Sunday, July 13, 2014

Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries by Isabella Alan

The Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries start of with a great first book in Murder, Plain and Simple, where we get to know everyone and get the lay of the land as far as who knew who when, where businesses are located and who owns/works in them, etc. It's a great foundation book.

I love the setting and the characters and who doesn't love a good mystery? The second book was a great follow up. I can't wait for the next in the series.

From Murder, Plain and Simple

When Angela Braddock inherits her late aunt’s beautiful Amish quilt shop, she leaves behind her career and broken engagement for a fresh start in Holmes County, Ohio.

With her snazzy cowboy boots and her ornithophobic French bulldog, Angie doesn’t exactly fit in with the predominantly Amish community in Rolling Brook, but her aunt’s quilting circle tries to make her feel welcome as she prepares for the reopening of Running Stitch.

On the big day, Angie gets a taste of success as the locals and Englisch tourists browse the store’s wares while the quilters stitch away. But when Angie finds the body of ornery Amish woodworker Joseph in her storeroom the next morning, everything starts falling apart.

With evidence mounting against her, Angie is determined to find the culprit before the local sheriff can arrest her. Rolling Brook always appeared to be a simple place, but the closer Angie gets to the killer, the more she realizes that nothing in the small Amish community is as plain as it seems....

From Murder, Simply Stitched:

When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone....

Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works.

The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.

By book two, the characters all seem like old friends and they bring so much joy of a new story with them. Give these a try - you won't be disappointed.

Highly recommended.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Child of Mine - David and Beverly Lewis

Jack Livingston has been raising his nine-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents' lives. While he travels for work, Natalie is lovingly cared for by Laura, an Amish nanny who loves her as her own.

Kelly Maines is nearing the end of her rope. Her baby was kidnapped, the apparent victim of a black market adoption ring, and for eight years, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. Now, there's one last lead from a private investigator: Just a few miles away lives a girl who matches the profile. Could this, at long last, be her beloved child?

Desperately, Kelly initiates a "chance" meeting with Jack Livingston. It goes really well. So well, in fact, that Jack asks her out. One date leads to another, and before she can come clean with her original motives, Kelly realizes Jack is falling for her--and she for him.

Now how can she tell Jack why she's really here? And having gotten to know Natalie, what if she isn't her long-lost daughter, after all? This was all supposed to be so simple.

I have long been a fan of Beverly Lewis. I love her stories of the Amish culture so I was thrilled to be able to read and review this book.

This one actually doesn't revolve around the Amish as much as many of her other books do but this book was just as compelling and interesting as any of her books.

The characters are likeable, the plot is plausible - which of us wouldn't search endlessly for a child stolen from us?

There are twists and turns that I just didn't see coming! There was a point in the book when I said "wow! it all makes sense now - remember what she said, remember when that happened" but it wasn't what I thought it was.

This book will keep you guessing and hold your interest until the very end.

Highly recommended.


My copy of this book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
   But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own.

I have to admit I had a hard time with this book at first. I had read some reviews and the description above and thought "I would really like this!" - but I didn't. I wanted to, I struggled to....but I didn't. But, I said I would review it - and I really wanted to like it - so I read it.

And am I ever glad I did! Although it's set in the recent past (people use cell phones) it feels like the 60s. Rich and powerful people, stealing away to a secluded family compound. The patriarch everyone respects and fears. The lovely but aloof matriarch. The adult children with their young children visiting. The eccentric aunt. A few "outsiders" - guests of the teen-aged family members. Swimming, fishing, barbecues. Idyllic days spent in the sun. Beautiful people. New love. And mayhem and murder.

The characters were wonderful! The descriptions of the houses and the compound were glorious. There were twists and turns - things are not always what they seem.

I simply loved this book and could not put it down.

I do want to point out there is some language and some sex.


Go here for more info:


"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow

Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940 with a love of ships and high hopes. Though he leaves behind his new wife, Agnes, and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream—but things change when he is shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister in his own hometown of Boston—and finds an immediate and undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.

Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic and a historical drama that brings the streets and neighborhoods of Boston vividly to life from World War II through the civil rights era to the present day, A Life Apart takes readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, unending guilt, racial tensions, death, and the profound effects of war.

I absolutely loved this book! It has everything I like in a book - it takes place over a period of about 50 years, chapters are told from different character's point of view, the writing is believable, the characters are flawed but likeable and the emotions are raw and moving.

I found myself constantly thinking "why didn't they just....." but then had to remember it was a long time ago and the world was a different place than the one we live in now.

For myself, I wanted most for Beatrice to be happy. I know it was wrong for her to be with another woman's husband but I liked her. She was strong and confident and a woman I could admire - and I could sympathize with how she was drawn to Morris. I hated how he would stay away from her for so long and go back thinking things would just go back to the way they were. My heart broke for her heartaches.

Two things I didn't like about the book - one was some of the language I found very objectionable. But, it was used in context and it wasn't all that frequent - and it was appropriate (unfortunately) where it was used. The other thing was something in the very beginning of the book that wasn't resolved at the end of the book. When I read the last page I thought "wait - that can't be the end! What about....". I'm guessing the author wanted us to draw our own conclusion but I wanted to know what she was thinking - after all, the entire book was what she was thinking and it was wonderful.

I highly recommend this book. Here are some links that will give you some more details.

Info to buy the book:

And an excerpt from the book (just to whet your appetite):


 "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Last Bride

Of her Old Order parents' five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie's father opposes the match.

Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they'll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?

This is the fifth book in the Home To Hickory series by Beverly Lewis. And what a fabulous addition to the series it is!

Tessie and Marcus throw caution to the wind when her father refuses to let them court and marry and elope. Hoping that they can change her father's mind and live together as man and wife, they meet secretly in the home Marcus is setting up for them.

But one day something terrible happens that will change everything. Can Tessie find a way to make her commitment to Marcus, her honor of her parents and her desire to join the Amish faith come together for a happily ever after?

Beverly Lewis is the absolute queen of Amish fiction. There is simply none better. And this story is just another jewel in her crown. Though this is part of a series, it, and all of the books in this series, can be read as stand alone novels.

Don't miss this one!


This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Through The Deep Waters

Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.

The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?

I don't know when I've read a book that has pulled me closer to God than this book. The message is not subtle but it's not pushy either -  it's just incredibly moving.

This book is wonderful reading entertainment - I couldn't put it down and read it in one day (staying up way, way into the night when I should have been asleep) but it's also a good story for anyone who is hurting. Anyone who feels unloved - anyone who needs to know that they are loved unconditionally.

The three main characters - Dinah, Amos and Ruthie - all have problems. Dinah is ashamed of her background. Amos has physical problems that are impossible to hide and make him a target of ridicule. Ruthie wants what she can't have. They are drawn with both strengths and weaknesses - just like all of us. And at the core, all three want the same thing - love.

Pick up this book - you won't regret it. Highly recommended.

Check out this link to read the first chapter:

And you can go here for more information on when the book will be available and how to order it:


"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Big Picture Inteactive Bible

Are our children really getting the full meaning of the stories as we read the Bible to them? When we read the Bible to our children, the stories are often in bits and pieces and focus on "being good." But children should get the message of "being saved" from reading the Bible instead. The Big Picture Interactive Bible (B&H Kids) is the first children's Bible of its kind-the Jesus story from start to finish, filled with features and interactive elements that capture the true meaning and significance behind all of the verses and stories.
The Big Picture Interactive Bible has nearly a thousand features in full color throughout including pictures of key items so children can understand what they're reading. The B&H Kids Augmented Reality App (free and available for Android and iPhone) creates a digital pop-up book when used with full-color illustrations, bringing the Bible to life for each child. It features the full text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, a clear, contemporary English translation that's faithful to the original languages of the Bible. 
Other features included are:
  • Big Words - Colorful Bible Dictionary entry with photos, maps, illustrations and descriptions of key terms, right in the Bible text.
  • Big Questions/Big Answers - Kids always want to know why. This feature asks and then answers many of the common "big questions" throughout the Bible.
  • Christ Connection - This feature can be found from Genesis to Revelation and will help kids understand how each story points us to Christ and His work for us.
  • Introductions - Basic information about the books of the Bible will give kids perspective on the who, what and when for each book as well as "the Big Picture" from that book and key stories it contains.
  • Icons - Special icons are placed throughout the Bible to connect to the Gospel Project for Kids curriculum.
  • Memory Verses - Scripture memorization is much more than "saying the words." When a child memorizes a Bible verse and puts it to practice in their daily life, that child begins to learn how God can lead his life. The top 100 verses to remember are highlighted throughout the Bible.
  • Parent Connection - This feature is designed to help parents be empowered to engage deeper in the story with their kids.
  • Seeing the Big Picture - This feature digs into key Bible stories to help young hearts and minds grasp the meaning and provide parents with extra information to discuss the Bible with their kids.
What a fabulous Bible this is! The art work is colorful and perfect to draw a little one's attention.

There are many little "pop outs" throughout that have verses to remember, explanation of terms that kids might not know and questions (with the answers included) about the verses.

There are maps and an index to the Bible stories in the back for quick reference.

Sure wish I had this when my kids were little but I know I will spend many hours with my granddaughter curled up on my lap reading through this one.

Highly recommended - this would be perfect to tuck inside an Easter basket.


Many thanks to B&H Kids for providing this Bible to me for my honest review.