Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: A Plain Widow by Diane Craver

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Book: A Plain Widow
Author: Diane Craver
Genre: Amish romance
Release Date: March 10, 2017

Molly Ebersol’s life changes in a few minutes when an arsonist torches their barn. Her husband, Caleb, rushes inside the burning barn to save his horses. Although Amish firefighter, Jonathan Mast, tries to save Caleb, he fails. Suddenly Molly becomes a widow.

A month later, an anonymous person gives money to cover the lumber and food expenses for the barn raising. One late night more money is left for Molly on the porch. The fire investigator wonders if the arsonist feels guilt about Caleb’s death and is responsible for the money gifts.

During the continued investigation, it’s learned that Caleb had secrets he kept from Molly. She is crushed by what Caleb did before meeting her. How could the love of her life kept his English past from her?

Her new neighbor, Jonathan, helps her to make the difficult transition from wife to widow. Although Molly develops feelings for Jonathan, can she ever trust him to be truthful to her? She isn’t sure she can fall in love again. Her trust in relationships is shattered because of Caleb’s past actions.

My Thoughts:

A Plain Widow is a story that is about a young wife who unexpectedly loses her husband in a barn fire.  The author writes with such emotion and we get a glimpse into what Molly is going through.  Not only does she have a young son, but she is expecting another child.  I felt for her as it seems that her independence is on the verge of going away.  Understandably, she does not want to move back in with her parents, (though they are very good to her and love her), she does not want to move in with anyone else, nor does she want to marry the first widower to ask her.  She does have very real concerns in how she is to keep up with her house payments and support herself and her two young children.

As if that is not bad enough, she finds out about some things in her husband’s past that do not put him in a good light and unfortunately he is not there anymore for a confrontation.  We get glimpses of this particular Amish town and customs and their Englischer friends and surrounding community.  There is also a mystery about the barn fire and if it was set on purpose thus resulting in the death of Molly’s husband. 

I appreciated the author’s thorough research of the Amish lifestyle and her notes regarding it and the list of words and their meanings in the beginning.  For sensitive readers, there are a couple of uses of bad language in one instance.  I enjoyed this story and its slower pace of a young Amish woman and her struggles through a difficult time (one I cannot even imagine) and her guarded steps into new love.

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

About the Author

Diane grew up on a farm outside Findlay, Ohio, and she often acted out characters from her own stories in the backyard. In high school she would read during classes and hide a novel in front of her in a propped up textbook. After Diane graduated from the Ohio State University, she became a schoolteacher and play director.

She met her husband while teaching at an orphanage, and they married three years later. Diane says that it took her that long to convince him she was the one for him! While raising their family in southwestern Ohio, she started writing nonfiction and was published. Later, Diane decided it would be a nice escape to write fiction. They were blessed with five daughters and one son. Two daughters were born with Down syndrome and live at home. Their other children live close by. Diane has four adorable grandchildren. Her favorite vacation is going to the beach with the whole family.

Non-fiction articles of Diane’s have been published in Woman’s World Weekly, The Catholic Telegraph, Virtue, Down Syndrome Today, WritersWeekly.com, and other publications. Several of Diane’s books have been a reviewer’s top pick from Night Owl Reviews as well as receiving 5 star reviews and A Joyful Break (Dreams of Plain Daughters) received the CTRR Reviewer’s Recommend Award from Coffee Time Romance and More.

Diane gives thanks daily to God for all her blessings.

Guest Post from Diane Craver

Back in 2012, when I told our adult children I had written my first Amish book, they looked surprised. In the past I had written contemporary Christian romance, but I had never mentioned anything about researching the Amish faith for my future books. My great-grandfather was a Mennonite minister, but I never knew him. My mother shared stories about his faith and his strictness in raising children. With many similarities between my great-grandfather’s faith and the Amish beliefs, I was drawn to learn more about the Plain life.

Another influence came from my father. While growing up in Findlay, Ohio, my father respected and enjoyed talking with the Amish from Kenton, Ohio. As a farmer, he used both work horses (something he had in common with his Amish acquaintances) and a tractor. In my book, A PLAIN WIDOW, my character, Jonathan Mast, is from Kenton. Unfortunately, my children never knew my father, but they learned how precious he was to me from reading my book, A GIFT FOREVER.

Now several books later, I am still writing Amish fiction. I feel blessed that God directed me on this writing path. A wonderful aspect of writing in this genre is finding Amish recipes to prepare in my kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is also my character Molly’s specialty in my new release. This Amish recipe is an easy bread to make and takes around twenty minutes to prepare.

Delicious Amish Cinnamon Bread
(Makes 2 loaves)
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
Cinnamon/sugar mixture:
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cream together butter, 2 cups of sugar, and eggs. Add milk, flour, and baking soda. Put 1/2 of batter (or a little less) into greased loaf pans. (Basically pour 1/4 of the total batter into each pan.)
Mix in separate bowl the 2/3 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle 3/4 of cinnamon mixture on top of the 1/2 batter in each pan. Add remaining batter to pans; sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 min. Or until toothpick tester is clean.
Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Blog Stops

April 22: cherylbbookblog
April 25: Pause for Tales
April 25: Bigreadersite
April 29: Just Commonly
April 30: A Greater Yes


To celebrate her tour, Diane is giving away:

GRAND PRIZE: Diane is giving away a set of the Dream of Plain Daughters Series (4 book series) and a $20 Amazon gift card. If the winner is outside of the US, ebooks will be substituted.

RUNNER-UP: A copy of AMISH BABY SNATCHED, the first book in The Bishop’s Daughters Series and a $10 Amazon gift card.

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b54a

Review: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay


Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. When Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family, however, is another matter . . .

My Thoughts:

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay was a nice, slow comfort read. Like Reay’s other books, this one had quite a few literary references along with several interesting facts about art restoration and rich scenes of Italy. The story follows art restorer and master of all fixing-upper, Emily Price on a journey of self-realization as she falls in love and learns how to deal with her family, both her sister and her in-laws. The characters were very real and warm- or cold, in the case of the mother-in-law, who was one of my favorite characters- and all very alive as they interacted with each other. I was especially interested in the mystery that had torn several family members away from each other, and the way it unfolded. This story is a must-read for anyone looking for something a bit slower paced and a bit foodie.

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 Jes

Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon


Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has zero time for romance--but the handsome ex-con she enlists to help her with a wayward teen may convince her to make time for love.

My Thoughts:

Sandpiper Cove is the latest in Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor collection and I think this one is my favorite yet.  Meeting up with some old friends like Charlie (the taco man who always knows what to say) and the rest of the town’s residents, we finally get to see police chief Lexie get her love story.  What an interesting twist of events it is when she falls for former convict Adam Stone, who is trying to turn his life around.  Starting off with a favor to help a troubled teen, Adam and Lexie do have an instant awareness of each other, but both know it is in their best interests to take things slow.  Starting with friendship Lexie opens up about the tragic end to her marriage and Adam lets Lexie in on his troubled and painful past.  Soul mates I think are the best words for this couple and I was thrilled to watch their romance take off.

However, Charlie gives Adam some forewarning as seeds of mistrust and lies are sown on Adam’s new found life.  Don’t judge from the outside appearances was a recurring theme and one that many of us should take to heart.  This was a lovely little romance and I am happy to have found out that there will be another in this series.  This is a series for those who enjoy romance in small towns.

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

Review: Pursued by Lisa Harris


After a plane crash, Nikki Boyd and the Missing Persons Task Force race to find a key witness in a high profile case before she is permanently silenced.

My Thoughts:

I have been looking forward to Pursued since I read its excerpt last year at the end of Missing.  This story was an adrenaline rush.  Starting with the crashed airplane that Nikki was on; her day goes from pretty bad to worst.  And then some more bad happens, a lot.  I actually felt really bad for her and if it were me I would have went off with new hunky boyfriend/ best friend Tyler for the rest of the day.  But no, Nikki becomes a key witness and the best possible hope in a missing person’s case of the woman who was sitting right next to her on the plane.

This was jam packed with excitement, danger, and Nikki’s emotions are all over the place.  Not only is she dealing with this new missing person case, but she has also received some devastating personal news.  This was a very quick read; my only complaint is I was really hoping for more of Nikki and Tyler time.  I am hoping that they get their own story, together.  I am looking forward to the next in the Nikki Boyd Files where the synopsis tells us that we will finally get the answer we have been waiting for this entire series, the reason Nikki Boyd is who she is: what happened to her missing sister. 

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Surrendered by Elaine Manders

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Book: Surrendered
Author: Elaine Manders
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release Date: December 28, 2016

The fight never ends until someone surrenders.

Having vanquished his political enemies, Rhyan Cason is anxious to get home to his beloved Carianne. Then he receives word an anthrax outbreak threatens his ranch. Even as he ponders how he can afford to take a wife, dark secrets from the distant past shake his beliefs to the core and convince him he’ll never be able to find forgiveness or make Carianne happy.

Carianne Barlow is stunned when Rhyan breaks their secret engagement. She leaves Sollano, the beautiful ranch house she loves almost as much as its owner, and returns home to Westerfield. While waiting for her shattered heart to heal, she shifts her attention to building the library she’s promised the town.

Even though Colt Holliman offers her a new courtship, circumstances keep drawing her back to Sollano and Rhyan. Torn between her affection for Colt and her love for Rhyan, Carianne realizes almost too late Rhyan’s troubles lie deeper than saving the ranch. He fights an evil that threatens more than his love for her—one only God can defeat.

My Thoughts:

Surrendered is the second book in the Intrigue Under Western Skies by author Elaine Manders.  This is my first read in the series and by the author.  I really enjoyed her writing and I look forward to more of her work.  This is a story about two people who love each other very much and are looking forward to spending their lives together.  Unfortunately, circumstances for which they had no control over come against them and their path to happily ever after.

I do wish I had read the first book, just to watch their love materialize and grow.  But this story definitely showed the stubbornness of both Carianne and Rhyan.  Rhyan, being new to the faith, trusts himself and what he knows to be true more than God.  Carianne’s faith in God is relentless and I think almost unbelievable and/or uncomprehending to Rhyan.  Nevertheless, they both have a rocky road ahead of them and what their futures hold; either together or apart.  I completely understood Carianne’s confusion and hurt over the way Rhyan treated her.  I am not even sure he understood completely himself.  Carianne has a big decision to make especially when her very dear friend Colt steps in and asks to court her. 

I enjoyed the little scientific tidbits the author sprinkled into the story which added to this immensely enjoyable old west story of a cowboy and the lady he loved and the town they lived in.   One of my favorite parts of the story is when Carianne tells Rhyan that she was praying for an answer, why should she be surprised when her prayer was answered.  How true.

I look forward to reading more by Elaine Manders.  Her story kept me interested and turning the pages and I found out that she has written a Scottish historical that intrigues me greatly.

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

About the Author

Elaine Manders writes wholesome Christian romance and suspense about the bold, capable women of history and the strong, dependable men who love them. She prefers stories that twist and turn and surprise, told by characters who aren’t afraid to show their love for God and each other. She lives in Central Georgia with a happy bichon-poodle mix. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with her friends, daughter, and grandchildren.

Guest Post from Elaine Manders

I was born with the gift of story. The make-believe of childhood never left me, but it wasn’t until my daughter left for college, and I was left with the empty nest, that I decided maybe it was time to start writing the stories crowding my mind. I joined a local writers’ group, took a fiction writing course, developed the craft, went to conventions, and started pitching to editors.

Since I wrote romance, I found the publishing industry pushing me to a place I didn’t want to go. The secular publishers wanted steamier writing, and I complied as much as I could. Then when I was offered a chance for publication, I couldn’t allow my name to go on the book. The Christian publishers had a very narrow marketing concept. Again, I tried to comply until I felt the joy of story being squeezed out of me. I took a twelve year hiatus from writing.

Then in 2012, I was sitting in church listening to the familiar parable of the talents. When my pastor asked the question, “Are you hiding your talent?” I immediately visualized that closet filled with my unpublished manuscripts. I rededicated myself to putting my talent to use, and I asked God to send me a new story, if this was what he wanted me to do.

Later that week, I was on the golf course when I laid down on a little hill waiting for my husband to chase a ball in the woods and stared into the deepest, bluest sky I’ve ever seen. The sun was high in the sky, but the shade of blue was so dark I could actually see, not only the moon, but some of the stars. Looking into that sky, I experienced a strange sensation, as if I’d lost contact with the earth and was moving into infinity. I wondered, as I had many times before, how an atheist could look into the heavens and not believe in the Creator. This led me to an investigation of scientific atheism, Darwinism, and the entire series, Intrigue under Western Skies, was born. My protagonist is a Darwinist of the 1880s. Book 1, Pursued, is his spiritual journey to belief in Christianity, and Book 2, Surrendered, takes him to acceptance. The heroine, of course, helps him on this journey, while dodging all the dangers the old west has to offer. Incidentally, Pursued will be free on Amazon Apr 18-19.

Blog Stops

April 11: Karen Sue Hadley
April 14: Bigreadersite
April 17: cherylbbookblog
April 17: Baker Kella
April 18: I Hope You Dance
April 21: Pause for Tales


To celebrate her tour, Elaine is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b5ae

Review: A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

About the book:

Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.

Josiah Chamberlain's life's work revolves around repairing other people's marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife's unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she's unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what's left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

My Thoughts:

A Fragile Hope completely took me by surprise in its storytelling and the way the author wove spiritual truths into it.  The back synopsis didn’t really give me any clue as to what I would be stepping into.  I was immensely surprised and turned page after page wondering what was to become of married couple Josiah and Karin.

The story is told through Josiah’s eyes and we get to really see the world as Josiah sees it. He is not really likable as he is a self-absorbed, neglectful husband who really needs to get a clue and realize his wife needs him and she has needs.   As we walk on this journey with him, he realizes some very important truths about Jesus, himself, his marriage, love, and forgiveness.  It was a heartrending and an emotional read. It also really made me pause and take a good look in the mirror and wonder, am I as clueless and self-absorbed as Josiah is?  This was a powerful read and I encourage thoughtful readers to pick up this soul stirring novel.

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

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers' Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing's BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.

One of Ruchti's greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers' conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.

Ruchti speaks frequently for women's groups and serves on her church's worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.

What others are saying: http://litfusegroup.com/author/cruchti

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: Life After by Katie Ganshert


It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

My Thoughts:

There are certain events in our lives that mark us.  Some huge and some small, but we can definitely see the before and the after of such events or circumstances.  In author Katie Ganshert’s novel, Life After, we see that change for the lone survivor of a horrific attack on Chicago city’s transit.  Autumn Manning is the only survivor and the other twenty-two passengers’ deaths haunt her. Dealing with a bit of memory loss, the whys for the reason she survived when everyone else perished, and immersed deep in survivor’s guilt she slowly tries to regain her life and a purpose for it when the daughter of one of the victims reaches out to her.

I was thoroughly invested in this novel as Autumn must see that she is still among the living and not with those who died.  The author really showed how one might have felt and what they may be going through after such a terrible event and as Autumn learns to live again, she realizes that she is not the only survivor.  The victims’ families also must learn to survive without their loved ones.  It was very interesting to watch how these strangers’ lives intersect due to this one horrific act and how for one particular family who has lived under an umbrella of shame and lies, the truth will set them free.

Poignant and exquisite storytelling, this is my favorite by author Ganshert.

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

About the Author:

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family.

When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.