Monday, January 30, 2017

Love Bears All Things

Love Bears All Things is the second book in Beth Wiseman's Amish Secrets series. It follows the lives of Jacob King and Annie Byler, as well as, Charlotte Dolinsky and Daniel Byler. Although this is the second book in the series you can read it as a stand-alone.

Charlotte Dolinsky first met the Bylers when she traveled to Lancaster County to figure out why her brother, Ethan, committed suicide.  She lied and pretended to be Amish to get close to the Kings, but little did she realize they would become her family. After revealing her lie and making ammends Charlotte moves back to Houston. Things seem to be going fine until her boyfriend, Ryan breaks up with her. Okay, maybe not fine seeing as how she's on the verge of financial collapse and she's just been given an eviction notice. What on earth is she going to do? Sure she has the house her brother left her in Lancaster County, but can she make a home there?

Jacob King feels smothered. He's always been a little different than the other Amish, loving books and having a desire to learn all he can. He's tried his best to fit in, even finding a girl and asking her to marry him, Annie Byler. As the wedding draws closer Jacob just can't seem to shake the need to get out and join the English world. Maybe not permanently, but he feels he should just try it.

Annie Byler is devastated! Jacob has ran off in the middle of the night not telling anyone, including his mom and dad, where he's going. She's worried sick. What's she going to do if he never comes back? She will be left alone to face the consequences of their actions. She's pregnant with Jacob's child and she has no idea what to do. She doesn't want to tell him because she's afraid he'll only come back out of obligation and not love. She's running out of time and she's going to have to eventually tell her parents and possibly face shunning.

Love Bears All Things is a great reminder that no matter what, love will endure. When we are at the end of our rope and facing our greatest fears, what drives us forward is love. Annie could have given up, she could have blamed their mistake solely on Jacob, but instead, she holds out hope that her love for him and his love for her and his family will be enough to bring him home.

Charlotte isn't sure God is listening anymore, she's poured her heart out to him more times than she can count. She's desperate and running out of options, when Jacob shows up on her door step after running away from home, it's the love of friendship that spurs her to try and help him while gently nudging him home. It's also the love of the King family that makes Charlotte believe she can come to Lancaster county and start over. That she can build a life where one of her life's greatest tragedies happened.

Love Bears All Things is a moving novel that will have you giggling one minute and fighting tears the next. Love is such a powerful emotion and comes in all forms, Wiseman is a master of expressing all of those through the characters of the book. Love Bears All Things will take you on a journey, and once you've finished the book (journey?) you will be better for having taken it.

"Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

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

You can grab a copy here: Love Bears All Things

More Than A Marriage

More Than a Marriage is a Quilting Circle novella by Amy Lillard. It's the third novella in the series but can be read as a stand-alone if you wish. Personally, I like to read the entire series.

The Amish marry for life. Tess and Jacob Smiley knew that going in. What they didn't count on however was being this unhappy. Jacob wanted to move with his family to Wells Landing for the opportunity to buy a farm and provide for Tess and any future children. Tess didn't want to leave her family but she believed in Jacob and his dream.

Wells Landing isn't all it's cracked up to be and Tess is unbearably unhappy. For starters, Jacob had to take a roofing job with an English company. That wouldn't be so bad except the job came with a cell phone.A cell phone that Jacob keeps his head buried in. He never listens to her anymore and she can't remember the last time they sat and played a game together. She's proud of the fact he works so hard she just wishes he had more time for her.

Jacob is bone tired. He works so hard doing a job he hates to support Tess and the life they want to have. Even if it means putting in extra hours. They need all the money they can get to save up and buy a farm. All he wants to do when he gets home is put his feet up and relax. He pulls out his phone because Tess usually has her face buried in a seed catalog or reading up on how to make goat cheese. He hates those goats! They remind him of his failure to provide as a husband and are just more work on Tess.

It's been said comparison kills joy. Tess is so busy looking at her friends and what she assumes is their perfect life and marriage and comparing it to hers. She longs for what she thought marriage could be that she doesn't see what she has right in front of her.

Jacob isn't without fault though, he's selfish and rude, I'm not sure he means to come off that way, but he does. He doesn't share his thoughts and feelings with Tess and when she doesn't get what he says he gets angry. Take the goats for instance, Tess loves those goats. She sees them as the children that the Lord hasn't blessed her and Jacob with yet, she also sees them as a way to help her husband save and provide for their family. They're her contribution to the life they're trying to build. Jacob sees them as a nuisance and a sure sign of his failure. Instead of talking to Tess about how he feels, he up and decrees that the goats have to go and he's going to sell them no matter what Tess says.

More Than a Marriage is a wonderful book. You will love and relate to Jacob and Tess. It's so easy sometimes to get caught up in the day to day struggles that you forget what a wonderful life and spouse you have right in front of you. I love how they never gave up on each other, even when they were struggling to communicate. It was sweet seeing Jacob trying to court Tess and understand exactly what went wrong.

I truly believe you will love this book and read it again and again.

You can grab a copy here:More Than a Marriage

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Love Made New

A Love Made New is Kathleen Fuller's third book in the Amish of Birch Creek Series. It can be read as a stand-alone if you like, but I believe you will like the entire series.

Abigail Schrock just knows her boyfriend, Joel Zook, is going to propose any day now. After dealing with her share of pain and loss, Abigail is ready to move forward with her life. When Joel asks her to come by after church she could hardly contain her excitement. When she arrives at his house, Joel delivers some devastating news, not only does he not love her, but he's in love with someone else.

Asa Bontrager has lost everything. It was his own fault really. God told him to move back to Birch Creek, but Asa didn't want too. He had a good job and a fiancee, what more could a guy want. Slowly but surely, one by one, God took those things away and finally managed to get Asa's attention to go back to Birch Creek. When he sees Abigail leaving Joel Zook's looking sad, he wants to help her somehow.

Abigail has low self esteem, she doesn't believe herself to be pretty, simply because she's a bit more full figured than her sisters. She believes that's why Joel left her, because in her mind she is fat. She's also sick and tired of the pity. People pitied her after her parent's death, they pity her because she's bigger than her sisters and unmarried, surely when people find out Joel left her they will pity her again. All she wants is to love and be loved in return. When Asa comes up beside her on her walk home she takes her frustration out on him. What would a guy as handsome as Asa want with her?

A Love Made New is a story of acceptance and learning to follow God wherever he leads you. It may not make sense but the journey is definitely worth it. Abigail struggles to find her place. She seems to think that outward appearance determines self worth. She has a pity party from time to time, but always manages to pull herself up before she wallows too much. I can relate to Abigail. Sometimes it's hard to be the only one who looks, thinks, talks or maybe acts differently. But that's exactly what he's called us to do, be different. If he made us all exaclty alike how boring that would be.

Asa is on the road to learning to follow God's will and trust His timing. I'm not sure if Asa thought when he came back to Birch Creek that everything would fall immediately into place but it didn't. He figures out quite quickly that Abigail is the one God meant for him, but convincing her of that could take some time. For one thing, she's just gotten out of a relationship with Joel and second she seems to have image issues. To him she is the most beautiful woman in the world, he thinks Joel is a fool for letting her go, and he's not sure why she is so sensitive about her weight.

I love how the author makes the characters real and able to relate to. Just because they're Amish doesn't mean they are perfect. I think sometimes that's a big misconception, not only about the Amish, but also about Christians. We struggle with normal day to day things just like everyone else. The difference is, we have a loving Savior that wants desperately for us to accept Him and see ourselves in his eyes.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Never Forget

About the Book

Book: Never Forget
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2017
Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island
June 1880
Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?
Abbie Wilson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.
Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past.
Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse.
The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband?
My Thoughts: This is such a sweet and heart warming story that I believe anyone will fall in love with. It had enough twists and turns to keep me from figuring out what would happen, although I tried my best! I loved how vividly the author described not only the characters but also the scenes. Abbie was stronger than I expected her to be. Sometimes the heroines in romantic tales are weak and depend on a man to get her through but not Abbie. Don't get me wrong, she felt something for Nathaniel but she was strong on her on with or without a man. She's someone I felt like if I had known her in real life we'd have been friends and spent our days tending to the light house and playing with her menagerie of pets. I do hope you'll give Never Forget a try, you won't regret it!
*I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award,  best-selling author Jody
Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

Which Do You Prefer: Series or Standalones?
By Jody Hedlund
Readers usually have strong opinions about whether they like series or standalones.
Some readers refuse to read books that are inter-related. Others can’t get enough books about their favorite characters.
I see the pros and cons of both.
For series, I don’t like feeling lost as I try to wade through previous characters along with their backstory. I recently started a series by a well-known author and was disappointed to realize the first book was connected to a previous series she’d already published. From the get-go, I felt left out as though I didn’t quite know who all the characters were or their significance.
On the other hand, for standalones, I sometimes feel as though I would like the story to continue. I’ve invested in the setting and characters and so enjoy when I can return to that place and continue to glimpse the characters I’ve fallen in love with—even if from a distance.
My favorites are books that fall in the middle between standalone and series. I like to think of them as standalones within a series. Becky Wade’s Porter brother series is like that. Each of the books centers around one of the brothers (and a tomboy sister). While characters from other books make an appearance in the stories, each plot is separate and complete without any reliance upon another book.
My Beacons of Hope lighthouse series falls in the middle too. The books are related in that they all take place at lighthouses and share a symbolic “cross of hope” that is passed on from one book to the next. A minor character in a previous book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. But each book can be read by itself without having read any of the others.
In other words, readers can pick up my newest release, Never Forget, which is the fifth and final book in the series, and they wouldn’t be confused about who the characters are or what their history is. The plot starts with a bang and ends with a satisfying sigh. It is complete story unto itself.
And yet, for those who’ve read other books in the series, they’ll get to see the happily-ever-after of a character from a previous book. And they’ll also get to find out where the cross of hope finally ends.
If you’re not a fan of series, I encourage you to give the Beacons of Hope series a try. It might satisfy the need for standalones and series all in one neat little package.
To that end, I’m giving away all FIVE books in the series as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour to one lucky winner!
Tell us: What is your preference: Standalones, Series, or Standalones within a Series?

Blog Stops

January 10: Karen Sue Hadley
January 10: Bookworm Mama
January 11: Faithfully Bookish
January 11: Inklings and Notions
January 12: Smiling Book Reviews
January 12: Genesis 5020
January 13: The Scribbler
January 13: Bibliophile Reviews
January 14: Daysong Reflections
January 14: Blogging With Carol
January 15: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 16: A Greater Yes
January 16: Bigreadersite
January 17: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
January 18: Book by Book
January 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts
January 19: Carpe Diem
January 19: A Bakers Perspective
January 19: Splashes of Joy
January 20: Christian Bookaholic
January 20: Stuff and Nonsense
January 21: Radiant Light
January 21: cherylbbookblog
January 22: Neverending Stories
January 22: A Path of Joy
January 23: Henry Happens
January 23: Onceuponatime


To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away the entire Beacons of Hope series. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens is Colleen Coble's third book in the Sunset Cove series. Although it is the third book it can be read as a stand alone. Having not read the other two in the series, yet, I was expecting a normal romance, boy meets girl, they fall in love, but what I got was so much more!

Kate has had a weird childhood to say the least. Her mother was mean, possibly even abusive, and made Kate earn any scrap of affection she might send her way. After going to prison she leaves Kate in charge of her blueberry barrens. Kate ,of course, feels the family obligation on her shoulders and wants to make the barrens a success. When her barrens refuse to yield a crop, Kate is forced to find another way to make an income for the year. After talking it over with her sister, Claire, she decides to fix up and rent out the cottage on her property.

Drake Newham wasn't prepared for this, having his brother and sister-in-law murdered,leaving him to care for this two nieces. He's trying to come to terms with it, but he just can't believe what the police say, that his brother, Heath, murdered his wife Melissa, then killed himself. It's just not possible! He becomes even more convinced when someone breaks into his house in the middle of the night. Needing to get away and find some answers he heads to Maine to hopefully clear his brother's name and keep the girls safe.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time, Drake shows up needing to rent a place just as Kate is renovating the cottage. He also needs someone to watch his nieces while he tries to work and do a little digging into Heath and Melissa's deaths. He hires Kate, but he's not completely sold on the idea she's the right girl for the job. Especially when he learns her uncle, who was in jail for murder, escapes. Add in the fact there's an illusive stalker/killer in town and you have all the makings of an epic adventure!

I was pleasantly surprised by Colleen Coble's ability to keep me guessing until the end. Usually, I'm able to figure out who did what by the middle of the book, but not this time. There were too many viable options and she didn't tip her hand until the very end! I'm also glad that even will all the drama and intrigue that the story still had a happy ending.

Kate despite her tumultuous upbringing has grown into a woman of faith. She is strong, loyal and a role model that people can look up to. She's overcome more than her share of hardships, including recovering from aplastic anemia and reconnecting with her sister, Claire, who her mother gave away and lied about. Most women would shy away from life or be so meek and mild that people would walk right over them, but not Kate. Oh, but can she trust in herself enough to believe she is worthy of love? That she doesn't have to earn it, but that people can and will love you just the way you are?

Drake is determined to solve his family's murder and raise these girls the best he knows how. Will his determination blind him to what's right in front of him? Will he ever be able to truly trust Kate and believe that she wants to help and only has his and the girl's best interests at heart?

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens is an epic adventure filled with drama, intrigue, but most importantly love. I hope you will grab a copy and experience the adventure for yourself.

You can grab a copy here: Twilight at Blueberry Barrens

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Love Transformed

A Love Transformed is Tracie Peterson's third novel in the Sapphire Brides series and one I'm sure you'll love. Used as a pawn her whole life will Clara Vesper find the courage to step out and claim the love and life she desperately wants?

Clara Vesper has known a great love. True it wasn't to her husband, Adolph, but to a man named Curtis Billingham, who she met when she was a teenager. Her mom, who isn't known for her loving kindness, flipped out and demanded Clara marry a man who would promote her up the social ladder. Adolph Vesper doesn't love Clara, but he decides she will make a suitable wife. He didn't realize how suitable until he discovered her ability to design jewelry thus launching his family's highly coveted line of Vesper Yogo jewelry, line. She doesn't take the credit of course, she leaves that to Adolph, she's just happy to have something to fill her time since the nanny takes care of the children.

When Adolph Vesper is murdered Clara is speechless. Who on earth would want to harm her husband? While still reeling from the shock of his sudden and gruesome death Clara learns that her husband, who is normally very savvy with his finances, incured massive amounts of debt and her brother in-law had to bail him out. Basically she's a penniless widow at the mercy of her brother in-law, Otto. She's not too worried, she's always had a pleasant relationship with Otto but when he declares his intent to marry her, after a reasonable amount of time of course, she knows she needs and escape plan. Her mother would be all to happy, not to mention eager, to marry her off to the next eligible, rich man who comes along, brother in-law or not. Her mother has never heard the word no, well she has, but she refuses to accept it. 

Curtis Billingham met and fell in love with Clara when they were just teens, on her aunt's farm in Montana. He loved her something fierce and fully intended to marry  her until her mother got involved. He wanted to fight for her, he tried but it seemed like it just wasn't meant to be. Losing Clara and then his parents a short time later, Curtis made some decisions that were less than honorable. He was a drunk and a womanizer and if it weren't for Madeline and Paul, Clara's aunt and uncle, there's no telling what would've happened to him. They took him in and cared for him and shared their faith. Curtis will be forever grateful to them for being his surrogate family. 

A Love Transformed will draw you in and keep you guessing until the very last page. Clara has known her share of hardships, her mother being one, but she never lets it make her bitter. I was glad she was such a strong and determined woman, especially for her four year old twins, Hunter and Maddie. It would have been easy to marry Otto and live the life in which she became accustom to, but something told her that wasn't the right thing to do. She also could have given in, like she did last time, and let her mother call the shots, she found a suitable husband the first time, who's to say she couldn't do it again? Clara knows in her heart she'll never love another man other than Curtis and she feels like the only place she feels free is the ranch her aunt and uncle own. 

Clara's mother, Harriet Oberlin, is a real piece of work. I kept hoping deep down that she loved Clara and was truly concerned with her well being. As it turns out, she sees her merely as a pawn to boost both of them up the social ladder. How can someone be that cold and calculating? Maybe it was just a different time but I found myself feeling so sorry for Harriet. Clara at least had her Aunt Madeline to fill in where her mother was lacking. Harriet had no one and she could only blame herself. 

I truly hope you will give A Love Transformed a chance. Even if historical romance isn't you normal genre of choice I believe you will fall in love with the characters and the story. Tracie Peterson has a way of bringing places alive and crafting characters who manage to worm their way into your heart and become friends. 

You can grab a copy here:A Love Transformed

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