Thursday, May 23, 2013

Family and Romance -- Ray of Light

Ray of Light is an enjoyable second installment in Shelley Shepard Gray's The Days of Redemption series.  (Read about the first book, Daybreak, here.)

The Keim family's story continues, with Roman as the main character this time.  Amanda is a delightful love interest, and who could help but fall in love with little Regina!  Of course, Viola, Ed, Elsie, and other family members continue to play important roles.

Some of the characters -- like Roman's grandparents -- seem to round out much better in this second book.  The secrets revealed with little detail in book one begin to fill out the story much more as the series progresses.  And there are several loose ends and hints at new twists that make me anxious to see how the series concludes in Eventide.

I recommend Ray of Light as a great read for Amish fiction fans.

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

See what other reviewers think of Ray of Light here.
About the Book:
Bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray brings inspirational romance to life in this sweet tale of love in the Amish community, Ray of Light, the second installment of her Days of Redemption series.

Roman Keim just wants a break from the family drama at his snowy Ohio home when he heads to an Amish snowbird community in Florida. There he meets Amanda Yoder and her daughter Regina who soon are warming his heart. But will Roman return to Ohio or will he stay and help the young widow embrace a second chance at love?

The author of the series Sisters of the Heart and Seasons of Sugarcreek, Shelley Shepard Gray delivers an honest, tender love story in Ray of Light, featuring the challenges of faith, family, and romance.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the "Sisters of the Heart", "Seasons of Sugarcreek", "Secrets of Crittenden County", and Families of Honor series. 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.

Learn more about Shelley at

Uncovering the Past -- The Promise Box

The Promise Box is the second heartwarming story in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series.  (Read my review of The Memory Jar here.)

Upon her mother's death, Lydia Wyse travels from her Englisch life in Seattle to her Amish family's home in West Kootenai, Montana.  Without definite plans on how long to stay with her father, Lydia soon finds two reasons to prolong her visit -- handsome bachelor Gideon Hooley and her mother's precious promise box.  Both take her on a journey through her past and into great promise for her future.

In this story, Tricia Goyer gives her readers very real characters to care about.  As Lydia reads the notes in the promise box, she experiences a wide range of emotions, and I found myself sharing those feelings with her.  Gideon has a past of his own to deal with, and traveling with him as he learns the details from years ago is another engaging part of the story. 

I give The Promise Box five stars and highly recommend it to fans of Amish fiction, or to anyone who enjoys a good story filled with promise.  I'm looking forward to what Tricia Goyer has to share next!

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

Check out what other reviewers think of The Promise Box here.

Book Two in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series

Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive 'resident' status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides! 

In The Promise Box, the second book of bestselling author Tricia Goyer's Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai, Montana to give comfort to her father after her mother's death.

She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother's most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture. What her publisher sees, though, is an opportunity for a sensational 'tell-all' book about the Amish. 

Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley. She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride. Will the pain of her childhood---and her potential betrayal of her community---keep her from committing her whole heart?

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by Tricia is also on the blogging team at, and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired.

Find out more about Tricia at


Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her lastest novel, The Promise Box (Zondervan), by hosting an Amish Baking Box giveaway and connecting with readers during her June 12th Book Chat Party!

One "promising" winner will receive:
  • Apron, hot mitts, and kitchen towels
  • Amish baking items (rolling pin, pie plate, etc...)
  • Sherry Gore's Simply Delicious Amish Cooking
  • The Memory Jar and The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 11th. Winner will be announced at the "The Promise Box" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 12th. Connect with Tricia for an evening of Amish fun - book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tricia will also share an exclusive look at the next book book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Promise Box and join Tricia on the evening of June 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Finding God's plan -- Letters to Katie (Updated)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)

***Special thanks to Kathleen Fuller for sending me a review copy.***


Kathleen Fuller is the author of over twenty books, including the best-selling Hearts of Middlefield series. She lives with her husband of twenty years, James, and their three teenagers in Geneva, OH. Visit her website at


Everything changed between them the first time he called her Katie.

Katherine Yoder has loved Johnny Mullet since they were children, but he never actively returned her affections. Like so many things in their world, he assumes Katherine will always be there. Once his horse farm is a success, then he will court her in earnest.

For several weeks, Katherine has been plagued by severe headaches and dizziness. While resting at home, Johnny unexpectedly visits, but when dizziness strikes, she loses consciousness. She awakens hours later in a hospital bed, unable to remember how she got there.

Seeing Katherine injured and vulnerable stirs something in Johnny, and his guilt compels him to spend time with her while she heals. Soon his heart begins to stir with questions: Does she even remember why he'd come to her house that day?

As Katherine struggles to recall recent memories of Johnny, a surprise visitor arrives in her already unsteady world—a man named Isaac who claims they had been writing letters to each other, even considering marriage, before her illness.

With two men vying for her attention and her memory still elusive, Katherine has never felt so divided. The answer may lie behind a door she never considered opening.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547770
ISBN-13: 978-1595547774


“Oh, Katherine. This is so schee.”

Katherine Yoder smiled at her best friend, Mary Beth. She’d spent hours working on the baby quilt, making sure the tiny stitches were as perfect as possible for Mary Beth’s new baby. “I’m glad you like it.”

“Of course I do.” Mary Beth touched the soft flannel quilt, running her fingers over the pale yellow, blue, and peach blocks. Each block had a ragged edge, a new pattern she hadn’t attempted before. The simple style was well suited for a baby, and Mary Beth’s was due within a few weeks.

“I love it.” Mary Beth folded the quilt and placed it on her knees, her expanded belly barely allowing the space. “Danki for such a beautiful gift. Although I don’t see how you have the time, working so many hours at the restaurant.”

All I have is time, Katherine thought. She pushed the self-pity aside and managed a smile. She didn’t want to ruin the moment between them with jealousy. Unlike Mary Beth Shetler, Katherine didn’t have a husband—and soon a child—to take care of. Outside of working at Mary Yoder’s and helping her parents at home, her only other pursuits were her sewing and needlework. She was always busy, yet longed for something different. Something more.

Apparently God had other plans.

Mary Beth managed to rise from the chair in her tiny kitchen. Her husband Chris had built the four-room home behind Mary Beth’s parents’ property. The dwelling resembled a dawdi haus, and likely would be used as such once the rest of Mary Beth’s siblings—Johnny, Caleb, Micah, and Eli—married and left home. But for now, the tidy, cozy home was enough.

And more than Katherine had.

Mary Beth placed the quilt on the table. “I’m glad you came over. Since I’ve gotten so big, I haven’t gotten out much.” Her light blue dress draped over her bulging belly.

Katherine’s eyes widened. “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”

“Nee.” Her friend laughed. “But I look like I am.” With a waddling gait she moved to the cabinet. “Do you want anything to drink?”

Katherine shook her head. “I can’t stay too long. I wanted to make sure you got the quilt before the boppli arrived. I have to work later today.”

“Maybe just a few minutes?” Mary Beth went back to the table and sat down. She reached for Katherine’s hand. “It’s been so long since we talked. ”

“We’ve both been busy.” She squeezed her friend’s hand. “And you’ll be even busier in a few weeks.”

“Ya.” A radiant glow appeared on Mary Beth’s cheeks. “But I don’t want us to drift apart. You’re mei best friend.”

Katherine released her hand. “And I promise I’ll be the best aenti to your boppli.”

“The baby has plenty of onkels, that’s for sure.” Her smile dimmed a little.

Katherine frowned. “What’s wrong? It’s not the boppli, is it?”



“Chris is fine too. We’re happier than we’ve ever been. “

“Then what is it?”
Mary Beth sighed, but she didn’t reply.

“You know you can tell me anything. If something’s troubling you, I want to help.”

Her friend looked at Katherine. “It’s Johnny.”

Katherine’s heart twisted itself into a knot. She glanced away before steeling her emotions. “What about Johnny?”
“Are you sure you want to talk about him?”

“I’ve accepted that there’s no future for us. What I felt for Johnny was a childhood crush.”

A crush. The truth was, Katherine had loved Mary Beth’s twin brother Johnny for as long as she could remember. For years she held out hope for a chance, however small, however remote. She had clung to that dream as if she were drowning and it was her only lifeline.

But not anymore.

She sat straight in the chair, brightened her smile, and said, “What’s going on with him?”
“He’s been acting. . .different.”

“What do you mean?”

“Distant. Partly because he’s been working so many hours at the buggy shop. Mamm said she barely sees him except for church service. He leaves early in the morning and comes home late. But when he is around, he’s quiet.”

“That doesn’t sound like him,” Katherine said. “Do you think he’s keeping something from your familye?”

Something. . .or someone?

Despite Katherine’s vow not to care, her heart constricted again at the thought.

“I don’t know.” Mary Beth’s brown eyes had lost the warmth they’d held moments ago. “He’s becoming like a stranger to me. To all of us. We’ve drifted apart.” Her smile faded. “Like you and I have.”

Katherine shook her head in protest. “You know I’m always here for you.”

Tears welled in Mary Beth’s eyes.

Katherine drew back. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“I’m always crying.” Mary Beth wiped her eyes. “It makes Chris ab im kopp. Hormones, I’m sure.” She sniffed, wiping her eyes. “I’m glad we’re still best friends.”

Katherine hugged Mary Beth. “We always will be.”


Johnny Mullet put his hands on his hips and surveyed his new property. Four acres, a small house and an even smaller barn. All his.

The sad little farm didn’t look like much. But by the time he finished fixing everything up, no one would recognize it. He glanced at the empty pasture on the left side of the house. Tall grass, green and dense, swayed against a southerly breeze. He planned to purchase that acreage, too. Expand, and make his horse farm something he could be proud of.

If only Daed could see. . .

At the thought of his father, the grin faded from his face.

Hochmut, his father would say. Pride.

The worst character flaw any Amish could have.

But was there something wrong with feeling satisfied after hard work? After a job well done?

This wasn’t about pride. It was about independence. Making a good living. He’d seen his family struggle. He didn’t want that for his future. A future that, God willing, wouldn’t include only him.

With the hazy orange sun dipping below the horizon, Johnny hopped into his buggy and headed home. Ten minutes later he pulled up to his parents’ house. He was late for supper. Again. He quickly put up his horse and hurried into the house, sliding into his seat just as his father closed his eyes for grace.

After prayer, his mother passed his father a platter of ham. He speared a slice with his fork, peering at Johnny as he did. “Late day at work again?”

Johnny picked up a roll from the basket on the table. He drew in a deep breath. “Nee.”

“Then why are you late?”

“I bought a farm.”

Silence. Johnny glanced around the table. Caleb’s mouth dropped open, and Micah’s fork was poised in mid-air. Even six-year-old Eli gave him a funny look. “You what?” His mother’s eyes went wide with shock.

“You know that house down the road a piece? The one with the barn in the back?”

“You mean that shack?” Caleb shook his head.

Micah scooped up a forkful of green beans. “Calling it a shack is a stretch.”

Their father cleared his throat. The boys ducked their heads and kept eating. He turned to Johnny. “When did you do this?”

“Signed the paperwork yesterday.”

“Where did you get the money?”

He was already tired of the third degree, but he had expected no less. “Savings. From my job at Gideon Bender’s.”

“You must have gotten it for a song,” Caleb added. “Or less than a song. Maybe just a note.” He chuckled.

“Caleb.” His father shot him a silencing look before turning to Johnny again. “I wish you had consulted me first.”

“I’m an adult, Daed. I didn’t think I had to.” Seeing the flash of hurt in his father’s eyes, he added, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

“I hope so.”

“Maybe you two could discuss this after supper?” Mamm’s lips pinched into a thin line. “The food is getting cold.”

Daed nodded, and dug into his food. No one said anything for the rest of the meal. But all Johnny could think about was the disappointed look on his father’s face.


Cora Easely gripped the smart phone in her hand. “The doctor wants me to do what?”

“He’d like to see you again,” the nurse repeated in a crisp, emotionless tone. “As soon as possible.”


“He’d like to run a few more tests.”

“How many more tests does he need?” Cora looked down at the bruise on her arm from the blood draw she’d received a few days ago. For months she’d been poked, prodded, scanned, and questioned. The dehumanizing madness had to stop. Her weary body couldn’t take it anymore.

“You tell Dr. Clemens I’m through with his tests. If he doesn’t have a treatment plan by now, clearly I need to see a more competent doctor.”

Silence on the other line. The nurse cleared her throat. “Mrs. Easley, Dr. Clemens is just being thorough.”

“Too thorough, if you ask me.”

“Are you refusing more testing?”

“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

A pause. “I’ll mark that in your chart. You’ll still need to meet with Dr. Clemens at your earliest convenience. He will want to talk to you.”

“And I want to talk to him.” This nonsense had gone on long enough. She already had a diagnosis—Parkinson’s. What she didn’t have was a cure.

After making her appointment, Cora clicked off her phone and laid it on the glass coffee table. She walked to the large window in her penthouse and looked at the landscape in front of her. New York. The city of her birth, the place she’d lived all her life. But everything had changed in the past few months, changes she never expected.

Her hands trembled. The shaking had worsened over the past two weeks. Dr. Clemens had said to expect it. She hated that he was right.

Parkinson's. The diagnosis terrified her. She’d briefly glanced at the literature about the disease, only to promptly dispose of the pamphlets after reading about some of the symptoms. Loss of memory. Loss of motor function. Loss of control.

Cora Easely had never been out of control. She'd dictated and orchestrated every aspect of her life except for one. And now she was facing the possibility that within the next couple of years, she wouldn't even be in control of her bodily functions. What kind of life was that? Not one she wanted to live.


Cora turned to look at her maid, a faithful servant for the past several years. If it hadn't been for Manuela, her grandson, Sawyer, wouldn’t have found out the truth about his parents and the reason his mother ran off with his father. Or the story behind the estranged relationship she had with her daughter Kerry, and how Kerry had tried to mend the rift between them. Cora’s stubbornness had thwarted that. And now her grandson didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with her.

When he left to find Laura Stutzman two months ago, he swore he’d return. But he hadn’t. She wasn’t sure he ever would.

“Señora?” Manuela repeated. “Por favor. Did you hear me?”

“Sorry. Lost in my thoughts, I suppose.”

“Is everything all right?”

“Everything is fine.” But it couldn’t be further from the truth. She walked away from the window. “I need a glass of sparkling water.”

“Sí. Anything else?”

“No, just the water. Bring it to my bedroom.”

Manuela nodded and disappeared from the room. Cora made her way to her spacious bedroom. She sat on the edge of her bed, the silk comforter rustling from the movement. She picked up the landline phone on the mahogany end table. Dialed a familiar number. Tensed when she heard the voicemail.

“This is Sawyer. Leave a message.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but words failed. She couldn’t tell her grandson about her diagnosis. Not like this. She’d have to find another way. But she had no idea how.

My Thoughts

Kathleen Fuller finishes up her Middlefield Family series in fantastic form with Letters to Katie.  She promised me she would tie up loose ends of the series in this book -- and she did a superb job of fulfilling that promise.

The story is filled with great characters -- like Katherine, Johnny, Sawyer, Laura, and Cora -- many of whom are familiar "faces" from the earlier books.  There is enough uncertainty in Katherine's and Johnny's story to keep you turning the pages, and the continuing struggle between Sawyer and his grandmother adds a whole other dimension of interest.

Kathleen has delivered a thoughtful message of people learning the importance of giving up personal goals to search for God's plans -- and the sometimes unexpected benefits of doing so.

I would highly recommend Letters to Katie to anyone who enjoys great Amish fiction.  You will likely appreciate the story more, though, if you first read Treasuring Emma (my review) and Faithful to Laura (my review).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Family Secrets -- Daybreak

Daybreak begins Shelley Shepard Gray's The Days of Redemption series in good style.  The story is filled with interesting characters who have a lot of issues to deal with.

Viola learns that things are not always as they seem -- in her own family and in others -- and she finds that her quick-to-judge attitude may need a little adjusting.  Ed is surprised to find his father doing so well in the retirement home and has adjustments to make as he comes home for a while. 

The story of Viola, Ed, and the others is an engaging one, with several twists thrown in for interest.  Fans of Amish fiction should enjoy this story, which I give 4 stars out of 5.

About the Book:

In this close-knit Amish family, nothing is as perfect as it seems . . .

When Viola Keim starts working at a nearby Mennonite retirement home, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with resident Atle, whose only living relative, son Edward, is living as a missionary in Nicaragua. Viola understands the importance of mission work, but she can’t imagine leaving her father in the hands of strangers. Even though her family is New Order Amish, it’s not the Amish way, and though she doesn’t know Ed, she judges him for abandoning his father.

But when Ed surprises his father with a visit, Viola and Ed both discover an attraction they never expected. Despite her feelings, choosing Ed would mean moving to a far-off country and leaving her family behind. She can’t do that. Her twin sister, Elsie, is going blind and will need someone to care for her all her life. Her family is reeling with the recent discovery that her grandmother hid her past as an Englischer. Her father seems forgetful and distracted—and to be harboring some secrets of his own.
Does Viola dare leave them all behind and forge her own life? Or will family ties mean her one chance at love slips away?

 Meet the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the "Sisters of the Heart", "Seasons of Sugarcreek", "Secrets of Crittenden County", and Families of Honor series. 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.

Learn more about Shelley at

Monday, May 13, 2013

More than just a cookbook! -- Simply Delicious Amish Cooking

Unbeknownst to many folks outside the Amish Mennonite population in America, Pinecraft, Florida - a village tucked away in the heart of Sarasota - is the vacation paradise of the Plain People. Unlike any other Plain community in the world, this village is a virtual melting pot of Amish and Mennonites from around the world, intermingled with people, like author Sherry Gore’s family, who live there year-round.

Gore has put together a cookbook that represents the people who make Pinecraft unique. With hundreds of easy-to-prepare recipes, 16 full-color photographs and black-and-white photographs throughout, this cookbook includes traditional favorites such as Sweet Potato Sweet Mash and Mrs. Byler’s Glazed Donuts, as well as Florida favorites including Fried Alligator Nuggets, Grilled Lime Fish Fillets, and Strawberry Mango Smoothies. Interspersed with the recipes are true-life stories about births, engagements, weddings, deaths, funerals, celebrations, wildlife encounters, and accidents told through years of Sherry’s Letters from Home column published in The Budget, the Amish newspaper. This delightful cookbook offers readers a faith-based, family-focused perspective of the simple way of life of the Plain People. It is truly a breath of fresh air from Sarasota, Florida!

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking is a collection of recipes Sherry Gore has gathered from Amish cooks hailing from different parts of the country.  This book fits my definition of a good cookbook because most of the recipes appear simple to make and call for ingredients many of us would find in our pantries.  If you are expecting some traditional Amish dishes, you will not be disappointed; there are recipes for favorites like whoopie pies, shoofly pie, and Amish peanut butter.  Of course, there are the exceptions -- Alligator Stew, for example -- that I probably won't be trying anytime soon!  There are color photographs (taken by Chris Meyer) of some of the dishes -- and the pictures are so good that I think it might be possible to gain weight just by looking at them. 

Interspersed among the recipes, you can find stories, cooking tips, and thoughts to ponder, all providing a little glimpse into the Amish world.   Many of the stories are items that Sherry wrote for the Amish publication, The Budget.  There are also several black-and-white photos which provide a quick look into life in Sarasota, Florida. 

Whether you are looking for a recipe for a yummy dish or just want to kick back and enjoy a brief visit to a new community, Simply Delicious Amish Cooking could be just the book for you.  I highly recommend that you give it a try.

This book was provided free of charge by the BookSneeze blogger program in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Sherry Gore is the editor-in-chief of Cooking & Such magazine and is a weekly scribe for the national edition of the 120-year-old Amish newspaper, The Budget.  She is a year-round resident of beautiful, sun-kissed Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the plain People.  She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite Church.  Sherry is a caregiver to her 22-year-old daughter, a Sunday school teacher, a cooking show host, and an official pie contest judge.  Sherry was featured in the National Geographic Channel's Amish: Out of Order series and has appeared on various other TV programs.

You can learn more about Sherry and her publications at

Another visit to Hickory Hollow -- The Guardian

Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.

When Jodi Winfield comes to Lancaster to house-sit, the last thing she expects to find is a disheveled little girl alone on the side of the road. The young teacher is mystified when she learns there have been no reports of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.

Then Jodi turns her attention to Hickory Hollow--and the cloistered world of the Old Order Amish--in search of answers.

The best way I can think of to describe my reaction to The Guardian is a sense of peacefulness.  The main characters have issues and conflicts to deal with, but the way their stories play out is through a growing sense of peace and understanding about their lives.

In contrast to what is often the case in Amish fiction, there is no Amish character trying to decide whether to leave the Plain community or no English person thinking of becoming Amish.  Instead, the relationships between Jodi, Sarah, Maryanna, and others provide unexpected opportunities to learn from each other and grow through their differences and their similarities.  Two women -- one Amish and one English -- have both experienced great loss and have a great deal to learn about love, priorities, and moving on in life.  Although their lifestyles are quite different, they find themselves sharing their hearts in ways that help them both begin to heal.  And I can't imagine reading this story without absolutely falling in love with little Sarah Esh, who comes alives on the pages through Beverly Lewis's skillful writing.

I highly recommend The Guardian to anyone who enjoys great Amish fiction and anxiously look forward to book #4, The Secret Keeper, due out in September.

This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and spending time with their family. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Story of Commitment -- Face of the Earth

Face of the Earth is a touching, thought-provoking story about commitment -- genuine, deep commitment to vows made between a husband and wife. In the face of what seems like a hopeless situation, and despite unexpected interest toward another woman, Mitchell Brannon remains determined to honor his vows to his missing wife.

Deborah Raney has crafted an engaging story with believable characters. Mitch and Shelley run through a wide range of realistic emotions as they struggle with the loss and uncertainty of Jill's disappearance. The story takes twists and turns that leave no room for predictability. In fact, throughout much of the book, it is hard to imagine how the situation can be resolved with the characters remaining true to themselves. But Raney delivers an authentic, well-written resolution.

I highly recommend Face of the Earth to fans of quality Christian fiction. This is my first exposure to Deborah Raney's writing, and I look forward to reading more.

This book was provided free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

See what other reviewers are saying about Face of the Earth here.

About the Book

When Mitchell Brannon's beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised Jill's car isn't in the garage. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. "Hey, babe, I'm just now checking out of the hotel, but I'll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you." Hours later, Jill still hasn't returned, and Mitch's irritation turns to dread.

When the police come up empty, Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill's best friend, Shelley, to help search. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, Mitch and Shelley's friendship grows ever closer--and decidedly more complicated. Every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.
Meet the Author

Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including A Nest of Sparrows and the RITA award winning Beneath a Southern Sky and its sequel, After the Rains. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, Playing by Heart, was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, Yesterday's Embers, appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas. 

Learn more about Deborah at

Deborah is celebrating with a fun "Date Night" Giveaway (win a $200 Visa Cash Card!) and an Author Chat Party on Facebook! {5/30}
   One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one – your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The Face of the Earth by Deborah Raney
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 29th. Winner will be announced at the "The Face of the Earth" Facebook Author Chat Party on May 30th. Connect with Deborah for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Deborah will also be sharing a sneak peek of her next book and giving away books and fun gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Face of the Earth and join Deborah on the evening of May 30th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 30th!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Another Visit to the Orchards -- The Winnowing Season

In The Winnowing Season Cindy Woodsmall takes us on a return visit to the King and Byler families.  There we find them facing even more challenges in their efforts to relocate their homes and business and start a new community in Maine.  Conflict and confusion finds its way into the close-knit group of Amish both from within and from outsiders as well.  It seems that almost everyone has secrets that they aren't willing to share and which threaten to tear apart their work and relationships. 

As always, Cindy shares a well-written story with engaging characters.  This series does not deliver a predictable Amish story.  There are twists and turns in the characters' experiences that add an unexpected level of intrigue to the plot.  And at the end of this second book there are still lots of loose ends to be tied up . . . so I'm anxiously awaiting For Every Season, the series' conclusion that is scheduled to come out in the fall of this year.

If you haven't already done so, you will want to read the beginning of the Rhoda's, Samuel's, and Jacob's story in A Season for Tending.  You can read my review of that one here.

This book was provided free of charge by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them?

On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.

Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally.

Book 2 of the Amish Vines and Orchards series asks: can the three faithfully follow God’s leading and build a new home and orchard in Maine? Or will this new beginning lead to more ruin and heartbreak?

Meet the Author

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times  and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one work of nonfiction whose connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media and throughout Christian news outlets.  She lives outside Atlanta with her family.

Learn more about Cindy here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Thrilling Conclusion -- When a Secret Kills

Lynette Eason is a master at romantic suspense.  Her characters and their stories grip you from page one and hold you tight to the very end!

Her Deadly Reunion series revolves around a ten-year-old murder and increasingly deadly efforts to keep the details covered up.  Jillian witnessed the murder and has literally run for her life ever since.  Her closest friends' lives have been in danger, and now she has been found.  It is time to go back home and find and expose the truth.  But is what she has believed for so many years really the truth?

Before you dive into When a Secret Kills, you will want to read When the Smoke Clears (read my review here) and When a Heart Stops (read my review here) to know the whole story.  I highly recommend the entire series.  If you are a fan of great suspense sprinkled with a message of faith, you should find these books well worth your time.

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

In the spine-tingling conclusion to her explosive Deadly Reunion series, Lynette Eason once again treats readers to a tale of secrets that need to be told and dangers that need to be faced. 

Investigative reporter Jillian Carter knows it’s time to put the past to rest. She’s tired of looking over her shoulder, letting a killer go free. She’s no longer the scared kid who changed her name and disappeared. Now, no matter what the cost, Jillian must do what she is trained to do—ferret out the truth and expose it. Senator Frank Hoffman committed murder ten years ago—and Jillian watched it happen.

Didn’t she?

Not even the enigmatic and attractive Colton Brady, her ex-boyfriend and nephew of the killer, will be able to make her leave this alone. Get ready for a ride that will make you afraid to be home alone.

Meet the Author

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of several romantic suspense novels, including When the Smoke Clears, When a Heart Stops, and the Women of Justice series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Find out more at