Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Sea Glass Sisters

Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Tyndale
July 2013
Genre: Women’s fiction/novella

Elizabeth Gallagher has been balancing on the ragged edge for a while now. Then a rough case on the boards of her 911 operator’s job collides with a family conflict at home, and Elizabeth finds herself finally coming apart at the seams. 

A four-state road trip—trapped in a car with her mother—is the last thing she needs. Their destination may be beautiful Hatteras Island, but the reason for going is anything by pleasant. 

After one disastrous hurricane, and with a second one working its way up the coast, it’s time to convince Aunt Sandy to abandon her little seaside store on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and return to the family fold in Michigan. But when the storm sweeps through, the three women will discover that sisterhood and the sea can change hearts, lives, and futures . . . often in the most unpredictable of ways.

THE SEA GLASS SISTERS is a great novella - a fast read that packs a wallop. Elizabeth needed the "vacation" to the Outer Banks, just to come to grips with who she is meant to be. Packed with truths and pearls of wisdom, THE SEA GLASS SISTERS had me trying to figure out how to highlight a book on my Kindle. (I did it.) I'm glad I read this book and recommend it highly for fans of women's fiction, Lisa Wingate, and her books, The Prayer Box, and The Story Keeper. Don't miss THE SEA GLASS SISTERS. It is the prelude to The Prayer Box, so if you haven't read this series, you won't be confused. 

86 pages. $1.99 Kindle. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm Suzanne Woods Fisher

Book info and review
About the book: 

Bess Riehl is preparing Rose Hill Farm for her Christmas wedding, but her groom isn't who she thought it would be. Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge, his family, or Bess. And that suits Bess just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word, without any explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes to Amos Lapp, Billy's cousin and best friend. But as Bess and Amos's wedding day draws near, her emotions tangle into a tight knot. She loves Amos. Yet she can't forget Billy.

When a "lost" rose is discovered at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. Get in, identify the rose, and get out. That's his plan. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose, and he can't get those tropical blue eyes of Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy---and Amos, too---that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.

"Filled with heart-twisting moments amid the sweet anticipation of love, this story will charm readers into the holiday spirit."

My thoughts: CHRISTMAS AT ROSE HILL FARM is a throwback to one of Ms. Fisher's earliest Amish series. I enjoyed getting reacquainted with the characters from this earlier collection, and remembered Bess' aggravation when her love interest only had eyes for another--and left with her. 

I understood Bess' anguish as her wedding approached, and Amos tried to do whatever he could to please her, but she kept thinking of Billy... Because a girl never forgets her first love. 

With realistic characterization that drew me into the story, Ms. Fisher pens a story with a love-triangle, a forgotten rose, and a plan that may completely fail. Highly recommended. 

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About the author:  Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Before Amen

Max Lucado Before Amen

Book info and review
About the book: 

We all pray . . . some.

We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray.

But wouldn't we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency?

Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests.

We aren't the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.

And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn't we use the same?

In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.

My thoughts:  BEFORE AMEN arrived in the mail and my preacher/husband snagged it. I told him, I have to review this. You can have it as soon as I finish! He's like, when will that be? I said, it's due tomorrow.  He was happy. Especially as his Wednesday night sermon topics are on prayer. 

Okay, people call me a "Prayer Warrior."  I do pray. All the time. Nonstop. I pray as I go about my day. I have the Lord's Prayer memorized (and no, that is not what I pray all day long.)  I wasn't real happy to see the prayer simplified. "God, you are good. I need help. They need help. Amen." Really? What kind of a relationship are you going to have with someone when you communicate like that?  This isn't a text-message prayer we need to learn. This is real time, people! 

Max Lucado treats the whole topic of prayer, in my opinion, with a very cavalier attitude. Yes, God doesn't expect thees and thous. He wants a relationship. And again. If you communicated with your best friend like that, your relationship will go downhill fast. "Hi, BFF. You are good. I need help. They need help." Uh uh.  Not good. 

I also  (and again, this is my opinion, my husband disagrees) don't condone approaching the God of the Universe with a "Hi, Daddy!"  He may be our Father in Heaven.  He may be approachable, through Jesus. But He's not my daddy. He is my God. My Saviour. My Lord. To me, the "Daddy" reference to God really downplays who and what God is. 

If you do need help praying, this is a simple, easy to read, nonfiction book by acclaimed author Max Lucado. And he probably knows a lot more about the topic than I do.  I was offered the book in exchange for my honest opinion.  

I have read other Max Lucado books and enjoyed them.  

PS  My husband ended up saying this is a very superficial book. He was disappointed with it. 

PSS  I also forgot to mention the study guides, leader guides, etc available in case you want to use it in a small group study. 

Pre-order a copy of Before Amen by 9/29 and receive a FREE ebook copy of Max's best-selling Second Chances: More Stories of Grace.

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About the author: More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tried & True

Tried & True Mary Connealy

Book info and review
About the book: Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister---and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk---they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"---but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

My thoughts:  TRIED AND TRUE is the latest i Ms. Connealy's fun and lively historical romances.  I enjoyed getting to know Aaron and Kylie and their history. At first I wondered if this book was  the second in the series because it kept referring back to things I didn't know anything about, but it's not. This is the first book in the series. 

Ms. Connealy is a very active writer, drawing the reader into the story. I felt sorry for Kylie and her sisters, forced to be "men" to replace the son their dad lost in the War between the States, and for losing the land/work exemption for serving in the Army.  I enjoyed reading TRIED AND TRUE. Some of it is over the top and not very believable, but it is fiction .  If you like historical romantic comedy, you will love TRIED AND TRUE.  Recommended. 

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About the author: Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nowhere to Turn

Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
August 2014
ISBN: 978-0800722098
Genre: Romantic Suspense

She thought her days of hiding were over . . . but the danger has just begun

The day Danielle Harding takes her eleven-year-old son and flees from her abusive husband is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, things are just heating up. When Kurt was alive, he took something important from a mysterious individual--who wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold you in its iron grip as bestselling author Lynette Eason propels you along in a race to discover the truth.

Let me prelude this by saying I love Lynette Eason’s books. She is usually a must-read author for me, and I’ve read every single one of her books. I love them. However, NOWHERE TO TURN just didn’t do it for me. It starts slow, and drags the entire way through the story. Even areas where suspense could’ve been high, dragged.

This is not at all my favorite Lynette Eason book. It is well-written, very clean, and the story does go to start to finish with the poor heroine and her son being moved from safe house to safe house before they have a chance to draw their breath. But the suspense level is blah. The romantic tension level is blah.

Just my opinion. There are others who disagree with me, so maybe it’s just me.

$14.99. $9.99 kindle. 321 pages.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at

Friday, September 12, 2014

Forever Amish

Author: Kate Lloyd
Publisher: David C. Cook
June 2014
ISBN: 978-0781408745
Genre: Amish

It’s the Last Thing She Expects to Find

Sally Bingham needs some time away to sort through the changes in her life and to rethink her upcoming marriage. Despite her ailing father’s hesitations, she takes off for a bed and breakfast in Lancaster County for a weekend away. But her best-laid plans leave her in a near collision with a bishop’s buggy and in the home of a mysterious Amish woman named Lizzie. Lizzie introduces her to a different perspective on life, a charming farmhand named Armin— and opens a Pandora’s box that will forever change Sally’s life.

The latest book in the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy, Forever Amish introduces us to a young woman about to uncover a shocking secret and find an invitation to a new way of living. This is a story of forgiveness, legacies, and the ties that bind through generations.

FOREVER AMISH is seriously the best book I've read by Ms. Lloyd. It is totally gripping, with unexpected twists that keep the reader guessing. Why did Lizzie email Sally? What is Lizzie's real reason for inviting her to stay in her home? Why for no charge? To find the answers, I had to keep reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all fans of Amish fiction. Great book!  
$9.99 Kindle. $14.99 paperback. 368 pages. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Shelley Shepard Gray Joyful

Book info and review
About the book: A young Amish couple gets a second chance at love in New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray's final book in her Return to Sugarcreek series.

Randall Beiler is doing his best to put his family and the farm's needs first, even forsaking love. But though he tries, Randall knows he needs help caring for his younger siblings and keeping the house together.

When his brother offers pretty Elizabeth Nolt a job taking care of the house and cooking for the family, Randall is furious---and guilty about the way he once broke Elizabeth's heart. But when he learns that Elizabeth and her grandmother are struggling to make ends meet, he knows the offer, no matter how painful, is the right thing for everyone.

Elizabeth wants to refuse---to stay far away from the man who hurt her---but she needs the money. Though she vows to protect her heart, spending time in the Beiler household makes Elizabeth realize that, while she's older and wiser, her love for Randall still burns strong.

Randal, too, seems to want something more. But does he want Elizabeth because he truly loves her---or because he needs a housekeeper? If Randall sincerely wants something more, he must find a way to show Elizabeth---or risk losing his chance at love forever.

My thoughts: JOYFUL is the third book in the Return to Sugarcreek series by Ms. Gray. Readers will want to read the first two books in the series: Hopeful and Thankful as these stories don't stand alone. There are three different stories included in this book, but the one between Randall and Elizabeth is the main story. 

I enjoyed reading the story, finding out what is happening at the restaurant that was key in previous series, as well as other characters such as Ben and Judith.  I also thought Elizabeth and her grandmother were very sweet, kind, and forgiving individuals. I loved Randal's sixteen year old brother, and his little sister, Kay. But Randall was a class A jerk. If I were Elizabeth I wouldn't have been quite so forgiving of his horrible treatment of her, and it certainly wouldn't have made me fall in love with him.  

Ms. Gray's Amish stories are sweet, enjoyable, though a little flat, and not three-dimensional. And as I said, I didn't care for Randall. Other than that, great story. 4 stars. 

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About the author: Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Timesbestseller, a two-time USA Todaybestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

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