dinah, Amos and Ruthie - all have problems. Dinah is ashamed of her background. Amos has physical problems that are impossible to hide and make him a target of ridicule. Ruthie wants what she can't have. They are drawn with both strengths and weaknesses - just like all of us. And at the core, all three want the same thing - love.

Pick up this book - you won't regret it. Highly recommended.

Check out this link to read the first chapter:

And you can go here for more information on when the book will be available and how to order it:


"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Big Picture Inteactive Bible

Are our children really getting the full meaning of the stories as we read the Bible to them? When we read the Bible to our children, the stories are often in bits and pieces and focus on "being good." But children should get the message of "being saved" from reading the Bible instead. The Big Picture Interactive Bible (B&H Kids) is the first children's Bible of its kind-the Jesus story from start to finish, filled with features and interactive elements that capture the true meaning and significance behind all of the verses and stories.
The Big Picture Interactive Bible has nearly a thousand features in full color throughout including pictures of key items so children can understand what they're reading. The B&H Kids Augmented Reality App (free and available for Android and iPhone) creates a digital pop-up book when used with full-color illustrations, bringing the Bible to life for each child. It features the full text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, a clear, contemporary English translation that's faithful to the original languages of the Bible. 
Other features included are:
  • Big Words - Colorful Bible Dictionary entry with photos, maps, illustrations and descriptions of key terms, right in the Bible text.
  • Big Questions/Big Answers - Kids always want to know why. This feature asks and then answers many of the common "big questions" throughout the Bible.
  • Christ Connection - This feature can be found from Genesis to Revelation and will help kids understand how each story points us to Christ and His work for us.
  • Introductions - Basic information about the books of the Bible will give kids perspective on the who, what and when for each book as well as "the Big Picture" from that book and key stories it contains.
  • Icons - Special icons are placed throughout the Bible to connect to the Gospel Project for Kids curriculum.
  • Memory Verses - Scripture memorization is much more than "saying the words." When a child memorizes a Bible verse and puts it to practice in their daily life, that child begins to learn how God can lead his life. The top 100 verses to remember are highlighted throughout the Bible.
  • Parent Connection - This feature is designed to help parents be empowered to engage deeper in the story with their kids.
  • Seeing the Big Picture - This feature digs into key Bible stories to help young hearts and minds grasp the meaning and provide parents with extra information to discuss the Bible with their kids.
What a fabulous Bible this is! The art work is colorful and perfect to draw a little one's attention.

There are many little "pop outs" throughout that have verses to remember, explanation of terms that kids might not know and questions (with the answers included) about the verses.

There are maps and an index to the Bible stories in the back for quick reference.

Sure wish I had this when my kids were little but I know I will spend many hours with my granddaughter curled up on my lap reading through this one.

Highly recommended - this would be perfect to tuck inside an Easter basket.


Many thanks to B&H Kids for providing this Bible to me for my honest review.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Minding Molly

Molly Zook Has Everything Planned Just Right.
Or So She Thinks!

Molly Zook's always liked being in control, so she's struggling with her mother's wish that, to save the family farm, she marry Mervin Mosier. Especially after Molly meets Leon Fisher. He's from Montana but is now training horses at a nearby ranch. He's tall and muscular and confident--Molly has never met anyone like him and she's sure he feels the same about her.

Determined to let nothing get between them, Molly tries to coax Mervin into falling back in love with Molly's best friend, Hannah. A weekend camping trip in the Poconos could be just the place...but things quickly go awry, and it seems Leon and Hannah might be falling for each other instead! Will Molly keep struggling to control everyone and everything around her? Or will she learn to let God handle the twists and turns of her life?

This is book three in the Courtships of Lancaster County series by Leslie Gould. I have read book one but not book two and while these books are good as stand alones - there were frequent references to things that I can only assume happened in the second book. You can still enjoy the book and the references don't make the story confusing - it just gives you that feeling that you've missed something.

I enjoyed this story - there are four main "younger" characters that the book focuses on - Molly and her best friend Hannah, and Mervin, who lives next to Molly and has been sweet on Hannah for years, and Leon, who has come from Montana to work for Hannah's father. There's a bit of musical romance partners and some wondering who will end up with who. There are fears to be concurred, misunderstandings to muddy the waters and a couple of near tragedies to get your heart pumping.

As I mentioned, there are updates on characters from previous books, so if you've read them in order, you'll get to check in with old friends. And if you haven't read the first two books yet and you want to read them, I'd suggest reading them in order as there are spoilers in this last book.


My copy was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers  for my honest review.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Quilted Heart

Like a beautiful patchwork quilt, the three novellas in The Quilted Heart tell stories of lives stitched together with love and God’s unending grace.

Once a week, Elsa Brantenberg hosts the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse on the outskirts of the riverside town of St. Charles, Missouri. The ladies who gather there have all experienced heartache related to the intense hardships of the Civil War, and together, they are facing their painful circumstances with friendship and prayer. Can the tattered pieces of their hearts be stitched together by God’s grace?
Dandelions on the Wind
When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren, and she feels compelled to find another job. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan?

Bending Toward the Sun
Dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, Emilie Heinrich is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie’s eye and her heart. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?

Ripples Along the Shore
Change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boone's Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed Caroline’s husband. Despite her dislike for him, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new, but when Mr. Cowlishaw forbids her—a single woman—to travel with them, will one man’s prejudice destroy Caroline’s hope for a new future? Or will the ripples of God’s love bring the answer she needs?

What a wonderful collection of stories this is! I haven't read many novella collections but I have read enough to know that they don't all following the same "rules". The last one I read, the stories were tied together by the location but the characters didn't really carry from one story to the other except for a mention of how the characters from the previous story were doing. In this collection, the characters from the previous stories play a larger part in the next story. It's almost like as the story continues, another voice does the story-telling from their point of view.

This lovely group of ladies, who meet every Thursday to quilt, are strong, devoted ladies picking up the pieces of their lives after the Civil War. Each has experienced trials along the trail to true love. And each is faced with an obstacle to overcome in the face of that true love.

Such a joy to know that you can read one story in a day - but then when you pick up the next day, you'll run into some of the people you met the day before but it's a fresh, new story.

For more information on Mona Hodgson, you can check out her website:

You can read the first chapter of the book here:

Highly recommended.


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Match Made In Heaven

There's a secret matchmaker at work in frontier Texas!
In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can't keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she's also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?
A Cowboy Unmatched
Neill isn't sure who hired him to repair Clara's roof--he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?

An Unforeseen Match
Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace's doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though--and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on.

No Match for Love
Andrew can't fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?

Meeting Her Match
When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker's son how much she cares for him?

About the Author

Karen Witemeyer is a winner of the Carol Award and has been a finalist for the RITA Award and National Readers' Choice Award. She lives with her husband and three children in Abilene, Texas. Learn more about Karen at

Mary Connealy is well-known for her award-winning, bestselling historical romantic comedies. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Regina Jennings is the author of two acclaimed historical romances, with a third to release soon. She lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Carol Cox is the author of more than 25 books and novellas. A pastor's wife and homeschooling mom, she makes her home with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona.

I have never been a fan of novellas. I prefer a book I can really get to know the characters and spend some time with them.

And then I read this collection. Each story is a stand alone story but they are all set in the same town and you do get a repeat of some of the characters - if only as an update of where their lives have gone - so you would want to read them in order.

They are around a 100 pages long so they're great for when you want a quick read but you really do get to know the characters in those 100 pages.

Each of these stories was written by a different author but their writing styles are similar enough that it's not jarring going from one to the next. And I love that there's both romance and humor in the stories. Great for a Saturday afternoon curled up with a quilt.

This book is a wonderful addition to your library and I highly recommend it.


My copy of this book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.