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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book Review~When Love Returns

About the Book: 
From the Back Cover: Riddled with doubt and lingering regrets, will Suzanne and Paul find strength in God to explore a second chance at love?  It wasn’t easy to move back to the Old Order Mennonite community from which quiet, responsible Suzanne Zimmerman was shamefully sent away as a pregnant teen. Returning twenty years later to take care of her mother, Suzanne and Alexa—the daughter she raised as her own—have spent months rebuilding relationships with her family.

Now with the upcoming wedding of their biological daughter,  Suzanne and Paul find themselves drawn to one another once again—but with new challenges to face. They have been single parents with painful pasts. Can Paul and Suzanne find the strength to rebuild the loving relationship that was torn apart by their teen pregnancy so long ago?

Suzanne must also let go of Alexa as she heads back to Indianapolis to visit friends--and as her chance to find her birth parents. Leaving the bed-and-breakfast in Suzanne’s apprehensive hands, Alexa embarks on a journey that will certainly change her life completely. Can mother and daughter trust God to restore all things in His timing?

What I Thought: 
When Love Returns is the third book in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy by Kim Vogel Sawyer, published by WaterBrook Press.  This series has been my favorite Amish series that I have read in a long time. The author did an amazing job of weaving a tale full of surprises. I was so excited to read this third and final book, which did a great job of wrapping up the series. Aside from being a great story, I especially enjoyed the theme of adoption, as I was adopted and have adopted one of my children. If you are looking for a good series that you won't be able to set down, look no further-The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy is for you!

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

Book Review~An Amish Christmas Gift

About the Book: 

Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston
Naomi has started to think that she isn't meant to find love, but she might receive more than she ever hoped for this Christmas. Twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love, has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches-a time of family, faith, and hope for many others-Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down.

An Unexpected Joy by Ruth Reid
Abigail has driven other suitors away, but can Micah find a way to show her he cares? Abigail Kemp has managed to frighten off every bu who's ever driven her home from a singing. Sure she will live to be an old maid, Abigail starts saving her money to buy a horse so she can at least have some independence. Micah Zook is looking for a caregiver for his grandmother, and Abigail needs a new job. He never expected that Abigail would talk so much . . . or that his grandmother would keep finding ways to set the two of them up. Despite Abigail's constant chatter, she and Micah become friends-until Micah makes a decision that leaves Abigail feeling betrayed. With Christmas in their midst, can Micah find a way to reconcile with Abigail and to reveal what's on his heart?

A Christmas Visitor by Kelly Irvin
Frannie Mast returns to Bee County for Christmas, but her heart stays back in Missouri with an Englisch farm boy. Frannie knows her parents have the best of intentions when they send her back to Bee County, Texas, to live with her aunt Abigail and her husband Mordecai. After all, she knows nothing can come of a relationship with Rocky, the handsome but Englisch farmer boy back in Missouri. It's best to put those feelings aside, no matter how hard it is. But all bets are off when Rocky follows Frannie to Texas to plead his case. Could he be the Christmas gift to end all gifts?

What I Thought: 

An Amish Christmas Gift is a collection of three novellas written by three different authors: Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, and Kelly Irvin.  I really enjoy these collections of novellas-with each story being around 100 pages, individually they are quick reads.  I've read books before by the other two authors, but had never read anything by Kelly Irvin. Her story, A Christmas Visitor, was my favorite of the three. It is fascinating to consider a person raised English wanting to become Amish.  Sure, we all may think occasionally that a 'simple' life would be great, but would we really go through with it? I enjoyed all three novellas, each with a heartwarming message to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review~Prayers That Changed History

Tricia Goyer is one of my favorite authors, so I was eager to read her latest non-fiction book: Prayers That Changed History-From Christopher Columbus to Helen Keller, how God used 25 people to change the world. Written for kids, but also fascinating and educational for adults, this 237 page softcover is published by Zonderkidz.

Each chapter in Prayers That Changed History is devoted to a historical person, and all 25 chapters are in chronological order.  The chapter has a black and white illustration and these categories:
*When He/She Lived
*Something to Think About
*In His/Her Own Words
*How He/She Changed History
*It's in The Bible
*Your Life

I think the book is set up perfectly, making it easy to focus on one person at a time.  Each chapter has  history, biblical reference, and ideas for reflection. I homeschooled for many years, and Prayers That Changed History would have been a great addition to our curriculum. I am actually planning on having my 7th grade son go through the book during summer break next year. I enjoyed reading this book, and learned a lot.  I think it can really make an impact on children's prayer lives and be an encouragement to pray.

Learn more about author Tricia Goyer at her website.  You can purchase a copy of Prayers That Changed History at Amazon.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Review~The Photograph

About the Book: When her sister Lily disappears only months after their widowed mother's passing, Eva Esch fears she has been wooed away from the people. Yet Lily's disappearance isn't Eva's only concern. She and her sisters must relocate once their older brother takes over the family farmhouse. Then Jed Stutzman, an Amish buggy maker from Ohio, shows up in Eden Valley with a photo of a Plain young woman. Eva feels powerfully drawn to the charming stranger-but the woman in the forbidden photograph is no stranger at all...

About the Author: Beverly Lewis penned her first story at age nine while living near Lancaster County Amish farmland, where she grew up. She welcomes her many reader-friends each day on Facebook and personally replies to fan mail. She lives with her husband near their family in Colorado. Visit her website at www.beverlylewis.com

What I Thought: The Photograph is such a sweet story about family, love, and following God's direction for your life. The Esch sisters have been through so much, and each of them are handling their grief in their own way.  When the youngest sister Lily leaves for the Englisch world, her family is shocked and worried. Jed Stutzman, a stranger from Ohio dealing with his own grief, carries a clue to their sister's location.  I have read many of Beverly Lewis' books, and have never been disappointed. The Photograph is another delightful story written by this very talented author.

*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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Children's Book Review~M is for Manger

M is for Manger is a beautiful hardcover book written by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley.  The illustrator is Claire Keay, and the book is published by Tyndale House Publishers.  It is 8"x8" and 64 pages. 

M is for Manger goes chronologically and alphabetically through the story of the birth of Jesus. Each letter in the alphabet has a pair of pages, side by side.  The page on the left hand side shows the letter, the word it represents,and a drawing appropriate for what the letter represents. On the right page is a few sentences explaining the story and a corresponding scripture. Several different Bible translations are used.

Here is my grandson Daniel, 4, reading M is for Manger. He loves this book. It has just enough content to be meaningful, but not too much that he gets overwhelmed and doesn't want to finish the book. The illustrations are beautiful-both children and adults will appreciate them.  M is for Manger would make a wonderful gift-there is a presentation page in front for gift giving. I plan to keep this book in our Christmas box to pull out each year for our grandchildren.

You can purchase your own copy of M is for Manger at Tyndale House Publishers.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review~Promises to Keep

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Promise to Keep
Howard Books (October 13, 2015)
Elizabeth Younts


A Word from the Author:

I’m Elizabeth, a blessed child of The King. I’m a middle-born daughter, military officer’s wife, homeschooling mama, writer, closet DIYer, and, dare I say it, Downton Abbey addict. May I also mention that I love both my history and my coffee rich.

I am formerly Amish and my heritage is very dear to me and thankful to be so accepted among my still Amish family. I can still speak PA Dutch, too! You can learn more about my Amish family in my first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl.

My three book series with Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) is a dream come true. The series is titled The Promise of Sunrise. In this series you will live through World War 2 from an Amish perspective and experience their unique struggles as conscientious objectors during wartime. What happened if one of their members enlisted? What was it like to serve at the Civilian Public Service Camps for years with almost no compensation? How did Amish women and families cope when a son or father was drafted? I look forward to taking you back into the richness of these years of Amish history through fiction.


World War II Marine Joe Garrison returns home from war longing to be a father to his deaf daughter, Daisy, only to find that she is attached to Esther Detweiler, the Amish woman who has raised her since his wife’s death in this touching historical romance.

Orphaned as a child, Esther Detweiler is used to caring for herself and her ailing grandmother. They made the best out of a hard life and poverty without asking for help. They even take in her shunned cousin’s deaf daughter, Daisy, when her mother dies and her father goes off to war. When Esther’s grandmother dies, Daisy is all she has.

When war veteran Joe Garrison returns, all he can think about is recovering from the horrors of war and building a relationship with his seven-year-old daughter. Daisy, however, is unwilling to leave Esther, whom she loves. Joe and Daisy get to know each other again, but Joe struggles with nightmares and fatherhood is proving to be more difficult than he imagined. Esther loves Daisy and despite her Amish ways, Joe finds himself drawn to her as a woman and not just a caregiver.

As their love blossoms, Joe decides to send Daisy away to a school for the deaf which propels their lives into turmoil and a battle for love and family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Promise to Keep, go HERE.

My Review: I just received the book yesterday, so obviously have not had time to read it yet! I will update this post with my review soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review~A Reluctant Bride

About the Book:
"When tragedy strikes an independent Amish woman, she must accept a marriage proposal from the man she vowed never to marry.
As the oldest daughter in an Amish family, Sadie's life was mapped out since the day she was born. She would join the church, marry an Amish man, and eventually she and her husband would take over her family's store. But when her parents unexpectedly die in a buggy accident, her life goes into a tailspin. Determined to keep her parents' legacy alive, Sadie works harder than ever to provide for herself and her younger sisters.
However, the bishop is unwilling to let a young woman manage the property and business all on her own. He gives Sadie two choices: marry his son, Aden, or relinquish the business and land to the community. Not willing to give up on her dream, she weds Aden, resigning herself to a loveless marriage.
But while working with Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn't the same boy who had betrayed her in the past. In fact, she begins to look forward to the time they spend together, getting to know the man with a kind heart and gentle smile. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, several dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family-and herself."

What I Thought: 
A Reluctant Bride is the first book in a new series, Amish of Birch Creek, by author Kathleen Fuller.  I've read several of the author's books and have enjoyed them all, but I must say A Reluctant Bride is my absolute favorite. It was so full of emotion! My heart ached for several characters. Some of the topics touched on are very serious too-physical abuse within family, unwanted sexual advances, death of parents, and more. I was immediately into this story and finished it very quickly, and when it ended I wanted more of the story!  I hope the same characters are in the next book in the series. A Reluctant Bride is a must read!

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review~Pass It On

I just finished reading a new book by authors Jim Burns and Jeremy Lee titled Pass It On: Building a Legacy of Faith for Your Children through Practical and Memorable Experiences.

About the Book: "Parents often experience a “freak out” moment when they realize their children’s view of God will primarily come from what they learn at home.

Most parents spend more time helping their kids succeed at academics or athletics than infusing shared spiritual experiences into the rhythm of everyday family life.
While the idea of strategically passing down our faith can seem intimidating, the annual Rites of Passage Experiences contained in Pass It On make it easy for your family to celebrate milestones from kindergarten through high school graduation. Forever change the direction of your family’s spiritual legacy . . . starting now!"

Pass It On is written in three parts: Part 1 is Setting it Up, explaining to the parent the what and why of a Rite of Passage Experience. Part 2 is the Rites of Passage Experiences themselves, one for each grade Kindergarten through 12th grade. Part 3 is Finishing Strong, wrapping up and reviewing what you've learned. 

You can read more reviews here.  You can purchase your own copy of Pass It On at David C. Cook Publishing. 

About the Authors: 
Jim Burns is president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. He has more than 1.5 million resources in print and a radio broadcast heard on 800 stations a day. Jim resides in Southern California with his wife Cathy and their three daughters.

Connect with Jim online: website, Twitter, Facebook

 Jeremy Lee is the founder of ParentMinistry.Net, a subscription-based service for children and youth ministry workers. He was on the writing team for the Simple Truth Bible from Group Publishing and the Ignite Study Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Jeremy lives in Nashville with his wife and children.

Connect with Jeremy online:
website, Twitter, Facebook

What I Thought: I wish Pass It On had come out about 20 years ago, just about the time my oldest was kindergarten age.  What a great resource for parents!  I know personally how much my children treasure any traditions we have set, whether they are goofy or serious. They are so proud to tell their friends what we do for special occasions that might be a little (or a lot) different. Pass It On gives a Rite of Passage for each year.  You don't have to stick to the authors' suggestions for which grade to do each one, so even if you are starting later in your child's years you can go back and cover some of the Rites of Passage you missed. My youngest son is about to turn 13, and I am looking forward to incorporating several of the Rites of Passage into his childhood.

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

Join Global Handwashing Day!

We all know how very important hand washing is to our health. Tomorrow, October 15th, is Global Handwashing Day! Join Dial by signing up at Dial Rewards here: bit.ly/DialGHD and entering the code WASH9. Dial Brand will donate $1 for every code entered (up to $50,000) to support Global Handwashing Education. Help others learn how important hand washing is to their health!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review~Ties That Bind

About the Book (from the publisher):

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a cafe in historic Summer Grove to help support her family's ever-expanding brood, and keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill and her dear friend Frieda ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him again, she realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill's goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that might hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust-because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

What I Thought: 

Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors, so I was very excited to find out she has a new series coming out! Ties That Bind is the first book in The Amish of Summer Grove series. It took me a few chapters to get into the story and the characters, but once I did it was hard to put the book down! Babies being switched accidentally at birth is such a frightening, yet fascinating topic. Ariana is so devoted to her Old Amish lifestyle, and is close to accomplishing her dream of owning her own cafe. She also has a loving boyfriend she is planning to marry, so this news that she is not biologically from her Amish family has the potential to change everything. Skylar Nash is the opposite of Ariana-her life is a mess, so maybe the Amish lifestyle could bring her some much needed stability.  I can't wait to read the next book in the series and find out how Ariana and Skylar adapt to their new lifestyles.

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Children's Book Review~God Made All of Me

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies was written by Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb, and illustrated by Trish Mahoney.  The Publisher is New Growth Press along with GRACE, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.

About the Book: (from the publisher):

 "God made every part of you!"

It's easy to convey the message to children that their bodies---or particular parts of their bodies---are shameful. This misconception fuels confusion, embarrassment, and secrecy, and often prevents children from recognizing or reporting sexual abuse.
God Made All of Me is a simply-told, beautifully-illustrated story to help families talk about these sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children. Because the private parts of our bodies are private, the home is the ideal environment where a child should learn about his or her body and how it should be treated by others.

God Made All of Me starts from the fundamental truth that God created everything and applies that truth---the doctrine of creation---to kids and their bodies. It equips parents to talk with both boys and girls about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between the appropriate and inappropriate touch of others. God Made All of Me allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes.

God Made All of Me is the first children's book written by Rid of My Disgrace authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. Parents of young children themselves, the Holcombs regularly counsel victims of sexual abuse and are profoundly aware of the dangers kids face. Their simple and relatable story, designed to help children protect their bodies, will be an important resource for every family with young children.

About the Authors: 

Justin Holcomb, PhD, is an Episcopal priest and professor of theology and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of On the Grace of God, Know the Heretics, and Know the Creeds and Councils, as well as the coauthor of Is It My Fault? and Rid of My Disgrace. He also serves on the boards for REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments). 
Connect with Justin online:website, Facebook, Twitter

Lindsey Holcomb, MPH, counsels victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and is the cofounder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). Lindsey has provided crisis intervention to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and conducted a variety of training seminars to service providers. She is also the coauthor of Is It My Fault? and Rid of My Disgrace.
Connect with Lindsey online: website, Facebook, Twitter

What I Thought: 

Before I reviewed God Made All of Me, I had my husband read it.  He is a social worker and worked in the area of child abuse for several years. He was very impressed with the book and thought it hit on all the important points and would make a great resource for parents. When I read the book, I was also impressed on all that it covered while still staying brief enough to keep young children's attention.  The illustrations are cute and colorful, and there are occasional scripture verses to back up what is being discussed.  At the end of the book are 9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse.  The photo above is of our grandson, who just turned four and started preschool.  This is a perfect time for us start talking to him about this very important topic. 

I highly recommend God Made All of Me, and think every parent would be smart to read it with their children.  You can read more reviews of this book at Litfuse, and purchase your own copy at New Growth Press.  

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Product Review~Memory Cross

Memory Cross cards are origami cards that share a message.  There are Bible Memory Cards, Bible Story Cards, Outreach Tracts, Coloring Cards, Wedding Announcements, Health Education and more!  I received a sampling of different Memory Cross Cards in different applications and sizes:

Here is a video showing how the Memory Cross cards work:

These Memory Cross cards are awesome!  My entire family, from children to adults, had so much fun with them!  We all enjoyed opening each one, and were so fascinated and impressed with the impact these cards can make!  Perfect for Sunday School, handing out, gifts, crafts for kids, and on and on!  My daughter, who is 20, loved the wedding Memory Cross Cards and thinks they would make perfect 'Save the Date' cards for when she gets married some day.  My son, who goes to a private Christian School, was excited to take the samples to his school to show the other kids and teachers. Everyone was very impressed and enthusiastic about Memory Cross cards!

For More Information:

 *Disclosure:   I received a free copy of this Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Children's Book Review~Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer

About the Book: In this first book of the HeartSmart series, preschoolers are invited on a playdate with Emma. Together they learn the Lord's Prayer and practice "teaching" it to Emma's favorite teddy bear.

Introducing HeartSmart, a Scripture memory series designed to create opportunities for children to fill their heart with God's Word. HeartSmart combines key Scriptures with songs, giving parents a spiritual formation path for building a strong foundation of faith.

The entire Lord's Prayer is included, along with a custom song (free download with access code).

About the Author:

Catherine DeVries has written twenty books for children, including the bestselling The Adventure Bible Storybook. As associate publisher of Children's Resources at David C Cook, she leads product development for The Action Bible collection, which has sold over a million copies. Catherine lives with her husband, their three children, and their big furry dog in the Colorado forest.

What I Thought:
I was really impressed with Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer.  It is a beautiful board book, with shiny pages with bright illustrations that are eye-catching. Each page has just enough text to tell the story without being too much to lose little one's interest. The character Emma is adorable, and my grandson loved the story. He enjoyed guessing who her friend is, and was excited that Emma has a stuffed bear just like him! Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer is a perfect way to introduce preschoolers to The Lord's Prayer. 

You can purchase your own copy of Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer at David C. Cook Publishing. 

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review~The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life

About the Book: As a young adult, Sherry Gore dreamed of a radio career, but instead, a series of terrible mistakes left her wrecked and alone. Then one morning she walked into a church and the truth of Jesus' forgiving love shattered her world-and put it back together again. She began to rid her life of anything that might keep her from God, but still she wanted a deeper faith. Something more.

Soon the life Sherry remade for herself and her children featured head coverings, simple dress, and a focus on Jesus Christ. Only then did she realize that there were others like her: the Amish.

The Plain Choice is the fascinating story of one woman's journey toward God through the Amish community. After making the rare transition into Amish life, Sherry learned how to live off the land and make it, grow it, or do without it. She learned the adventure of the horse-and-buggy life and began to thrive on faith, family, and pie. And when her teenage daughter was diagnosed with a devastating illness, she learned again how bright God's light can shine when everything else seems dark.

This unusual memoir offers a riveting look at the choices we make toward or away from God-and how God pursues us in the most unexpected ways.

About the Author: Sherry Gore is the author of two cookbooks, Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and Me, Myself, and Pie, and co-author of the novel Made with Love. She is also a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper, The Budget, established in 1890. The National Geographic Channel featured Sherry prominently in their documentary series, Amish: Out of Order. Sherry's culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime, The Today Show, Mr. Food Test Kitchen, and more. Sherry is a year-round resident of beautiful, sun-kissed Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of the Beachy Amish Mennonite Church. When not spending time with her family, writing, or eating, Sherry is a cooking show host and an official pie-contest judge.

My Thoughts: The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life is a fascinating memoir that I couldn't put down.  I have read many articles about the author, Sherry Gore, and knew she joined the Amish as an adult, but I had no idea what a crazy, difficult life she has led. She takes you through her life, the good and the bad, and shows what it means to pursue what God wants for your life. There are many interesting stories, and she includes pictures taken throughout her life as well.  If you are interested in the Amish, this is a book you should read!

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

Book Review~A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn

About the Book:  
A wedding brings together two young widowed parents . . . and gives them a second chance at love.

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband, Sanford, passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. Though several years have passed, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty---a handsome widower with three young sons of his own---Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. Still, she is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship---and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband's memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Emma's gentleness with Jay's boys stirs something in his heart that's been quiet for far too long. But when his oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son's joy, Jay wonders if it's time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.

Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

About the Author:  

Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, 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.

Find Shelley online: website, Facebook, Twitter

 What I Thought: 
A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn is the third book in author Shelley Shepard Gray's series Amish Brides of Pinecraft.  I have read  all of the books in  the series and thoroughly enjoyed them all.  I read a lot of Amish fiction, and it has been refreshing to leave the farmlands of the east for the sunny beaches of the south! A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn is my favorite book of the three in the series so far. Remniscent of The Brady Bunch with a widow with three daughters and a widower with three sons, it is a sweet, romantic story.  There is also lots of fun with the antics of a feisty Beagle thrown in the mix! I love Shelley Shephard Gray's style of writing-I always feel like I get to know the characters so well.  I look forward to the final book in the series, A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft. 

Purchase a copy of A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn here.

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



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Children's Book Review~If You Were Me and Lived in...China

If You Were Me and Lived In...China is the newest addition to author Carole P. Roman's educational series for children that introduces them to culture around the world. Illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga, this book is 28 pages and includes a handy pronunciation guide.

My family has enjoyed several of the books in this series, and we were excited to learn more about China! Although written for children, I always learn something from this series! The text is perfect for the elementary school age, and the colorful illustrations catch younger children's attention as well. In this series, you can always count on learning about the capital, landscape, food, popular names, family, money, and holidays. It provides just enough information to peak a child's curiosity about that country. The pronunciation guide at the back of the book is helpful for children to practice the new words they have learned.

For more information about Carole P. Roman, including Amazon links for purchasing each of her books, visit her website.  You can also find her on Facebook.

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

Book Review and Giveaway~Captive

Do you remember in 2005 hearing about an escaped convict in Atlanta that had taken a woman prisoner in her own apartment after a killing spree? I just read the book, Captive, written by Ashley Smith (the woman who was kidnapped) with Stacy Mattingly.  Captive has been turned into a movie, which releases this Friday, September 18th!

About the Book: CAPTIVE, based on a miraculous true story that drew the attention of the entire nation, is a thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives.  When Brian Nichols - on the run as the subject of a city wide manhunt and desperate to make contact with his newborn son - takes recovering meth addict Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment, she turns for guidance to Rick Warren’s best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life.  While reading aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer each face crossroads where despair and death intersect hope. 

What I Thought: Captive is an edge of your seat read.  You feel like you are right there with Ashley Smith as she is held hostage in her apartment. Ashley herself was trying to change her life at the time, and the hours spent held hostage seemed to be a kind of transformation for herself. She was so brave and smart in how she handled her captor, talking about the Bible, her own experiences, and reading from The Purpose Driven Life. Along with her story are pictures and a Tribute to the Victims. I am excited to see the movie, coming out September 18th!


I have a copy of the book Captive to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

Children's Book Review and Giveaway~The Biggest Story

 About the Book (excerpt from the publisher):
Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman. They were the happiest people on the planet.
True, they were the only people on the planet, but they were still terrifically happy.
Unfortunately, things didn’t stay happy and wonderful for long . . .
The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.
In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.
With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God's promises are even bigger and better than we think.
What I Thought: 
 Beautiful. Amazing. Inspiring. I could go on and on with fabulous descriptions of The Biggest Story!
 This 132 page Hardcover, published by Crossway, is beautiful in both words and illustration. Written by author Kevin DeYoung and illustrated by Don Clark, The Biggest Story is geared to ages 5-8 as a read to me and ages 8-11 as a read to myself.  It is so impressive that I can see older children and adults enjoying it just as much, if not more!

When I first saw how many pages The Biggest Story was (132), I thought it might be too long for this age range.  But once I started reading it myself, I realized it was definitely readable for children.  Most pages just have a few sentences of text, and there are many pages with illustrations only. The child's attention is kept by the author's style of writing and the exciting pictures. 

I really like that The Biggest Story summarizes the core of the Bible in one story, in an easy way for kids to understand. This would make a beautiful family gift this Christmas! I hope to keep my copy of The Biggest Story for many years to read with the children and grandchildren as our family grows.
Check below for links to purchase your own copy!
About Author Kevin DeYoung:

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.  He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books, including Just Do SomethingThe Hole in Our HolinessCrazy Busy, and Taking God At His Word.  He lives with his wife and their 6 children in Central Michigan. 
About Illustrator Don Clark:

Don Clark is an artist and the cofounder of Invisible Creature, a widely respected and award-winning design studio in Seattle that has worked with clients such as Target, Nike, LEGO, and WIRED magazine.  He lives with his wife and their 3 children, 4 goats, 12 chickens, and 1 crazy dog on a farm just outside the city limits. 

Connect and Learn More about The Biggest Story:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, August 31, 2015

Children's Book Review~Wild About Creation Sticker & Activity Book

Zonderkidz has published a great new sticker and activity book, designed by Judy Langley. The Beginner's Bible Wild About Creation Sticker and Activity Book is 16 pages long and includes over 50 reusable stickers!

Notice how glossy, bright and colorful the cover is?  Well, the entire book is just as colorful. Each page has a different activity, using the classic art and simply written content found in The Beginner's Bible. Among the activities to do inside are tracing, matching, coloring, word search and more.  The stickers can be used throughout the book.

Geared toward 4-8 year olds, I could see younger kids enjoying this activity book too. The picture above is of my grandson Daniel, who is turning four in a few weeks.  He was so excited to dive into Wild About Creation! Covering the basic story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it gives a good basic introduction to this Bible Story without getting too deep into content. 

I am impressed with The Beginner's Bible Wild About Creation Sticker and Activity Book, and think it would make a great little gift or stocking stuffer at less than $4. You can purchase this book at ZondervanAmazon, and other retailers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review 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.”

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review and Author Giveaway~A Heart's Home

About the Book: Emmie’s hope for a life with Isaac is overshadowed by a tragic loss at Fort Phil Kearny. Isaac Liddle is keen to marry Emmie, and she knows she shouldn’t hide her pregnancy from him any longer. But before she can tell him her secret, a widower friend asks the impossible of Emmie: Will she honor her promise to his dead wife by marrying him to care for the orphaned baby?
With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie’s solemn vow threatens her happiness from within. Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart—and Isaac’s? Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

What I Thought: A Heart's Home is Book Six in author Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series. This is the last book in the series, and was definitely my favorite one. These books are quick reads at around 100 pages each. I received one book each month to review, so I have spent six months with this series, and feel like I know the characters well. 

In A Heart's Home, Emmie reveals her pregnancy, to Isaac, and he still wants to marry her. She has feelings for him, but does not show them to him. Emmie makes a promise to her friend that she never imagines she would have to fulfill.  Tragedy occurs just as Emmie and Isaac come together, and Emmie is faced with an impossible decision-honor her promise or follow her heart?

I enjoyed A Heart's Home very much, and was sad that the series was over.  I thought Colleen Coble did an excellent job wrapping up all the story lines in the book.  

Learn more about A Heart's Home and purchase your own copy at Thomas Nelson Publishing. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

A hidden pregnancy, a promise sure to break hearts, and a tragic loss at Fort Phil Kearny: Don't miss the gripping conclusion in book six, A Heart's Home, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie’s solemn vow threatens her happiness from within. Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart—and Isaac’s? Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

Colleen is celebrating the final book release of her A Journey of the Heart series by giving away the entire series and the chance to host Colleen virtually at your book club, local library, or women's group to talk about the series.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Books 1–6 of A Journey of the Heart series
  • A chat with Colleen via Skype or Google Hangout
  • A custom book-club kit PDF, featuring Colleen's favorite recipes and group discussion questions
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 31st. Winner will be announced September 1st on Colleen's website.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review~Freedom's Child

About the Book: Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets.  She lives in a small Oregon town and keeps mostly to herself.  Her few friends and neighbors know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless. 

What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name.  They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago.  They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption.  They don’t know that she’s now in witness protection, regretting ever making a deal with the Feds, and missing her children with a heartache so strong it makes her ill.

Then, she learns that her daughter has gone missing, possibly kidnapped.  Determined to find out what happened, Freedom slips free of her handlers, gets on a motorcycle, and heads for Kentucky, where her daughter was raised.  As she ventures out on her own, no longer protected by the government, her troubled past comes roaring back at her: her husband’s vengeful, sadistic family; her brief, terrifying stint in prison; and the family she chose to adopt her kids who are keeping dangerous secrets.

Written with a ferocious wit and a breakneck pace, Freedom’s Child is a thrilling, emotional portrait of a woman who risks everything to make amends for a past that haunts her still.

What I Thought: Freedom's Child, by Jax Miller, was a fast-paced story, full of twists and turns.  The topics of the religious cult and Witness Protection program were what intrigued me at first.  My heart ached for Freedom, who is dealing with so much from her past, and drowning herself in alcohol. There was more cussing than I care for, and there are some tough subjects to deal with.  Aside from that, I enjoyed the story and felt it held my interest right through to the end.  

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

Children's Book Review~Ellie Goes Back to School

About the book:
The Amazing Adventures of Ellie The Elephant – Ellie Goes Back To School by Marci and Elle Fair
ISBN: 9780996363501
Publisher: Pacochel Press
Date of publish: August 2015
Pages: 31
S.R.P.: $8.99

Ellie Goes Back to School is the third book in The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant by Marci and Elle Fair. In this story, Ellie the Elephant has moved to a new neighborhood and is nervous about her first day of school.  Her friend Pudgy the Penguin has been to the school before, but is still nervous about the first day. They end up having lots of fun, learn new things, and make new friends.

I really adore Ellie Goes Back to School and the other two books in the series.  They have bright, eye-catching illustrations and real-life pictures that catch children's attention. Each book has a situation that children could encounter, and makes them feel more comfortable about it. My grandson is about to go to preschool for the first time, so this book was perfect for us to read together! Daniel loves reading about Ellie and her friends, and it always inspires him to get out his stuffed friends and act out stories with them!

Great job to authors Marci Fair and Ellie Fair (Ellie is only eleven years old!) on a wonderful addition to their series!  Be sure to check out the website at www.EllieAdventures.com

About the author:
Marci Fair is a business owner and a mother of four who has worked in real estate for over twenty years. She and her husband own several real estate businesses, some which are ranked in the US.
In addition to her professional career, Marci is the founder of Kares 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization that has served more than 20,000 children in need since 2005. She is also the author of the award-winning book TILT: 7 Solutions to Be a Guilt-Free Working Mom, liberating other women with her hard-won wisdom—“Balance is impossible; memories are better.”

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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review~A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston

About the Book: Linda Zook is a 32-year-old unmarried Amish woman who has convinced herself that she will never marry.  A tragic buggy accident when she was four years old left her an orphan with a leg injury. She had been raised by her Uncle Reuben, who was not kind to her, and now she cares for him. Linda works two jobs-part-time at the Lancaster Grand Hotel, and part-time at Heart of Paradise Bed and Breakfast. Will Linda ever feel worthy enough for love?

The Bed and Breakfast has a new guest-Aaron Ebersol, 32, who left the community at age 15 and has lived in the Englisch world ever since.  Over the years, he had written his family many letters, and received no contact back from his family.  He is in town for the first time in all these years because he heard his mother had a stroke.  He is very apprehensive of seeing his family again and how they will treat him. Will Aaron's family accept him?

My Thoughts: A Simple Prayer, by author Amy Clipston, is the fourth book in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series.  I have read all of the books in the series so far, and enjoyed them all. I feel like they each could be read alone, but the reader would get more enjoyment reading them as a series.

In A Simple Prayer, the life of Linda is just heartbreaking.  She has been through so much, and doesn't seem to give herself much worth.  She is used to the verbal abuse of her uncle, and is resolved to a life caring for him and working. When Aaron shows interest in her, she comes alive.  She is a strong support to Aaron as he deals with seeing his family after all these years.

This book has strong themes of forgiveness, family, and following God's path for your life, even when it doesn't turn out the way you imagine!

*Disclosure: I received this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Product Review~Kandle Flex Reading Light by Ozeri

Kindles and other e-readers are very popular these days. I love my Kindle-still love my regular books, but there are definitely great features I appreciate on the Kindle. Late at night, if my husband goes to bed before me, I can't read in bed because the light would wake him up. Ozeri has solved my problem by introducing Kandle (Kindle + Candle).

The Kandle Flex has a new patent pending WideLip (TM) design that attaches to the Kindle (TM), Sony Reader, and other e-readers without blocking the screen at all. It has a fully adjustable flexible neck that you can customize to position the lamp head. It is powered by three surface mounted lifetime LEDs, so light can be distributed evenly without eyestrain or glare. The power button features two different lighting options-soft light or ultra bright. When you order your Kandle, you will also receive an extra set of batteries and a protective pouch.

Above is a picture of the Kandle on my Kindle Fire.  It figs snugly, so I don't worry about it falling off.  It also fits on my Kindle's case. The flexible neck is great-you can bend it in any direction you need. The light is perfect for me to read without disturbing my husband. The two light choices -soft or ultra bright are nice too. When I'm done using the Kandle, I fold it up and keep it in its nice pouch. I have used my Kandle frequently and have had no problems with it.  I think the name is super cute too! 

You can purchase your own Kandle Flex on Amazon.ca . It is exclusively warranted by Ozeri to the original purchaser.

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