Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wishing you all a very ....



Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Picture: Source Unknown (But isn't it lovely?!!)

The Gift by Shelley Shepard Gray



  • Series: The Amish of Hart County
  • ISBN-10: 0062697854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062697851
  • Publisher: William Morrow (November 7, 2017)



Synopsis
{From the Publisher}


  • The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous “accidents” that someone wants them gone.
    Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.
    Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt…or worse.






The Gift by Shelley Shepard Gray  is a beautifully written Christmas story full of romance, faith, hope, love with a side mystery to add a bit of spice. I found the story charming, engaging and quite enjoyable.  A wonderful way to enjoy some quiet time this Holiday season! 


4.5 STARS 


I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms. Shepard Gray, William Morrow Publishing and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review this book.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mystery,Mayhem and Christmas Romance!




  • ISBN-10: 168322258X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1683222583
  • Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas (Book 1)
  • Publisher: Shiloh Run Press (September 1, 2017)



Somethings afoot ...  

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancĂ©, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.







12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep is set in the Dickensonian era and is full of mystery, mayhem and romance at every turn.  The characters are delightful and at times quite quirky within a story that is engagingly delightful. All in all, an enjoyable Christmas time read! 


4 STARS


I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms. Griep, Shiloh Run Press, and  Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book.



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine


This week I couldn't pick just one as there are son many great books coming out on January 2, 2018 ...

   

  • ISBN-10: 1501130714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501130717
  • Publisher: Gallery Books 

  • Release Date ~ January 2, 2018


Worldwide phenomenon Anna Todd (The After series, Imagines) presents a modern retelling of one of her favorite stories - Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Recast in the modern world, longtime and fresh fans of the beloved classic will fall in love with the March sisters all over again, told with the all the romance, sass, and drama that Anna is famous for.


Why this book? 


Little Women is one of my all time favorite books and I just can"t pass up an opportunity to read a modern retelling of this tale ~ especially by Ann Todd! I am going to get it in audio format as January is going to be a busy month and I am pretty sure I won't be able to put this one down!





  • ISBN-10: 1250146798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250146793
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 

  • Release Date ~ January 2, 2018


Emma is used to things going her way. Her father is headmaster of her prestigious boarding school, her friends take her advice as gospel, and she's convinced that a relationship with her long-time crush is on the horizon.
As it turns out, Emma hasn't seen anything yet. When she finds an old book in an abandoned library, things really start going Emma's way: anything she writes in the book comes true.
But the power of the book is not without consequences, and Emma soon realizes that she isn't the only one who knows about it. Someone is determined to take it from her―and they'll stop at nothing to succeed.
A new boy in school―the arrogant, aloof, and irritatingly handsome Darcy de Winter―becomes Emma's unlikely ally as secrets are revealed and danger creeps ever closer.


Why this book?


I just started reading The Book Jumper (book 1 of this series) and I'm really liking it so far. It's a unique story and very well written. I can't wait to find out what will happen in the second book. I'm also pretty excited that I won't have to wait a whole year to find out!



What books are you waiting for?   

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden



  • Publisher: Del Rey (December 5, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1101885963
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101885963
  • Series: Winternight Trilogy (Book 2)



Synopsis


Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.






The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden is a  captivating story that transports the reader to a place and time full of magic, power, political intrigue and so much more. Through the author's lyrical and lush prose, this fairy tale comes to life culminating in a story that I feel is even better than her first book, The Bear and The Nightingale. 

I can't wait to read the third book in this series being released next year, The Winter of the WitchI highly recommend The Girl in the Tower and this whole series!


5 Stars

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms.  Arden, Del Rey Publishing and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing The Season by Alexandra Kuykendall



  • ISBN-10: 080107536X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801075360
  • Publisher: Baker Books (September 5, 2017)



Synopsis

The Christmas season is a particularly difficult time for women to slow down and relish what's right in front of them. An annual marker for many, it is a holiday that can often remind us how life is not going as we'd planned. Our family relationships remain strained, our finances stretched, and our schedules stuffed with too much to do in too little time.

Following the formula of her successful Loving My Actual Life, Alexandra Kuykendall shares with readers her own personal experiment to be completely present in her life as it is during the holiday season. Addressing the themes of Advent and Christmas, she reflects on hope, love, joy, peace, and relishing the season, with practical pullouts on common Christmas stressors, such as finances, schedules, and extended family. Kuykendall's signature candor helps women go easy on themselves, remember what truly matters, and find joy in their imperfect Christmases.



Source Unknown



Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall is well written and a refreshing, practical guide on how to experience and find joy in the Holiday Season no matter where you are in your life and what is going on in your life. 
It's a call to remember the "reason for the season" and how to avoid sabotaging  yourself and those around you during the Christmas season. 

Ms. Kuykendall's advise and steps of her "experiment" are clearly defined, practical and at times a bit unnerving as she asks you to do a bit of soul searching and stepping out on Faith. 

Overall, a book I will be reading and applying not only to the Christmas holiday season but to other areas of my life as well. I highly recommend this book!



4 Stars!


I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms.  Kuykendall as well as Bakers Books and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book.



Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson


  • ISBN-10: 0800722701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800722708
  • Publisher: Revell (September 5, 2017)



From the Publisher

When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby's father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant's paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don't know that she--or their grandson--exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma? 

Beloved author Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.





The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson is a delightful romance read for the holiday season! This moving story is well written, engaging and full of emotions. It's an easy read that will relax as well as sweep you away for that well deserved break we all need during the enjoyable but sometimes chaotic holiday season! 

I fully enjoyed The Christmas Blessing and the only drawback was that the ending happened a bit too quickly. I would like to have had the ending detailed a bit more. Still, this book is a feel good Christmas story and as such - definitely worth the reading.


4 Stars!



I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms.  Carlson as well as Revell Publishers and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hand Made: The Modern Woman's Guide to Made-From-Scratch Living by Melissa K. Norris


  • ISBN-10: 0736969675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736969673
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2017)


What it's all about ... 


Homemade Shouldn't Be Hectic
Do you wish you could slow down and create a home you and your family love and enjoy spending time in? Melissa K. Norris, author of The Made-from-Scratch Life and voice of the Pioneering Today podcast, offers down-to-earth tips and guidance to help you learn how to...
  • bake old-fashioned recipes (everything from biscuits to shepherd's pie) with quick, stress-free steps
  • grow, harvest, and preserve culinary and medicinal herbs (with DIY tutorials for soaps, salves, and balms)
  • make your own cultured and fermented foods at home following simple instructions for buttermilk, sour cream, sourdough, and more
  • simplify your routine and declutter your home with room-by-room guides and Depression-era wisdom
Open your heart to God-given rest and discover practical and tangible ways you can craft your home into a refuge for yourself and the ones you love.







Home Made is chock full of practical advise that has something for every lifestyle  be it living in the country, the city, apartment living or Tiny Home living. This truly is one of the most practical, informative and delightful books I have read in a long time!

The author's focus on finding balance in all areas of life (home, work, family, faith in God) is inspirational. She's a regular Mom, wife, woman trying to juggle a family, full time work while providing a home that lovingly supports herself, family and nurtures her faith in God. 


My favorite Things about this book? 

Ms. Norris' writing style ~ it wasn't preachy ... she shared her triumphs and failures, the lessons she learned on the way and her faith in God so openly that I honestly felt like I was at my kitchen table, sipping a cup of coffee and chatting with a friend!


I love her stories and references  to the Great Depression era. That generation sure knew how to improvise, make do, go without the extras and make things stretch as far as they could possibly go.  Each tip  from that era and the stories that go with it touched my heart and inspired me.  Here's an example of one tip that I would  never have dreamed of ...       



Starchy potato water can be substituted for milk when making bread. Who knew? You'll find so MANY more of these wonderful tips and "how to's" throughout this book! 





Home Made is one of the BEST books I've read on going back to the basics and blending "the old fashioned ways" with today's life.  The tips are fantastic and there is such a wealth of knowledge with in his book that I  know I will be using it for a lifetime. I plan on gifting this book to some of my friends who have wanted to get more back to the basics. I know they're going to love it! 



5 Stars!


I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms. Norris and as well as Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson


ISBN-10: 0399586318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399586316
  • Publisher: Berkley (September 26, 2017)



The Scoop ...

Widow Maddie McLendon has uprooted her life to move to Rustlers Gulch with her son and grandson. But as a brutal Montana winter looms on the horizon, contractors have yet to break ground on their new house, leaving them to live in a makeshift camp of trailers, tents, and sheds....


Since his wife died six years ago, millionaire rancher Sam Conacher has been content to wallow in his grief alone while keeping a tight rein on his twenty-six-year-old daughter. But now the girl has gone and fallen in love with his foolish new neighbor’s no-good son....



Maddie and Sam will never see eye to eye on anything, until a near-tragedy gives them a true glimpse into each other’s souls. And as the first snowflakes begin to fall, they’ll discover that an open heart is the biggest gift of all!






I normally don't do a lot of contemporary romance reading but I couldn't pass up The Christmas Room after I fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. It's full of cowboys, life, challenges and love with a side of Christmas joy! 

I chose the option of listening to it via Audible and I really enjoyed this version. It's quirky, funny and a relaxing and an enjoyable read!  


Note: For my readers who prefer clean romances, this book has a few mildly explicit scenes. 




Friday, October 13, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, Kelly Irvin




  • ISBN-10: 052911870X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0529118707
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 12, 2017)


{Book Info}


Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman
Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons—a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston
Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don’t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma’s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry’s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.

Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin
As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn’t give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He’s found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discovery: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly’s prayers for a Christmas love be answered?

Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid
When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?



An Amish Christmas Love is a collection of  enjoyable, inspiring and relaxing Christmas stories. I enjoyed these wonderful stories. They were entertaining, insightful and full of holiday cheer.   I would like to say I read them all in one sitting but life is a bit hectic right now so I spaced reading them over a week.  

While I enjoyed all four stories, my favorite was Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid. Why?  It was the one that touched my heart the most as it had romance, a special bond between a child and a dog. 

My second favorite was  Winter Kisses by  Beth Wiseman ~ she's one of my favorite authors and her story just hit the spot for my longing of a simple, wholesome Christmas romance.


If you enjoy Amish romances and Christmas ~
start your holiday season with 


4 Stars


I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to all the authors of this book as well as  Thomas Nelson Publishing and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book. 




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shadow Girl by Liana Liu


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine


My pick for this week ...  



  • ISBN-10: 0062306677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062306678
  • Publisher: HarperTeen 


Release Date ~ December 19, 2017


Liana Liu’s sophomore YA novel is a mysterious, modern-day Upstairs, Downstairs set in a wealthy seaside resort town. The house on Arrow Island is full of mystery.

Yet when Mei arrives, she can’t help feeling relieved. She’s happy to spend the summer in an actual mansion tutoring a rich man’s daughter if it means a break from her normal life—her needy mother, her delinquent brother, their tiny apartment in the city. And Ella Morison seems like an easy charge, sweet and well behaved.

What Mei doesn’t know is that something is very wrong in the Morison household.

Though she tries to focus on her duties, Mei becomes increasingly distracted by the family’s problems and her own complicated feelings for Ella’s brother, Henry. But most disturbing of all are the unexplained noises she hears at night—the howling and thumping and cries.

Mei is a sensible girl. She isn’t superstitious; she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Yet she can’t shake her fear that there is danger lurking in the shadows of this beautiful house, a darkness that could destroy the family inside and out…and Mei along with them.



Why this book? 


My attention was first caught by the "Modern Upstairs/Downstairs " reference in the above book blurb but it ended up that the last two paragraphs really drew me in.   

What is wrong in the Morison household? 

What danger awaits for the family who seems  to have everything they could ever want?

And all of this happening while Mei starts to have a budding relationship with Henry? 


I really can't wait to find out! 




What books are you waiting for?