25 Book Reviews

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What could be better??? A Mystery that just happens to be Amish!!!!

"Murder Simply Brewed"

"An Amish Village Mystery"
   By Vannetta Chapman

There is nothing as exciting as going to the mailbox in the morning and finding a new book to read and review!! I was even more ecstatic to find the book was written  by one of my favorite authors of Amish fiction!! And ..... then, to find out that it is Book One of a brand new series!! Be still my heart!! 

Seriously, this is a fantastic blend of a cozy mystery, along with my genre of choice, books involving the Amish.  
Vannetta has managed to combine adventure, mystery as well as romance into a book that involves you in the tale from beginning to end. 

The setting is Middlebury, Indiana, a place inhabited by many Amish folks, who work alongside the Englischers. Amber Wright, a manager of a collection of Amish stores in a village like setting is optimistic about the success UNTIL a tragedy strikes the coffee shop, the busy place where people tend to gather for their first cup of coffee for the day. Amber is disturbed and confused when she suddenly receives a call that Ethan Gray has been discovered dead in his place of employment, "A Simple Blend". She hurries over to the shop and finds a solitary hole in the shop's window and the store manager lying by the espresso machine dead from an apparent heart attack. But why was a hole in the window????   Amber decides to hire a former employee of the quilt shop to take Ethan's place. It just happens to be the young Amish girl , Hannah, who found Ethan. Together these two ladies become amateur detectives. The police rule it an accidental death, a heart attack, but the two women are NOT convinced!

Clues just don't add up. Mysterious events occur around and in the village. A romance develops as the case becomes more complicated. Will these two women be right?

The characters appealed to me from the first chapter. They were typical Englischers and Amish , working together. Their description was so realistic and appealing that I immediately became part of the story. I was off to  help them solve a mystery!!  Hannah became my best friend. I wanted to give her advice, but wait..... this isn't real, it is fiction!!

The plot contained many twists and turns to keep one glued to the page, waiting eagerly to see what other complications would be thrown in. Delightful tale with just the perfect amount of suspense keeping the reader engrossed until the very last page. I must say, that my bedtime was rather late , I could NOT go to sleep until I finished this book! 

This is a five star book!! Has the makings of a real winner!

Can hardly wait for book two of this series!
Vannetta, keep writing and I WILL keep reading!! FANTABULOUS book!!

This book was received from Zondervan and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Another Winning Book from the Quilts of Love Series

"A Sky Without Stars"
    By Linda S. Clare

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: In 1951, Frankie Chasing Bear is a Lakota caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she knows he will need to become as a white man to succeed. After his father's killed in a barroom brawl, Harold and Frankie move to Arizona, where she begins a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn and prayed into it.

She distrusts Christians, as her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian School, until she meets BIA agent Nick Vandergriff, a half-Lakota who's also caught between cultures. Nick must convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren't all bad as he tries to win her heart in order to put the stars back into her sky.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

My Thoughts: 
Every book from the Quilts of Love Series has been unique. They vary in styles of writing and content, but all have one thing in common- a quilt!!   Each is well written ! I have not encountered one that I did not love and this book is no exception!!

Linda Clare tells a tale crossing two cultures. She weaves color and texture into this book. Not only does the storyline capture your attention, but you also learn much of the Native American world of the 1950's . I was astounded at the amount of information included in this tale. It made it so much more real to me.

The characters are wonderfully described in such a way that you feel their challenges and worries and they slowly become part of you. The Indian culture vs. the White Man's differences became very clear and disturbing.  The accuracy in which the characters met their problems head on, all due to race, were upsetting to say the least, however , very realistic for that time in history.  The determination to keep the traditions was evident throughout the story. I loved the characters from the beginning of the book. They grab your attention  and succeed in appealing to your empathy. 

The plot, although a bit slow moving in the beginning, picks up speed and has many unexpected twists and turns. The powerful message of hope with our God, shines through loud and clear. Regardless of culture, God is present with us through good times and bad and will see us through. There is hope in our future and this book travels the road through difficult times to prove that is so true.

I highly recommend this book to all readers. It is a tale that is interesting to those who like history, Native People customs, as well as quilt lovers!!

To read other reviews of this book: http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/a-sky-without-stars-linda-clare

About the Author: Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them(with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

Learn more about Linda at: http://www.lindasclare.com

This book was provided by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Linda is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway and joining her fellow Quilts of Love authors, Barbara Cameron and Joyce Magnin, for a Facebook “Spring Fling” party on April 1st.
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
  • Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 1st. Winner will be announced at the “Spring Fling” Facebook Party on April 1st. RSVP today and connect with the authors from the Quilts of Love series, Barbara Cameron, Linda S. Clare, and Joyce Magnin, for an evening of book chat, quilt trivia, prizes, and an exclusive look at the next Quilts of Love book!
So grab your copies of Scraps of EvidenceA Sky Without Stars, andMaybelle in Stitches and join Barbara, Linda, and Joyce on the evening of April 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Winning Book from Popular Author, Lisa Wingate!

"Wildwood Creek"
By Lisa Wingate

Allie Kirkland, the main character in this novel, knows in her heart , that she is to follow her father's unfinished destiny. In fact, she has felt called to do so  for many years.  When she is offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, she realizes that finally she can follow in her dad's footsteps as a director. This is a unique situation - a reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood, her first step into the film industry. Not exactly what Allie envisioned, however, it is a small price to pay to  achieve her dream.

In 1861. the real Wildwood was a  location of some very dangerous realities. The town founder had an iron grip on all of the residents, including the Irish schoolteacher, Bonnie Rose. Mysterious disappearances took place leading to many myths still being related in folk songs, in Allie's time. 

Strange events begin to take place at the filming. There appears to be a connection between Allie and the teacher who disappeared so many years ago. Allie's neighbor on the field set has secrets. Allie finds herself unable to believe anyone!!!  Would history repeat itself???  Would Allie suffer the same fate as the teacher???

This book was written in a style that I have difficulty following. Some people love it, I tend to find it laborious to read. Every other chapter is present day, while the alternates are written as the time being 1862. So there are two story lines running side by side!  Two main characters, two separate , yet intertwining plots, two sets of complications. Lisa does a fabulous job of connecting the two stories . Although it is not my favorite style of writing, I did enjoy this book. The stories have more in common than we know and as the book progresses we find out the connections. 

The characters are realistic and well described. I found myself identifying with Allie and it made the book come alive in my mind.  The challenges, fears and joys were easily believable. 

 A good historical mystery! 

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Great New Book For Busy Moms!

"Balanced : Finding Center as a 

        Work-at-Home Mom"

             By Tricia Goyer                   

How can a work-at-home mom raise kids, juggle a career and take care of family responsibilities with only 24-hour days? Working at home while raising kids and juggling a career and family responsibilities is no easy feat. Author and homeschooling mom Tricia Goyer shares her tips for finding balance among all your many hats as a mom. Balancing is a process and a journey, one that Tricia herself has yet to perfect. But between writing more than forty books, raising and homeschooling six kids, being a wife, and being active in her community, she has amassed valuable tips she shares in Balanced.

What a great, easy to read book that has invaluable ideas for busy moms!!!  The frantic, always working mom is always striving to get everything done and do it right!! I think we all have the desire to be perfect , however, deep down, we know that it just isn't practical or possible! Tricia's book gives us simple ideas and ways to improve the use of our time, while letting us know that is is JUST FINE to do what is best for YOUR family!  AN D it is not necessary to do everything!! 

Tricia gives information that is easy to use and not time consuming!  She gives fabulous ideas on how to prioritize your schedule ( let's face it! Not everything is important!!). how to utilize your job so it is a benefit to your kids, NOT harmful, ideas for stay at home moms, and much more!! I, myself, know that I need to take the time to do my own Bible reading, study and praying, NOT just family time but ME time!! Most moms forget this, because we tend to feel taking time for ourselves is selfish. Tricia confirmed my opinion . If we are not doing this, we are not meeting our own needs!

 The best little book I have read for a long time!!  Moms shouldn't feel guilty about what they are not doing, but feeling great about what they are getting done!\
Try Tricia's challenge! Get involved!! Make your life easier!

Purchase a copy, get a free downloadable workbook, and learn more at Tricia's website.

To read other reviews of this book:   http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/balanced-finding-center-as-a-work-at-home-mom

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and Lead Your Family Like Jesus,(co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children. 
 You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com.

This ebook was received from Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Deadly Consequences as a Result of a Husband's Lies

               By Terri Blackstock

About the book: Juliet Cole's life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn't know who---or what---to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie.
A husband's lies can have deadly consequences.
When Juliet Cole's husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voicemail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.
Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers' demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband's dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?

My Thoughts, as a reader:

"Distortion" is another winning novel from Terri Blackstock! The amount of suspense she packs into a novel is unbelievable!! From the gunning down of Juliet's husband on the first page of the book, to the last page, I was captivated by this fastmoving thriller. This book is a roller coaster ride through Juliet's life and as she discovers, the secret life of her husband. Just when you think you reach the top of the hill, you are plunged down into the valley with deep fear filled with despair.  This plot had so many twists, turns and surprises, that I  constantly was afraid of what would happen next! How could life get much worse?? But it does!  I must admit, although I always try to predict what will happen next and how a book will end, this one had me completely stumped. Every time I had the situation in hand, everything would fall apart, as another complication in the plot arose.

The characters are everyday people, as you and I are, making all of the events so realistic and believable.  They have to deal with such lies, tragedies, fears! Characters with whom I can relate, are what to me, makes a superior book, and this is certainly one of them. This novel, as a chilling mystery, does not delve deep into the characters' beings, however, that does not hinder the action. With all of the constant upheaval and challenges, you don't seem to notice this . 

"Distortion" is of the  Christian Fiction genre, but would appeal to any reader of suspense tales. It is definitely one of the best "sit on the edge of your seat" books that I have read in a while. 
I can hardly wait for the next in this series!  All I can say is "WOW!" 

About the Author:
Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual "new kid," her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.
In 1994 Terri was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. As she was praying about her transition, she went on a cruise and noticed that almost everyone on the boat (including her) had a John Grisham novel. It occurred to her that some of Grisham's readers were Christians, and that if she wrote a fast-paced thriller with an added faith element, she might just find her niche. As God would have it, Christian publishers were showing interest in the suspense genre, so she quickly sold a four-book series to Zondervan. Since that time, she's written over thirty Christian titles, most of them suspense novels.
Besides entertaining her readers, Terri tackles issues that she hopes will change lives. Her recent book, Predator, was inspired by her experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and her concern that people posted too much personal information about themselves. The book deals with an online predator who uses social networks as his playground. She hopes the book will change readers' online habits. Her New York Times best-seller, Intervention, was inspired by her own personal struggles with a daughter on drugs. In the book, a mother hires an interventionist for her drug-addicted daughter. But on the way to treatment, the interventionist is murdered, and the daughter disappears. Barbara, the mother, sets out to search for her daughter. Terri modeled Barbara after herself, and poured many of her own emotions and experiences into that character. As a result, many families experiencing drug addiction have written to thank her for telling their story and giving them hope.
Other recent books include her stand-alone novel Shadow in Serenity, and Vicious Cycle (Book 2 in her Intervention Series). She's also known for popular series such as the Restoration Series, the Cape Refuge Series, the Newpointe 911 Series, and the SunCoast Chronicles series.
Terri has appeared on national television programs such as "The 700 Club" and "Home Life," and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

Learn more about Terri at: http://terriblackstockbooks.com

Pre-order a copy for just $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, or the eBook version on CBD until March 10th.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/tPPB8 

This book was supplied by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another Excellent Read from the Quilts of Love Series!

                                              "Scraps of Evidence"

            By Barbara  Cameron   

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he's been trying to get to know her better and he'd like to be seeing her during those couple nights a week she spends with her quilting guild.
Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home and she acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan seems to be communicating a message to them about Tess's uncle. There's a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?    

My Thoughts:

After having read many of the Quilts of Love Series and enjoying them all, this book, by Barbara Cameron was no disappointment. I have read all of Barbara's Amish fiction, loving them, but did not know if this book would equal the others!! Well,  it SURE did!! This book carried forth the theme of the whole series, quilts and their importance and influence on our lives, how they travel through time, and tell a tale, sometimes good, other times, very worrying and distressful. Barbara did a super job developing the plot , a heirloom quilt that had quite a disturbing story to tell. I felt the fear of the main character, Tess! Talk about sitting on the edge of your seat!!!! I could NOT put the book down, as I fretted and worried about my newest friend. As Tess unravels the story behind the quilt, she is shocked to learn clues that  may lead to a serial killer! A killer who is still active in keeping secrets well hidden! T|he fear was described in a realistic fashion, with Tess depending on her detective partner, Logan, to help her through .Just the right amount of romance was evident to lighten the mood of the story.

The plot moved quickly in the beginning, slowing down somewhat midway through the book. However, I thought that it added to the the story! I , at times, wanted to jump into the action of this story! "I can help!" I thought! Of course, then reality hit! Hold on, this is a piece of fiction that I am reading!!  There were just enough twists and turns in the plot to keep that book in my hand long after bedtime. The conclusion of the story was surprising, unexpected. That made this book a winner in my eyes!!

Eagerly awaiting more from Barbara Cameron!! Changes in genre can be good for both the author and the reader!!  This book  is a winner!

About the Author: Barbara Cameron is the CBD, CBA, and  ECPA bestselling author of 24 books including the new Stitches in Times series for Abingdon Press. Barbara has written fiction and non-fiction books for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, and other publishers. She sold three films to HBO/Cinemax and is the first winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara's first two novellas won the 2nd and 3rd place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest from the Faith, Love, and Hope chapter of  RWA. Both were finalists for the novella category of the Carol Award of the American Christian Writers Award (ACFW). 

Learn more about Barbara at: http://barbaracameron.com

This book was received from Litfuse in exhange for a fair and honest review.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/tB3KX

To read other review of this book:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A New Series From Shelley Shepard Gray


By Shelley Shepard Gray

Synopsis:(from back cover of book)
Return to Sugarcreek, Book One
In the Amish town of Sugarcreek, love comes in many forms. But will it come at all for Miriam?
Miriam Zehr has worked at the Sugarcreek Inn longer than she cares to admit. The restaurant is a favorite of town residents as well as the many tourists who come to taste the famous Amish fare. Though she always tries to have a smile for every customer, deep down Miriam knows something’s missing: a family of her own.
Miriam has never felt particularly beautiful, especially because she’s always been a bit heavier than other girls her age. When Junior, the man she’s pined for all her life, suddenly seeks her out, she’s thrilled to be noticed . . . until she realizes he’s only asking her to help get the attention of Mary Kathryn Hershberger, her pretty friend.
If Miriam helps Junior court Mary Kathryn, she’ll get to spend a lot of time with him, but she might lose him in the process. Are these few stolen moments worth a lifetime of sacrifice? Is Miriam right to even hope for the life she dreams of?
My Opinions and Thoughts about this novel:
I have been a faithful follower of all of Shelley's Amish fiction and have been looking forward to revisiting Sugarcreek, and perhaps catching up with some of the characters of the former series, Seasons of Sugarcreek. Book One of this series was certainly no disappointment! I have loved all of Shelley's Amish novels, and this one was another winner!! 
Shelley describes her characters in a detailed, realistic way. You immediately, are able to identify with the main character, Miriam. Amish women have the same kinds of problems as anyone else, and you come to know Miriam as one of your dear friends. She has the desire of many wormen, she so wants to find the right husband, marry her one true love and have a big family! The delay in her hopes and plans is a worry and tends to affect everything she does and feels in her daily life. I felt such empathy as I read of her insecurities, as she suffers a definite lack of self confidence, believing herself to be unattractive, as she has always been a bit on the heavy side.  Her troubles and disappointments became mine. Her fears and heartbreak weighed on my mind. I wanted to help this young lady!!! Then , I had to catch myself- Miriam is a character in a story!!!! NOT REAL!! At times, I would forget this one little fact!!
The plot, although not a complicated one, draws you in from the first page. There are unexpected twists and turns that keep you glued to the page. Will Miriam wait upon the Lord and seek His guidance while waiting for His plan to be revealed?? Will the gentleman who Miriam fancies, also listen to that small quiet voice?? Should we all have a life where hopes and dreams are fulfilled?? Perhaps, God has other ideas, but we do have to patient to find out. This is a clear message in this book!!
Definitely a five star book! I can hardly wait for the next one!

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
To read other reviews of this book , click on the following link: http://litfusegroup.com/author/SGray
This book was supplied by the author and Litfuse, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...