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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review~Beneath the Summer Sun

Book Description: 

It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.
Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.
 Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?
In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.

My Review: 

Beneath the Summer Sun is the second book in author Kelly Irvin's Every Amish Season series. I did not read the first book in the series-Upon a Spring Breeze-but had no problems following the story. I think Beneath the Summer Sun can be read alone. 

I felt so much compassion for the character of Jennie-she has been through so much, and is afraid to open herself to the chance to love again. With seven children to care for, one of whom is experiencing a lot of emotional pain, she barely has time for herself. She has two men interested in her who are both loving, caring men. But she also thought her husband was loving and caring before they married. Things quickly changed after their marriage vows. 

As domestic violence is a main topic in Beneath the Summer Sun, it could be a trigger for some readers, so I think its important to know upfront. Domestic Violence is not often a theme in Amish fiction, as Amish are generally thought of as non-violent, gentle people. It was an interesting story that kept my attention from start to finish. At the back of the book are Domestic Violence resources, as well as discussion questions about the story. 

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Review and Author Giveaway~Keturah

About the Book: 
Keturah (The Sugar Baron’s Daughters) (Bethany House, February 2018)
In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.
Although it flies against all the conventions, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined–and that’s just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.
Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.
To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

About the Author: 
Lisa T. Bergren has published more than 40 books with more than 3 million books sold combined. She's the author of the Christy Award-winning "Waterfall," RITA®-finalist "Firestorm," bestselling "God Gave Us You," and popular historical series like Homeward, Grand Tour, and more. She's also a recipient of the RT Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and three teen-and-older children. Visit her website http://lisatawnbergren.com
What I Thought: 
Keturah is the first book in author Lisa T. Bergren's new series, The Sugar Baron's Daughters. I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I enjoy reading historical fiction, especially when the main character is a strong woman who is willing to do whatever she needs to do, even if it doesn't fit society's view of women for the time period. 
The settings of the story were exciting-first the long, grueling trip on the ship, and then the lush, tropical islands. I could not imagine being a woman wearing all the long skirts and petticoats in that tropical humidity! I was both fascinated and saddened by the treatment of the slaves, and how women were disregarded and disrespected. 
Keturah was determined to provide for her sisters and not lose what their father had worked for, but she also struggled with letting down her walls to let God lead her path. This is a lesson many of us can learn from. Having suffered an abusive marriage, she also must learn to open her heart to love again. 
At the back of the book are Historical Notes, which I found very interesting. When reading a Historical Fiction story, I'm always amazed at the amount of research that the author must do to write the book. I strongly recommend reading Keturah, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series!
You can learn more and purchase your own copy of Keturah at the author's website.  More reviews of this book are available at Litfuse.
Author Giveaway
Enter to win a copy of Keturah. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced March 13 on the Litfuse blog! .

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

Book Review~Out of the Ashes

Book Description: 
After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925. When an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel arrives, it seems like the perfect opportunity.

Young widow Katherine Demarchis is also travelling to the foot of Mt. Denali with her grandmother-a last trip before she retreats into a quiet and solitary life, finally free of the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Yet when she encounters there a Frenchman from her past, her plans for the future are thrown into question. 

Both haunted by the violence of their pasts, can Katherine and Jean-Michel rediscover the bond they once had? Or, when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will it be impossible to heal what's been broken for so long?

My Review: 
Out of the Ashes is the second book in the Heart of Alaska series by authors Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse. Although I had not read the first book in the series, In the Shadow of Denali, I was told this book was able to be read by itself. I definitely agree with that, but now having thoroughly enjoyed Out of the Ashes, I want to read the first book to get more background on the characters and the hotel.

I enjoy historical fiction, and have read a few books by Tracie Peterson, and loved her writing style. I had not read anything by Kimberley Woodhouse before this book. I've never been to Alaska, but I'm fascinated by it and hope to visit someday, so Out of the Ashes was very intriguing to me.

Out of the Ashes captivated me from start to finish. I felt like I personally knew the characters and was travelling alongside them as they experienced Alaska. My heart hurt for Katherine and Jean-Michel, both with such good hearts but broken by past experience. As a Christian, I appreciated the focus on God and the use of scripture in the story. In both A Note from the Authors at the front of the book, and Dear Reader at the end, the authors explain much of their journey researching for this series. They also open up their hearts and share difficult times they encountered during the writing of Out of the Ashes. 

I highly recommend Out of the Ashes, and I look forward to reading the other books in the series, as well as more books from the authors!

*I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review~Faithful Finance

About the Book: 
From the back cover: Learn how to handle your money so you can have more of it. Financial advisor Emily G. Stroud is a mom, businesswoman, and entrepreneur who has two decades of experience helping people make smart choices about money. In Faithful Finance, she shares ten secrets she's learned along the way and will help you to: 
*Develop a personal savings plan based on your unique goals
*Make a monthly budget that actually works for you
*Reduce your overall debt burden
*Plan for your children's college years
*Insure your life without fear
*Leave a lasting and generous legacy
*And most important, discover the source of true wealth
With engaging stories and practical examples, Emily empowers you to make choices that will give you and your loved ones financial freedom for years to come. 

What I Thought:
Written from a Christian perspective with plenty of scripture throughout, Faithful Finance:10 Secrets to Move from Fearful Insecurity to Confident Control, is a great all-around lesson on finances. The author has many years of experience as a financial planner and touches on everything from insurance to retirement. Although I didn't feel the author went into any subject very deeply, she gave the basics on a lot of topics. I feel like I have quite a bit of knowledge on finances, but it is always good to get a refresher course on things! As a Christian, tying finances in to my life biblically is important to me as well, and the author does delve into this. Ms. Stroud included great information and I would recommend Faithful Finance. I look forward to checking out the resources at the back of the book, with several websites to help with different areas of your financial life. 

*I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Review~A Place at our Table

About the Book: 
Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.
What I Thought: 
A Place at our Table is the first book in author Amy Clipston's new series, An Amish Homestead. I have read several books by this author and always enjoy them. A Place at our Table was very easy to get caught up into immediately because of the action going on with the fire at the Dienner's. The story continues on with lots of activity, mostly because Jamie is a firefighter. His occupation definitely added some energy to the book. Both Kayla and Jamie's families having suffered tragedy in the loss of a close family member pulls them together. The story focused a lot on grief and the different ways people deal with it. It was inspiring that people can feel like their lives cannot go on, yet they manage to continue and even be happy. The characters' strong faith was definitely the reason for their strength.

I definitely enjoyed and recommend A Place at our Table, and I look forward to the next book in the series. Along with the story, A Place at our Table includes a helpful glossary of Amish words, a family tree relative to the story, discussion questions, and an excerpt from the author's book The Forgotten Recipe, the first book in her Amish Heirloom series.

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review~Fliers

Book Description: 
The perfect present for buds and dormroom inhabitors, this collection of viral fake fliers is at once strange, thought-provoking, and hilarious. Printed on heavy, cardstock-like paper, these 20 "fake" fliers both celebrate and embody surreal posters--like the kind plastered all over college campuses, only taken to the next level. As a bonus feature, the sturdy paperback comes with a french-fold jacket that, when removed, opens up to reveal a larger poster. Images include a photo of a found duck mistaken for a dog that the poster is now keeping and an anonymous group posting about a quiet universe. There is something in this collection for everyone who ever looked at a postered telephone pole or coffee house bulletin board and wondered "is there more out there?"

My Review: 
Fliers: 20 Small Posters with Big Thoughts sounded intriguing to me. I thought it would be full of funny fliers. As it turns out, I only thought a handful were kind of funny.  Maybe its that I'm from an older generation and just didn't get it. I just didn't find the fliers that interesting. Things I did like were the heavyweight cover, the heavy cardstock used for the fliers, and the pretty pastel color assortment used for the posters. If one really enjoyed a poster, they could pull it out of the book to keep, which is a nice feature. This might just be a great coffee table-type book for the right person, it just wasn't for me. 

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