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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Book Review~The Promise of a Letter


About the Book:
A letter brings him back to his Amish family. It will take someone truly extraordinary to make him stay.
Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don’t go as planned, Roman’s prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn’t plan to stay for long.
Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional—strange, even—Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she’s never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn’t mind. She is content being single.
But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

What I Thought: 
The Promise of a Letter is the second book in Kathleen Fuller's Amish Letters series. I've always been a fan of the author, and she did a great job once again. I did read the first book in the series, Written in Love, which mainly focused on Jalon and Phoebe. They are still a strong presence in this book, but the focus is on Leanna and Roman mostly, with quite a bit about Daniel and Barbara as well. While readers would get the most enjoyment reading the books in order, I feel like The Promise of a Letter could be read by itself without confusion. 

Forgiveness and trusting God to make your path in life are strong themes in this story. Daniel and his brother Roman had a rough childhood and many hard feelings between them, but a letter from their grandmother asking them to reconcile tugged at their hearts. Leanna was not your typical Amish woman, and figured she would never get married. Roman had always rubbed her the wrong way. But God had his own plan and things started to change. 

I really enjoyed reading The Promise of a Letter and highly recommend it! I look forward to the third book in the series, Words from the Heart, coming out in February 2018.

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



Children's Book Review~Wow!: The Good News in Four Words


Wow!: The Good News in Four Words is a 30 page hardcover (with dust jacket) intended for children ages 4-8. It was written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Annabel Tempest. I was immediately intrigued by the cute, colorful illustrations and the concept of sharing the Gospel with children using these four words:
*Wow-Creation
*Uh-oh-Sin, broken world
*Ahh-Eternal life through Jesus
*Wow-Grow and share the good news of Jesus to others.

In this adorable book, children learn the basics of the gospel in rhyme. Each page has only a few sentences and the print is easy to read, making it a good book for early readers. The rhyming was done very well, and I was amazed at how much information was covered, in a fun way for kids to understand.

Here is my grandson Daniel, 6, reading Wow!: The Good News in Four Words. He enjoyed having me read it to him, and he even tried to sound out some words on his own. He loved the rhyming and shouting out the four key words throughout the story. Even if we aren't reading the book, he enjoys just looking at the colorful pictures featuring Jesus, people, and animals. There is so much to look at on the pages, you could probably find something new each time you read the story! At the back of the book are suggested Bible verses correlating to each of the four words.

I highly recommend Wow!:The Good News in Four Words for the young child in your life. I think it would make a wonderful gift. You can find more information and purchase your own copy at Tyndale House Publishers.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review~Gathering the Threads


About the Book:
Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, Will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together—or completely rip them apart?

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 

Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.
 


About the Author:

Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of nineteen works of fiction and non-fiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.

What I Thought:
From the time I opened my first Cindy Woodsmall book, I have been a fan of her work, and she is one of my favorite authors. There is something about the way she crafts a story that pulls me in and keeps me engaged until the very last page. The characters are so believable, and I feel like I know them as I read through the story. Once again, all these things are true in her latest novel, Gathering the Threads. This is the third book in the author's series The Amish of Summer Grove.

Although there is a very thorough summary of what happened in the first two books at the beginning of Gathering the Threads, I highly suggest reading the first two books, The Ties That Bind and Fraying at the Edge, first. The series follows Ariana as she discovers that she comes from a different world than she was raised in, and the conflict of being torn between those two worlds. There is a strong sense of being yourself as well as following God's path for your life. It was very interesting how it wasn't just Ariana who changed after being exposed to the Englisch world-both her Amish and Englisch families and friends were affected. They all were more open to other ideas than the ones they had believed all their lives.

I highly recommend reading Gathering the Threads! The Amish of Summer Grove series is fabulous!

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review~Here and Gone by Haylen Beck


About the Book:
Audra just wants to reach California. She's finally found the strength to flee her abusive husband and make a fresh start for her two children. With little Sean and Louise in tow, she has carefully made her way across the country, taking back roads and avoiding attention.
So when an unsettling local sheriff pulls her over in the middle of the Arizona desert, Audra works to hide her nerves and keep calm. She has to. But then he pulls a bag of drugs she's never seen before out of her trunk, and nervousness turns into panic. She thinks the worst has happened. Unfortunately, she's wrong. The worst is yet to come.

About the Author:
Haylen Beck is the pen name of internationally acclaimed, prizewinning crime writer Stuart Neville. Neville won the Los Angeles Times book Prize for his Serena Flanagan detective series set in Belfast, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. His Haylen Beck novels are set in the United States and inspired by his love of American crime writing.

What I Thought:
When I read the description of this book, it sparked my interest. But, since I knew nothing of the author, I hesitated. Let me tell you I am so glad I decided to read Here and Gone by Haylen Beck! This is one of those nail-biter stories that made me not want to sleep at night so I could keep reading! The subject is every parents nightmare-losing your children. But how that happens in this story is just crazy. It is full of twists and turns. I really enjoyed how it was written from different characters' perspectives. This made me feel that I had a better understanding of the characters. If you are looking for a book you won't be able to put down, you've found it-Here and Gone by Haylen Beck.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review~The Beloved Hope Chest




About the Book (from the back cover):

When Mattie packed her hope chest, she put away the heartache of her past. But as her daughters begin to unpack it, she discovers a healing more powerful than she ever hoped for.
Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.
But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?
Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it's a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it's past time to share it.

What I Thought: 

The Beloved Hope Chest is the fourth book in author Amy Clipston's Amish Heirloom Novel series. The first three books, The Forgotten Recipe, The Courtship Basket, and The Cherished Quilt, were all based on the three Fisher sisters. I enjoyed reading all three of them. In The Beloved Hope Chest, the focus is on Mattie and Leroy Fisher, the girls' parents. It goes back in time to their childhoods and early marriage.

The Beloved Hope Chest is by far my favorite of the four books. The story was so deep and moving, it really touched my emotions. Poor Mattie had such a promising future, and then to have so much loss and grief. This story could be inspiring to someone who struggles with grief, thinking there is no way they could ever live a normal life. Mattie lost so much, but with faith in God and the love of her family and friends, she pulled through.

I highly recommend reading The Beloved Hope Chest, as well as the other three books in the series. These books can be read on their own, but I enjoyed reading them in the order they were published. At the back of the book are discussion questions, making it a great book for a book club.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review~The Divide


About the Book (from the back cover):
 In this gripping conclusion to The Alliance, nearly six months have passed since Leora Ebersole's Old Order Mennonite community fled to the mountains for refuge after an attack destroyed the power grid and altered life as they knew it. Since then, Leora has watched and waited for news of Moses Hughes, the young Englischer pilot who held off invading looters long enough for everyone to escape. Unsure Moses even survived, Leora has begun to warm to the affections of Jabil Snyder, who has courted her patiently. But she struggles to see herself as the bishop's wife, especially when she learns that Moses is alive and has now joined a local militia.

An unexpected encounter in the woods deepens Leora's crisis, as does a terrifying new threat that brings Moses' militia into the community's shaky alliance with the few Englischers left among them. When long-held beliefs are once again put to the test, Leora wrestles with the divide between having faith and taking action. Just how much will her shifting landscape change her?


What I Thought:  
The Alliance was a book I really enjoyed. I'm a big fan of Amish/Mennonite fiction, but the storyline of the EMP made the book something completely different from anything I've read before. The Divide was just as enjoyable as The Alliance, and the change of setting, up in the remote mountains, made it really fascinating.

Author Jolina Petersheim is a talented storyteller. She was able to pack so much into this story! So many emotions, conflict, romance, and just plain survival. The Divide is the kind of book you just don't want to put down-riveting. Faith and God are the main themes the story revolves around, and the characters struggle with trusting God to see them through. I highly recommend this book, but suggest you read The Alliance first. 

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