25 Book Reviews

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Book of Hope and Inspiration

"Halo Found Hope" 
       A Memoir 

 By Helo Matzelle 


Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope? A young woman lay, packed in ice, as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life... and her family waited. Six days turned into eight weeks. She awoke to discover that she was not the same. She saw two of everything, couldn't feel half of her face, couldn't hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn't even tell anyone that she felt hopeless... or could she? Halo Found Hope is the story of a beautiful, busy wife, and mother of three whose life changes instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor. An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackle the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles.  
Helo's story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body. It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it. While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer. Helo's story is simply this: Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there. He doesn't need to be recognized by you, to be there for you. He can replace fear with courage and discouragement with determination, if you let Him. Helo did, and that is how she found hope.

If you want to read a book that would lead you to peace , bolster your faith, or just simply feel more thankful, this is the one for you! I enjoyed this book, as I travelled the rough road of life with Helo. Helo inspires one to forget about the everyday little bumps in the road and keep your eyes on the Lord. He is the only one who can keep you sane in a world of hurts, challenges and fears. 

Helo experienced the worst nightmare that a young mother can ever dream of. Finding herself suddenly on death's door, she has to make a choice. Should she drown herself in pity or take what only God offers us, peace and acceptance. I was able to feel her every emotion as I read her autobiography. Not only does she give us a clear understanding of what a tumor can do to one's health, but also what it can do to the individual emotionally and how it can affect one's family. Helo's trust in God is unbelievable! She put her hand in His and allowed Him to lead. My emotions and faith were on a roller coaster ride throughout this book. I hit the highs and lows along with this dear woman. 

Halo Found Hope is a book of inspiration. We are shown with detailed descriptions of health tragedies , how we can put our trust in our Father in Heaven and make something good out of the bad experiences in life. This is a book that everyone should read and learn from. 

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

About the Author:

Helouise "Halo" Matzellewas born in the city of Delft, Holland.  Three months after her birth, Helo immigrated to the United States with her parents. Helo graduated from the University of Washington where she met her best friend and husband, Rich.  Formerly in marketing for a major pharmaceutical company, Helo became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her daughter, Lauren. Later the Matzelles were blessed with two sons: Jordan and Austin.

Helo led a charmed life until receiviing a shocking diagnosis in 2011 of a rare brain tumor sitting over the main artery in her brain. She details her painful diagnosis, risky surgery and miraculous recovery in her memoir, Halo Found Hope.

Helo's passion is helping those who face various challenges and afflictions discover where true hope is found. She resides in Redmond, Washington with their three children: daughter, Lauren, and two sons, Jordan and Austin.

Find Author onlinewebsiteFacebookTwitter  

To see a book trailer about this book : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u_DCK4tox8&feature=youtu.be

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Delightful Read !

"An Early Spring"
  by Sarah Price

Sarah  Price has successfully written another delightful tale, one which encompasses our whole idea of spring, a season of rebirth. Drusilla Riehl, the main character is a young Amish lady, ready to embark on new adventures as she matures and grows in her faith. As the eldest of  large family, with the youngest yet to be born,  she has grown to accept her position  and adapted to enjoy her responsibilities and carry them out with grace. Hidden within though, is a hint of rebellion, or so called desire to be able to become more independent and start her own life. This is indeed a story of new life arising.

The characters are realistic and believable, making them easy with whom to identify. The plot is simple yet captivating, a story of the growth of the characters. A wonderful theme throughout the book is one of faith and forgiveness. A message which we all need to be reminded! Sarah has done her research well. The Amish community is described accurately and with respect. I thoroughly enjoyed this easy read!! Great for a spring day, celebrating the new season!!

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another Great Novel Added to "The Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Series" by Amy Clipston

"A Simple Prayer"
 By Amy Clipston

I feel so grateful to have been chosen to be part of Amy Clipston's Bakery Bunch!! Amy has been a favorite author for some time, writing the Amish genre, which just happens to be what I read most! So of course, I feel privileged to be able to review her new books. When this new novel arrived in my mailbox, I was SO excited!! I had read the three previous books in this series and could hardly wait to start the newest!

Linda is no stranger to hardship. She is the sole surviver of  a buggy crash that left her a lonely orphan at the early age of four. Her uncle, Reuben, took her in to raise but it was not willingly gesture. He really had no use for a little girl and had no idea of how to deal with this child. Linda's greatest wish is to be worthy of someone's love! But due to past injuries with lasting effects as well as her embittered uncle' s demeaning attitude toward her, Linda's self worth  has been destroyed.

Aaron Ebersol left the Amish community seventeen years ago. He felt that he could no longer handle the restrictions or the tension with his father. In spite of the fact that all his letters home were unanswered, Aaron put down roots in Missouri and experienced success in starting a business. He was truly making a life for himself. Was he happy??? Truely happy?? He didn't really think so. Upon recieving word that his mother had had a stroke, Aaron quickly packs up and returns to Paradise, PA. As he isn't sure of his family's reaction to his presence, he books a room at a local Bed and Breakfast. He is close enough to visit his mother but not living in a hostile environment. Then, a pleasant but complicated  situation occurs. Linda works at this B and B. The two of them find that they have a lot in common, and get along very well.

BUT.... can Linda and Aaron both forgive the family members who have deceived and rejected them??? Can Aaron convince Linda that she is indeed worthy of his love? Will they allow God to lead them in the right direction??

These characters were realistic and believable. Linda's problems became mine! I felt every hurt, confused thought, and joy that she experienced. She was an easy person with whom to identify. That is what makes a good book!! I need to be able to take up residence inside the individual and community. This book certainly met this requirement . Aaron was a dear, kind individual, who I empathized with throughout the book. At times, I wanted to grab Uncle Reuben and give him a good shake!! Then, I had to step back and assure myself that these people were fictional!!!

The plot was well developed and progressed in a slow but steady pace. You had time to take in the events and think about the effects that sin has on our lives and how others can destroy us with their words and treatment. There were just enough twists and turns to to hold you captive within Paradise, until you reached the end of the book. 

Amy Clipston has done her research well. The Amish Community is described with understanding of the faith and daily life. She is respectful yet understanding of the Plain People's problems. They are not exempt from the challenges in life. And they , like us, don't always deal with them in the way that God would have us.

A great read!! Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone. It is a five star book!! Don't miss it. 

The book was supplied by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kathleen Fuller Writes Another Winning Amish Novel!!

    "A Faith of Her Own"
      By Kathleen Fuller

Excitement reigned in my home last week, when a courier truck pulled into the driveway!! The dog barked, I squealed !! I had been waiting for a book by a favorite author and knew it was on its way. It had finally arrived. The wait was over, and the reading could begin!! Kathleen Fuller has been a favorite author for some time and I was thrilled to be able to review her newest book from her Middlefield  collection. As Amish Fiction is a genre that I love, this book compelled me to read and read and read! Once I started, I was hooked! I could not put this book down. As the day wore on, the world passed me by. I was in the small Amish community with Anna Mae!

Anna Mae, the main character in the book, has a life changing decision to make! It is one that will affect her future forever, one that is confusing, difficult and extremely emotional. "Can Anna Mae heed God's call on her life, even if it means leaving behind everything she knows... and everyone she loves?"  Jeremiah, Anna Mae's childhood friend, had left their Amish community some time ago. This event left her questioning her own role in the Amish world. This rather strict Amish lifestyle has caused her to feel as if it is closing in on her. To complicate matters, Anna Mae's mother is attempting to set her up with potential suitors. This young lady feels trapped within a life that she is not sure she wants to remain. She has kept her desires for freedom a secret! This freedom could be very costly!!

Out of the blue, Jeremiah reappears in Middlefield to help his former mentor, a Yankee vet, Dr. Miller, causing more confusion for Anna Mae. Added to this, are some feelings that she had never before acknowledged.

Jeremiah and Anna Mae rekindle their friendship, however a new complication arises. There are more intense feelings than ever before! Now, this has caused her more confusion!! What is God's plan for her life?? Should she stay and remain with her Amish family or does God have something bigger planned for her life??  A life with more freedom than Anna Mae had ever imagined!! What a dilemma for a young Amish girl who had always been protected and lived a rather secluded life!

Kathleen does a fantastic job of capturing the reader's attention on the very first page of the book. You quickly become part of the story. The characters are so believable and realistic, that their every feeling, challenge, and heartache , as well as joy, is felt within you. Anna Mae's pull to the English world is so very real. Her desire to experience more than her sheltered life is evident as the plot progresses. Kathleen writes with a complete and accurate understanding of the Amish culture. Her complex characters change as they grow in their relationship and make their  decisions. The importance of family and forgiveness is developed throughout the book. Faith is so important to making those decisions we all encounter as we grow up. 

The plot develops quickly, with just enough unexpected twists and turns to capture and keep one's attention until that very last page. The complications between Anna Mae, Jeremiah, their families and the community kept me thinking and guessing as I continued to read. Would Anna Mae listen to the quiet voice of God to help her make life changing decisions? Would she allow God's plan to be carried out in her life?

This is a book that will make you  think! The Amish young people have decisions to make that are very different from most of us, however, they encounter problems just as you and I do. Should we follow our faith or our tradition??? 

This is a fantastic read!! A five star book.

This book was supplied by the author and publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Popular Author, Shelley Shepard Gray, Visits Pinecraft , Florida , in her new Series!!

"The Promise of Palm Grove"
    By Shelley Shepard Gray


Leona must decide: Does she follow the path set out before her? Or take a chance with only the promise of what could be to guide her?
A young Amish woman finds herself torn between the man she’s pledged to wed and the man her heart desires in this heartwarming story of chance, duty, and choice in the face of love—the first volume in the beloved New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.
Amish bride-to-be Leona is thrilled to be in Florida, on a mini-vacation in the pretty town of Pinecraft. Her girlfriends think she’s happy because she’s away from the stress of wedding planning. They have no idea that Leona’s real joy is in being away from her fiancé.
Edmund is a good man, and will make a decent husband . . . just not for Leona. The more time she spends with him and his overbearing ways, the less she wants to be his wife. Her cousins are sure Edmund is the right man for her-and their certainty makes Leona begin to doubt herself. But when a chance encounter with a wayward cat brings her face-to-face with a handsome, fun-loving Amish man named Zachary Kauffman, Leona’s faced with two vastly different futures.

My Thoughts:

Shelley Shepard Gray has once again written a book that keeps one engrossed from the first page of the book until the very last. It is the first in a new series entitled, "Amish Brides of Pinecraft". This novel is somewhat different from what we expect from the Amish Genre. It does not take place in PA, or Ohio or Indiana, the most common settings for this genre. Who would ever think that a place in Florida would be the appropriate place for an adventure of these Plain People!  It is a real place!! It does exist and Shelley describes it well and with accuracy, making the book believable and realistic. 

The characters are well described in a realistic manner. Leona, the main character, immediately appealed to me and I was easily able to identify with her. She is a young Amish lady who has problems that are very similar to those that anyone may experience in a relationship. Her confusion is felt  and touches one in a deep way. What can she do?? Leona is a good Christian girl. Can she refuse to marry Edmund in spite of giving her word? What will her parents think? What will be the community's response to this action?? Her confusion and hurts came through the story loud and clear. I wanted to jump into the story and give her a big hug and assure her that everything would be alright!!

The plot moved quickly, with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested. This is a book that clearly shows that these "Plain People" experience similar problems to our's , although they may differ in how they deal with them. The message is evident throughout this novel. God is our guide. When we are confused , we need to let go and let Him guide our way. His plan is set out for us, if only we will listen to that still, quiet voice and allow Him to take over.

Definitely a book worth reading!! I am eagerly awaiting the next book from this wonderful author.

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.

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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Suzanne Woods Fisher Writes Another Winning Novel!

           "Anna's Crossing"
    By Suzanne Woods Fisher

The feeling of excitement filled me as I looked in the mailbox and saw a small parcel awaiting me! I knew it was a book, likely a VERY good book!! However, when I saw who the author was, I was a bit apprehensive. As I have loved every other book, Suzanne has written, you may wonder why I had this strange feeling. I had heard about this novel. It was not her typical Amish story, it was a historical fiction, involving the Amish. There was a bit of worry that plagued me. Historical fiction is my least favorite genre. Would I be able to give this wonderful author a good review? I must say, I needn't have worried a bit!! This book is a unique creation that kept me spellbound! A totally different twist than I expected!!

It is a hot day in 1737. In Rotterdam, Anna Konig first sets foot, hesitantly , on the "Charming Nancy", a merchant ship on which she and her fellow Amish believers will live until they reach the shores of America, to start a new, improved life. As the only one in the community who can speak English, she feels that she has to go with them, even though she has serious misgivings about the outcome.  This strong willed, quiet, young woman decides she will go along to help them and then return home to Rotterdam, if she survives. Anna has heard the horrific tales of ocean crossings and what can be waiting for them in the New World. But Anna has never let fear rule her life and won't start now. 

The ship's carpenter, Bairn, has no liking for these somber people, dubbed "Peculiars" by the other deckhands. These quiet, faithful Amish fill the lower deck of the ship. Bairn wishes to have no dealings with them. He has enough to handle, attempting to forget his lonely past. This becomes a difficult task with the attractive, irksome Anna and her people intruding on him.

The trip is one filled with delays , storms, illness and hunger, testing the patience of all who are onboard. Anna becomes involved in a life threatening situation. Discoveries are made that shake Bairn to his inner core. Can the faith in God take over and heal all the hearts and trials of these caring people?? Will they allow Him to guide their path??

The characters in this book, appealed to me in a deep way that I have not experienced for a while. I felt that I was aboard the ship along with them. Suzanne Woods Fisher has a unique talent of developing her characters in such a realistic, detailed fashion,  that you form a very deep relationship with them. I felt every hurt, trial and challenge. Anna became my best friend for whom I wanted to snap my fingers and make all the horrific situations disappear!  Bairn was a tough man, however, gentle and caring when he reached deep within himself. I fell in love with his devotion to Anna and her people. He touched my inner core with his handling of tough situations, regardless of the past  that had formed a hard shell around his soul. 

The plot was one that engaged me from the first chapter. As I had stated, historical fiction is not a favorite genre of mine. But, Suzanne won me over very quickly. The story moves quickly with unexpected twists and turns at every corner. The tragedies that occurred were described in such detail that I had to remind myself that this was a fictional story! My  emotions were on a strange roller coaster ride. I was at the height of delight at every small success, then would plunge to despair, at the next upsetting, often life threatening event. 

The theme of forgiveness and  God's faithfulness shines throughout this book. Suzanne uses historical facts to give her story depth. This is a book for lovers of Amish fiction as well as those who prefer historical fiction. It is a five star book that I would highly recommend to all readers!! I can hardly wait for the next new book by this talented author!

About the author: 

In no particular order, Suzanne Woods Fisher is a wife, mother, writer, lifelong student of the Bible, raiser of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, a gardener and a cook...the latter two with sporadic results. 

Suzanne has loved to write since she was a young teen. After college, she started to write for magazines and became a contributing editor for Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her family moved to Hong Kong for four years, just as the internet was developing, and she continued to write articles in a 44-story high-rise apartment, sending manuscripts 7,000 miles away with a click of a key.

After returning from Hong Kong, Suzanne decided to give her first novel a try. For four and a half months, she worked on an antediluvian computer in a cramped laundry room. She didn't even tell her husband what she was up to. When the novel was completed, she told her family at dinner one night that she had written a book. "That's why there's no food in this house!" said her slightly insensitive sons.

Undaunted...Suzanne found a small royalty publisher for that book and wrote three more (all earned multiple awards). With help from an agent, she went on to sign contracts with Revell Books for twenty plus books. 

Writing, for Suzanne, is a way to express a love of God and His word. With every book or article, she hopes readers get a sense of what faith really looks like in the daily grind. She hopes they realize that life can be hard, but God is good, and never to confuse the two. 

Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com
This book was provided by Revell books, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Beware! Past Choices Always Catch Up!

"Twisted Innocence"
   By Terri Blackstock

Any book by this author is a winner by my standards, thus , I was very excited when chosen to review this new one. This book is the heart pounding conclusion to the Moonlighters Series.  I have loved all of Terri's books, full of intrigue and mystery, succeeding in causing my heart to throb , sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next unexpected event to occur.

Romantic Times gives Terri Blackstock's Twisted Innocencefour stars! Written for anyone who's ever made bad choices, this thrilling conclusion in Blackstock's Moonlighters trilogy is packed with romance, danger, and intrigue.
Holly Cramer's past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.
Though Holly's stumbled through most of her adult life as a party girl, she longs to live a more stable life for her daughter. Then police show up to question her about the whereabouts of Creed Kershaw, Lily's father. She has kept his identity a secret from friends and family---she never even told him about the pregnancy. Now he's a person of interest in a drug-related murder case.
Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller---the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he's innocent and that Miller is after him too. His gentleness with Lily moves her, but she can't trust a man who has held her at gunpoint . . . even if he reminds her so much of herself.
Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

NOTE: While this is the third book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

This is truly a book filled with mystery,fears, trials,  as well as love, with the theme of redemption comes through loud and clear. I felt that it got off to a slow start and I was getting a bit concerned that it would not meet my expectations from this particular author, however, by the third chapter, I was entranced and glued to the page. 

The characters are well developed and so realistic that you immediately connect with them, feeling their fears, challenges, confusion and yes, even their mistakes in life, become your own. 

As the plot develops, there are twists and turns constantly , filling you with fear and worry . Just when I thought that I had answers for some of the problems, another shocking event would occur to cause more confusion. Throughout the story, an important message shines through, even at the darkest moments. There is hope and redemption for ALL of us, regardless of the mistakes made in the past. God can heal and take those bad moments away, making them into learning experiences that are valuable to our growth in the Christian walk. 

This is another five star book !!  Now, I can hardly wait for the next new series!!

About the Author:

Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, andDownfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, Restoration, and Moonlighters.
Find Terri onlinewebsiteFacebookTwitter

This book was provided by 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...