Saturday, October 22, 2016

Once more to Stoney Ridge -- The Devoted

"Let things come to me
instead of rushing at them
as I usually do." - Patrick
"It's a funny thing about time.
There always seems to be enough of it
for the things that really matter." - Matt
"When you get to the end of yourself,
that's where you find God." - Fern

Suzanne Woods Fisher never fails to delight and inspire with her Amish stories. Her latest visit to Stoney Ridge, The Devoted, is certainly no exception.

I have loved the entire Bishop's Family series.  David Stoltzfus is a caring, devoted bishop, in spite of his own uncertainties about his ability to do a good job.  Over the span of the three books, he finds himself dealing with a wide range of challenges related to his own family, as well as other members of his church district.  With wisdom, and sometimes the help of his insightful wife Birdy, he effectively leads those he is responsible for.

Ruthie is one of the most vibrant characters in the series, and she really shines in The Devoted.  She has important decisions to make about her life and learns many lessons that affect her choices.  Patrick Kelly is a fascinating character who adds a very interesting element to the story.  And it is always fun to revisit characters from previous books and even previous series.  Suzanne threw some twists into the story that kept engagement high.  I hope we haven't seen the last of Stoney Ridge.

Fans of great Amish fiction should enjoy The Devoted.  I would recommend that you read the earlier two books so that you know about the characters.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of this book.  I was happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book:

Restless and adventurous, Ruthie Stoltzfus is right on the cusp of leaving her Amish home. Secretly, she’s earned her GED, saved her money—but she can’t quite set her journey into motion. Just as everything falls into place, along comes Patrick Kelly.

Patrick is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time is of the essence and every moment is to be cherished—especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.

Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back—and Patrick Kelly is in his way.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred—and the promise of hopes fulfilled. 

About the Author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing 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 and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

If you are interested in what other readers think about The Devoted, visit the blogs listed below.  The dates tell you when their reviews should be posted.

Blog Stops

October 18: cherylbbookblog
October 18: Blogging With Carol
October 18: Mary Hake
October 21: Daysong Reflections
October 22: Back Porch Reads
October 23: Lighthouse Academy
October 23: The Power of Words
October 24: Bigreadersite
October 25: Artistic Nobody
October 25: Donna’s BookShelf
October 26: Pause for Tales
October 26: Bukwurmzzz
October 27: Splashes of Joy
October 28: ASC Book Reviews
October 28: Vic’s Media Room
October 30: Book by Book
October 30: Quiet Quilter


To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of The Devoted and an iPad Mini 2 16GB! Click here to enter:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sweet, touching Christmas novella -- Restoring Christmas

I'm a sucker for a sweet, feel-good Christmas story.  Cynthia Ruchti's Restoring Christmas is every bit of that . . . but so much more.  In fact, it is one of the most touching stories I've read in a long time.

Cynthia has such a gentle way with words, and she definitely worked her magic in this one.  Alexis, Gabe, and Elsie -- as well as the other characters who show up -- are all very intriguing, both as individuals and as the unexpected, mismatched company they become.  Cynthia packs so much into this short book, using her limited pages to fill in the back stories of her characters, stories so important in understanding their perspectives on Christmas and the all-important, heart-deep restoration needed by each one.

The book has laugh-out-loud moments and times when you will likely wipe away some tears.  As the story reaches its resolution, there are beautiful elements which especially pull at the heartstrings.  The only bad thing in the book was that I wasn't ready to see the end.

Restoring Christmas is a must read to help get your mind and heart ready for Christmas and beyond.  Thanks to Cynthia for sharing a copy of her story.  I am excited to share my thoughts with other readers.

About the Book: 

Alexis Blake set out to restore a neglected building. What she didn’t expect was to restore a life…

Alexis has one chance to land her own show on the Heart-and-Home Network, and nothing–not an uncooperative client, a job site without indoor plumbing, or a challenging videographer–is going to stand in her way.

Elsie Raymond, at seventy-plus, is far from the ideal client, but she knows exactly what she wants her fieldstone house to look like, and no designer can tell her otherwise.

Gabe Langley, the man with the camera, is caught in the middle and it is his wisdom and warmth that just may be the bridge that will bring these two women together. Can they restore more than just a house and save Christmas memories from being lost forever?

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She's the award-winning author of 17 books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A second visit to Promise Lodge -- Christmas at Promise Lodge (with an EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY info)

Christmas at Promise Lodge is Charlotte Hubbard's delightful second installment in her Promise Lodge series.

Things start off on a high note with the preparation for Promise Lodge's first marriage celebration . . . but then as sometimes happens in Charlotte's stories, there is a twist with a difficult bishop.  (Readers of her Seasons of the Heart series know exactly what I mean!)  Lots of challenges -- some of them very big ones -- mixed with love and patience bring all kinds of excitement as the community moves toward their first Christmas together.  

As always, Charlotte fills her story with a wide variety of characters you either love or love to hate . . . or at least strongly dislike at times.  The relationships and conflicts keep the story moving at a very engaging level.  Although some outcomes are pretty much expected, there are lots of twists and turns along the way.  Fans of great Amish fiction should really enjoy this story.

Thanks to Charlotte and her publisher for providing a copy of this book.  I was happy to write this honest review based on my own thoughts. 

About the Book:

Promise Lodge's first wedding is cause for celebration—but the bishop's narrow-minded wedding sermon doesn't sit well with the Bender sisters, especially widowed Mattie Schwartz. She believes marriage and family aren't the only important gifts God gives--even if she suspects her tender feelings for Preacher Amos Troyer run deeper than simple friendship. Amos hasn't given up hope that stubborn, spirited Mattie will change her mind about taking another husband, but when an accident threatens to change his life forever, he wonders if the Lord has sent him a message. He'll need faith, hope, and charity to find the right path—and a Christmas blessing to convince Mattie to walk it with him.

Exclusive Excerpt from the Book: 

Mattie felt calmer as she made her way to the eck table. The bride and groom sat in the center, and behind them sat a white cake decorated in pale blue, displayed on the glass cake plate Mattie had used when she’d married Marvin Schwartz—an idea Beulah and Ruby had suggested after they’d baked and decorated the cake together.

“It’s gut to see all you kids enjoying this wonderful day,” Mattie murmured as she reached for Noah and Deborah’s hands. “And I wish you two a lifetime of God’s blessings as you begin your life together.”

Deborah grabbed Mattie’s hand between both of hers and squeezed it. “We can’t thank you and Amos enough for our plot of land, and for building us a beautiful home,” she replied earnestly. She leaned farther over the table, lowering her voice. “And I hope you and your sisters and Amos can work out a solution—a sensible peace—about running your businesses and marrying in God’s gut time rather than in Bishop Floyd’s.”

A sensible peace . . . in God’s gut time rather than Bishop Floyd’s. Was that too much to hope for? Too much to ask of God, the father of them all?

“Denki, Deborah. That’s a lovely idea,” Mattie murmured. She felt blessed indeed, witnessing the mature, sincere faith reflected in all the young faces at this table. “Our mission as God’s Plain people is always to attain the peace He desires for us—in our relationship with Him, and amongst ourselves, as well.”

About the Author: 

Many moons ago—like, in 1983 while she was still a school librarian—Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. This launched her into writing around seventy of those “true confessions” stories over the years, and she’s been a slave to her overactive imagination ever since. Over the course of her writing career, she has sold nearly 50 books—most recently, Amish romance series she’s written as Charlotte Hubbard or Naomi King. 

Charlotte lived in Missouri for most of her life, so her Amish stories are set in imaginary Missouri towns. These days she lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband of 40 years and their Border collie, Ramona.

Charlotte will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Enter here to win!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Another "Charming" story -- A Sister's Wish

Shelley Shepard Gray takes us for a third visit to Charm, Ohio, in A Sister's Wish.  Once again, she has provided a delightful story filled with "charming" characters.

The Kinsinger family have been in the forefront in this Charmed Amish Life series, and they are characters so well portrayed that you care for them as close friends.  Amelia's story is not all pleasant and easy; she has faced some struggles while attempting to take care of her family and putting many of her own desires away.  Simon has a past with lots of baggage, some of which he still carries around.  Shelley presents their story beautifully as one of forgiveness, reconciliation and dealing with the hard stuff of life.

Fans of great Amish fiction should enjoy A Sister's Wish, as well as the first two books in the series.  Thanks to Shelley and her publisher for providing a copy of this book.  I was delighted to write an honest review.

About the Book:


In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

A Visit to Charm:

As schedules would work out, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Charm, Ohio, just this week, our fourth time to have that pleasure.  I thought for a little fun, I would share in this post a few pictures I snapped that just might represent some of Shelley's inspiration for A Sister's Wish.  As is mentioned in her book, Shelley mixes real and imagined locations in her story; these pictures represent some of both.

One of our first stops just before entering Charm was Hershberger's Farm and Bakery -- which, by the way, has the best fry pies I have ever eaten.  In their petting zoo, you can find several goats.  I can't help but wonder if some of them are relatives of Amelia's pet goat, Princess.

One of the major businesses in Shelley's version of Charm, of course, is Kinsinger Lumber Company.  Is it possible that Kinsinger just might have been designed around the real-life Keim Lumber Company?

And what about a meal Simon has with someone special at Grandma's Restaurant in Charm?  Maybe it is similar to the Charm Family Restaurant.  In fact, I think Charm Family Restaurant was once Grandma's Homestead.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Love and danger on the coast of Maine -- Twilight at Blueberry Barrens

Colleen Coble provides just the right blend of suspense and romance in Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, the conclusion of her Sunset Cove series set in a small town on the coast of Maine.  This may well be the best of the several books I have read by this author.

As in Colleen's other books, it does little good to think you have the mysteries all figured out; there are plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing throughout the story.  There is an element of faith that plays out well in the story.  And the character development deals with issues of putting the past in perspective and learning to be prepared for the opportunities the future presents.

This book could be read as a stand-alone.  But it is much better to have read the earlier books in the series, especially The Inn at Ocean's Edge, to better understand some of the characters and their stories.

I highly recommend Twilight at Blueberry Barrens and the rest of this series to fans of great Christian romantic suspense.  Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

"I need you to keep these girls safe . . .”

Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family. The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance.

Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last.

Set on the beautiful coast of Maine, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens brings together suspense, romance, and the hope that one day new life will come again.

About the Author:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sweet Christmas novella -- God Bless Us Every One (with giveaway)

(Be sure and read to the end of the post for a chance to win your own copy of the book.)

Eva Marie Everson's God Bless Us Every One is a sweet Christmas novella that will bring a smile to your face and a tug on your heart.

As is necessary because of the short length of a novella, things move very fast in this story packed with loss, love, forgiveness, and redemption. While this is not an updated retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, that classic does play a prominent role.  And Eva weaves some interesting background from Dickens' life and writing into her story.  (In fact, I realized that I have never actually read A Christmas Carol, and this just may be the inspiration I need to do that.)

If you're looking for a light, fun, one-evening read to get you started in the Christmas spirit, I would recommend God Bless Us Every One.  You just might come face to face with some reminders about trust and forgiveness before you're through.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Charlene Dixon—called Charlie by family and friends—is devastated at the recent loss of her job. 

For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the headmistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up her dreams and returns to her grandmother, Sis, who raised Charlie as her own in the mountains of North Carolina.

When Charlie arrives—broken and confused—Sis immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school’s Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. Charlie prickles at working with Dustin Kennedy, the drama teacher and her old crush from schooldays, but is even more put out at that the choice of the Dickens’ classic for the holiday performance. When she discovers her estranged father’s involvement her world turns on its head once more. But when Sis and Dustin encourage her to take a deeper look at the story behind A Christmas Carol, Charlie learns about trust, faith, and forgiveness and the needs of people in their own community.

About the Author:

Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning speaker and author of "The Road to Testament," "Things Left Unspoken," "This Fine Life," "Chasing Sunsets," "Waiting for Sunrise," "Slow Moon Rising," and The Potluck Club series (with Linda Evans Shepherd). She is the president of Word Weavers International, Inc., a member of AWSA, ACFW, RWA, the director of Florida Christian Writer’s Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. She and her husband make their home in Casselberry, Florida.

Find out more about Eva Marie at

GIVEAWAY:  I have an extra copy of God Bless Us Every One that I would be happy to share with someone.  Comment on this post by midnight on Wednesday, September 14, for a chance to win.  Please be sure to include your email address in your comment so I will know how to contact the winner.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fantastic series beginning -- Made with Love

Made with Love is the beginning of a very enjoyable series of Amish stories set in Pinecraft, Florida.  The series is co-authored by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore.  Tricia has already written some great Amish fiction; Sherry adds an insider's touch, as she has been a resident of Pinecraft for several years.

The characters are delightful folks that it would be fun to meet.  The Miller family, with five unmarried daughters, provides a wide-range of personalities and interests.  As you read the story, you begin to get to know the entire family, even as the focus is on the oldest daughter, Lovina.

The excellent writing makes it very easy to get caught up in Lovina's dream for a pie shop and Noah's hope of proving that second chances can make a big difference in the lives of people and in things. The struggles and challenges they both face as they work on this ambitious project make for an extremely engaging story.

And there are so many mouth-watering recipes sprinkled throughout the book that it's almost like getting a bonus cookbook along with the story.

For all fans of great Amish fiction, I highly recommend all three volumes in this Pinecraft Pie Shop series.

See my reviews for Planted with Hope and Sewn with Joy.

About the Book:

A Dash of Love, a Pinch of Hope, and a Whole Lot of Good Cooking 

Lovina Miller should be thrilled. Pinecraft, Florida, has everything a young Amish woman could ask for: sun, sand, volleyball games, and evening singings in the park. But Pinecraft lacks the one thing Lovina desperately wants—a pie shop of her own. She longs for a place to gather with the community and serve the treat she loves.

A young carpenter named Noah Yoder strolls into her life and offers a way to make her dream come true. But before Noah and Lovina can build a shop—and a life—together, they must each face heartaches from the past. Is their new love stronger than their regrets? 

Find inspiration, romance, and authentic Amish recipes for everyone’s favorite food—pie!

About the Authors:

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A USA Today bestselling author, Tricia has published over 40 books and has written more than 500 articles. She's well-known for her Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Amish series. For more information visit Tricia at Tricia, along with a group of friends, also runs, sharing ideas about simplifying life.

Sherry Gore is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and Me, Myself and Pie and is a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper The Budget. Sherry's culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime,, and Mr. Food Test Kitchen. Sherry is a resident of Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church.