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Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Review and Author Giveaway~A Dream of Miracles





 About the Book: Mattie Diener can barely keep it together. A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son's mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her. 

Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won't rest until she finds his Mrs. Right. Despite Bo's worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling. 

When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible-not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo's dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future...or will she simply run away?

What I Thought:  Ruth Reid is a favorite author of mine. A Dream of Miracles is by far my favorite book of hers. Although it is the third book in the Amish Wonders series, it can definitely be read by itself. The concept of an Amish family being investigated by social services is one I have not read before in an Amish fiction novel. As my husband is a social worker, it held special interest to me as well. My heart ached for Mattie, not only a widow but with a son with recurring illness, and with a history of depression. A Dream of Miracles would make a great Book Club/Book Group book, and has a Reading Group Guide at the back.  Get this book-you won't be disappointed, I couldn't put it down!

Read more reviews at Litfuse.  Learn more about A Dream of Miracles and where to purchase  your own copy at Ruth Reid's website.

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.








When a suspicious outsider with a shadowy past comes crashing into Amish widow Mattie’s fragile world, can she learn to love again? Find out in Ruth Reid's new book, A Dream of Miracles. When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible—not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo’s dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

Ruth is celebrating the release of A Dream of Miracles with a Kindle Fire HD 6 giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on May 3!

dream of miracles - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • One copy of A Dream of Miracles
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/3. The winner will be announced at A Dream of Miracles Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Ruth and other fans of Amish fiction, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

dream of miracles - enter banner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 3rd!

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review~Simple Pleasures


                                                              






Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother, by Marianne Jantzi, is published by Herald Press. It is 262 pages, including A Day in the Life of the Author, Jantzi Favorite Family Recipes, and FAQs About the Amish: The Author Answers.










About the Book: Young Amish homemaker Marianne Jantzi invites readers into her family's life on the snowy plains of Ontario. The mother of four young children and wife of a storekeeper, Jantzi writes about her daily routines and heartfelt faith with equal measures of wit and warmth. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and helping to manage the store take up most hours in her day, but Jantzi finds time to pen columns for the Connection, a magazine beloved by Amish and Mennonite readers across the United States and Canada. Never sugarcoating the frustrations of motherhood, Jantzi tells it like it is, broken washing machine and bickering children and all. But through her busy days, Jantzi finds strength in simple pleasures of family, fellowship with her Amish community, and quiet time with God.



What I Thought: As a lover of Amish fiction, I have been enjoying the Plainspoken series, which includes real life stories of the Amish and Mennonite in their own words. Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother is a wonderful addition to this series. It is simply the everyday life of an Amish wife and mother-nothing spectacular. But to those of us who are fascinated with the Amish lifestyle, it is a rare look into their lives. I found that, although there are obvious differences (such as no electricity), her life is not all that different from mine. She experiences the same struggles and joys with family life. Mrs. Jantzi is a talented writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed her beautiful descriptions of even the simplest things.

As much as I enjoyed Simple Pleasures, I think it is a book that only those interested in the Amish would enjoy. The only problem I had reading it was the stories were not chronological.  An example is one chapter may be talking about their three children, and next they only have one child. It happened often, and was confusing. Other than that, it was a wonderful look into the author's life that was a pleasure to read.

About the Author:  Marianne Jantzi is an Amish writer and homemaker in Ontario, Canada. Formerly a teacher in an Amish school, Jantzi now educates and inspires through her "Northern Reflections" column for The Connection, a magazine directed mainly to Amish and plain communities across the U.S. and Canada. She and her husband have four young children and run a shoe store among the Milverton Amish settlement of Ontario.

Read more reviews of Simple Pleasures at Litfuse, and purchase your own copy at MennoMedia. 

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Product Review~Cujo Control Remote Dog Training Collar







We have two dogs living in our home, our Miniature Schnauzer Tulip and our daughter's Schnauzer/Maltese mix Java. They are both still young, but not puppies anymore. Of course when we got them, we had every intention of training them, and then life happened. So now we have two dogs with different behavior problems that need to be addressed.  Our issues are: excessive barking, jumping on people, and running away. So I was excited to have the opportunity to review one of the top rated training tools, Cujo Control Remote Dog Training Collar.




Included in the box I received is everything you see in the picture at the top-one collar/receiver, one wireless remote, two batteries, a test light, and contact points, plus a very detailed instruction booklet with training tips. There are three training tools to choose from - tone, vibrate, or shock.This collar is for any breed dog, from 10 to 200 pounds. It is waterproof, and has a range of up to 300 meters. You can train up to two dogs. There are 16 levels of stimulation and vibration, and individual buttons for tone, vibration, and stimulation.




Here are pictures of Java and Tulip wearing the collar. We have only tried it on Java so far, as Tulip is expecting a litter of puppies and we did not want to take any chances stressing her out.  Her training will begin in a few months. The collar appears to be comfortable on them. We have only tried vibration and tone on Java so far, and I'm amazed at how quickly Java is responding! The instruction book gives detailed instructions on how to train with the collar for different behavior problems, as well as teaching basic commands.

I previously looked into other training collars, and by far Cujo Control is the best. Compared to the other kits I looked at, the range is farther, there are many more levels of vibration/stimulation, and being able to customize it for two dogs is a plus. The remote display is bright and easy to read.

As we have already had some success with Java using our Cujo Control collar when it comes to him jumping on visitors, I'm looking forward to further training with him and training Tulip. You can purchase your own Cujo Control Remote Dog Training Collar at Amazon.

*Disclosure: I received this product free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Product Review and FLASH Giveaway~JGOB Makeup Sponge



Have you seen these makeup applicator sponges before?  I have in stores, and my daughter uses them and swears by them, but I just didn't see any need-I mean, I was doing fine applying my makeup with my fingers.  Well, let me tell you, I have discovered a GREAT tool for applying makeup!!

The JGOB Makeup Applicator Blending Sponge is a very soft, absorbent sponge. What's nice is it is just the right amount of absorbency. When I originally saw these sponges in the store, I thought it would absorb too much of my makeup. Apparently that is an issue with some brands, but not with JGOB.




Here is a picture of my new sponge in  my hand to give you an idea of its size. It is easy to grasp, and the shape works well to reach different areas to contour. After using, it is very easy to wash, squeeze the water out and use again next time.




Another great feature of the JGOB Makeup sponge is the travel case it comes in.  It is very sturdy and will be perfect to keep the sponge clean and intact during travel. I appreciate when companies think of things like this to make our lives a little easier!

I am enjoying using my JGOB sponge-it helps me to apply my makeup more evenly, and less mess on  my fingers!

You can purchase your own JGOB Makeup Applicator Sponge at Amazon.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One reader will win their own JGOB sponge! This is a flash giveaway, so I will draw the winner at random on 3/24 at 10 am MST. Winner must be a US resident. Just leave a comment below!

*Disclosure: I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review~Amish Christmas at North Star


About the Book: 
One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife on the edge of North Star, Pennsylvania. Rebekah's Babies, as they are called, are now adults, and in four heartwarming novellas each person experiences a journey of discovery, the possibility of love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert: Curiosity gets the best of Englischer Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Ellie McAllister in Iowa, will his revelations upend her world?

Mourning Star by Amanda Flower: Eden Hoschstetler slips from her parents' shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac. Who is guilty? Isaac's handsome great-nephew Jesse, and angry Englischer, or someone else?

In the Stars by Cindy Woodsmall: Heartbroken Kore Detweiler avoids North Star after Savilla Beiler rejects his love. But when he is unexpectedly called home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark: Andy Danner left North Star to join a new Amish settlement in Mississippi. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in a reclusive widower's life.

What I Thought: 
I have always enjoyed collections of novellas in one book.  These four Amish fiction stories are intertwined by the location-North Star, Pennsylvania, and the midwife Rebekah, who was the midwife attending each main characters birth. The things I enjoy about reading the collections is that they are all intertwined, but written by different authors, that they are relatively short-just about 100 pages each, and in this case, it is Christmas time! These four novellas in Amish Christmas at North Star: Four Stories of Love & Family were all fun to read and engaging, and I loved all four. I really couldn't pick one that stood out as my favorite over the others.  I do have to say that Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors (I even met her at a book signing!), so her novella In the Stars had a slight edge for me.  At the end of the collection, author Katie Ganshert wrote an epilogue, which I thought was a nice way to wrap up the book.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

Book Review~Amish Sweethearts


About the Book:
Amish Sweethearts(ISBN 978-0-7642-1524-7) is the second book in author Leslie Gould's Neighbors of Lancaster County series.  It is published by Bethany House, and is 375 pages.

Description from the back cover:
For years Zane Beck and his Amish neighbor Lila Lehman were best of friends. But just as Zane gathered to courage to discover if their friendship could develop into something more, her controlling father arranged for her to be courted by their bishop's son. Zane, heartbroken and frustrated, joined the Army, running away from his shattered dreams. 

The passing of time and the distance between Zane and Lila haven't been enough to halt their-now completely hidden-feelings for each other. Any hope for their love grows even more impossible though as Zane's service takes a dangerous turn when he's deployed to Afghanistan. Being on the frontline, confronted with the hard choices of war, has him questioning everything, including whether he can continue to serve or not. But all choices have consequences, and with Lila preparing to marry another, will these one-time sweethearts ever find the life together that they both still long for?

What I Thought: 
Having read the first book in the Neighbors of Lancaster County series by Leslie Gould, I knew I was in for a treat. I have also read other books by the author, and always enjoy her writing. She is great at pulling the reader into the story and making you feel like you know the main characters personally.

In Amish Sweethearts, my heart broke for Lila, who has had so much responsibility on her shoulders taking care of her family since her mother died. Her father is gruff and not one to discuss feelings, and is determined to marry her off to a good Amish man. Lila and Zane have loved each other for years, but as Zane is not Amish they realize it is nearly impossible for them to have a future together.

When Lila enters into a courtship with Reuben and turns away from Zane, he enters the Army and is deployed to Afghanistan.  It was very interesting to have this element of war involved in the story as the Amish are pacifists. Along with other family drama with Lila's siblings and her ill grandmother, Lila's life is spinning out of control as she tries to deny her feelings for Zane.

I really enjoyed Amish Sweethearts-I spent several nights up too late because I didn't want to put it down! I look forward to the next book in the series.

Visit Bethany House for more information on Amish Sweethearts and to purchase your own copy.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.