Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Denise Hunter's Book 2 of the Chapel Springs Series is another winner!

                        "Dancing with Fireflies"

           By Denise Hunter  

If you are looking for an inspirational journey, open this book, begin reading chapter one and your adventure will begin. Do NOT expect to be able to put this book down to eat, do daily tasks, or sleep!! Your world becomes the picturesque town of Chapel Spring and your family becomes the McKinley clan. This compelling tale will keep you so totally involved that the world will just go on around you.

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she'd never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He's loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she's back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she's hiding secrets from her family, and she's strangely attracted to the man who's always called her "squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

I loved the first book in this series, "Barefoot in Summer", however, I feel this one was even more appealing to my tastes. It is an inspirational love story with a thread of redemption running throughout the plot. Happiness can be achieved at the end of a very long tunnel!  Denise deals with a somewhat delicate subject in a tasteful, realistic manner. She tells it the way it is, including the heartache,tragedy and feelings of blame and unworthiness but also infuses her tale with the knowledge of God's grace and how a tragedy can turn life around , still ending in a positive , joyful way.

The McKinley family became mine as the characters were developed in such a realistic manner. They were loving and kind, yes, but also had the same faults and problems as every other American family. None of our lives are perfect and this story exemplifies that fact well. 

Twists and turns in the plot were encountered in the turn of a page. Do NOT even try to figure out how this story will end, as  you will be shaking your head in disbelief and surprise , as unexpected events and feelings occur. 

Denise Hunter is definitely an author to watch for!!! I am eagerly awaiting book three in this series. 

Definitely a five star book!!! MARVELOUS!

About the Author: Denise Hunter is an internationally published best-selling author. Her books have won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and was a RITA finalist. In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all of her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps, too. When Denise isn't writing, she's busy raising three heroes-in-the-making with her husband.

Learn more about Denise at:

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This book was provided by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Winner in the Quilts of Love Series!

                              "Maybelle in Stitches"

  By Joyce Magnin     
When I open a new book from the "Quilts of Love" Series, it is like opening a Christmas gift!  It is an exciting surprise that brings me great joy and pleasure ! Each book is unique in its plot line, however, the common bond, they all share, is the importance of a quilt. As a quilter, these tales are near and dear to my heart. I love fabric, I love quilts and I love to read about the importance of a quilt in the lives of others. However, this book would also appeal to those who have never even held a needle and thread! Maybelle , the main character is certainly not experienced in this art, yet finds quilting meets a need deep within her. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed each book in this series and "Maybelle in Stitches" was no exception. ."A patchwork quilt holds together two hearts separated by miles of ocean and the Second World War."  A quilt plays an important role in keeping a young bride sane and busy, a quilt that she had not even known existed!

About the book: Maybelle Kazinzki can't sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother's house she gets the crazy idea to finish it---somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.

Her recently departed mother's quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother's childhood, her grandmother's childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden's stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle's faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful---no matter what. And it'll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

From the first page of this book, I was part of this story. My attention was grabbed and held captive until I finished the last page. The characters are described in such a way that they become friends. I laughed and cried with Maybelle and her friends, and at times, wished I could give her a big hug and yes, even some advice.  These young war brides are all held together by the common bond of a husband/boyfriend  away at war, not knowing if or when they would return. This is something I have read about in history but it became very real to me in the telling of this story. 

The book had enough twists and turns in the plot to keep my interest  throughout . Perhaps it was not fast moving, however, it encompassed so many emotions and feelings along the way that the reader is totally involved. The time is needed to process these and identify with the characters. 

I believe my favorite part of the story  was knowing that Maybelle was NOT a quilter, not even a sewer! I had to sit and giggle at some of the silly thoughts and actions . Her determination was clearly evident as the quilt grew and grew, along with her faith, strength and friendships.  This quilt was a symbol of hope and belief that her husband would return to her. What a wonderful way of showing how God supplies our needs in some very unexpected ways!

LOVED this book!! A five star! 

About the Author: Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright's Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the Story Crafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Learn more about Joyce at:

This book was supplied by Litfuse, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Cozy Mystery Written in a Typical British Setting

"Death by the Book"

 By Julianna Deering

Julianna continues "The Drew Farthering Mysteries" with another British style mystery,"Death by the Book", which follows Book One, "Rules of Murder". I had not heard of this author, so was very curious. I do love mysteries! The term "cozy" often puts me off, however, I decided to give this book a try! 

The setting is the village of Farthering St. John, the era is the 1930's, perfect for this cozy mystery to take place. Drew Farthering, the main character, wants nothing more than to end the summer of 1932, by announcing his engagement. However, instead, he finds himself in the middle of another mysterious case when the family soliciter is found murdered, in the MOST strange and unique way- with an antique hatpin accompanied by a cryptic message, Advice to Jack, piercing his chest. 

There is clear evidence of secret meetings with a young girl's confession that points to the soliciter having lived a double life. BUT, what does this have to do with the murder of a physician on a nearby golf course?? Is there a connection?? What could it be? The reader is kept guessing as the plot involves twists and turns that totally confuse and add complications. I was perplexed as to how this mystery would ever be solved. My guesses were not even near the actual outcome. The only connection that can be discovered- another puzzling note, with another similar looking weapon- a bloodied HATPIN!  

The police succeed in arresting a suspect but Drew is not convinced that the right suspect is in custody. His own investigations and the results are very different from the police.  In fact, they lead him looking closer and closer to home! A scary situation.

The book was written with the flavour of Agatha Christie and contained many qualities that are evident in typical British mysteries. I felt the the story started off very slowly and it took me a while to fully understand what was happening and how the characters connected with each other. Perhaps, had I read Book One, this would have been easier and grabbed my attention earlier. I do think it is a book that cozy mystery lovers would enjoy. Since it is not my favourite genre, I had some difficulty getting through the book. I must say, the ending was a COMPLETE shock!! Totally unexpected!! The author leads you in other directions to guess the conclusion and all of them were wrong! 

The characters were quirky and unique. I loved Aunt Ruth with her honest , often crazy remarks. Each of the people in the story had interesting and somewhat unusual personalities. They were all described in details that gave you a clear picture and understanding of them. I could see each of them in my mind as I worked my way through the adventure.

This book is well written with an interesting plot line, however, to me, it seemed to be slow moving. This could be that it just wasn't "my type" of book. It was what I would class a good  read for those who enjoy this genre.   
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Amish Novel Taking Place in Florida???? YES!!!!

                             "A Season of Change"

                               By Lynette Sowell
"Can a Past filled with loss lead to a new season of life?"

 One of my favorite genres to read is Amish fiction!  I do find, that this genre is often predictable and the plots seem to be similar in nature.  HOWEVER, when a copy of this book appeared in my mailbox, I was so excited!! The setting for the story is not PA, Ohio, or any of the common places for Amish communities to reside. Pinecraft, Florida is the place in which the story takes place!! Yes!!  It is a real community, where the Amish from the northern states go for holidays in the cold winter months. It is also the home to people we often hear of, Sherry Gore, the wonderful author of recipe books, Katie Troyer, the unique photographer!!  It was easy to picture a beautiful town with hot sunshine and sandy beaches.

"A Season of Change" is the first in the Seasons of Pinecraft series! And what a great start this book is!!  The main character, Jacob Miller, is an Amish widower who believes it was a huge mistake to visit the Amish village of Pinecraft for a winter vacation, particularly, after his daughter was hit by a car. His past has been filled with sadness and tragedy, and this just adds to his feelings of distress. Due to his daughter's injuries, Jacob is stranded in Sarasota, until she recovers. He becomes very wary of events that unfold in these unfamiliar surroundings, a noisy, busy place, very different than that he is used to. 

To complicate matters, an Englischer, Natalie Bennett , appears on the scene.Her life has also been filled with tragedies and worries. Her life as an aerial silk artist ended abruptly by a blown out knee at the age of twenty five. Before that time, she has never looked at life beyond the circus. A shock awaits her!!! She discovers her mother's tightly held secret- that she was once Amish!!

Two  very different people, but with common problems- a troubled, disturbing past. These two come together in a rather strange way. Natalie meets the Millers at the hospital, where Jacob's daughter was recovering. She finds herself very attracted to their warm hospitality and there simple ways, while wondering if they could possibly help her find her mother's family. Jacob and Natalie, growing closer, find that their worlds collide. All the differences come to light  as their love blossoms. Will it be strong enough to  blend their differing cultures????

From the first chapter of this novel, I was able to easily identify with these characters. Lynette describes them in such realistic detail, that they become friends to whom you wish you could lend a helping hand.... or at least, some advice! I felt the heartache, joys and fears, as the story progressed. Jacob's family was a typical Amish crew, supportive, and yes, some had quirks and personalities that kept me smiling through troublesome times. The challenges met by this couple were so real to me. Two very different worlds in which they were raised, yet a common bond was felt. 

The plot moved quickly with lots of action and many twists and turns. This is a book to be read in one sitting, if your family will leave you alone, and not demand that you return to the realities of life- to cook meals, clean, etc.!!  I could not put this book down!! I kept saying "Just one more page!"  It is truly a family story in which the Amish lifestyle is described in a realistic, believable way. The pulls to the world - that of the Englischers, is strongly evident. Also felt, is the pull to the peaceful, quiet life of the Amish. This is a book that is rich in the description of both worlds and the push and pull to each, felt by the main characters.

Lynette Sowell has been successful in writing a book that exhibits faith , hope and love, the important things in life!  God can see us through those rough times and lead to something good, in spite of the the bumps in the road.

My only negative thought after completing this book, was: How long do I have to wait for  Book Two in this series????? I am very excited and impatiently waiting for this new series to continue!

A five star book!! LOVED it!!

Book was supplied by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What could be better??? A Mystery that just happens to be Amish!!!!

"Murder Simply Brewed"

"An Amish Village Mystery"
   By Vannetta Chapman

There is nothing as exciting as going to the mailbox in the morning and finding a new book to read and review!! I was even more ecstatic to find the book was written  by one of my favorite authors of Amish fiction!! And ..... then, to find out that it is Book One of a brand new series!! Be still my heart!! 

Seriously, this is a fantastic blend of a cozy mystery, along with my genre of choice, books involving the Amish.  
Vannetta has managed to combine adventure, mystery as well as romance into a book that involves you in the tale from beginning to end. 

The setting is Middlebury, Indiana, a place inhabited by many Amish folks, who work alongside the Englischers. Amber Wright, a manager of a collection of Amish stores in a village like setting is optimistic about the success UNTIL a tragedy strikes the coffee shop, the busy place where people tend to gather for their first cup of coffee for the day. Amber is disturbed and confused when she suddenly receives a call that Ethan Gray has been discovered dead in his place of employment, "A Simple Blend". She hurries over to the shop and finds a solitary hole in the shop's window and the store manager lying by the espresso machine dead from an apparent heart attack. But why was a hole in the window????   Amber decides to hire a former employee of the quilt shop to take Ethan's place. It just happens to be the young Amish girl , Hannah, who found Ethan. Together these two ladies become amateur detectives. The police rule it an accidental death, a heart attack, but the two women are NOT convinced!

Clues just don't add up. Mysterious events occur around and in the village. A romance develops as the case becomes more complicated. Will these two women be right?

The characters appealed to me from the first chapter. They were typical Englischers and Amish , working together. Their description was so realistic and appealing that I immediately became part of the story. I was off to  help them solve a mystery!!  Hannah became my best friend. I wanted to give her advice, but wait..... this isn't real, it is fiction!!

The plot contained many twists and turns to keep one glued to the page, waiting eagerly to see what other complications would be thrown in. Delightful tale with just the perfect amount of suspense keeping the reader engrossed until the very last page. I must say, that my bedtime was rather late , I could NOT go to sleep until I finished this book! 

This is a five star book!! Has the makings of a real winner!

Can hardly wait for book two of this series!
Vannetta, keep writing and I WILL keep reading!! FANTABULOUS book!!

This book was received from Zondervan and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Another Winning Book from the Quilts of Love Series

"A Sky Without Stars"
    By Linda S. Clare

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: In 1951, Frankie Chasing Bear is a Lakota caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she knows he will need to become as a white man to succeed. After his father's killed in a barroom brawl, Harold and Frankie move to Arizona, where she begins a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn and prayed into it.

She distrusts Christians, as her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian School, until she meets BIA agent Nick Vandergriff, a half-Lakota who's also caught between cultures. Nick must convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren't all bad as he tries to win her heart in order to put the stars back into her sky.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

My Thoughts: 
Every book from the Quilts of Love Series has been unique. They vary in styles of writing and content, but all have one thing in common- a quilt!!   Each is well written ! I have not encountered one that I did not love and this book is no exception!!

Linda Clare tells a tale crossing two cultures. She weaves color and texture into this book. Not only does the storyline capture your attention, but you also learn much of the Native American world of the 1950's . I was astounded at the amount of information included in this tale. It made it so much more real to me.

The characters are wonderfully described in such a way that you feel their challenges and worries and they slowly become part of you. The Indian culture vs. the White Man's differences became very clear and disturbing.  The accuracy in which the characters met their problems head on, all due to race, were upsetting to say the least, however , very realistic for that time in history.  The determination to keep the traditions was evident throughout the story. I loved the characters from the beginning of the book. They grab your attention  and succeed in appealing to your empathy. 

The plot, although a bit slow moving in the beginning, picks up speed and has many unexpected twists and turns. The powerful message of hope with our God, shines through loud and clear. Regardless of culture, God is present with us through good times and bad and will see us through. There is hope in our future and this book travels the road through difficult times to prove that is so true.

I highly recommend this book to all readers. It is a tale that is interesting to those who like history, Native People customs, as well as quilt lovers!!

To read other reviews of this book:

About the Author: Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them(with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

Learn more about Linda at:

This book was provided by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Linda is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway and joining her fellow Quilts of Love authors, Barbara Cameron and Joyce Magnin, for a Facebook “Spring Fling” party on April 1st.
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
  • Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 1st. Winner will be announced at the “Spring Fling” Facebook Party on April 1st. RSVP today and connect with the authors from the Quilts of Love series, Barbara Cameron, Linda S. Clare, and Joyce Magnin, for an evening of book chat, quilt trivia, prizes, and an exclusive look at the next Quilts of Love book!
So grab your copies of Scraps of EvidenceA Sky Without Stars, andMaybelle in Stitches and join Barbara, Linda, and Joyce on the evening of April 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Winning Book from Popular Author, Lisa Wingate!

"Wildwood Creek"
By Lisa Wingate

Allie Kirkland, the main character in this novel, knows in her heart , that she is to follow her father's unfinished destiny. In fact, she has felt called to do so  for many years.  When she is offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, she realizes that finally she can follow in her dad's footsteps as a director. This is a unique situation - a reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood, her first step into the film industry. Not exactly what Allie envisioned, however, it is a small price to pay to  achieve her dream.

In 1861. the real Wildwood was a  location of some very dangerous realities. The town founder had an iron grip on all of the residents, including the Irish schoolteacher, Bonnie Rose. Mysterious disappearances took place leading to many myths still being related in folk songs, in Allie's time. 

Strange events begin to take place at the filming. There appears to be a connection between Allie and the teacher who disappeared so many years ago. Allie's neighbor on the field set has secrets. Allie finds herself unable to believe anyone!!!  Would history repeat itself???  Would Allie suffer the same fate as the teacher???

This book was written in a style that I have difficulty following. Some people love it, I tend to find it laborious to read. Every other chapter is present day, while the alternates are written as the time being 1862. So there are two story lines running side by side!  Two main characters, two separate , yet intertwining plots, two sets of complications. Lisa does a fabulous job of connecting the two stories . Although it is not my favorite style of writing, I did enjoy this book. The stories have more in common than we know and as the book progresses we find out the connections. 

The characters are realistic and well described. I found myself identifying with Allie and it made the book come alive in my mind.  The challenges, fears and joys were easily believable. 

 A good historical mystery! 

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for a fair and honest review.