Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Quick Amish Christmas Story -- A Simple Christmas Wish

Melody Carlson's A Simple Christmas Wish is a quick Amish Christmas read with a twist.  The story begins in a very modern English setting with characters who have no clue of any connection with the Amish world.  Unexpected circumstances beyond their control send Rachel Milligan and her young niece to Holmes County, Ohio, and falling head-long into a world totally foreign to the life they knew in Chicago.  Rachel struggles to accept the fact that she may lose the only family she has left -- and then some hidden truth comes out and love begins a process of healing in several hearts.

This story contains elements that appear a little unlikely and some that have unrealistically quick resolutions.  But that is to be expected in a short Christmas story.  All in all, this is a very enjoyable read. Anyone who enjoys good Amish fiction or a heartwarming Christmas story should enjoy A Simple Christmas Wish.

Thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book
One girl in need of a home. One woman in search of a home for her heart. One Christmas where it all seems possible.

It felt strange to be out here in the middle of the night, still wearing the Amish dress--a dress that had belonged to Miri. Rachel's footsteps crunched in the snow, and halfway between the barn and the house, she paused to look up at the night sky, wondering if more snow was in store, but all she saw was velvety black and stars. Millions of twinkling stars. She had never seen stars like that before, so bright and so close, almost as if she could touch them with her hand.

Rachel Milligan never imagined that she and her seven-year-old niece would spend the week before Christmas on a quaint Amish farm in Ohio. But with so many unexpected occurrences of late, perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised.

With her young niece Holly in tow, Rachel anxiously makes her way from Chicago to Ohio's Amish country. As love begins to blossom, family secrets emerge, and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.

Join bestselling author Melody Carlson on an emotional journey into the heart of what family truly means at Christmastime. 

About the Author

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, Double Take, the Life at Kingston High series, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. She is the winner of a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon.

For more information about Melody visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.

Secrets in Hickory Hollow -- The Secret Keeper

Over the past few years, there has been a flood of books in the Amish fiction genre -- many of them well-written by some very good authors.  It is always enjoyable to me, though, to go back to the beginning, to the author some have called the queen of Amish fiction -- Beverly Lewis.

The Secret Keeper is the fourth book in the Home to Hickory Hollow series.  The characters and background story go all the way back to one of Beverly's very first books -- The Shunning -- and the story of Katie Lapp and her family.

As always, this Beverly Lewis book is a great read.  The characters are interesting people, many of them carrying secrets that can change the lives of entire families.  Although some of the elements of the story are predictable, there is enough uncertainty to keep you guessing as to what choices will ultimately be made.

Fans of great Amish fiction should thoroughly enjoy The Secret Keeper.  Although the books in the series have some common characters and locale, the stories are not dependent on each other.  So you can read the Home to Hickory Hollow books in any order.   

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

About the Book

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.

Jennifer Burns shocks her family and friends when she bids farewell to her modern life in favor of the Old Order Amish world, settling in with Samuel and Rebecca Lapp.

The people of Hickory Hollow are curious about the beautiful young seeker among them--one handsome Amishman in particular--and Jenny faces many challenges in the Proving time the brethren set for her...challenges of the heart, as well as the spirit.

About the Author
Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is the New York Times bestselling author of more than ninety books. Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide. A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Beverly to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with The Shunning, which has sold more than one million copies and was recently made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. In 2007 The Brethren was honored with a Christy Award. She has been interviewed by both national and international media, including Time magazine, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Beverly lives with her husband, David, in Colorado. Visit her Web site at www.beverlylewis.com for more information.

Enjoy a question and answer session with Beverly here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Touching, Uplifting Christmas Story -- The Christmas Quilt

I just spent a very enjoyable Saturday morning reading a touching, uplifting Amish Christmas story -- Vannetta Chapman's The Christmas Quilt.  The book is a quick, easy read, but has elements that stick with you after you turn the last page.

In her usual fashion, Vannetta has written a heartwarming Amish story, with a little extra "spark."  The characters are loveable, their story progresses at a satisfying pace, and there is just the right amount of difficulty to keep the story interesting.  Using the backdrop of the quilt squares and the tender stories that accompany them, Vannetta shares significant lessons from God's Word in a very pleasing way.

From the acknowledgments in the front of the book, I learned that some of the characters from The Christmas Quilt first appeared in Vannetta's A Simple Amish Christmas.  I haven't read that one yet, but it's definitely going onto my "to-be-read" list.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of The Christmas Quilt in exchange for my honest review.

See what other reviewers have to say about the book here.

About the book: Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie's sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

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

Meet the author: Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

You can learn more about Vannetta at her website, http://vannettachapman.com/

The Christmas Quilt is a part of the Quilts of Love series, a collection of books written by various authors.  

Find out more at: http://www.quiltsoflovebooks.com

In honor of their new Quilts of Love releases, The Christmas Quilt and Aloha Rose, authors Vannetta Chapman and Lisa Carter are gearing up to ring in the Christmas season with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a "Christmas Bee" Facebook Party on December 10th with fellow Quilts of Love author Lynette Sowell!

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman
  • Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 30th. Winner will be announced at the "Christmas Bee" Facebook Party on December 10th. Connect with the authors from the Quilts of Love series, Vannetta Chapman, Lisa Carter, and Lynette Sowell, for an evening of book chat, quilt trivia, Christmas traditions and gifts, PLUS get an exclusive look at January's Quilts of Love book!

So grab your copies of The Christmas Quilt and Aloha Rose and join Vannetta, Lisa, and Lynette on the evening of December 10th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on December 10th!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fear in Kingdom -- Unforeseeable (with a GIVEAWAY)

Nancy Mehl finishes up her Road to Kingdom series with Unforeseeable.  As in the first two books of the series, Inescapable and Unbreakable, she tells the stories of residents of the isolated Mennonite community of Kingdom, Kansas.  Along with the relationships and conflicts among the Plain people, there is danger in the form of a serial killer.  Characters from the previous two books continue to play important roles in this story.  In fact, this book is best enjoyed after reading books one and two.

There are several different plots going on at once in Unforeseeable.  Most of the characters and plots are well-developed and keep the reader's interest.  All in all, fans of Amish/Mennonite fiction and those who enjoy some "who-dunit" mystery should enjoy Unforeseeable, even though it is a part of this series which is quite different from other books in the genre.  

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

****************************************************  I have an extra copy of book two in this series, Unbreakable, that I would like to share with one lucky reader.  If you are interested in winning this book, comment below by 5:00 p.m. CST on Monday, November 11, and I'll include your name in the random drawing.  Don't forget to leave your email address (in the format me [at] gmail [dot] com) so I can contact you if your name is drawn.

About the Book

Callie Hoffman has a good life in Kingdom, Kansas. She's engaged to Levi Housler, the new pastor of Kingdom Mennonite Church, and she spends her days working with Lizzie Housler, her friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law, at the town cafe.

When a body is discovered on the road outside Kingdom and the deceased turns out to be the victim of a serial killer, the new county sheriff begins questioning Kingdom residents. Unsettled at the prospect of a killer in Kingdom, Callie is desperate to find answers for herself, especially when her own fiance seems to know more about the murder than he's telling.

As the town battles an entirely unforeseen danger and Callie's very life is threatened, the stakes are as high as they've ever been and the people of Kingdom must learn anew to put their trust in God alone.

About the Author

Nancy Mehl is the author of fifteen books and received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. Visit her website at www.nancymehl.com.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Delightful Love Story -- Beloved (with a great GIVEAWAY)

"To say the least, it was inconsiderate of Diana's almost-dead husband to show up at her engagement party."  How could a lead-in line like that not pique your interest in a story?  That kind of "hook" is a great example of the quality of writing in Robin Lee Hatcher's Beloved and the other two books in her Where the Heart Lives series.

The three Brennan children were orphaned and sent west from Chicago on an orphan train after the death of their mother.  Despite their best efforts, they were separated and never heard from each other through their growing-up years.  Belonging and Betrayal (read my review here) tell Felicia's and Hugh's stories after they reach adulthood and settle in Idaho.  Youngest sibling Diana is the subject of Beloved, the third and final book in the series. 

This series was my first venture into Robin Lee Hatcher's writing, but it will certainly not be my last.  Robin tells a captivating story that is a delight to read.  The characters come alive and invite you to share their joys and struggles.  Moving with Diana through the ups and downs of her journey, watching her learn how to give and receive love and forgiveness, and witnessing her growing faith make this book a very enjoyable read.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the entire series, Beloved was my favorite.  

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

See what other reviewers have to say about Beloved here.

Here's some really good news for you!  Somehow I ended up with an extra copy of all three books in this Where the Heart Lives series.  I would like to share the set with one lucky reader.  If you are interested in winning the three-book series, comment below by 5:00 p.m. CST on Monday, November 11, and I'll include your name in the random drawing.  Don't forget to leave your email address (in the format me [at] gmail [dot] com) so I can contact you if your name is drawn.
About the book: Diana is ready to begin a new chapter in her life-until the husband she believed dead reappears at her engagement party.

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word from him in years, Diana's infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, claiming to be a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.

He agrees with one condition---she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/qb0G2

Meet the author: Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Learn more at: http://www.robinleehatcher.com

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hearing God's Voice in the Simple Things -- The One Year Book of Amish Peace

The One Year Book of Amish Peace is a collection of short devotionals designed to guide the reader into "Hearing God's Voice in the Simple Things."  Each day's reading includes a verse or two of scripture, an Amish fact or proverb, and a short reading in the form of a story and/or devotional thoughts from the author's own experience or from her knowledge of Amish life.  The devotionals are written in a very inviting tone, making you feel as though you're having a nice chat with a friend.

Each of the readings can be completed in just a few minutes and offers you a great opportunity to slow down and enjoy some thoughts that will stick with you throughout the day.  Readers who are familiar with the Amish and those who know nothing about the Plain way of life can find inspiration to enjoy the simple gifts God offers to each of us.

The One Year Book of Amish Peace provides the perfect opportunity for you to grab a cup of coffee (or tea or cocoa) and spend a little time with God through these peaceful meditations. I very much enjoyed the readings and came away from each with an extra dose of quiet inspiration for my day.

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

In our instantly connected world, it’s surprisingly easy to lose our connection to God. This devotional taps Amish wisdom in order to help us draw closer to God and hear his voice. In The One Year® Book of Amish Peace, you’ll get a daily taste of Amish values and wisdom. Tricia Goyer shares her fascination with the Amish in a way that will inspire and encourage believers to carve out more time in each day to listen to God and experience his presence. This daily devotional contains interesting facts about the Amish, recipes, and information about the way the Amish handle money, rear their children, and center their lives on faith in God. You’ll be inspired to slow down and find ways to simplify so that you, too, can experience God in the ordinary.

About Tricia

Tricia Goyer has written more than thirty-five books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and non- fiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts,Thriving FamilyProverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine.

Goyer’s fiction and non-fiction books have won awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers and Mt. Hermon Writers’ Conference. She is also a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee.

Tricia has authored several books on family and parenting, as well as co-written with Max Lucado and Robin Jones Gunn. She collaborated with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges for Lead Your Family Like Jesus, published by Focus on the Family/Tyndale.