icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: November 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review~A Love Made New

About the Book:  

Abigail Schrock knows God can make all things new, but does that include her broken heart?

It seems as if everyone is falling in love in Birch Creek, including Abigail Schrock. But when heartbreak descends on her already fragile world, she can’t help but feel that if she’d only been a little prettier, she could be on her way down the wedding aisle. To make matters worse, Abigail’s two sisters have found love, while all Abigail can seem to find is the chocolate she has stashed away in the pantry.
Asa Bontrager has never had trouble with the ladies in his Amish community—his good looks have always gotten him far. Which is why he’s baffled by the call he’s received from God to pursue Abigail, a woman who seems determined to turn him away.
Can Abigail find the peace and joy she so desperately desires? Will she allow herself to stop running and melt into the embrace of unforeseen comfort? If she does, she may just discover a love powerful enough to lift the heavy burden of grief weighing her down and restore her hope in a promising future.

What I Thought: 

A Love Made New is the third book in author Kathleen Fuller's series Amish of Birch Creek. I did read the first two books in the series, A Reluctant Bride and An Unbroken Heart. I do believe the author gives enough background in each book that they could be read without the earlier books in the series, but I think the reader will get the most out of the series if they read all three books. 

Each book in the Amish of Birch Creek series focuses on one of the three Schrock sisters, who lost their parents in a horrible buggy crash. They each have their own issues they are dealing with, and in A Love Made New, the main story is about Abigail Schrock. Abigail has gained weight since the accident, and is very self conscious. Then her boyfriend, who she planned to marry, breaks up with her for another girl. She has a lot of work to do to learn to love herself again. Asa Bontrager is way out of her league-she thinks-so when he shows interest in her, she does not respond well. 

I enjoyed how A Love Made New wrapped up the story of all three sisters. Each sister had problems that readers could relate to.  The focus on family, God, and community was strong. At the back of the book are some discussion questions, making it a great book for a group. 
 *Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from BookLook in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Children's Book Review and Giveaway~Where Jesus Slept

 Where Jesus Slept, written by Norma Lewis and illustrated by Katy Hudson, is a delightful book for young children to learn the story of the birth of Jesus. Read more about it below, and be sure to enter for your chance to win a copy!

About the Book: 
Publisher: Worthy Kids/Ideals
Format: jacketed hardcover
Trim size: 10x10
Page count: 32
Retail price: $16.99
Reading age: 4-7

“This is the bed where Jesus slept. This is the straw that lined the bed where Jesus slept.” From here, the story builds with each spread, adding a new element and explaining the relationships among the participants and witnesses to the first Christmas. From Jesus sleeping sweetly to the wise men bringing gifts, this charming book reminds readers young and not-so-young of the joyous event we celebrate at Christmastime. Children will love the delightful illustrations and the engaging repetition in this cumulative tale.

About the Author: 
 Norma Lewis is the author of ten books, including Connecting the Coasts: The Race to Build the Transcontinental Railroad and Kasey's River Song. She lives in Grand Haven, Michigan, with a marmalade cat named Scalawag. When Scalawag isn't busy living up to his name, they both love spending time with her six grandchildren.

About the Illustrator: 
 Katy Hudson was raised in Middlesbrough, United Kingdom, and started her career as a small child drawing on freshly painted walls! Her parents quickly encouraged drawing with pencil and paper instead. The idea stuck, and after earning a degree in Illustration, Katy embarked on a career illustrating books, including All Things Bright and Beautiful, Too Many Carrots, and Bear and Duck. Katy works at a desk in a studio in an old library and likes to tap dance in her spare time.

What I Thought: 

Where Jesus Slept is a beautiful hardcover book. The illustrations are beautiful and attractive to children. The font is larger, perfect for beginning readers. Here is my grandson Daniel, 5, totally engrossed in Where Jesus Slept. He loves his books, and his favorites tend to be ones that are repetitive and with lots of illustrations. I know that this book will be a favorite of his.

In Where Jesus Slept, the story starts with a few sentences-"This is the BED where JESUS slept. This is the straw that lined the BED where JESUS slept. " Then, a new sentence is added, but you have to repeat the first two as well, and so on, until you have one really long sentence! Daniel thought it was so much fun, especially if I acted out of breath by the final, LONG sentence. I think the bold, large repeated words are a great idea. I asked Daniel to find  how many times he saw the word BED, which is a great exercise for word recognition. The content in this book is so special and important, so making it fun to read for little ones is a wonderful way to get the message to them.

In our house, Where Jesus Slept will be kept out only for the Christmas season, then packed up and put away until next year. Each year, the special Christmas books are such a treat to read and remember. Where Jesus Slept would make a wonderful gift as well.

One lucky reader will win a copy of Where Jesus Slept! Enter using Rafflecopter below. Only open to residents of the continental United States. The winner will be emailed within 24 hours of the contest end, and then has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn.

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.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Review~Christian's Hope

About the Book: When Christian Hochstetler returns to the Amish after seven years in captivity, he finds that many things have shifted.
Captured as a child during the French and Indian War, Christian has spent much of his life among Native Americans, who cared for him and taught him their ways. Now that Christian is home, his father wants him to settle back into their predictable Amish life of farming, and Christian's budding friendship with Orpha Rupp beckons him to stay as well.

Yet Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family---who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?

Christian's Hope tells the story of the younger brother of Joseph and son of Jacob, whom readers have come to love in the first two books in the Return to Northkill series. Based on actual events and written by a descendant of the Hochstetler family, Christian's Hope brings the sweeping epic of the Return to Northkill series to a soul-stirring end.

Read more reviews at Litfuse. You can  purchase your own copy of Christian's Hope at MennoMedia Publishing.  

About the Author: 

Ervin R. Stutzman is author of Jacob's Choice, Joseph's Dilemma, Tobias of the Amish, and Emma, A Widow Among the Amish. Born into an Amish home in Kalona, Iowa, Stutzman based the Return to Northkill series on the life of his ancestor, Jacob Hochstetler. He has been featured on TLC's Who Do You Think You Are?

What I Thought: Christian's Hope is the third book in author Ervin R. Stutzman's series Return to Northkill. This book and series is different from any other Amish fiction I have read, and believe me, I've read a lot of Amish fiction!! It is historical, based on a true story, and the author is a descendant of the characters! The other way this book is different is that it is set in the 1700s during the French and Indian war. It was fascinating to read, knowing the basic story really happened. 

I did not read the first two books in the series, however I do think Christian's Hope can be a standalone book. The story lagged for me in a few areas, but I wonder if it would not have had I read the first two. I would like to go back and read them. My heart went out to Christian-here he had been raised by his Indian family most of his life, with faint memories of his early years as Amish. Suddenly thrust back with his Amish family, he misses his Indian family and is set in the Indian ways. His Amish father wants him to be content with a future as an Amish father, but he does not know that is for him. Christian is torn between two very different worlds and families, and does not know who he should be loyal to. 

I am very impressed with the amount of research this book must have taken for the author. Although I'm sure it was fascinating for him as it was his ancestors. At the back of Christian's Hope is more about the author, acknowledgements, and historical notes. If you like reading historical fiction and about the Amish, you will love this series.

Book Reviews~A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.
Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.
Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.
He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.
But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

Learn more about A Sister's Wish and purchase your own copy at author Shelley Shepard Gray's website.

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.
But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…
Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.
Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

Learn more about An Amish Family Christmas and purchase your own copy at Shelley Shephard Gray's website. 

My Review:  Author Shelley Shephard Gray is one of my favorite authors. I can always count on her to keep me interested in the story and connected to the characters. She did a fabulous job, once again, in both A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas. These two books are books three and four in The Charmed Amish Life Series. I did read the first two books in the series first, A Son's Vow and A Daughter's Dream. Although I think you might be able to read the books on their own, I definitely think you would get the most out of them if you read all four in the series as there is so much history to all of the characters. 

A Sister's Wish focuses on Amelia and Simon, who want a life together but her family disagrees. They think Simon's past is too much for their baby sister. Forgiveness, trust, and following your heart are key elements in the story. 

In An Amish Family Christmas, Levi and his neighbor Julia are both struggling. Levi with grief over the death of his father, and Julia running from an abusive ex-boyfriend and father of her child. Together, they learn to trust and open up again, to let the healing process begin. 

Both books have a section at the end that I think is a great addition-the P.S. section. In it is a note from the author, information about the author, a recipe, interesting facts, discussion questions, and a sneak peak of the author's next book. I can't wait to try the recipe for Monster Cookies!

I highly recommend reading this entire series. I have enjoyed each and every book, and I'm sad the series has come to an end. Shelley Shephard Gray does such a great job that I feel like the characters are actual people I know! I wish I lived in an Amish area!  

Enter to win a Book Pack here!

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