Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A quick Amish Christmas story -- The Dawn of Christmas

Last year Cindy Woodsmall published a three-in-one Christmas novella collection -- Christmas in Apple Ridge included The Sound of Sleigh BellsThe Christmas Singing, and an all-new story, The Dawn of Christmas.  The first two novellas had been previously published individually.

This year, the third novella in the series, The Dawn of Christmas, is available in an individual, hardback format to match the other two volumes.

As usual, you can count on a Cindy Woodsmall book telling an authentic Amish story with characters you would love to meet.  In this story, Sadie and Levi are young Amish adults who have their own individual plans for their lives and are trying to avoid the interference of their families.  But it is Christmas time . . . and sometimes the unexpected happens at that very special season of the year.

Fans of great Amish fiction and anyone looking for a sweet Christmas story should enjoy The Dawn of Christmas as a quick read.

Thanks to the Blogging for Books program which provided me this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together?

About the Author

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of ten 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.

More Adventure in Alaska -- Stranded (with a GIVEAWAY)

Once again Dani Pettrey delivers a gripping suspense story in Stranded, book three in her Alaskan Courage series. Darcy St. James, the McKenna family, and their friends and associates make a return visit as they work to solve a life-or-death mystery where time is of utmost importance.

Throughout the series, Dani has created characters you can care about as friends.  Darcy, Gage, Kayden, Jake, and the others face real-life challenges and dangers.  As the plot continues, secrets are revealed, relationships grow, and faith is tested while the characters learn more about each other and about themselves.

This is Dani Pettrey's first series, but she certainly doesn't write like a rookie.  And I'm excited to know that she plans at least a couple more stories in the series.  Stranded could be read as a stand-alone, but I think you will enjoy it more if you read Submerged and Shattered first.  You can read my reviews of the first two books here:  Submerged and Shattered.

Fans of great Christian suspense authors like Dee Henderson, Terri Blackstock, Irene Hanson, and Lynette Eason should have no problem adding Dani Pettrey to their list of favorites. 

Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy of Stranded in exchange for my honest review.

GIVEAWAY:  I have an extra copy of Stranded that I would love to share with someone.  If you're interested in winning the book, comment below by Friday, November 1, at 5:00 p.m.  I'll randomly choose a winner after that time.

About the Book:

When Her Friend Goes Missing, Every Minute Counts

Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her--but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

 About the Author:

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A very different Amish story -- The Bargain

If you are looking for a "typical" Amish fiction story, you might want to try another book.  But if you're interested in Amish girl meets 70's turmoil, you are in the right place.  

Betsie is a 19-year-old Amish girl struggling with her family being ripped apart.  Circumstances put her in the home of an Englisch family with problems of their own.  The unrest of the period of the Vietnam war plays a significant role in the story.

The Bargain is an interesting story with quite a cast of characters.  I had some trouble really getting into the story, often feeling like things just didn't flow together well or situations were not quite plausible.  All in all, though, it was an enjoyable read. 

This is the first book in a series and definitely leaves the story unfinished to attract readers' attention to future installments.

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

Read what other reviewers have to say about The Bargain here.

About the book: 

Book one in the Plain City Peace series.

It's 1971, and Betsie Troyer's peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.

When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth-a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie's marriage to Charley Yoder.

Purchase a copy here: http://ow.ly/ptivJ 

About the Author: 
Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio, as she did for her previous books, "Across the Wide River" and "The Light Across the River."

Learn more at Stephanie's website: http://www.stephanielreed.com/

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Lovely Christmas Collection -- Peace on Earth

I surely wish with all my heart, This day of Jesus’ birth, That peace and love and happiness Soon cover all the earth.

Mary Engelbreit rings in the holiday with a Christmas collection that includes many of her favorite carols, the story of Jesus' birth, and beloved poems that touch the heart and celebrate the miracle of the season.


This collection of Christmas carols, poems, scripture, and short stories put together by Mary Engelbriet is a lovely piece to be enjoyed during the Christmas season.  Readers will find familiar Christmas carols and some not-so-familiar passages that draw minds and hearts to the true story of Christmas.  Although Peace on Earth is marketed for ages 4-8, some of the readings might not be easily understood or appealing to that age group.  The colorful, detailed illustrations, though, make the book a visual delight for young and old alike. 

Thanks to BookSneeze blogger program for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

End of the Tour -- Glittering Promises

Cora Kensington and her family and friends end their very eventful Grand Tour of Europe in Glittering Promises In The Grand Tour Series, Lisa T. Bergren gives readers a glimpse into a lifestyle most of us would never experience on our own.

Before reading Glittering Promises, you will want to read the first two books in the series:  Glamorous Illusions (here is my review) and Grave Consequences (here is my review).  The books flow together into one continuing story, and you will be jumping into the middle of the story if you skip the other stories.

The "grand tour" experience enjoyed by wealthy young people in the early 20th century was a concept I knew nothing about before reading this series.  Getting a look at that practice and learning interesting facts about places the Kensingtons and Morgans visited made for a very good read.  There are a few relationship issues in the story that tend to get a bit monotonous at times, but all in all the story moves at an enjoyable pace.

Glittering Promises is an intriguing mix of romance, adventure, mystery, and faith.  I  recommend this entire series to fans of good historical fiction with a Christian perspective.

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

See what other reviewers are saying about Glittering Promises here.

About the book:
Lisa T. Bergren's popular Grand Tour series concludes as Cora Kensington journeys farther into Italy, wrestles with a terrible ultimatum from her father, and comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her.
America's newest heiress must decide if her potential fortune is rationale enough to give up her freedom and all that God is leading her toward. And when her newly-discovered siblings are threatened with ruin, her quandary deepens. Then as Cora nears Rome, more journalists are tracking the news story of the decade---"Copper Cora," the rags-to-riches girl---and want to know more about her family and the men vying for her attention. Meanwhile, a charming Italian countess decides that if Cora isn't going to claim Will's heart, she might just try . . .
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/pvxTP

About the author: 

Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs.
Learn more about Lisa here: http://lisatawnbergren.com.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Old Testament Comes to Life -- Return to Me (with a GIVEAWAY)

If you've ever read the Old Testament and wondered what it was like to live during those events, Return to Me might be just the book for you.  Lynn Austin does a fantastic job of bringing to life part of the historical story of the the Jews returning to Jerusalem after their years of exile in Babylon.

Iddo and Zechariah were real people, a grandfather and grandson who both took seriously their family's calling to serve their God in the role of priest.  Return to Me is an intriguing look at what their lives might have been like, the kinds of joys and struggles they may have encountered as they followed that calling -- sometimes with the support of their family, fellow priests, and friends; and sometimes all alone in their quest to turn a remnant of their fellow Jews back to true worship of the Almighty One. Mixing facts from the Biblical narrative with details from her own imagination, Lynn Austin offers an inspiring story of hope and restoration.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group and Bethany House for providing me copies of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read what other reviewers think about Return to Me here.

Giveaway:  I have an extra copy of Return to Me that I would love to share with someone.  If you are interested in receiving that copy, comment below between now and 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22.  I will randomly select a name and contact the winner for a mailing address.

About the book:

After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true---King Cyrus has declared the Jews may return to Jerusalem. Iddo, a priest, is sure this is a sign of God's renewed favor. For too long they've remained in Babylon, and many, including Iddo's sons, are losing the faith that sets them apart. And so only a few choose to leave everything to return---return to their home and their God.

Nothing about their journey to the Promised Land is easy. As hardships mount, even the faithful, like Iddo's beloved wife, Dinah, question the sacrifice of following God's leading. Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the family they left behind. But one life-changing encounter with the Holy One gives him insight that will change Zechariah---and history---forever.

Bringing the Old Testament to vibrant life, Return to Me tells the compelling story of two men living by faith in the midst of doubt, the women who love them, and the faithful remnant struggling to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/pfkmh

About Lynn:

 Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

You can find out more about Lynn at http://www.lynnaustin.org/.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Sweet Christmas Story -- A Christmas Gift for Rose

A Christmas Gift for Rose is a quick, sweet read from Tricia Goyer.  Rose's story -- the secret she learns about her past and her uncertainty as she comes to grip with the truth -- gives a beautiful picture of what love and family are all about.

Set near the end of World War II, the book offers a look at the struggle faced by many Amish in deciding how to deal with war.  There are also glimpses into the trials faced by servicemen who bring home with them the horrors of war, and the impact those events have on their families.

One of the most interesting things about this story is the inspiration from which Tricia wrote it.  During a trip to Amish country, she had the opportunity to meet and visit with some Amish couples.  While there, she was told the story of the grandmother of one of the Amish men who was left in the care of an Amish family when her family moved away.  That story grew into A Christmas Gift for Rose.

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

You can see what other reviewers have to say about A Christmas Gift for Rose here.

About the book: 

Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II---only to discover she's an Englischer herself. Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind---Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/pfhBl

About Tricia: 

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and "Lead Your Family Like Jesus," (co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children.

You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Delightful Collection -- A Bride for All Seasons

A Bride for All Seasons is a collection of delightful stories of mail-order brides from years gone by.  The adventures -- and sometimes misadventures -- of these young ladies and their intended husbands provide short snippets of interesting reading and escape from the present day for a short time.

I've always thought the concept of mail-order brides was intriguing.  I guess there were numerous things that would motivate a young lady to leave everyone and everything she knew to travel across country and marry a man she had never met.  These authors present quite a variety of those reasons and very different scenarios that play out once the ladies reach their destinations.  The connection between the stories is the "help" (or is it "interference") by the editor of the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue that throws some unexpected twists in the match-making experiences.

I would recommend this book for one or more sessions of light reading pleasure.

Thanks to BookSneeze for providing a free copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue . . .

This charming bouquet of novellas introduces you to four Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue prospects in the year 1870, all eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they'll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.

"And then Came Spring" by Margaret Brownley
Mary-Jo has traveled halfway across the country to meet her match, arriving just in time for his funeral. Returning home seems like her only option until her would-be brother-in-law proposes a more daring idea.

"An Ever After Summer" by Debra Clopton
Ellie had no idea she's not what Matthew ordered. And what's wrong with being a "Bible thumper" anyway? She's determined to show him she's tougher than she looks-and just the girl he needs.
"Autumn's Angel" by Robin Lee Hatcher
Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn't come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. ­ The trouble is, there's no money to send them back . . .

"Winter Wedding Bells" by Mary Connealy
David's convinced he's not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he's gone-nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Continuing Story -- For Every Season

In For Every Season Cindy Woodsmall shares an intriguing story with well-developed characters whom the reader comes to really care about.  For anyone who has read the first two books in the Amish Vines and Orchards series, most of the characters and the main story lines are familiar.  Watching the characters learn more about themselves and each other and seeing how the details of their struggling community play out keep the interest level high.  In her signature style, Cindy weaves into the story a lot of  information about the Amish way of life with much feeling and sensitivity.

A couple of things keep this from being my favorite of Cindy's books, though.  At this point in the series, there are so many characters, each with their own struggles, that keeping up with all of them can be somewhat trying.  Also, Rhoda's "gift" has seemed a little bit of an uncomfortable fit throughout this Amish series.

All in all, though, I consider this a good read and would recommend it to fans of Amish fiction.  I am looking forward to seeing how the series wraps up in the fourth installment, due out next spring.

Thanks to the Blogging for Books program for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

Working hard to develop a new Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is fully committed to rehabilitating an orchard with business partner Samuel King. But an impulsive decision has created an unexpected strain in her relationship with her beau, Samuel’s brother, Jacob, threatening plans for the orchard. Amidst mounting tension in matters of the heart and business, Rhoda finds that this fledging settlement feels like the home she has always longed for, and she begins to embrace the God-given, heightened intuition that has always felt like a burden to her. She longs for Jacob to fully be free of his past, so they can work towards the future together.

But as Rhoda uses her gift to unpack an old secret with her Englisch neighbors, it is not her beau but an unlikely ally that cheers her on. With the orchard on shaky ground and Jacob’s plans in question, Rhoda is determined to see things through to harvest. But can she trust her insight to direct her path in matters of the heart?

About the Author

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family.  Learn more about Cindy and here books at www.cindywoodsmall.com.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Danger from Cover to Cover -- Dark Road Home

Dark Road Home is filled with suspense and danger from cover to cover.  The main characters' stories vary in specific details, but their past and current lives are intertwined in unexpected ways.  Elizabeth Ludwig has obviously done extensive historical research that gives real life to her tales of these Irish immigrants and some of the struggles they encountered before and after their move to America.  In the midst of the intrigue is a beautiful story of unexpected love and renewed faith.

Like book one in her Edge of Freedom series (read my review of No Safe Harbor) Elizabeth fills the pages with mystery and questions.  At times, it was hard for me to keep up with all the characters, what their roles are, and how they fit together.  Pieces of the puzzle come into focus one by one and by the end of the story, many of the questions are answered.  But she leaves enough suspense to make me anxious to read Tide and Tempest, due to come out next spring, for even more answers.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing this book in exchange for my honest review. 

About the book:

The nightmares of her past have found Ana Kavanagh an ocean away.

Ana Kavanagh's memories of Ireland are mostly of fire and pain. As a girl she survived a blaze that left her an orphan, left her scarred, and left her angry at God. Now in New York, Ana finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who's struggling with his own anger. His twin sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with his enemy.

Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan hopes to rejoin the Fenians, an organization pushing for change back in Ireland, by securing information against Rourke, the man his sister married. Ana, Cara's friend, may be his best source, and despite the attraction he feels, Eoghan determines to use the girl's sweet nature to his advantage.

Adding to the danger is a specter from Eoghan's own past, one whose thirst for vengeance knows no bounds. Eoghan must choose which road to follow--bitterness or forgiveness--and where to finally place his trust.

 About the author:

Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and an accomplished speaker and teacher. Her historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned four stars from RT Book Reviews. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog The Borrowed Book. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in Orange, Texas. Learn more at www.elizabethludwig.com.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Unlikely Spies and Romance -- The Courier of Caswell Hall

The Courier of Caswell Hall is a touching story of romance and sacrifice set against the backdrop of the American Revolution.  It provides an intriguing look at the kinds of personal struggles and difficult decisions families and individuals were forced to make at that crucial time in our country's history.

Historical fiction is a genre that I am coming to enjoy more and more, and this was my first journey into this particular time period.  The history lesson woven into such a compelling story filled with rich characters made for a very enjoyable read.  This is the first book I've read by Melanie Dobson, but I hope it will not be my last.  She hooked me from the very beginning with a touching prologue that gently invited me into the story of Lydia and Nathan.  The twists and turns of so many joys and sorrows held my interest to the last page.

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

Read what other reviewers think about The Courier of Caswell Hall here. 

About the book: 

 An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages---a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.

Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.

Purchase a copy: http://amzn.to/1aLxC9s 

About the author: 

Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

Connect with Melanie at: http://melaniedobson.com