Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Fast-Paced Amish Christmas Story -- Star of Wonder

When is the right time of year to start reading Christmas books? Well, I think it is just whenever you get your hands on one.

An Amish Christmas Star is a collection of three Amish novellas by three different authors that has just been released this month (September). So far I have only had the opportunity to read one of the novellas, but I plan to get to the other two very soon.

In Star of Wonder, Charlotte Hubbard takes us back to her fictional Amish community at Promise Lodge. If you have read any of the books in that series (and if you haven't, I would recommend them all, in order), you know that Promise Lodge is not your typical Amish settlement. People have come from several different districts, including some who are Mennonite, and from a wide range of backgrounds. And you just never know who or what will pop up next in this community populated in large part by some pretty strong female residents.

Neither Lizzie nor Raymond, the main characters in the story, have found exactly where they belong and what direction their lives should take. For different reasons, they both end up at Promise Lodge and are almost immediately attracted to each other. One things leads to another, one obstacle after another comes up, until . . .  well, you will just have to read the story to see how everything comes together.

As always, I enjoyed Charlotte Hubbard's writing. It was fun to revisit this familiar location and see familiar "faces" play into the story. The characters are quite spirited, and the story moves at a very fast pace. Of course, that pace is pretty much necessary to move things along in the constraints of a short novella. I would recommend the story to anyone interested in a quick, light Amish story with the story of Christmas at its heart.

Thanks to Charlotte Hubbard for providing a copy of her book and to Goddess Fish Promotions for allowing me to be a part of this book tour. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.


About the Book:

The crisp fragrance of pine trees and the warm spice of fresh cookies aren’t the only blessings that Christmas brings, and no one knows more about happy homecomings than three couples who are celebrating the greatest gift of all . . .

 

STAR OF WONDER by Charlotte Hubbard

When Raymond Overholt comes to Promise Lodge, hoping to sell the barnboard signs he’s painted with stars and Christmas messages, spirited young Mennonite Lizzie Zehr is intrigued. But any courtship between them will face fierce opposition from the bishop of Raymond’s Old Order community—unless someone can convince him that at the heart of faith lies love . . .


Read an Excerpt:

With the girl’s laughter still dancing in his head, Raymond Overholt tried to refocus his thoughts. If he didn’t convince Mr. Kraybill to sell his handmade plaques, his past several weeks of work would be for nothing. He’d have to return home to Coldstream with his tail between his legs, and face a long, dreary lifetime of milking his dat’s cows. Running a dairy was honest, necessary work but Raymond didn’t enjoy spending his early mornings and late afternoons in a smelly barn disinfecting udders any more than the Holsteins liked having him around. Worse yet, if he overslept, his older brothers did the milking and left the hosing down and mucking out of the stalls for him.   

“If your customers like these plaques, I can make more,” he assured the steely-haired storekeeper. “I—I really appreciate having the chance to sell them here in your new store. Our bulk market in Coldstream is dim and overcrowded with merchandise, and even if the owner there had display space, he wants nothing to do with artwork. It’s that Old Order thing.”          

Mr. Kraybill smiled knowingly. “Jah, Amish stores don’t usually carry much that appears English even if they have a lot of customers come in from outside their community to shop,” he acknowledged. “But your plaques carry a solid Christmas message—‘Wise men still follow His star’ and the lyrics to ‘We Three Kings’ are meaningful reminders about following our Lord’s holy light. Thanksgiving always kicks off the Christmas buying season, so we’ll give it a shot, Raymond.”         

He hoped his grateful grin didn’t appear too adolescent—or desperate. Raymond gazed around the store, where a gal in a pleated Amish kapp was stocking shelves in the rear. A few early shoppers were pushing carts into the grocery section. “If you need some extra hands when things get busy these next few weeks, I’d be happy to help, sir,” he offered. “I’ve not worked in a store, but I’m gut at tallying sums and I’m a quick learner.”         

“I’ll keep it in mind,” Kraybill said with a nod.          

Raymond heard probably not in the storekeeper’s words, but he’d dealt with people’s dismissals before. If he’d dressed in dark broadfall pants with a plain shirt and suspenders—and if he’d chosen glasses with conservative frames—Kraybill might’ve taken him more seriously. But until he had no other choice than to submit to Old Order ways and join the church, Raymond was determined to wear clothing he liked.    

“I’ll be back in a few days to see how my signs are selling,” he said. “Denki for giving me a chance.”


About the Author:

In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 50 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of 40+ years and their Border collie, Vera.

www.charlottehubbard.com

Facebook -- www.Facebook.com/Charlotte.Hubbard1



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Click here  to see the other stops on the tour.


Giveaway:

Charlotte Hubbard will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the link below to enter the giveaway.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f4364


Ordering Information:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amish-Christmas-Star-Shelley-Shepard-ebook/dp/B09PJ348C8

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-amish-christmas-star-shelley-shepard-gray/1140825147

Kensington Publishing:  https://www.kensingtonbooks.com/9781496734273/an-amish-christmas-star/

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/An-Amish-Christmas-Star-Paperback-9781496734259/385381250

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/an-amish-christmas-star/id1602867197

Friday, September 9, 2022

Page-Turning Suspense -- Crossfire

In Crossfire, book 2 in her Extreme Measures series, Lynette Eason has once again written a great story filled with page-turning suspense from the very first sentence.

The characters are easy to get to know and to become invested with. The way their backstories develop keeps the interest level high, and the relationships progress at a very comfortable pace. The un-named character who is introduced fairly early in the story adds a neat touch of intrigue that kept me guessing throughout most of the book. Eventually all the pieces come together, but I enjoy the suspense of being left guessing because details are not revealed too soon. I appreciate the well-crafted faith element that feels very natural as it is worked into the story.

Crossfire is the second book in a series, and there are a couple of characters from the first book who make appearances. But no important details from the first book really carry over, so there is no problem in reading this one as a stand-alone. 

I highly recommend Crossfire to fans of great inspirational romantic suspense. I am looking forward to more yet to come in this Extreme Measures series.

Thanks to Revell Reads for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

About the Book

She's never lost a hostage. Surely she can manage to take care of her sister.

FBI special agent Julianna Jameson is a top-notch negotiator, but when her much younger sister, Dottie, needs a place to live while she finishes high school, Julianna's skills will be put to the test.

Former sniper Clay Fox left the army after a tragic incident that he can't get past. Until he can figure out what to do with the rest of his life, he's working as a resource officer at a school. Dottie's school.

When Julianna is called in to negotiate a courtroom hostage situation involving Clay's sister, he's impressed--and, if he's honest, a bit intimidated--by the calm, capable woman with the dark hair and blue eyes, and invites her to speak at the school.

But as the anniversary of a school shooting from Julianna's past approaches, it becomes clear that her perfect record is about to be tested and that Dottie is at risk. If Julianna and Clay can't figure out who's behind the attacks, more innocent people will die--and Dottie is next in line.

About the Author

Lynette Eason is the USA Today bestselling author of Life Flight and Crossfire, as well as the Danger Never Sleeps, Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Fascinating History -- A Promise Engraved

 

About the Book

Book: A Promise Engraved

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction/Romance

Release date: May, 2022

Can Promises Made in Times of Struggle Endure 200 Years?

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love?

Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love?

Click here to get your copy!


My Thoughts


A Promise Engraved is a story with a dual timeline -- one setting in the 1830s during the Texas Revolution and the other in modern times. Although many of the characters and events were fictional, there is a great deal of fascinating history worked into the story. I've heard the phrase "Remember the Alamo" many times through the years, but I have a greater understanding and appreciation for those words after reading this story.

I have read and enjoyed several books by Liz Tolsma, and I wouldn't rank this one at the top of those I've read. The story didn't always seem to flow really smoothly; from time to time I felt like I had missed something. But it was still an enjoyable and engaging book that contained some interesting intrigue and beautiful lessons of faith. I would recommend this book to fans of inspirational historical fiction. 

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


About the Author

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.

 

More from Liz

The Story of Susannah Dickinson, Alamo Survivor

When asked how many died at the Alamo, many would answer that everyone did. While it’s true that all fighting on the side of Texas independence perished, there were survivors, all women and children and one slave. The only white woman (the rest were of Mexican descent) was Susannah Dickinson, along with her daughter Angelina. Susannah had followed her husband, Almaron, to Mexican Texas in 1831. They had married two years before when Susannah was just fifteen. She never learned to read or write.

She and the other women hid in the sacristy of the church, one of the surviving buildings in the mission and what we now think of as the Alamo. Her husband died, but Mexican General Santa Anna found them and spared their lives, sending them to Sam Houston with $2 each and a blanket.

She married again the following year but divorced him almost immediately on the grounds of cruelty. She married a third time the following year and was married for five years until her husband died of alcoholism. A fourth marriage occurred in 1847, but she divorced again in 1857, this time allegedly because she was having an affair. That same year, she married for a fifth time. This marriage lasted until her death in 1883.

The ring in A Promise Engraved is based on a cat’s eye ring supposedly given to Angelina by William Travis before the battle. Angelina was Susannah’s only child. She married and had three children, but that marriage ended in divorce. She gave the ring to a man she’d become involved with in New Orleans. She married again and had one more child but died in 1869 from a uterine hemorrhage.

Today there are many descendants of Susannah Dickinson. If you visit the Susannah Dickinson house in Austin, you’ll see a quilt that is signed by many of her living descendants.


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 28

Bigreadersite, May 28

The Write Escape, May 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 29

Christina’s Corner, May 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 29

lakesidelivingsite, May 30

Texas Book-aholic, May 30

Rebecca Tews, May 30

Inklings and notions, May 31

Blogging With Carol, May 31

Splashes of Joy, May 31

Betti Mace, June 1

Southern Gal Loves to Read, June 1

Genesis 5020, June 2

Daysong Reflections, June 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 2

Remembrancy, June 3

Books, Books, and More Books, June 3

For Him and My Family, June 3

Older & Smarter?, June 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 4

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 5

deb’s Book Review, June 5

Mary Hake, June 5

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 6

Blossoms and Blessings, June 6

Connie’s History Classroom, June 7

Life of Literature, June 7

Back Porch Reads , June 7

Bizwings Blog, June 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 8

For the Love of Literature, June 8

Through the Fire blogs, June 9

Pause for Tales, June 9

Labor Not in Vain, June 9

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, June 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, June 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, June 10


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

 https://promosimple.com/ps/1e37a/a-promise-engraved-celebration-tour-giveaway


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Who doesn't love ice cream? -- The Sweet Life

 


About the Book

Book: The Sweet Life

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release date: May 3, 2022

Jilted by her fiancĂ©, Dawn Dixon escapes to beautiful Cape Cod on a groomless honeymoon–with her mother. But she didn’t expect her mom to risk everything, on a whim, to move there permanently or buy a rundown ice cream shop in need of repair. In order to make their new life work, they’ll also need her ex’s help.

Click here to get your copy.


My Thoughts


"Who doesn't love ice cream?" That is a question the author asks in her background info about this book -- and my question as well! Suzanne Woods Fisher uses the practically universal love of this delicious treat as the centerpiece for her new story, The Sweet Life, the first book in her Cape Cod Creamery series.

There is quite an eclectic cast of characters filling all the roles in this story, and each one plays an important part. Through a series of events with old and new acquaintances, Dawn and her mom Marnie find the courage to try new ventures and discover hope and restoration in unexpected ways. Their story moves at an engaging pace which makes for a very enjoyable read. And the author mixes in interesting details about the art of ice cream making. I highly recommend The Sweet Life to fans of well-done contemporary inspirational fiction.

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


About the Author

With over 1.5 million copies sold, Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of over 30 books, ranging from novels to children’s books to non-fiction. She is a Christy Award finalist, a winner of Carol and Selah awards, and a two-time finalist for ECPA Book of the Year. She writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. Suzanne lives with her very big family in northern California.  


More from Suzanne

The Sweet Life is a story about a mom and a daughter who, both in need of a little respite from life’s bumps and bruises, start an ice cream shop on Cape Cod…thinking it will be easy. After all, who doesn’t love ice cream?

Well, sure. That’s true. Everybody loves ice cream. But ice cream can be tricky. This I can say with authority. My husband is a serious hobby ice cream maker. He even attended Penn State’s Ice Cream School. While Steve was working on his vanilla recipe, he experimented fifty-nine times before he was finally satisfied. 59 times! Other flavors, like chocolate, can mask mistakes. Not vanilla. Too pure.

Here’s a few other things you probably didn’t know about ice cream:

The very first mention of a frozen dessert dates back to Persia in 550 BC, though it might have been sorbet-like. It’s said that Emperor Nero had ice brought down from the Apennine Mountains to produce a sorbet of honey and wine. And then there are those who insist that ice cream came out of China and was introduced to Italy with the help of Marco Polo. Regardless of its origins, a love of ice cream has been around for a very, very long time.

Quaker colonists introduced ice cream to early America, having brought their recipes with them from England. Some argue that the French brought ice cream to America. Regardless, during the colonial era, ice cream was sold in shops in New York.

George Washington loved ice cream. So much so that he even brought ice cream making equipment to Mount Vernon! There are many accounts of “ice creem” (as it was then called) served during his administration.

First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of U.S. President James Madison, served ice cream at her husband’s Inaugural Ball in 1813. Common colonial flavors were soft fruits, like peaches or strawberries, added to a vanilla custard. Dolley had a curious favorite flavor: oyster. (Ugh.)

In September of 1846, a Philadelphia house wife named Nancy Johnson filed patent #3254 for a simple hand cranked ice cream churn. Prior to this point, ice cream belonged to the wealthy. Her hand cranked ice cream churn made it affordable for everyone. Nancy Johnson’s design is still used today.

During the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, an ice cream vendor ran out of cardboard dishes. The vendor next door offered to make cones by rolling up his waffles. Voila! The birth of the ice cream cone.

The majority of American ice cream companies have been in business for more than 50 years. Many of them are still owned by single families.

For the last 128 years, Penn State University has held Ice Cream School for professionals and serious hobbyists during January (for obvious reasons). All the greats have attended: Baskin & Robbins, Ben & Jerry, Dreyer’s, Nestle’s, Blue Bell Creamery, Dairy Queen, and…my husband.

The most popular flavor in the world? Vanilla. Of course.


Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, May 26

Inside the Wong Mind, May 26

The Avid Reader, May 27

lakesidelivingsite, May 27

Vicky Sluiter, May 27

Remembrancy, May 28

Southern Gal Loves to Read, May 28

Splashes of Joy, May 28

Texas Book-aholic, May 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 29

Miriam Jacob, May 29

Daysong Reflections, May 30

Inklings and notions, May 30

For Him and My Family, May 31

The Book Club Network, May 31

Blogging With Carol, May 31

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 1

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, June 2

deb’s Book Review, June 2

Artistic Nobody, June 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 3

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 4

Blossoms and Blessings, June 4

Mary Hake, June 4

Christina’s Corner, June 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 6

Book Looks by Lisa, June 6

Simple Harvest Reads, June 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Pause for Tales, June 7

Spoken from the Heart, June 7

She Lives To Read, June 8

Bigreadersite, June 8

Labor Not in Vain, June 8


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1e36c/the-sweet-life-celebration-tour-giveaway