Let’s Celebrate Spring!

Congratulations to Myrtle and Rhonda, our two winners!

To celebrate the coming of spring and the release of Sarah Price’s new book, I am giving away to copies of her An Amish Spring! Contest ends Sunday, March 22 at midnight PST.

To enter, click on “entry form” below:

To order An Amish Spring by Sarah Price,  click here.

The Love Letters

The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis is a 352 page book in the Christian Amish fiction genre. It is published by Bethany House Publishers and releases on March 24, 2015. To Order your copy from Amazon, click here or from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Marlena needed time to let things sink in. It was beyond her how all this could possibly work out–adding the care of an infant to her daily routine. Fortunately, it would just be until Luella returned home from the hospital and was stronger.

No more than a couple weeks, surely.

Marlena Wenger’s life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister’s baby. Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena’s Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect. Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.

My Two Cents

I have not found a Beverly Lewis book I did not enjoy and The Love Letters is no different. I enjoyed the The Love Letters because it dealt with so many different issues which kept the story moving at a fast pace.  Disabilities, disappointment, death, love, judgmentalism, fear were just some of the issued faced by the characters in Lewis’ book. I found encouragement through the main characters trust in God and looking to him in difficult circumstances.

There were a few characters stories interwoven in the pages of The Love Letters yet it read fluidly and easily.  Sweet Small Jay, a boy with disabilities wants nothing more than to be accepted and seen for the talents he has.  He is a sweet character that I loved from the beginning. Marlena dealt with death, taking care of her sisters baby and judgement from others.  Her caring relationship with her grandmother showed that we can learn many things if we take the time to invest. Boston, a hobo who faced judgmentalism from the community, brings to light that we should not judge a book by its cover. There are several side characters who brought both encouragement and tension to the story. You will love some of the characters and want to strangle others!

The Love Letters is a wonderful book. I give it a full five stars and would recommend it to the TBR pile of anyone who enjoys Amish fiction.

About the Author

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in eleven languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family. Learn more at www.beverlylewis.com.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for an advance copy of The Love Letters in exchange for my honest review.

Huckleberry Spring

Huckleberry Spring by Jennifer Beckstrand is a 352 page novel in the Christian Amish genre, published by Zebra on January 27, 2015.  To purchase your own copy from Amazon, click here or to order from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Ever since the Helmuths’ grandson, Ben, abruptly broke his engagement and moved to Florida, Emma Nelson has kept busy tending her vegetable garden and raising award-winning pumpkins. She can put her heartache aside to help Ben’s Mammi with her own pumpkin patch. At least until Ben shows up to lend support to his ailing Dawdi. . .

Gardening side by side with pretty, nurturing Emma is a sweet kind of torture for Ben. She could have her pick of suitors who can offer what he can’t, and he cares too much to burden her with his secret. Leaving once more is the only option. Yet Emma’s courage is daring him to accept the grace that flourishes here, and the love that has been calling him back to Huckleberry Hill. . .

My Two Cents

Huckleberry Spring is my first experience with author Jennifer Beckstrand and I was not disappointed.  Even though I had not read the previous books, I was able to follow the storyline with ease. I was drawn in and read the book in one sitting.  I could not put it down!

Beckstrand did a fantastic job in bringing her characters to life.  I love the relationship of Anna and Felty (Mammi and Dawdi). They are such a cute couple who bring humor to the story which I haven’t found in many Amish stories. The tension between Emma and Ben drives the plotline of the story and keeps you reading.  Anna’s brother and Ben’s sister also add tension and humor to the story.

Huckleberry Spring will make you experience a whirlwind of emotions. It was an encouragement to me to remember that it is important to trust God, to not let pride get in the way of the plans God has for us and the consequences of what can happen when we do.

I can not wait to read the next installment in this series and I want to go to read the first three. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer has been nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.

Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and three adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten.

A huge thankful to Perspectives By Nancee and Jennifer Beckstrand for the giveaway in which I won a copy of Huckleberry Spring. I have received no monetary compensation for my opinions nor my review.

Remember the Lilies Review

Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma is a 369 page novel in the Christian historical fiction genre. It was published by Thomas Nelson on February 3, 2015. To purchase your copy from Amazon, click here or from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Interred by the Japanese, missionary Irene Reynolds comes across a mysterious note while working at the censor’s office. She memorizes the parts she must blackout and delivers it to wealthy nightclub owner Rand Sterling. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s drawn into a web of secrets and danger.

Rand Sterling wants nothing more than to reopen his nightclubs once the war ends. But slimy Frank Covey wants his hand in the till—and has news that could threaten Rand’s reputation if it became public. More importantly, beautiful and intriguing Irene Reynolds cannot discover this information if he expects to persuade her to become his wife.

When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, they must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

My Two Cents

Remember the Lilies took me back in time to World War II and dealt with issues experienced by civilians.  I had never heard of internment camps in the Philippines and the story makes you appreciate what you have today. Remember the Lilies also teaches about forgiveness for others and for yourself.

I loved the character of Anita. She is the person I would aspire to be if I was in a difficult situation.  She was an encouragement to others around her and invested in her niece as well as those around her. Her life touched many and I was inspired to be more like her.

It is very important when writing that the author not have inconsistencies in their writing for the story to make sense to the reader.  Unfortunately, there were a few inconsistencies in Remember the Lilies that made some aspects hard to believe. Also, the personality shifts with Rand and Irene were a little hard to swallow.  For example, some of the behavior from Irene did not seem to jive with the mature christian she seemed to portray at the beginning. Even with these few negative aspects, I am glad I read this book and would recommend to anyone who like historical fiction.

I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there’s always something going on at their house. She’s spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. She’d love to have you visit her at www.liztolsma.com or at www.liztolsma.blogspot.com.

A huge thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson publishers for the free copy of Remember the Lilies in exchange for my honest review.

After a Fashion

After a fashion written by Jen Turano is a 352 page book in the Christian romance genre. It was published by Bethany House Publishers on March 3, 2015.  To order your copy from Amazon, click here or to order from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

My Two Cents

After a Fashion is one of the most delightful books I have read recently.  It is a lighthearted, easy read.  I laughed until I had tears, I cried, I yelled at some of the characters. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting to know more.

The main protagonist Miss Peabody is my kind of girl.  She knows what she wants, she has backbone, she has morals, and she cares about others.  Even though she has had a rough life, she doesn’t pity herself but has a way of applying those hardships to make her an even better person. My favorite part about her: I don’t know what she is going to do next. I couldn’t wait to find out!

Jen did a sensational job interweaving different aspects of life into her novel.  There is romance, friendship, strength, perseverance, hope, love, compassion.  All of these elements are intertwined with comedy and a bit of mystery.

This is my first time reading one of Jen’s books, but I will be coming back for more! I give After a Fashion five out of five stars.

About the Author

Jen Turano, author of five books, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.

My thanks to #Netgalley and Bethany House Publishers for a copy of After a Fashion in exchange for my honest review.

A Harvest of Hope

A Harvest of Hope is a 352 page fiction novel in the Christian fiction genre. It was written by Lauraine Snelling and published by Bethany House Publishers with a release date of March 3, 2015. To order your copy from Amazon, click here or from Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Just a few short weeks into her year-long training at the Blessing Hospital, Miriam Hastings is called home to Chicago, where her mother is gravely ill. With siblings to care for, Miriam pleads to be allowed to finish her training in Chicago. Her nursing supervisor grants her a brief reprieve but extracts a promise that Miriam will return to Blessing and fulfill her one-year commitment.

While in Chicago, Miriam has tried to get Trygve Knutson and Blessing out of her mind, but his letters make that impossible. Trygve is busy building a house, hoping he can convince Miriam to return to North Dakota and marry him. Torn between Trygve’s love and her family’s needs, she doesn’t know what to do.

When Miriam finally returns to Blessing, she buries herself in her work. But no matter how hard she tries to put it off, she has some life-changing decisions to make about her future, her family… and the man who is never far from her thoughts.

What will it take to convince her to stay?

My Two Cents

It is always fun to catch up with characters you are invested in and it was a joy to travel back to Blessing to catch up with Lauraine’s characters in Harvest of Hope. Although the book started out slow, once I was in the book, I could not put it down.  I wanted to see what happened to each of the characters in the town of Blessing.

Hope, loss, love, anger, forgiveness are all themes woven into this heartwarming story.  There is a character you would love to punch, ones you would love to hug, and ones you would love to send an encouraging word too.  It is lovely to see how the town struggles but come together to support each other.  My favorite theme from A Harvest of Hope is trusting in God and knowing He is in control of our future.  This book will encourage you and leave you looking forward to the next installment.

I give this book this book a 5 star review.

About the Author

Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of over 70 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold over 2 million copies. Besides writing books and articles, she teaches at writers’ conferences across the country. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California. Learn more at www.laurainesnelling.com.

Thank you to #netgalley for my free copy of A Harvest of Hope in exchange for my honest review.

Where Trust Lies Review

Where Trust Lies is a 337 page book in the Christian romance genre written by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan and published by Bethany House Publisher.  If you would like to purchase Where Trust Lies through Amazon, click here or to purchase it through Barnes & Noble, click here.

Synopsis

Beth loves her friends and students in the West, but family obligations have called her home. Where does she truly belong?

After a year of teaching in the Canadian West, Beth Thatcher returns home to her family. She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday–a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Hoping to reconnect with her mother and her sisters, Beth agrees to join them, but she quickly realizes that things have changed since she went away, and renewing their close bond is going to be more challenging than she expected.

There’s one special thing to look forward to–letters and telephone calls from Jarrick, the Mountie who has stolen her heart. The distance between them is almost too much to bear. But can she give her heart to Jarrick when it will mean saying good-bye to her family once again–and possibly forever? And will she still want to live in the western wilds after the steamship tour opens up a world of people and places she never imagined?

Then comes a great test of Beth’s faith. Someone in her family has trusted the wrong person, and suddenly everything Beth knows and loves is toppled. Torn between her family and her dreams, will Beth finally discover where her heart truly belongs?

A companion story to Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart TV series!

My Two Cents

What is very interesting about Where Trust Lies is that it takes place with Elizabeth’s family and not in Coal Valley.  It is a story that reveals the true complexity of families – the good and the bad. It shows love, forgiveness and acceptance even when we might not understand each other. The reader also gets a glimpse of where Elizabeth gets her steel and resolve.

Where Trust Lies kept me guessing throughout the story. Also the faith element in the story was very uplifting.

My disappointment with the book was it does move slowly and I was not engaged throughout the book.  I have read all of Janette Oke’s books and have loved them all.  This did not seem like a typical book of hers.  However, I am glad I read it.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

About The Authors

Bestselling author Janette Oke is celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies, and she is the recipient of the ECPA President’s Award, the CBA Life Impact Award, the Gold Medallion, and the Christy Award. Janette and her husband, Edward, live in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan, daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, as well as the novels Dana’s Valley and Where Courage Calls, co-written with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.


A special thank you to netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

The Amish Clockmaker Review

The Amish Clockmaker is 354 page Christian Amish fiction novel written by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner and published by Harvest House Publishers.  To purchase a copy of the book through Amazon, click  here. To purchase a copy through Barnes and Noble, click here.

the amish clockmaker

Synopsis

From bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Clockmaker (Book 3 in the Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Newlywed Matthew Zook is expanding his family’s tack and feed store when a surprising property dispute puts the remodel on hold—and raises new questions about the location’s mysterious past.

Decades earlier, the same building housed a clock shop run by a young Amish clockmaker named Clayton Raber. Known for his hot temper, Clayton was arrested for the murder of his beloved wife, a crime almost everyone—including his own family members—believed he’d committed, even after charges were dropped. Isolated and feeling condemned by all, Clayton eventually broke from the church, left Lancaster County, and was never heard from again.

Now the only way Matthew can solve the boundary issue and save his family’s business is to track down the clockmaker. But does this put Matthew on the trail of a murderer?

A timeless novel of truth, commitment, and the power of enduring love, where secrets of the past give way to hope for the future.

Review

The Amish Clockmaker captivates you from the beginning and keeps your attention to the end.  Mindy and Susan create characters that are only authentic and real. Having the book written from men’s points of view gives this book a unique look on Amish life.

MIndy and Susan beautifully combine a family today with a flashback to a story from yesteryear.  By doing this, the reader follows the life of Clayton Raber knowing it is intertwined with Matthew’s family. This technique takes this book to a higher level and it is a wonderful experience for the reader.

The Amish Clockmaker is a story of forgiveness and love but also shows how to trust God’s sovereignty even when we do not fully understand his plan.  It is a story that allows you to reflect on your own life to see where you can trust, love and/or forgive more. The reader can see themselves reflected in the characters of this book. It is a book that you can not wait for someone else to read so you can talk about it.

I give this book five stars. It is a must read.

About The Authors

Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction (more than 800,000 sold) including co-authoring the Christy Award-winning The Amish Midwife. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. www.mindystarnsclark.com.

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: www.susanmeissner.com, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

A special thank you to netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery) Review

Murder-Tightly-Knit-2In a town where Amish and Englisch mingle every day, a grisly murder leads to mutual suspicion. Can Amber and Hannah find the killer before fear unravels the community . . . or he strikes again?

Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something was amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop. The store has been closing at odd times, the ever-dependable Mary isn’t always at her post . . . and an Englisch man has been seen loitering around back.

Now, as leaves of brown, gold, and orange blanket Middlebury, Indiana, Owen lies dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—one of them leading right to The Cat’s Meow.

The police call in a federal investigator, but Hannah and Village manager Amber Bowman are in no mood to wait for them to figure out what they already know—that no one from the Amish Village could have killed Owen Esch.

Amber and Hannah will need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.

Murder Tightly Knit has all the makings of a good book: Romance, suspense, mystery and a great setting.  Vannetta goes back to a cute Amish village setting that was in her first novel.  It was wonderful to visit the characters once again to see how they are faring.

Vannetta starts the book right off with the murder. What makes the book so interesting is the snippets she adds from the killer’s point of view.  The book twists and turns and has you holding your breath in several places.  Most of her characters are interesting, if not a little bit eccentric, and she merges them beautifully.  Although there are a couple of characters you will want to scream at – the tension always makes for an interesting read.

Vannetta creates such a unique blend by using both Amish and English characters.  She includes many interesting bits about the Amish to make her story authentic.  The reader will see she has spent time researching this book and did not just throw it together. It will be a story that captivates, draws you in, and leaves you with a smile on your face!

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Murder Tightly Knit is an Amish Christian romance/suspense novel written by Vannetta Chapman and published by Zondervan Publishing. It was released on December 16, 2014.  Murder Tightly Knit can be purchased through Amazon for $15.99 in print or $7.99 for the e-book.

Vannetta Chapman is the author of the best-selling novel A Simple Amish Christmas. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. In 2012 she was awarded a Carol Award for Falling to Pieces. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania.  Visit Vannetta’s webiste: www.vannettachapman.com  Twitter: @VannettaChapman  Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks

Giveaway!

Would you like to win a copy of Vannetta Chapman’s Murder Tightly Knit? Follow me on facebook.com/simpleharvestreads and leave a comment below answering the question: Several of Vannetta’s characters are managers – either of a specific shop or of the entire village.  What do you think makes a good manager? Giveaway ends Sunday, Feb 22 at midnight PST.  Be sure to come back Monday to see if you won!

The Matchmaker Review

Emma Weaver is twenty-one years old and has found a passion for playing matchmaker with her friends.  Her neighbor, Gideon King, warns her about interfering in people’s lives, but she disregards his advice and plans to set up Paul, the son of the bishop, with her friend Hannah.

The Matchmaker pic

But when Paul misinterprets Emma’s attention, believing she has feelings for him, he begins asking her to ride in his buggy after Sunday singings and shows up at her house for Friday evening visits.  As she tries to repair the damage that’s been done and mend the hearts that have been broken, she finds herself in trouble with the community.  Will she learn her lesson and stop meddling in the affairs of others?  Will she find a love of her own?

The Matchmaker is so enthralling you will not want to put it down! The main character, Emma, is someone we can all relate too.  We have all tried to help a friend and it ends in disaster! This book takes us down a winding road of twists and turns, not knowing what will come next but you can not wait to find out.

Sarah has done an excellent job  of giving us insight into each of her characters and the situations they are in.  Her characters have depth and I can see Sarah shine through in them.  Sarah shows us her characters – both their feelings and their situations – instead of just telling us about them.  This is what makes her work true literature.

Sarah’s intricate knowledge of the Amish language and culture merges lovely with her retelling of Jane Austin’s Emma to create a timeless book as unique as the original. Never read classic literature or Jane Austin? That’s okay! You will be drawn into The Matchmaker and will be waiting on the edge of your seat for Sarah’s next installment of Jane Austin’s classics. When you are finished reading The Matchmaker, you will have read a great book and you will want to reflect on how you can be a better friend.

The Matchmaker is a 304 page fiction book by Sarah Price and published in the Christian fiction Amish genre.  It was released on February 3, 2015 and can be purchased on Amazon for $9.99 for ebook or 14.99 paperback.

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

Giveaway!

In honor of Valentine’s day, I am giving away one copy of The Matchmaker. Want to win?  It’s easy! To enter, comment below and follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/simpleharvestreads. Want an extra entry? Follow my blog. Contest ends Sunday, Feb 15 at midnight PST. One winner will be chosen through Random Picker.

The winner of the giveaway is Susanlulu2013! Congratulations! Please e-mail simpleharvestreads@gmail.com with your information.