An Empty Cup Review

Congratulations to Trixie O. The winner of The Matchmaker by Sarah Price. Thank you to all who entered!

An Empty Cup by Sarah Price is a 252 page novel in the Amish fiction genre.  It is published by Waterfall Press and will be released on April 14, 2015. To purchase your copy from Amazon, click here or Barnes and Noble, click here.

Overview

Amish woman Rosanna Zook lost her self-confidence within the confines of a loveless and abusive marriage. In the years spent quietly dealing with her burdens and dutifully caring for others, she forgot her sense of self and ability to feel. But after her first husband’s untimely death, she gets a second chance with Reuben Troyer, a godly man who welcomes Rosanna and her two children into his life.

Despite the love and respect she finds in her new marriage, Rosanna soon learns that juggling the demands of her family and church community is more than she can handle. When Rosanna becomes ill, she is forced to confront a hard truth: one empty cup cannot fill another. For a woman who has spent her life giving, will Rosanna finally be able to let go and receive?

My Two Cents

Many novels bring enjoyment to their readers, not all do this and bring life applicable lessons with them.  An Empty Cup deals with deep and real issues; many of which we as women experience on a daily basis.  There are several teachable moments where we learn that even good things can be made into negative when we do not keep our lives balanced. This affects not only ourselves but others around us as well.

Price’s characters and storyline are very realistic. It is easy to feel empathy for Rosanna, the main protagonist, and see yourself through her. Even though An Empty Cup deals with difficult issues, it is not a struggle to read. The issues are handled with wisdom and provide tension to the story. As I finished this book, I found myself reflecting on Rosanna’s struggles and giving my life a good hard look. 51CYe-pgQ3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s one that the reader will be able to read again and find encouragement.

About the Author

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.

A special thank you to Sarah Price 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.

Giveaway
Enter for your chance to win a copy of The Matchmaker by Sarah Price by clicking on “Entry-Form” below:

‘A Sparrow in Terezin’ by Kristy Cambron | New Book Plus a Book-Inspired Giveaway

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection in Kristy Cambron‘s new book, A Sparrow in Terezin. Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Kristy is celebrating by giving away a basket filled with goodies inspired by her new book!

sparrow terezin - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A set of poppy notecards
  • A poppy pin
  • A copy of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
  • A copy of the Mrs. Miniver DVD
  • Literary tea bags
  • Tumbler
  • A copy of A Sparrow in Terezin
sparrow giveaway bastet 



Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 28th. Winner will be announced April 29th on Kristy’s blog.

sparrow terezin-enterbanner

{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Buried Secrets Review and Giveaway

Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon is a 384 page novel in the Christian romantic suspense genre. It is published by Revell and released on April 7, 2015. Click here to purchase your copy from Amazon or here to order from Barnes and Noble.9780800721268_p0_v4_s260x420

Overview

After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department. A call for assistance brings detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn’t want this dead person telling any tales–and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

My Two Cents

Having read several of Irene Hannon’s books, I was excited to read her newest book Buried Secrets. This is the first book in a series and Irene does a great job of introducing the main characters, but also setting up secondary characters for her future books. The secondary characters provided tension and helped to give insight into the main characters, Lisa and Mac.

The plotline itself was on the slow side at the beginning.  It was disappointing that the killer was revealed very early in the book.  Also, the romance was very typical and not very realistic. Despite these criticisms, the book did pick up towards the middle and makes the reader wonder if there will be justice.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, two HOLT Medallions, a Daphne du Maurier Award, two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers’ Choice Award, and a National Readers’ Choice Award. In addition, she is a Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its “Top 10 Inspirational Fiction” list for 2011. She lives in Missouri. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of Buried Secrets in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own and no monetary compensation was received in exchange for them.

Giveaway

Visit my Facebook page to enter to win a copy of Buried Secrets. While there, like my Facebook page to keep up to date on latest releases, reviews, and giveaways!

https://www.facebook.com/simpleharvestreads/app_568769286522257?ref=page_internal

Double Cross Review

Double Cross by DiAnn Mills is a 400 page novel in the mystery suspense genre.  It is published by Tyndale House Publishers on March 20, 2015.  To purchase your copy through Amazon, click here or from Barnes and Noble, click here.

double cross

Overview

FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington—and what she sacrificed to put him away—he is now her best lead.

Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family—even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon.

As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

My Two Cents

Double Cross is the second book in the FBI: Houston series but it can be read as a stand alone.  It was easy to read and to follow.  The intrigue made the novel fast paced once the scene was set and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens next.

This is my first experience with DiAnn Mills novels and it was not a disappointment.  Although the book was slow at the beginning, Mills’ characters are well written with flaws that finds the reader feeling empathy for them.  Mills uses her characters to show the reader how we can overcome our flaws with the help of our faith which was highly encouraging. I enjoyed how she interwove romance into the novel which made it very believable and not sappy. The relationship Daniel has with his grandparents is very sweet and endearing.

The research behind Double Cross is evident to the reader and it makes the plotline credible. Mills keeps you guessing who is on the side of the good and on the side of the bad and if everyone will make it out safe throughout the novel.  I was not able to guess the truth until the author wanted it revealed.

I give this book 4 out 5 stars.  If you enjoy reading suspense mysteries with a side of romance, you will enjoy DiAnn Mills’ Double Cross.

About the Author

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.


Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for a free copy of Double Cross in exchange for my honest review.  No compensation has been received for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.

An Amish Spring

An Amish Spring by Sarah Price is a 72 page novella in the Amish Christian fiction genre published by Amazon Kindle Services on March 21, 2015. Click here to order your copy.

Overview

It’s springtime in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Drusilla Riehl has just turned eighteen. While she’s attended youth gatherings and singings in the past, something feels just a little bit different now. As the eldest child, she has a lot of responsibilities, especially with her aging grandparents living in the smaller house attached to the Riehls’ farmhouse and with Drusilla’s mother expecting a baby soon. Follow the story of this young Amish woman as she comes of age in the springtime of her life, balancing her commitment to faith, family, and friends.

The Amish Seasons Series, a four-part series, follows the story of Drusilla Riehl as she passes through the seasons of life. The first of a four book series, An Amish Spring introduces readers to the Riehl family and their Amish community, both Amish and Mennonite, and will be sure to delight as you learn more about the Amish religion and culture from Sarah Price, one of the leading bestselling authors of Amish Christian fiction who bases her stories and books on authentic experience growing up Mennonite and living among the Amish.

My Two Cents

As the cold of winter is passing, we see spring bloom in the life of Drusilla (Dru) Riehl. Dru is a sweet, caring girl who genuinely cares for her family as well as others.  An Amish Spring follows her life through the spring of the year.  We get a glimpse of authentic Amish life through events, such as a barn raising, and we see how a young girl starts thinking differently about life through them.

An Amish Spring is a truly delightful story with real characters.  Price’s knowledge of the Amish life shines through and gives the story credibility. Her descriptions of the setting and characters bring the story to life in the mind of the reader.

The four part series reminds me of the serials done in the Victorian Age by great authors like Charles Dickens. Best of all, the series celebrates the start of each new season! I am looking forward to watching Dru through each one.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a book not to miss!

About the Author

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.

A special thank you to Sarah Price 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.

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.