Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

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From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie), comes a story of unconditional love and second chances.

My Thoughts:

Sweetbriar Cottage by author Denise Hunter was a powerful read on abuse, infidelity, and forgiveness, ultimate forgiveness. Noah and Josephine have gone through a very painful divorce and both thought that part of their lives was finished. However, due to a missing signature they found out they were still married to each other. Thus begins a bitter and painful look at their past and a possible hopeful look into their future.

I really enjoyed the whole stranded in a cabin during a freak snowstorm plot line. I was really rooting for these two to make amends and get back together. They still loved each other, but they covered up that love with a lot of bitterness and blame. This was not a lighthearted read but there were moments that did have me giggling.  I liked the lesson of unconditional love in this novel. It was eye opening and really showed true to life that even though we should love no matter what, as humans that can be difficult if not impossible. We are not able to fill the place of God’s love in another and that was an important lesson for this couple to learn. This is my second favorite Denise Hunter novel (The Convenient Groom still sitting in top place).

I received a copy of this novel for free through the Fiction Guild. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: Unraveling by Sara Ella

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Sara Ella returns with this exciting follow-up to Unblemished as Eliyana continues her journey towards the throne while she tries to figure out her relationship with Ky and how it might be connected to the Callings.

My Thoughts:

Okay, okay, okay. How should I even begin? How about, ahhh! Eeep! Augh! Sob.

Sniffle, all right now that I’ve got that off of my chest I shall begin to try to do Unraveling justice. This book was wonderful. Everything I anticipated as a sequel of Unblemished, and then some. Em/El has really grown as a character and it was fun seeing her try to be queen and master her Mirror abilities. I didn’t like Joshua in the first book, but this book actually makes me pity him… and hate him all the more. I know, confusing right? And then there’s Ky. Ah, yes Ky. Well let’s just say that Ky is flippin’ awesome, totally romantic, and heart meltingly sweet and leave it at that. Oh, and just so we’re clear. He’s. Always. Right. The end. Got it?

Aaaand moving on… This book had me chuckling, sniffling, chewing my fingernails, and trying to force my heart back down my throat. And as for the ending? Sigh, yes the ending. Even though I suspected certain things were going to happen after I heard the title of the next book, I was still totally not prepared for what happens, nor how this book ends… or maybe I just wasn’t ready for the book to end. Period.

This is me after finishing the last sentence. Closes book, takes deep fortifying breath, stares blankly at the wall. Crowe. Now what? Gets a bright idea and goes to reads synopsis for next book. Blinks, forgets to breathe, reads it again. What the bleep, Ella? Looks up, sees release date. Holy Verity. Does that- does that really say May of 2018?! But that’s- that’s *pauses and counts fingers* ten months away! Wails. Withers. Dies.

I. Cannot. Wait. Until. Then.

I received a copy of this book for free through the Fiction Guild.  I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Reviewed by Nicki

Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

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Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 


In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

My Thoughts:

Jane of Austen by Hillary Manton Lodge was a contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility that taught you all about tea and Texas. I especially liked her quotes of the same at the head of every chapter (tea for Jane and Texas for Callum). The author did an excellent job of making characters generally described as unlikeable, loveable- and the others were purposely kept as annoying as ever! It was also interesting to see the familiar story unfold in contemporary ways, with young women trying to start over the family business, a too-charming musician, and an injured former Marine. There was lots of wry humor and lessons on how to properly prepare tea thrown in too. For a non- Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen retelling, I heartily recommend this book.

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


Reviewed by Jes

Review: Imagine The Great Flood by Matt Koceich

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About the Book:

The ocean swirled around the boy and pulled him down with unrelenting power. Heavy water churned and tugged at his flailing body like unseen hands yanking him into the watery depths. The fight was finally over. Even though he’d tried to stand up to the enemy, the waves were about to swallow him whole.
 
The last thing ten-year-old Corey remembers (before the world as he knew it disappeared) was the searing pain in his head after falling while chasing his dog Molly into the woods. What happens next can't be explained as Corey wakes up and finds himself face-to-face with not one but two lions! 
 
Join Corey and experience the excitement. . .the wonder. . . the adventure. . .as the epic story of Noah’s ark comes to life.

My Thoughts:


I am very excited that there appears to be a new series for kids on the horizon. The new series is entitled Imagine which pulls kids into a story to experience what it might have been like during a Biblical event. There are other series like this that have intrigued my children to experience different time periods and important timeline events. I like that this one focuses on Biblical events. This particular one was about the Great Flood.


My 12 year old son read this one in an afternoon. There were some things in the story that were unfamiliar to him so he and I were able to pull up scripture and see just what the Bible says. After reading this book he was curious to ask questions and learned some interesting tidbits from the Bible he was not aware of. I will pass this on to my other boys and hope they find just as much enjoyment. Looking forward to more books like this to expand my kids knowledge of the Bible in an enjoyable and imaginative way.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher


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About the Book


Book title: The Return
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Release date: Sept 1, 2017
Genre: Amish

In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans—but then she never had to. Not until the night she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she’s developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances.

Greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.




My Thoughts:

In The Return, author Fisher’s third in her extraordinary series Amish Beginnings, we are once again reunited with Bairn and Anna and their family. Felix and Hans have both grown up as some years have passed, and Bairn is now the minister. This story focused on Anna and Bairn’s daughter, Tessa and newly arrived from Germany, Betsy.  We are treated to Anna’s and Felix’s voices as well as the story is told from their viewpoints.

As the story goes, we start with a bit of a tangled love mess. Tessa is in love with Hans and Hans is in love with Betsy. However, Betsy is taken captive during an Indian raid on her home and Hans has become a man driven by grief and determination to get her back. In the meantime, he and Tessa grow closer together.

We the reader are taken with Betsy on her journey through captivity and the author writes vividly the emotions and feelings that young Betsy is experiencing.  The ruthlessness of the massacre to the trading to an Indian family of sisters where she is made to feel at home and even loved. In her captivity Betsy meets Caleb, a half breed and a captive slave and forms a bond of friendship that changes her view of life.

This story vividly portrayed how different and how difficult it was for the Amish, Mennonite, other settlers, and the Indian tribes to get along. The difficulty to reconcile their differences and live in peace when they viewed religion, rights, and land so differently. This was a read full of angst, grit, and determination as these young ladies tried to live in a harsh and difficult world that many times went against their beliefs. I appreciated the author’s notes on how much of this story was true and again I stand amazed at all the pioneers and what they endured in the wilderness of America.

I received an e-copy of this book for free. I did purchase a paperback for my keeper shelf. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.


About the Author

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


Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher


The Three Sisters’ Garden: Corn, Squash & Beans!

Corn was a new food to the immigrants to the New World, introduced to them by Native Americans. Soon, it became an essential part of their daily diet, in one form or another. Growing it brought yet another new discovery: companion planting in the form of the Three Sisters’ Garden.

According to Iroquois legend, corn, squash and beans were three inseparable sisters who only grew and thrived together. 18th century Native Americans wouldn’t have understood the science behind why companion planting worked, but they knew it did. Beans, like all legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use. Corn, which requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, benefits from the legumes and provides a pole support for the beans to climb. Low growing squash leaves shade the soil and prevent weed growth. Their sharp and prickly leaves deter pests. This tradition, of planting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, became a sustainable system to provide long-term soil fertility among Native American tribes that farmed.

The wisdom of planting Three Sisters’ Garden was adopted by the immigrants, including our own Betsy Zook from The Return. Betsy learned of the technique while a captive among a tribe of Indians and later, after she had been returned to the Amish, shared her knowledge with Anna and Bairn.


Have you ever considered growing a Three Sisters’ garden? All you need is the right kind of seeds, a mound of dirt in a sunny spot, and to not forget to water. Mother Nature will do the rest.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling, award-winning author of novels about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, who was raised as a Dunkard (German Baptist) on a farm in Pennsylvania. Suzanne loves to connect with readers! You can find her on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

*Images courtesy of Dream Home Improvement
 and Technology Exchange Lab


Blog Stops

August 1: Quiet Quilter
August 1: Remembrancy
August 2: Bigreadersite
August 3: Genesis 5020
August 3: Book by Book
August 4: Carpe Diem
August 6: Artistic Nobody
August 7: Pause for Tales
August 7: Splashes of Joy
August 8: Live.Love.Read.
August 9: Mary Hake
August 9: Simple Harvest Reads (Spotlight)
August 11: The Power of Words
August 11: Karen Sue Hadley
August 12: Cafinated Reads
August 12: TinaTruelove
August 14: Vicky Sluiter
August 14: By The Book


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is doing an
amazing giveaway from August 1 through 14!
Check it out:
Four winners will receive one of the prizes below: An Amish Gift Basket and a copy of The Return Amish popcorn sampler and a copy of The Return The Amish Beginning 3 book set series One grand prize winner will receive: An iPad Mini
You can enter at Suzanne's website:
or on her Facebook page

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: The Captivating Lady Charlotte by Carolyn Miller

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Her heart is her ownbut her hand in marriage is another matter

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility hen she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte's father's pick, not the young lady's own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return--and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte's sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean, and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

My Thoughts:

I very much enjoyed author Carolyn Miller’s debut and first novel in her series and I have enjoyed how her second book, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, just built onto her regency world. This story focuses on Charlotte, who is the cousin of Lavinia. Charlotte is just beginning her season and is captivated herself by the attention that she is receiving from all the young and old men alike, trying to win her affections. Her fancy is caught by a man that her family will not approve of and they have approved a man who Charlotte is less than thrilled with.

This story really showcased the different culture and time and how young women of means were treated and the expectations of their situations in society. An obedient daughter, Charlotte will follow her parent’s rules regardless of where her heart lays or her true wishes. This was a beautiful story of love and I dare say submission and what can come of it. Not that Charlotte’s parents were that great, but the man who asked for her hand in marriage was a different story. He listened to her and cared about her thoughts and feelings of him and life in general.

We are reunited with beloved characters from the previous books and I found it refreshing how author Miller continued their story. Spiced with a bit of sadness and danger, this story will long stay with me and I really look forward to a certain character (I have somewhat disliked in the previous book) and her story next. I will say that how the author set up the first few chapters, in which we meet the main characters, was quite memorable to me. Beautiful covers, lyrical titles, and exceptional stories on the inside make this Regency series one for the keeper shelf.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

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When Natalie O’Ryan returns to Prince Edward Island to plan her wedding, she runs into her childhood best friend—and discovers that the love she’s been looking for is right where she left it. The third and final installment in Johnson's Prince Edward Island Dreams series.

My Thoughts:

On Love’s Gentle Shore is the third installment of the Prince Edward Island Dreams series and I enjoyed going back to the island for a visit. This time we have a very reluctant Natalie O’Ryan coming back home, a place she never wanted to see again or the people that lived there. Her fiancĂ©, Russell, wants to have their wedding there and there is so much that Natalie is not telling him.

But the one person she really wants to avoid is her childhood best friend Justin Kane; when she left she left things much unfinished with him. When they meet up again, sparks fly and the anger and animosity they feel towards each other just may be the feelings and the love they have had seething deep inside for 15 years.

And Natalie, poor, sweet girl that she was needs to come to terms with her terrible childhood and the townspeople who made her and her family the subject of gossip. Did anyone ever really love her when she was just a little girl? This is something that Natalie will need to discover as she goes back home to marry a man that may not even know the real her.

Poignant and emotionally stirring, a story of wanting to be loved and known for the real you yet terrified of the possible rejection because you just might not be enough. Getting to see and visit with previous characters, this final edition rounds out the series nicely.

I was provided with a copy of this novel through Revell. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions expressed are my own.