Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Journey Into Grace

I have to admit, I'm extremely picky when it comes to choosing a devotional to use. When the opportunity arose to review this devotion I jumped at the chance and I have to say it's one of my favorites!

I love that there are no dates across the pages. You can start whenever you want and if you fall behind there is no guilt. Which is a big deal to me, because although I try to be consistent, I always seem to miss a day here and there and I fell guilty. You can also pick and choose how you do the devotions. You don't have to go in order because there are no dates. Although, if you're like me you will probably just work cover to cover.

The devotion is divided into sections, for example, messages just for me, hope for the journey, and walk it out to name a few. If a section doesn't appeal to you, or fit you where you are in your journey right now, you can always skip it and come back to it later. I like that you have this option because it's not a one size fits all option. We all have different things we have to face and the authors took this into consideration.

There are 150 short devotions total. They start with a scripture, then the author's thoughts, followed up with a reflection question for you to ponder and put what you've learned into action. They end the devotions with a prayer starter to help you with your quiet time.

I truly enjoyed the Journey Into Grace devotional and I believe you will too!

You can grab a copy here: Journey Into Grace

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage


Sweetbriar Cottage gives us an introduction into Denise Hunter's Copper Creek Series. Although it's not your typical romance novel, it has some rough parts. I believe it is a great introduction to the series and will have you hooked from the start.

Josephine had a traumatic childhood to say the least. Raised by her alcoholic stepfather and basically ostracized by the kids in school, Josephine becomes a chameleon of sorts. She learns to be whatever people want her to be in the moment, to play the part. She has walls that she built up years ago and they serve her well, that is until Noah. Noah is able to break down her walls and see straight into her soul. She doesn't know why or how she falls for him so fast, but she does, he makes her feel safe. But, when people feel safe sometimes they do stupid things.

I like Josephine, it took me a little bit to understand why she was the way she was. I've heard that people with traumatic experiences find it hard to relate to others. It's like they assume everyone is out to get them, and I get it. What threw me for a loop though was the dialogue. Sometimes when Josephine spoke her phrases were dated, meaning they reminded me of something my grandmother would say. So in my head, I had her pictured older than what she was. It was really distracting for me at times, I had to keep reminding myself that she really isn't much older than me.

I admired Josephine because she was able to overcome so much. I don't want to spoil it for you, but let's just say what Josephine endured would break most people. Yet, she was able to make a life for herself and start her own salon in a new town. That takes gumption. Most towns aren't welcoming of new people especially those with a checkered past, yet they genuinely seem to like her and want her to succeed.

Noah is everything I expected him to be. He's a little rough around the edges, but he has a good heart. He was willing to give Josephine a chance and even love her when others warned him that she was bad news. When he loves, he does so with his whole heart and that's why it hurt so when he is betrayed. He wants nothing more than to stay on his mountain. He doesn't even want the memories that sometimes haunt him. When a routine trip to town leads to the revelation that he had not thought of, Noah is livid.  He is determined to end the marriage and move on with his life but what if God has other plans?

I truly enjoyed this book. I don't want you to get the impression it's dark and gloomy because it's not. It's just not all roses and sunshine, and life is like that. We have to take the good with the bad. This story is about redemption and hope. That when you truly love someone you love all of them, not just the easy parts. It's about learning that God is in control and not mater what your plans are He has final say. As long as we hope and trust in Him and His leading we will find our happily ever after and we will know what it is to be loved and loved unconditionally.

*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.

You can grab a copy here: Sweetbriar Cottage


Friday, August 4, 2017

The Return

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: I have never been disappointed by Suzanne Woods Fisher book and The Return is no different. She has a way of crafting stories that grab a reader and won't let go! I enjoyed the fact that even though this book is fiction it's based on a true story. The characters are flawed but have redeeming qualities and you find yourself thinking of them as real people. I truly enjoyed The Return and think you will too! I must warn you though, when you pick it up you may not put it down until the end!!

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.

Blog Stops

August 1: Quiet Quilter
August 1: Remembrancy
August 2: Bigreadersite
August 2: lighthouse academy
August 3: Genesis 5020
August 3: Book by Book
August 4: Carpe Diem
August 7: A Reader’s Brain
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 11: Neverending Stories
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 (http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/contests/) or on her Facebook page (http://gvwy.io/q1kb9u4)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Bucket List

Asking a book nerd to make a summer bucket list (reading list) can be a dangerous thing! It sounded like fun so I decided to give it a try. I've included four books that I want to read most. I have more, but these are the ones that are on the top of my list. Do you have a summer bucket list? If so, please share it below!



I have to admit I'm super excited to read this one! First of all, I love all the authors included. Second, I've read the others in the series and I couldn't put them down. They are always fun and I feel like I make a new friend every time. If you haven't had a chance to read the others, no worries! You can start with this one and read the others later. 





If you haven't noticed I'm a sucker for a sweet romance. I have read several of Ms. Hunter's books and never have I ever been disappointed. She crafts stories that pull on your heartstrings, but will also make you laugh. I think this one is going to do both. A couple that thinks they're divorced and can't stand the sight of each other, suddenly find out they're still married! Throw in an epic snow storm where both get stranded together and you have a the makings of a great story. This is definitely on the TBR (to be read :) ) pile.



Okay, so technically it's two books but they're in the same series so I'm going to let it count. As most of you know Ms. Chapman writes Amish stories, but what you may not know, and I didn't either until recently, is that she writes a dystopian series! I read the prequel, which is free on the kindle, and I couldn't put it down. It was so good that I was telling my husband about it, he's not a book nerd, and even he wanted to read it! 



This one looks like it's going to be a page turner! Faith has been raised Amish. She's a good girl and follows all the rules and by all accounts loves her life. Something happens to make her question whether she is really Amish and are her parents really her parents, this throws her entire life in turmoil. I can't wait to see how things turn out for Faith! 

I've enjoyed sharing my summer bucket list with you! I hope you have found a book or two that sparks your interest. If you know of a good book I should try please share it below! I'm always looking for something new to read. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Letter From Lancaster County

About the book:
Two sisters get a second chance at life and love.

Angela---Her mother's untimely death, a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with her sister, Rose, and regrets over what might have been haunt her. Despite being a wife and mother, she feels she has little to show for her life.

Rose---Still single, she longs for a husband and children. But Angela has all that and she isn't happy. Rose wants to be closer to her older sister, but she and Angela couldn't be more different. Both strong women, will their sibling rivalry ever end?
***
When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit Aunt Silvia, their mother's Mennonite sister, in the heart of Amish country. This vacation could provide the opportunity both sisters need to sort out their issues. And yet instead of finding a new way of connecting with each other, Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose's romance with a new Beau.

Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their heats as only He can.

Out of the two sisters, my least favorite was Angela. She seemed to find fault in everyone and everything. She's wealthy and has a world of options and opportunities, yet she whines and complains about how her husband doesn't pay her attention and her kids don't seem to want her around. I felt like she could have been stronger, stood up for herself and made her concerns known. She did, eventually, but it was after her visit with Aunt Silvia. Maybe she just needed a little bit of encouragement and understanding to gather her strength to make a change. 

Rose has had more than her fair share of disappointment and I probably related to her the most. From a young child she has felt "less than" her sister, less pretty, less popular, you name it and she was the least favorite.  An incident in high school has scarred her for life, so much so she never shared it with her closest family. She carries a heavy burden and doubts even God can help her. She prayed for him to heal her mother from her illness and when he didn't she figured he wouldn't care about a nobody like her. With Aunt Silvia's kind encouragement, Rose starts to believe that maybe something good can happen to her. Maybe she deserves a second chance, not only at life and love, but at a relationship with her sister. 

I was beyond happy this book had a happy ending! For a while I was sure Rose and Angela would kill each other leaving Aunt Silvia to clean up the mess! Relationships are messy, especially ones with family, but if A Letter From Lancaster County teaches us anything, it's we have to try. I was proud of both Rose and Angela for all they overcame, they're flawed but ultimately wanted what was best for each other. I should warn you, this is no lighthearted read, it will tug on your heart strings and make you think about relationships you have in your own life. That being said, I enjoyed the book and believe you will too.  I hope you give A Letter From Lancaster County a try. If you do, come back and let me know what you think!

* I received a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own. 

Here's what others are saying: http://litfusegroup.com/author/KLloyd

About the Author:
Kate Lloyd is a bestselling novelist whose books include "A Portrait of Marguerite" and the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy. A native of Baltimore, she enjoys spending time with friends and family in rural Pennsylvania and is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. 

Find out more about Kate at:  http://katelloyd.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho



About the book: Looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach, mail-order bride Rebecca Rice is pleased to marry her shopkeeper intended, Mr.Fordham, until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore--preceded by the title Deputy. When the newlyweds realize they've married the wrong partners with similar names, an annulment seems in order--and fast, since Rebecca's true intended is impatient to claim her as his own, not to mention Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad wasn't the right husband for her all along....

I have never read one of Suzanne Dietze's books until now and I have been missing out! She has a way of crafting a story that leaves the reader wanting more. Her characters are complex, yet ones her readers can relate to. I love the show I Love Lucy and this book reminded me of that show It is full of wit and humor but it also has it's serious moments. I believe you will truly enjoy your trip to Ruby City I know I did!

Rebecca knows what it's like to be without. Her dad was a lawman, killed in the line of duty, one of her brothers died in the war and the other left to go out west and mine without so much as a backwards glance. She was tired of being at the mercy of others so it made sense to answer a marriage ad in the paper. Her journey was long and not without it's trials as her coach was held up by the gang of four before reached Ruby City. Yet, Rebecca has faith that God has called her to marry Mr. Fordham and she can't wait to belong to a family again!

I admired Rebecca's gumption. To make the decision to marry a total stranger in order to make a life for herself. Sure they exchanged letters but that's not enough to truly know someone. She had backbone and fire, she had to to survive all she did and then the gang of four. She even pulled a knife on one of her attackers! Even though she's had more than her fair share of hardships, Rebecca refuses to allow it to make her bitter. She is the first one to extend grace to some of the least desirables in town. The first to rush to someone's aid regardless of who they are or what they've done. I truly admired Rebecca and hope that I can be more like her, quick to help and slow to judge.

Thaddeus Fordham can't believe he married the wrong woman! Not only is she not his Rebecca, his lady spells it Rebekah, but she is Theodore's intended! He and Theo have been at odds ever since they fought to win Dottie's affection. In the end, she chose neither of the cousins but the rift she caused appears to be permanent. All he wants is to do the right thing, get a quick annulment and find his Rebecca. Surely Theo can understand that but when tempers go awry and the gang of four on the loose it appears that the annulment will be anything but simple.

You have to hand it to Thaddeus, I'm not sure I could keep my composure with so many things going wrong at the same time. He is definitely attracted to Rebecca but he is determined to do the right thing and get to annulment so she can be with Theodore, no matter how much it might break his heart. He even goes to great lengths to mend the rift the mishap has caused between Theodore and Rebecca. He's a stand up guy who puts everyone's needs before his own. Maybe it's because of the way Dottie played him and Theodore but he seems determined to do the right thing no matter the cost. He's hard working, driven, and a man of faith, anyone would be lucky to have him but he only wants one woman, and unfortunately she's promised to another.

I truly enjoyed my "trip" to Ruby City and meeting all of it's residents. They were definitely a colorful but loyal bunch. I hope Ms. Dietze continues the series. I'd love to know what happens to the other budding romances in the town.

You can grab yourself a copy here:

* I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Deep Waters


Deep Waters is Jessica Patch's latest installment in her Love Inspired security specialists series and I have to say my favorite so far! I've made it no secret that I generally don't like suspense novels but since finding Mrs. Patch's novels I have to say, I am quickly becoming a fan. She has the uncanny ability to make her characters flawed, yet relate-able, all the while crafting a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat! If you haven't tried a suspense novel or one of Jessica Patch's novels I highly suggest grabbing a copy of Deep Waters and diving in!

Caley Flynn loves everything about sea turtles and she has made it her life's mission to protect these precious creatures. Even though her family has been involved in the military and law enforcement for generations she prefers turtles. They're mild, gentle and as far away from danger as you can get. When Caley discovers an interns body at sea while walking on the beach her whole life is turned upside down. Not only do they not believe Mary Beth's death was an accident it appears everyone around her has something to hide and they will do anything to keep their secrets hidden.

Shepherd Lightman was supposed to be on vacation, he earned it. He had been working non stop for the last few months for Covenant Crisis Management. When his boss, Wilder Flynn, called and said to check on Caley, he did as he was told, even if he didn't like it. It's not that he doesn't like Caley, the opposite is actually true, it's just that he earned this vacation and well, Shepherd doesn't do comfort, he was bounced around from one foster home to the other until he was old enough to be on his own, then he joined the army and the rest they say is history. When Shepherd gets to Caley and hears her side of things he  knows he can kiss his vacation good-bye. There is NO WAY he's going to leave Caley alone with all the trouble that is surrounding them, but will he be the biggest threat of all?

First of all, what can be wrong with a book that surrounds sea turtles? In my opinion nothing. I know that it's a work of fiction but I found myself learning things about sea turtles I never knew before. Mrs. Patch must have gone through a lot of trouble to learn about turtles and  then include that knowledge and facts throughout her book.

Then there is Caley. I totally understood her reason for wanting to do just about anything besides being in the military or law enforcement. Sometimes, you just have to blaze your own trail, so to speak, and it was obvious that she loved what she did. I didn't quite understand her unwillingness to be involved with someone who had a dangerous job however. I mean yes, bad things happen, as obvious with the intern being murdered, but you love who you love and you can't help that. I also loved that even though she was the baby of the family she had moxy. She wasn't afraid to state her opinions and defend someone even if the world thought she was wrong. I felt like Caley and I could be best friends!

Shepherd Lightman is a good man, even if he doesn't quite believe it himself. He has done some bad things in his past, very bad things, but he's given his life to God and he's a different man. Even so, he knows he has no business falling for a lady like Caley Flynn. Maybe if he keeps calling her "Little Flynn" he can convince himself of that. When he sees Caley upset and shaken over the death of her intern, Mary Beth, he knows he will do anything and everything to protect her. He may not be in her league but he is a darn good soldier and nothing will happen to Caley Flynn on his watch.

Can I just say I love Shepherd! I didn't think I would at first with him being so hard on himself, but the way he fiercely protected Caley and was willing to do anything to protect her, I quickly changed my mind. Ha! Shepherd had doubts, I think all of us do, he knew he wasn't "good enough"for God yet he struggled with the fact he was indeed a child of God. He somehow figured if he messed up God would discount him, like the foster families did growing up. I admire Shepherd, he had no dad, grew up in bad foster families, but he chose to rise above all that. Did he make mistakes? Sure, but he grew into a man that anyone can respect and admire. All he wants to do is live a good life and make amends for what he did in his past. Who can't respect that? I'd like to think that we all have a little of Shepherd's gumption in us. When we're in deep waters who or what do we cling to?

I absolutely fell in love with Deep Waters! I couldn't put it down and I can't wait to see what Mrs. Patch has in store for us in her next installment in her security specialist series. So what are you waiting for? Grab you a copy of Deep Waters and get to reading! I just know you will love Shepherd and Caley as much as I do!

You can grab a copy here:Deep Waters

* I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.