Saturday, September 30, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love

If you love holiday stories I recommend picking up a copy of An Amish Christmas Love. It is a collection of four novellas and each will get you into the Christmas spirit and warm your heart. Each story has it's own unique set of characters and it is hard for me to choose a favorite!

Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman

Naomi is 25 and lives at home with her mom and grandmother. They rent a daadi haus to help make ends meet. Naomi's grandmother, Ruth, is the talk of the town. Ever since her husband passed away she has made it her mission to find a husband and remarry, much to Naomi and her mother's embarrassment. Naomi has witnessed her mom and grandmother lose spouses and seen what pain and heartache comes with that. She refuses to even consider a suitor because she doesn't want the heartache that might eventually come with love. Will these three women ever find love and mend their broken hearts? They will if Ruth has anything to say about it!

This story literally had me laughing out loud! The grandmother, Ruth, reminded me a lot of my daughter. She was sassy, yet she had a grace and wisdom about her. She didn't always follow the rules but she wasn't a "wild child" either so to speak. She had lived a long life and essentially knew what was important and what was not. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind and that sometimes got her in to trouble!! I loved how she coaxed Naomi and her mother Barbara to see beyond their pain and live life to the fullest.

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston

It's Emma Bontranger's first Christmas since losing her husband of 45 years, Henry. They were never blessed with children so Emma is especially lonely with no one to share her life with. When an orange cat unexpectedly shows up and makes himself at home, Emma decides to let him stay rather than spending Christmas alone. She's never had a pet in the house but she finds herself warming up to the cat and sharing her memories of Henry with him. When a snow storm keeps her from accepting a Christmas dinner invitation, she receives even more unexpected guests when the teens of the family come to check up on her.

I loved how the cat seemed to embody Henry. He seemed to know what Emma needed even before she did! It was funny how he claimed Henry's chair and seemed to communicate just like a human. The cat instinctively knew when Emma was sad and needed a boost but he also knew when she needed some space. He was just what she needed to make it through her first Christmas as a widow. He, along with the teens, helped her count her blessings and see how much she still had to offer her community.

Home for Christmas by Beth Wiseman

Ellie Whetstone is used to traveling the circuit doing dog shows with her poodle, Lulu. When she receives news that she has inherited her aunt's house in Amish country, she decides that her and Lulu could use a break. Her plan is to get the house ready to sell before she and Lulu head back to the circuit. What she doesn't expect is GPS to send her to the neighbor's house and him find her and Lulu making themselves at home. She also doesn't expect Allison, the neighbor's daughter to fall in love with Lulu and vice versa. In a hilarious yet heart warming story full of unexpected's, Home for Christmas is sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

This one really tugged on my heart strings and made me cry. Allison immediately takes to Lulu and vice versa but nobody can figure out why. They seem inseparable. When Ezra Mast, Allison's dad, declared Lulu to be the cause of Allison's health problems they all have broken hearts. Nobody wants to deny Allison the joy of loving on Lulu but a parent has to do what they think is best.

Lulu reminded me of Lucille Ball from I love Lucy. She wanted to be with Allison no matter what. Even though she was a well trained dog she ignored Ellie's commands and pulled some shenanigans to get to see Allison. She knew what she wanted and what Allison needed and didn't seem to care what trouble she caused! She was definitely named correctly!

Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin

David Byler and Molly Shrock have been an item for a while now. Molly is sure David is the one and is already making plans to be Mrs. David Byler. When they are at the local horse auction David gets the shock of his live, the English girl who was his first love, Bobbie McGregor, is back and has her heart set on David. Now David has the decision of a lifetime to make; will he choose his faith and Molly or will he go with the girl who once shredded his heart and leave his faith for Bobbie.

I'm reminded of the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" but David has no clue what he wants! He did until Bobbie came along and now he's at a loss.  I couldn't understand the pull Bobbie had on David. I know she was his first love and first loves can be powerful but he moved on and fell in love with Molly. Maybe it's just me, but if someone hurt me that badly I don't think I would be willing to throw everything away, my faith and my family, just because they had a change of heart and decided they loved me now.

Even though I couldn't understand the whole David and Bobbie thing I truly enjoyed the story as a whole.

I truly enjoyed each story in An Amish Christmas love and I believe you will too. I hope you will give it a try and if you do leave a comment letting me know what you think!

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

You can grab a copy here: An Amish Christmas Love

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Pretender

Noah and Tillie seem fated to be together even though they are from entirely different backgrounds. Noah lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his older brother and wife. At first Noah was a good kid getting into minor trouble, but as he grew older he turned to drinking and drugs to help him deal with his loss, along with his time spent in the war. Noah has no plans to cleanup his act despite numerous attempts by his brother and sister in law to convince him to do just that. Then in walks Tillie.....

Tillie is the youngest of the Caselli family and the only girl. She is the light of her family and her brothers have nicknamed her, Angel. She doesn't mind, in fact she signs all of her artwork as Angel. She has the honor of being a part of the Junior Artist of America with her school and getting to compete in competitions. Tillie is a good girl and has never broken a rule in her life, so when a couple of her friends decide to try the bar across the street she stays behind. Tillie and her friend, Ginger, quickly become worried when their friends haven't come back after several hours. They decide they should go rescue them before they all end up in trouble. It's on this night that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen and their lives are changed forever.

Although I enjoyed the pretender very much it was a bit of a long read for me. It wasn't boring by any means, but I felt like sometimes the story had gottn bogged down. I loved the concept of love at first sight and how sometimes you have to hold onto hope when the future looks bleak. I loved how the author included all of the family and not just one or two characters. You feel like you really know the Casellis, as if they could be your neighbor down the street.

I felt for Noah, like most vets, he has trouble talking about the war and deals with it in the only way he knows how. I admired him for sticking to his guns even when everybody else thought he was crazy. I hate that he had to suffer so much heartache, but I am glad he was able to finally turn it into something positive.

If you are looking for an engaging read I hope you will give The Pretender a try. Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

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

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                                                              The Pretender Giveaway

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.