Thursday, June 30, 2016

A great start to a new series -- A Simple Vow (includes an EXCERPT and a GIVEAWAY)

Charlotte Hubbard's A Simple Vow is a great start to her Simple Gifts series.  If you are already a fan of her books (and if not, you really should be), you may recognize some "old friends" as she takes us back to the fictional Amish community of Willow Ridge, Missouri.

As usual, some of Charlotte's characters stretch the limits of the most conservative Amish factions and find themselves in some interesting -- and sometimes sticky -- situations.  A new family has moved to town, a somewhat secretive and stern deacon with his three unmarried daughters; and their lives get pretty complicated with the addition of twin infants and some young Amish men from out of town.   

Charlotte outdid herself with a plot twist that caught me completely off guard.  I will avoid spoilers and just say you will have to read the story for yourself.  And even as the main story wraps up at the end of the book, there are questions to carry over into the next installment in the series.

This new Simple Gifts series promises to be another great set of stories.  You can definitely enjoy them on their own, but if you're interested in background details, I would highly recommend you check out Charlotte's Seasons of the Heart books. 

Fans of great Amish fiction should enjoy The Simple Vow.  Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book: 

Housed in a rustic red barn, the Simple Gifts crafts shop celebrates the talents of the Amish of Willow Ridge—and the faith that inspires them. For the acceptance of simplicity opens the path to love.

As far as Edith Riehl is concerned, the baby twins thrust suddenly into her arms are a heaven-sent gift. Unable to conceive, she longs to be a mother with a home of her own. She’s going to abide by her promise to handsome Asa Detweiler to take care of them while he looks for their real father. And even if her domineering dat Cornelius refuses to countenance Asa’s suit, she can only pray the bachelor’s honesty and persistence will uncover the truth—even as he’s kindled an impossible hope for a love of her own…

Asa can’t understand why anyone would think he would be so dishonorable as to father babies and then abandon them. He’s determined to clear his name—but Edith’s caring ways also inspire him to help heal her wounded spirit and earn her trust. In the face of heartbreaking deception, he and Edith must find the strength to understand, forgive…and claim their own hearts’ joy.

Read an Exclusive Excerpt from the Book:

He halted the horse at the end of their lane. When Edith grabbed the basket handles and started for the porch, Will followed her with a large cardboard box. “You’re a godsend, Edith—an angel—and I can’t thank you enough,” he murmured. “I’ll come back as soon as I can, after Molly’s funeral.”

She nodded mutely, wondering how on earth she would explain to her family about the monumental responsibility she’d just taken on. “So, what are the babies’ names? Are they boys or girls or—”

“One of each. Leroy and Louisa.” Will kept his eyes on her, as though he couldn’t bear to look at the children he apparently hadn’t fathered. “They were born October tenth, so they’ll be six months old tomorrow, and—well, you probably think I’m already a total failure as a father. Give Loretta my best.”

As Edith walked to the end of the porch to watch Will’s rig roll down the road, she sighed. She’d put on her best purple dress to attend the wedding, and now she’d accepted two babies and a box filled with whatever Will had tossed into it. What were you thinking? What sort of mess have you gotten yourself into? How long will it be before Will comes back—and what if he doesn’t?

Edith’s whirling thoughts were interrupted by the tattoo of boots on the porch steps. She turned to find the raven-haired stranger studying her intently. He removed his straw hat.

“My name’s Asa Detweiler and I live in Clifford—south of Roseville about twelve miles,” he said in a low voice. He ducked slightly so that his eyes were level with hers, mere inches away. “I swear to you that I never met Will’s wife—never saw him before today, when his phone message accused me of fathering these twins, so I tracked him down. Can you believe that, Edith?”

She blinked. Asa Detweiler told a compelling story and had the voice and eyes to back it up. But what did she know about any of the stories she’d heard this morning?

Asa smiled wryly. “I admire a woman who doesn’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind—and who has put the needs of these two babies first,” he added. “I promise you I’ll get to the bottom of this situation, and I’ll be back. Promise me that you’ll mother these kids—and that you’ll hear me out when I return, all right?”

Edith couldn’t help gazing into his eyes, as dark blue and mysterious as midnight. Even as she nodded, she sensed that Asa’s request, and her unspoken affirmation—such a simple vow—would change her life in ways she couldn’t possibly predict.

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.

Learn more about Charlotte at her website or on Facebook.

Follow Charlotte's Excerpt Tour through July 29 to learn more about A Simple Vow.  Read the blog posts and comment often to increase your chances in her giveaway of a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card.  You can enter HERE!  Winner will be randomly drawn via rafflecopter during the tour.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gripping WWII Story -- Like a River from Its Course (with GIVEAWAY)

(Be sure to read to the end of this post for a giveaway!)

Once in a while I finish a book, close the cover, and just sit back and say, "Wow!"  Kelli Stuart's Like a River from Its Course provided one of those times.

This gripping story captured my heart and evoked almost every possible emotion from beginning to end.  At times I smiled as I read; at others points I fought to read through my tears.  Kelli showed the harsh brutality of war in a way that I could almost feel the characters' hurt.  But she balanced that brutality with beautiful accounts of kindness, hope, and love that provided promise for the future.

This story is the product of years of research on the part of the author.  Although the actual characters are fictional, their stories come from details she gleaned from discussions with Ukranians who lived the history of this lesser-known area of WWII.  Kelli's passion to tell their stories shows itself in the quality and depth of her writing.

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

See what other readers think about Like a River from Its Course here.

About the Book:

An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer's plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. 

Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author:

Kelli Stuart is the coauthor of Dare 2B Wise and has written for several brands including Disney, American Girl, and Short Fiction Break. She has served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. In addition to her writing, Kelli has spent twenty years studying Ukranian culture. Kelli lives in Florida.

Celebrate the release of Like a River from Its Course with Kelli by entering to win a Kindle Fire Prize Pack.

like a river - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
like a river - prize collage (1) 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 18th. The winner will be announced July 19th on Kelli's blog.

like a river - enterbanner

Friday, June 17, 2016

WWII Romance and Mystery -- Anchor in the Storm

If you are looking for great inspirational romance and mystery in an interesting WWII setting, Sarah Sundin's Anchor in the Storm is a fantastic choice.

In her usual engaging style, Sarah continues her Waves of Freedom series set in and around Boston as WWII heats up after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Like in her other stories, she seamlessly combines realistic fictional characters and events with her carefully researched historical knowledge.  And this one seems particularly fitting for Sarah with the connection to her own pharmacist's role. 

Lillian, Arch, and their family and friends navigate rough waters, both figuratively and literally.  The message of finding God as the only true anchor is a beautiful reminder that shines through at multiple times throughout the story.

Thanks to Sarah for providing me with a copy of this book through an online contest.  I am happy to return the favor with this review.

About the Book:

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love?
Nothing slows Lillian Avery down--not her personal challenges and certainly not America's entry into World War II. She finally has a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The demands of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling?

As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

About the Author:

Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep and Anchor in the Storm, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California. Visit for more information.

Great romantic suspense collection -- Sins of the Past

The three authors' names on the front cover of this book were all I needed to guarantee that it would be a great collection of romantic suspense stories -- and I was not disappointed at all with Sins of the Past!

The three stories -- while very different in intensity level and storytelling style -- have a couple of things in common.  Each was written by one of the greats in the world of inspirational romantic suspense.  And each is a page-turner, keeping you guessing as you follow the main characters through life and death situations that evolve along with romance and some growth in faith.  As is necessary in the shorter novellas, both the romance and the suspense happen pretty fast, so hold on tight for the ride!

The title is a great fit, as each story is somehow connected to events from the past that have never really been laid to rest.  I don't know of any connection to other books by Dee Henderson or Lynette Eason, but fans of Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series should enjoy the backstory of the McKenna family.

Thanks to Dani Pettrey and her publisher for sending me a copy of this book.  I am pleased to return the favor with an honest review.

About the book: 

Secrets and Lies. Danger That Will Never Go Away.
Join Three Beloved Masters of Romantic Suspense for Novellas Where the Past Will Not Stay Buried.

Dee Henderson - "Missing"A Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing from her retirement community. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two soon launch into a race against the clock when they realize something dark may lie at the heart of the disappearance.

Dani Pettrey - "Shadowed"Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young Alaskan fisherman nets the body of a Russian open water swimming competitor. Another swimmer, who'd been the dead woman's roommate years ago, is pulled into the search for answers as it grows more and more clear that something sinister is at play.

Lynette Eason - "Blackout"A young woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong finds herself at risk years later when the real culprit is up for parole. The loot taken that night has never been found and he believes she knows where it's hidden--only her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety?

About the Authors:

Dee Henderson is the author of numerous novels, including Taken, Undetected, Unspoken, Full Disclosure, and the acclaimed O'Malley and Uncommon Heroes series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at

Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others. 

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, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson. You can find her online at

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching and Without Warning in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Awesome, gentle romance -- Sea Rose Lane

How does she do it?  How can one of the greatest authors of page-turning suspense stories turn off that suspense and give us such awesome, gentle romance as Sea Rose Lane?  In her second Hope Harbor story Irene Hannon has shown once again that she is a master at both genres. From the captivating cover and inviting title to the very last page, this story gives the feel of coming home -- to either a place where you grew up or a new home you've never known. 

Hope Harbor is home to quite an eclectic group of characters:  a laid-off big-city attorney, an attractive architect building her business while protecting her heart, a Cuban doctor barely making a living as a carpenter, an elderly woman trying to maintain her independence despite failing health, and a quirky taco chef/artist who has special insight into everyone's life.  Faith, self-worth, friendship, priorities, and courage all play important roles in the development of  their story.  And Irene throws in a couple of unusual sea gulls, a belching seal, and a temperamental cat for good measure. 

I highly recommend Sea Rose Lane to fans of great contemporary Christian fiction.  I'm looking forward to another visit to Hope Harbor next spring in Sandpiper Cove.

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

About the book:

Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances
After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who's invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces for to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Come home to Hope Harbor--where hearts heal . . . and love blooms

About the Author:

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and Sea Rose Lane, as well as the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, two Carol Awards, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, three HOLT Medallions, two Booksellers' Best Awards, and a National Readers' Choice Award. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at

Good medical suspense -- Medical Judgment

Medical Judgment is the first book I've read by Richard Mabry, and it encourages me to read more of his work.

The story is a complex one.  Besides the main storyline, several subplots are built in that help the reader get to know much about the characters and their back stories.  The mystery is good, keeping you guessing about who the "bad guy" really is.  Before the story was over, I think I had suspected every character!  The struggles of emotion and faith drew me in to caring for the characters and their outcomes.

There is some repetition and stiffness to the writing that might cause you to get bogged down a little while reading, but all in all the story is very engaging.

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

See what other readers think about Medical Judgment here.

About the book:

Dr. Sarah Gordon lost her husband and daughter. Now she's about to lose her life.

After losing the two people she loved the most, Sarah Gordon doesn't think life could get worse. But, after a fire in her garage is ruled an arson, she begins to realize someone is after her---and that person wants to see her dead. But first, they want to see her suffer.

Her late husband's best friend, Kyle Andrews, and a recovering alcoholic detective, Bill Larson, are trying to solve the mystery before it's too late, and they're both trying to win her heart, too. Not only does Sarah feel torn between two men, she also feels as though she cannot trust anyone.

With creepy threats that become more and more sinister, Sarah finds herself in constant fear, but even the best home alarm technology won't protect her. Who is doing this, and why are they after her?

Purchase a copy:

About the author:
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician who writes "medical suspense with heart." His novels have won multiple awards: a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers' debut novel; finalists for the Carol Award, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and Romantic Times' Reader's Choice Award; and both finalist and winner of the Selah Award. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas.

Join Richard in celebrating the release of Medical Judgment by entering to win an e-reader!

medical judgment - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Medical Judgment
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on June 21st. The winner will be announced June 22nd on the Litfuse blog.

medical judgment - enterbanner

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Well-rounded collection of Amish novellas -- An Amish Market

An Amish Market is another collection of good Amish novellas by some great authors. Generally, I prefer longer novels, even series, where you can really get involved with the characters and their lives.  But this book, like pretty much all the Amish novella collections I've read, gives something of a break from the longer books, providing sweet stories that can often be read in one sitting with the chance to start a new story next time you pick up the book.

The stories are quite different in style, characters, and setting, but they are all connected in some way through an Amish store or market.  The collection provides glimpses into Amish life in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Indiana, with the main characters ranging in age and experience from a young girl's first job outside her home to a middle-aged woman who long ago gave up the dream of marriage.  Sweet young love, broken hearts, cold hearts, and a touch of mystery round out these enjoyable stories.

Fans of good Amish fiction should enjoy this well-rounded collection of stories.

Thanks to one of the authors, Kathleen Fuller, and her publisher for providing a copy of An Amish Market in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

All the color and variety of a quaint Amish shop in a charming collection of novellas by four of your favorite authors. Feel free to come in and browse!

Love Birds by Amy Clipston

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller

Every week, Hannah Lynne brings her home-churned butter to the local market. And every week Ezra stops by to purchase some. Hannah Lynne knows not to read too much into it—Ezra is a confirmed bachelor and barely even glances her way, despite any hope to the contrary. But when Ezra bids an exorbitant amount to win the quilt she had her heart set on, Hannah Lynne can’t stop her heart from taking over her mind. Could Ezra finally be in the market for love?

Sweeter Than Honey by Kelly Irvin

Shattering a jar of pickled beets wasn’t the impression Isabella hoped to make on her first trip to the local Combination Store of Bee County, Texas. But as embarrassed as she was by the accident, she didn’t think it warranted the frosty reaction from the handsome manager of the store, Will Glick. As she soon learns, though, Will’s heart has been broken one too many times. And now, for some reason, Isabella finds herself determined to be the one to repair that broken heart and renew his faith in love.

Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman

Stella Schrock works at the Old Mill in Nappanee, Indiana, with new employee David Stoltzfus, a recent widower. When strange happenings begin occurring around town, it appears as if someone wants to close the mill. Stella and David have to work together to solve the mystery of what is happening at the Old Amish Mill, and in the process they might just find that God has more in store for their future than they would ever have dreamed possible.

About the Authors:

Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks Twitter: @AmyClipston

Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including A Man of His Wordand Treasuring Emma, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at, Twitter: @TheKatJam, and Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.

Kelly Irvin is the author of the critically acclaimed Amish of Bee County series. Kelly is also the author of several Amish series including the Bliss Creek Amish series, the New Hope Amish series, and the Amish of Bee County series. She has been married for twenty-seven years, and they have two young adult children, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. Learn more at Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author

Vannetta Chapman is author of the best-selling novel A Simple Amish Christmas. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. In 2012 she was awarded a Carol Award for Falling to Pieces. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania.  Visit Vannetta's website:  Twitter: @VannettaChapman  Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks

Engaging and informative -- The Amish

The Amish: A Concise Introduction by Steven Nolt may be the first non-fiction book about the Amish that I have read in its entirety.  (That comes after twenty years or so of reading hundreds of Amish fiction books and bits and pieces of related non-fiction books and online articles.) 

I found The Amish to be extremely engaging and informative.  Although I would call it scholarly in the sense of presenting much factual information, the tone is very comfortable and easy to read; an academic background is not necessary for understanding. "Concise" is a good description; at less than 150 pages, not a great deal of time is required to read the entire book.

Nolt fits his facts into a framework that helps his readers begin to understand these often misunderstood people and how they function in a society much different from many of their own beliefs and practices.  He debunks the image of the Amish as a group of people stuck somewhere in decades long past, out of touch with the modern world, and shows how they have used insight and innovation to grow and thrive into the twenty-first century while holding to long-standing principles.

Anyone with an interest in learning more about the background and lifestyle of the Amish should find this book a valuable read. 

On a more personal note, while I have no connection with the author of this book, I enjoyed his use of photographs, about 40 percent of which were taken by my husband (Don Burke) during many visits to Amish settlements over the past six years.

About the Book:

There seems to be no end to our fascination with the Amish, a religious minority that has both placed itself outside the mainstream of American culture and flourished within it. Yet most people know very little about the nuanced relationship the Amish have with society or their own communities.

Drawing on more than twenty years of fieldwork and collaborative research, Steven M. Nolt’s The Amish: A Concise Introduction is a compact but richly detailed portrait of Amish life. In fewer than 150 pages, readers will come away with a clear understanding of the complexities of these simple people. Writing in engaging and accessible language, Nolt explains how the Amish at once operate within modern America and stand very much apart from the world. Arguing that Amish life is shaped equally by internal and external social, political, and economic contexts, Nolt explores Amish identity as emerging from a complex cultural negotiation with modernity. He takes on much-hyped topics such as Rumspringa and reveals the distinctive Amish approach to technology. He also explains how Amish principles stand in contrast to contemporary American values, including rational efficiency, large-scale organization, and Western notions of individuality.

Authoritative, informative, and illustrated, this guide provides a vivid introduction to a way of life many find fascinating but few truly understand.

About the Author:

Steven M. Nolt is a professor of history and Senior Scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. He is the author of A History of the Amish and the coauthor of The Amish.