Thursday, June 30, 2016

Month in Review: June

I'm getting behind on blog posts. I need to do some from the beginning of May! I also have slaked off on doing the backlogged book reviews. I'm hoping to do better on that in July!

  • Backlogged reviews 0
  • Days exercised 29
  • Bible read 29
  • Clay dolls sculpted 0
  • Hats knit 0
  • Words written 104
  • Cross bookmarks tatted 2
  • Saturday, June 25, 2016

    Book Review: "Anchor in the Storm" by Sarah Sundin

    Lillian Avery doesn't let anything slow her down even though she only has one leg. She is determined to be strong and show everyone she doesn't need to rely on anyone. Will she realize it is okay to need people? Will opening up just lead to more heartache?

    Archer Vandenberg is tired of women loving him for his money and not for himself. He is stunned when Lillian is not charmed by his flirting. He struggles to stay strong after his previous ship sank and he almost didn't make it out. Can he find true love and a peace to calm his fears?

    When Lillian and Arch discover that there appears to be a connection between the suspicious prescriptions she is filling and the behavior of the sailors on Arch's ship, they have to work together to solve the mystery of the drug ring. Will they find the answer before it is too late?

    "Anchor in the Storm" is the 2nd book in the "Waves of Freedom" series. I would recommend reading them in order, but you could read this book without having first read "Through Waters Deep".  When Lillian and Arch got together and it was only half way through the book, I knew that there was going to be some sort of problem that would drive them apart. I read on, dreading what it was going to be and when it would happen. I actually cried a few times. I loved the amount of historical reality there was and the research that Sarah Sundin must have done to get all the nuances just right. There was a nice amount of Christianity without being preachy. I thought the characters were realistic and developed. It was fun to see Jim and Mary again. As with the first book, there was a mystery happening along with the romance part of the story. It kept me guessing who was behind the drug ring. The book was hard to put down once I picked it up. With the amount of times that Dan Avery appeared in this book, I figured that the next book must be his story and I was delighted to see that was the case (can't wait!).

    "Anchor in the Storm" is available in paperback:
    • Series: Waves of Freedom (Book 2)
    • Paperback: 400 pages
    • Publisher: Revell (May 3, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0800723430
    • ISBN-13: 978-0800723439
    • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 5100 KB
    • Print Length: 400 pages
    • Publisher: Revell (April 26, 2016)
    • Publication Date: April 26, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B01AO3OPUI

    I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

    Monday, June 20, 2016

    Book Review: "In Love and War" by Miralee Ferrell, Kimberly Johnson, Debby Mayne, & Trish Perry

    "In Love and War" is a collection of 4 novellas each dealing with some sort of conflict between the main characters.

    "Lassoed by Love" by Miralee Ferrell: The boutique that Lindsey Morgan managed has just closed. She takes a job working at a resort gift shop, but when she arrives, she doesn't expect to see Steve Graham who she knew in high school. Steve isn't thrilled at being Lindsey's boss based on what he knew of her from high school. Above all, he can't let his heart be broken like before.

    I liked Lindsey and Steve and how their relationship grew. The characters pray and come to realize that you can't always go by first impressions or what you think you know, you have to have the whole story. One thing confused me: at one point, Lindsey overhears part of a conversation, takes it the wrong way, and leaves. Later, she somehow knows about something that the other people were talking about after she left. Still a cute story, though.

    "Designed With Love" by Kimberly Rose Johnson: Jessie Morgan is living with her mother and struggling to make ends meet with her landscaping business thanks to her former fiance stealing her customers. When a local TV show holds a landscaping contest, she jumps at the chance to participate, sure it is the way to keep her business afloat.

    Steve Meyers was best friends with Jessie as children until she started dating Brendon Jacobs in high school. Now all three of them are back in their hometown and all competing for the same contest. Will Steve finally get a chance to tell Jessie how he feels about her or will Brendon come between them again?

    I thought that "Designed with Love" was a cute story. I definitely was rooting for Jessie and Steve to win in the landscaping contest and at love. Brendon was a bully and I didn't care for him very much, but even he had a growth arc in the story. I liked how the characters knew each other already when the story started, so it didn't seem so rushed that they fell in love as fast as they did. I liked Jessie's friend always reminding her that she needed to pray about things first before she acted.

    "Hungry Hearts" by Debby Mayne: Melissa Shaw and Cameron Prater always were competing with each other in high school, so when Cameron returns to Hyacinth to open a restaurant a few doors down from hers, she is sure he is trying to put her out of business.

    I liked the characters and their desire to trust God and do what He wanted. I liked seeing Cameron change and want to do what was best for Melissa. The added story element of the women's shelter made the story have even more depth.

    "More than Meets the Eye" by Trish Perry:
     Jensy St. Martin is focused more on advancing professionally than meeting guys. When Phil Quinn starts working at the same design firm, she is determined to avoid him based on information she was given about him when they were in high school together.

    This is the only story that the characters hadn't been in relationship previously. They knew of each other, but didn't have a relationship. I liked that Jensy tried to live in a Christian manner, but didn't always do what she should. It made her more believable and human. There is only Jensy's pov in the story so we don't know Phil's side of the story until Jensy figures it out. I think this was my favorite story from the book. There was one time that Jensy is telling her friend about the kisses she shared with Phil and she said the 2nd was in the elevator after he had shared about his sister, but he had actually shared about his sister before their 1st kiss and the 2nd was just them crammed together in the elevator. Not a big deal, but it jumped out at me.

    There were a few formating issues, but since I got an advance copy, they should be fixed in the final copy. The stories were fun and clean and the characters were Christians. I would recommend this book to people who like that kind of story.

    "In Love and War" is available in paperback:
    • Paperback: 286 pages
    • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (May 30, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1943959013
    • ISBN-13: 978-1943959013
    • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 2148 KB
    • Print Length: 294 pages
    • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (June 1, 2016)
    • Publication Date: June 1, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B01DLCGJ6W

    I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    Book Review and Giveaway: "The Amish Firefighter" by Laura V. Hilton

    Abigail Stutzman was abandoned at the bus station and sent to another state to stay with relatives she never even knew about. She has no clue why and now she was found at the scene of an arson and everything points to her as the culprit. Why does no one want to give her an explanation of why she was sent away? Why doesn't God seem to want to help her?

    Sam Miller is not proud of things he's done in his past, but he is trying to be a better man now. When he finds Abigail at the scene of his family's barn on fire, he accuses her of starting it. Why is he so drawn to her? He is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a paramedic in training, so why can't he seem to put out the fire between him and Abigail? 

    I haven't read any of Laura Hilton's books before, but I will definitely be reading more of her books! I really enjoyed "The Amish Firefighter" and found it to flow really well. It is the first book in the "New Beginnings in Jamesport" series. I finished the book the day after I started it. I could feel Abigail's pain and rejection. I really liked the amount of references to God and seeking His will. There was obvious growth in the characters' lives. The main characters only kiss, but there is some mention of past intimacies that went much further than that (and the regret that went with it). "The Amish Firefighter" is a stand alone book, but there were characters that made appearances from Laura Hilton's "Amish of Jamesport" series. I'm excited to read "The Postcard" especially since Sammy is the "bad guy" in that book (these are the things he needs to tell Abigail, I think) I got caught up in this book and didn't want to put it down. 

    About the Author
    Laura V. Hilton
     Hilton3Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love,and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Birdhouse concluded Laura’s 2015 series, The Amish of Jamesport, includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Arkansas.
    For more about Laura, her latest book, the books she’s written and those she’s reviewed:
    Laura Hilton’s Website:

    Guest Post from Laura V. Hilton

    Unlike some authors, I am not a planner. I have a very vague idea of the story, of the series, and as soon as the characters step forward and introduce themselves I dive in and start writing. When I first began writing this series – New Beginnings in Jamesport – I knew Sammy Miller was going to be the hero. Readers started asking for Sammy’s story as soon as they read The Postcard where Sammy was the villain. Ouch. I’d never considered writing a story about a former villain. But just as David in The Postcard was reader requested, Sammy would be.
    Sammy is a very strong character and I knew he had to have a strong female lead character, one that wasn’t afraid to stand up to him and keep him under control. He is a leader, an EMT studying to be a paramedic, and a volunteer firefighter. The female lead, Abigail, is thrown into Jamesport without warning. Her step-father takes her to the bus station and sends her away and she doesn’t even know why! When she is met at the bus station by an aunt and uncle she didn’t even know existed, she is thrown into the middle of several mysteries, including barn fires set by arsonists. And she is the main suspect.
    The whole New Beginnings in Jamesport series, while considered a continuation of The Amish of Jamesportseries due to Sammy being the hero, is set around Amish starting over in Jamesport. The second bookThe Amish Wanderer is about a former resident of Jamesport hitchhiking across the country to get to his Mennonite uncle’s house in Pennsylvania. Silas is desperate to escape from his dysfunctional family for several reasons. But he cannot stay in Jamesport because someone is out to kill him. When he stumbles upon another mystery within hours of his arrival, what choice does he have but to stick around for awhile?
    God gave me the verses for all three books in the Amish of Jamesport series The Amish Firefighter, The Amish Wanderer and the yet untitled third book (My books all stand alone) before I started writing them, which is unusual. He usually reveals these things slowly to me, as I need to know. The verse for The Amish Firefighter is Isaiah 43:2-4 and the verse for The Amish Wanderer is Romans 8:38-39. The third book’s verse is 2 Corinthians 4:8. It is tentatively titled The Amish Accountant, but most people think accountants are boring, and his real profession is a clockmaker. But The Amish Clockmaker has already been taken by another author. So we shall see what the wonderful Whitaker House team will come up with. It is about another young Amish woman, Lydia, who needs a “safe haven.” So her parents send her to live with her Mennonite aunt and uncle in Jamesport. It doesn’t exactly work out as planned, as the aunt and uncle leave for a foreign mission trip immediately, leaving Lydia acting manager of a gift shop and living in an all electric apartment. Before her aunt leaves, she tells Lydia’s secrets to her best friend. But did she tell all of them or some of them? And the best friend’s son, Caleb (the clockmaker) is acting as accountant for the gift shop. And what about Caleb’s carefully kept secret? When Lydia’s past catches up with her, will it destroy all she’d begun to imagine as she dreamed of starting over in Jamesport?
    Next after that is The Christmas Challenge which is also set in Jamesport.
    I don’t have official release dates for The Amish Wanderer or the other books yet. But as soon as I know, I’ll share.
    Coming next? Who knows? I have two ideas warring for attention—but which one gets told first, I don’t know! I lean toward one, then the other. They both want to be told.
    And now, I must get back to work. Thank you for visiting today and thank you so much for supporting my books. I do hope you’ll enjoy The Amish Firefighter!
    Happy Reading!
    Because of Him,
    ~ Laura ~

    Blog Stops

    June 9: Quiet Quilter
    June 12: Splashes of Joy
    June 13: Babs Book Bistro
    June 13: bigreadersite
    June 17: A Greater Yes
    June 19: Petra’s Hope
    June 21: A Holland Reads
    June 22: Pause for Tales
    June 22: KarensKrayons
    To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away a basket that includes a Kindle Fire and a complete set of her books! Enter here: amish firefighter giveaway
    "The Amish Firefighter is available in paperback:
    • Paperback: 272 pages
    • Publisher: Whitaker House (May 3, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1629116858
    • ISBN-13: 978-1629116853
    • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 2533 KB
    • Print Length: 299 pages
    • Publisher: Whitaker House (May 3, 2016)
    • Publication Date: May 3, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B01E4JPXOU

    I received a free copy of this book from the author in order for me to give an honest review for participation in the blog tour through Celebrate Lit

    Friday, June 10, 2016

    Summer Break....Sigh

    Today was the last day of school for our kids. They had a half day (although Sarah also had a half day yesterday). I love my kids, but life is a lot more stressful when they are all home all day! My kids are not the quiet, keep to yourself type of children that I was. Mine are loud and boisterous and quite often argumentative. I'm glad for the hour between when the kids go to bed and Dan gets up for work. It is so calm and peaceful.

    Today was a hot day. It is currently 83 at 8:30 p.m. The kids decided they wanted to go out and run through the sprinkler. So I had to find swimsuits for everyone. Sarah's did not fit. At all. Not even close. So I dug out some old swimsuits of mine. I pinned up the straps on one, but other wise, it fit her! So not ready for that. I have been the same height since 8th grade. She has progressed much faster along the maturity path than I did, so who knows when she'll reach her full height. I also had to find the sprinkler they use for playing in, which I couldn't seem to find. I also wanted to find the water balloons. I could find the filling nozzle that didn't fit the hose, but not the one that did fit. Meanwhile, I just wanted to read. (I needed to read since the review is due Wednesday). I finally did find the water balloon nozzle, but then I couldn't get the sprayer off the hose! I had a few minutes of quiet until they all came bustling back in. And no one seems to remember that when it's hot outside, we need to keep the door closed to keep the heat out, or what to do with wet things. At least I don't have to set an alarm to be up to get Sarah on the bus by 6:30 for a few months.

    Book Review and Giveaway: "Whispering to Horses" by Thomas Nye

    When the fence was built, not much was different on either side of it, but as time went on, one side changed with the times and the other did not. Now Matt moves in and can't wait to get the yard fixed up so he can move away. When he forms a friendship with young Eli from next door, his priorities start to change.

    It took me a little bit to get into this novella, partly because I started it right after reading a suspense book with a completely different writing style and partly because it was written in a way (at the beginning) that made me think of the reading segments on the state tests that kids have to take.  It took a little reading to get my brain into this author's style. The story is short and a very quick read. I was wishing for more at the end. Maybe there will be a sequel. Matt and Eli both changed/grew during the story and it was fun to see their transformation-particularly Matt's. It is told in third person and follows Matt. The chapters were named and then had sub headings throughout the chapter.  I enjoyed reading the novella and would like to know what happens next.  

    About the Author

    thomasnyecroppedThomas Nye, author of the Amish Horses Book Series, Lives near an Amish community where he grew to know and respect his Amish neighbors. During grade school Thomas developed an interest in history and loved reading anything he could find about the 1800s. His love of farm, history, and horses all came together in real-life experiences with his Amish friends, who also happen to share his Christian faith.  He purchased draft horses from Amish farmers in his neighborhood and set out to learn the art of working with horses in harness.  After years of buying, selling, and trading work horses with Amish farmers in his community, Thomas had many wonderful memories of those experiences. His novels based on those adventures. Learn more about Thomas Nye on his website.

    Guest Post from Thomas Nye

    Last spring, I visited numerous Amish communities throughout the state of Indiana. My original goal was to bring awareness of my Amish Horses book series to the Amish and tourists in that region. As I traveled down quiet country roads, my heart was overwhelmed by beautiful farm scenes. Conversations with Amish families, and especially Amish children, brought a new awareness and inspiration to me. Springtime and its rich aromas flooded my senses and filled my heart with a story, Whispering to Horses.
    Whispering to Horses is a very short novel which spans several generations. It is the story of two families that live side-by-side for years, and yet are strangers to each other. A fence that was installed to keep livestock apart has become a dividing line, separating Amish from their non-Amish neighbors. Years ago, when putting in the fence, an Amishman remembered his grandfather’s advice, almost prophetically, “… a gate opens the way for help in time of need.” Generations later, a gentle Amish boy named Eli, seems to have inherited his great-great-grandfather’s wisdom, as he opens the gate and communication between neighbors.
    Kalona, Iowa has been my home for the past 35 years. Living in an Amish/Mennonite community, I have experienced many situations exactly like the one described in this book. It is so easy for us to look over a fence and have a disdain for people we don’t know, or understand. Sometimes, a little child can use their simple wisdom to break through our misconceptions, and soften our crusty opinions. In my hundreds of visits to Amish farms, it has been the children that have surprised me most. Even though English is their second language, Amish children speak with wisdom that has become a treasure to me, and I want to share it with you. I hope the story of Whispering to Horses opens your eyes, and brings back memories of your own childhood, when we all shared that simple wisdom.

    Blog Stops

    June 7: Quiet Quilter
    June 8: ArtisticNobody
    June 8: Petra’s Hope
    June 12: Bigreadersite
    June 14: A Greater Yes


    To celebrate his tour, Thomas is giving away an entire set of his Amish Horses Series! Click here to enter:

    "Whispering to Horses" is available in paperback
    • Series: Amish Horses
    • Paperback: 52 pages
    • Publisher: Crosslink Publishing (November 2, 2015)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 163357041X
    • ISBN-13: 978-1633570412
    • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.1 x 9 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 2455 KB
    • Print Length: 48 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: CrossLink Publishing (November 2, 2015)
    • Publication Date: November 2, 2015
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B016CP7N92

    I received a free copy of this book from the author to review during the blog tour through Celebrate Lit. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

    Thursday, June 9, 2016

    Book Review: "Shattered by Death" by Catherine Finger

    Chief of Police Jo Oliver is struggling to get her life under control after finding out her husband has a girlfriend and his outrageous demands in the divorce. When she finds her husband and his girlfriend murdered, she is the prime suspect. As the killer closes in on her, she isn't sure who she can trust as the clues point to someone who knows her.

    I didn't read the first book in the series, so I don't know if I should know who the people Jo mentions are when the book starts, or if I will get to know them as the book progresses. But she just mentions Donna, Nick, Gino, Liz, Samantha, etc with no explanation of who they are. It made me feel a little lost. The whole "My Magnificent Being" was really odd to me. Why not just call him God?? I did like that she prayed and sought what God wanted, though. The book is in first person point of view so we feel what Jo is feeling which adds to the tension. I figured out who the killer was a chapter or two before it was revealed in the book, but it didn't lesson the suspense because the killer wasn't done with their plans. There were twists and turns all the way through the book, even up to the very end of the book. There were some story threads that weren't totally wrapped up in this book, but it didn't feel like a cliffhanger ending either. I think this was the most suspenseful book I've read yet.

    "Shattered by Death" is available in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 5120 KB
    • Print Length: 235 pages
    • Publisher: HopeSprings Books (June 7, 2016)
    • Publication Date: June 7, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English

    and in paperback:
    • Series: A Jo Oliver Thriller
    • Paperback: 270 pages
    • Publisher: HopeSprings Books (June 6, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1938708741
    • ISBN-13: 978-1938708749
    • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

    I received a free copy of this book by the publisher in order for me to give an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

    Monday, June 6, 2016

    Book Review: "An Unbroken Heart" by Kathleen Fuller

    Joanna has loved Andrew since she was 12. She thinks he loves her, too, but doesn't seem to be making a move. She gets into an argument with her parents over it and it is the last thing they talk about as a car crashes into them and injures Joanna and kills her parents.

    Andrew loves Joanna, but he doesn't want to rush her, but when she is almost taken away from him, he proposes. She agrees, but seems to be holding back.

    Joanna should be glad she is finally getting what she wants, but she isn't sure Andrew didn't propose out of pity. How will they find their way through the chaos with an unbroken heart?

    "An Unbroken Heart" is the 2nd book in the "An Amish of Birch Creek Novel" series. I sort of felt like I was coming into the story partway through. If I had read the first book I am sure I would know more of what was going on. I felt Joanna's confusion over her sister's "secret" about her marriage since I didn't know what it was either (It was in book 1). This book follows Joanna Schrock and Andrew Beiler, who are the main characters in the story. It also follows Naomi and Irene Beiler (Andrew's mom and sister) and Cameron Crawford who caused the accident that killed Joanna's parents. I think that the parts with Irene may carry over into later books in the series, otherwise, I'm not really sure what they were for. Characters grew and learned about themselves and God through the book.

    "An Unbroken Heart" is available in paperback:
    • Series: An Amish of Birch Creek Novel
    • Paperback: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 15, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0718033183
    • ISBN-13: 978-0718033187
    • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 1430 KB
    • Print Length: 299 pages
    • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 15, 2016)
    • Publication Date: March 15, 2016
    • Sold by: HarperCollins Christian Publishing
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B010R4B9KI

    I received a free copy of this book from the Fiction Guild in order for me to give an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.