Amish Celebrations – A Book Review

Amish Celebrations: Four Novellas
Beth Wiseman

Synopsis

Amish Celebrations is a collection of 4 stories highlighting different life celebrations.

The Gift of Sisters
Hannah and Rachel are fraternal twins approaching their sixteenth birthday—a time when they will be allowed to spread their wings and enjoy their rumschpringe. The sisters couldn’t be more different: Hannah is outgoing and beautiful, while Rachel is shy and withdrawn. And when newcomer Abraham Stoltzfus arrives in Lancaster County, both women fall head over heels for him, each fighting for his affections in their own ways and driving the sisters to turn on each other. Who will Abraham choose? And will Hannah and Rachel reunite after a devastating heartbreak?

A New Beginning
Rebecca and Noah are in love and about to be baptized. But when Noah decides to enjoy one last night of his rumschpringe a few weeks before the ceremony, he does something that causes Rebecca to reconsider his proposal. As Rebecca and Noah navigate the turn in their relationship, Rebecca must learn to forgive Noah or abandon her dreams of marrying him. If Noah won’t forgive himself in time for the baptism, his guilt could cause him to run from his love for Rebecca and leave his community behind.

A Perfect Plan
Priscilla King has been planning to marry Chester Lapp since she was sixteen years old, and when Chester pops the question on Priscilla’s nineteenth birthday, wedding plans begin immediately. But everything begins to fall apart as Chester works to build a house for his new bride, only to have one disaster after another occur. Can true love take this couple through the challenges that threaten their union, or will they begin to doubt that they are on the right path, the one God has chosen for them?

A Christmas Miracle
Mary is twenty-seven years old and already has five young children. Married to her husband at age eighteen, she wasn’t quite prepared for motherhood, and exhaustion and frustration are sending her into a downhill spiral as the holidays approach. Too proud and ashamed to ask for help, Mary’s situation begins to take a toll on her marriage. But when an elderly man in a red suit and his sidekick elf befriend Mary, showering her with wisdom and advice, she must choose to accept help, learn to cope with her situation, and ultimately find the true meaning of Christmas.

My Thoughts

These short stories are not your typical short stories. They aren’t the type of short stories that feel rushed at the end. They are well timed and full stories just in short form. The author does such a good concise job of writing a story plot, developing characters, and tying up the ending that they don’t feel like a typical short story. These stories are great for a quick read when you don’t have time to read an entire book. Each story stands alone and can be easily read in a single sitting, maybe an hour if you’re a faster reader. I loved A Christmas Miracle best. I felt like I could relate to it in my stage of life. Wiseman accurately captured life for a young mom. She writes about the struggles and feelings of inadequacy moms feel when they can’t get a handle on all of the aspects of being a mom, especially one without much help from family. I feel like this story was the most well developed of the 4. The characters are deep and real. There are multiple story lines going on with the different characters in the book. They come together to make a wonderful story. My 2nd favorite was A Perfect Plan. It highlights all the challenges God presents us with in order to help us learn to trust him more. I feel like this is something everyone struggles with so it is easy to relate to this story as well. I love when themes and lessons learned within books can be applied to our own lives. The Gift of Sisters was a cute story but I felt like it was a little overly dramatic for my lifestage personally. I struggled with the petty jealousy between the sisters. But I still liked the story it just wasn’t as relatable for me as the others were. Finally, A Perfect Plan, was a nice addition because it didn’t just focus on how happy Amish people are to be Amish. The character questioned his desire to be Amish and wondered what it would be like to be in the world. I loved how the ending wasn’t what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised.

Overall this book was great. I love that it didn’t leave me feeling frustrated that the author spent so much time developing a story and then had to write a quick ending. It wasn’t like that at all.

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Blogger program. This has in no way influenced my review. I was not obligated to write a review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy:

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The Power of Vision – A Book Review

The Power of Vision
By George Barna

Synopsis

When it comes to your ministry, whose plan are you following? Yours? The one devised by your board or a committee? Or are you following God’s plan? … To minister with authenticity and authority, you must first clarify your vision, then make it the focus of your life’s work and the heartbeat of your church. Ready to catch the vision?

(From the back cover)

About the Author

George Barna founded the Barna Group and currently serves as the executive director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, conducting research on faith and all facets of cultural transformation. He is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty books, and his work is regularly cited as an authoritative source by the media. A frequent speaker at ministry conferences around the world, he has been on the faculty at several universities and seminaries.

(From the back cover)

My Thoughts

This is a very informative, inspiring book about vision. Each chapter starts with chapter highlights which give the reader valuable insight into what is ahead. Material is broken down into digest-able chunks. There are a lot of basic definitions. Clear information on what vision is and isn’t, difference between Godly vision and worldly/business/human vision, as well as many myths people have regarding vision (and the corresponding realities) are presented. The book begins by breaking down the difference between mission and vision and moves on to developing a vision and implementation. The major focus of the book is pastor vision but the last chapter focuses on individual vision development and implementation. I found even the material meant for pastors can easily be applied to lay people and development of personal Godly vision. Barna uses examples from the greats of the Bible: David, Nehemiah, Paul etc to prove his points and encourage the reader. There is also extensive helpful information about how to seek God’s vision as opposed to a vision we individually create for ourselves. The reader is encouraged through extensive encouragement and benefits for keeping vision and further challenged with vision killers. Finally, the appendix is an invaluable study guide to further help readers develop and implement vision in their lives personally and in their churches.
Overall this book was encouraging to me personally as a lay person. I have a lot to think on and ponder as I seek God’s vision for my life as a result of reading this book. It was an encouraging motivating book that I would recommend to new pastors who are just starting or in seminary and more seasoned pastors who seek vision improvement (or first time creation even) as well as lay people within the church.
I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing. This has in no way influenced my review. I was under no compulsion to write a review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy:

For more information on the author visit https://www.barna.com/about/george-barna/

*Post contains affiliate links. I receive a few pennies for purchases from my links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog. 

Engraved on the Heart – A Book Review

Engraved on the Heart*
By Tara Johnson

Synopsis

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to hide her illness for fear of a scandal. As rumors of war arrive on their doorstep, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines — until an old schoolmate shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path … as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, but when the enchanting Keziah waltzes back into his life, his well-ordered plans are turned upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s will amid such turbulent times.

Tensions increase in the Montgomery household as Keziah conceals her Underground affiliation from her nosy Southern belle cousin and overbearing parents determined to marry her off to the wealthiest suitor. As Keziah and Micah face their own battles, they discover some convictions are worth a sacrifice … but as circumstances threaten to keep them apart, they will learn if love is truly strong enough to endure the pain of war.

(From the back of the book)

My Thoughts

What originally attracted me to this book was the cover. The somewhat sullen silhouette of the woman in a gorgeous blue dress with pearls adorning her neck left me curious. I had never heard of Tara Johnson before but I was intrigued. It’s been a while since I’ve read any Civil War fiction so that was also something I was intrigued by. I started reading, and then couldn’t stop. I would look down and see that I read 30 or 40 pages in what felt like no time. It was such an unexpectedly quick read. The story is elegantly written, full of suspense, danger, foreboding, and a little romance. There’s something for everyone in this book. Characters were well written, dialogue was realistic and at just the right amount (not over dialogue filled where it feels like a screenplay instead of a book), and the descriptions of war and it’s affects on people and how they thought about it were eye opening. I think that’s one of the best things about this book. She gives the reader a window into the thoughts and ideals of the people on both sides of the war. The north thought they had the advantage but at the same time the people in the south thought they had the advantage. Both sides thought they would win. I had never thought of it quite like that before. She presented several ideas that felt like this for me throughout the book. Love the themes of grace and love. This book is so well written. I can’t wait to read more books by this author.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Bloggers program. This has in no way influenced my review. I was in no way obligated to write a review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy click here

For more information about Tara Johnson visit her website https://tarajohnsonstories.com/

 

*Post contains affiliate links. I receive a few pennies from purchases through the links included at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog. 

Becoming the Talbot Sisters – A Book Review

Becoming the Talbot Sisters
By Rachel Linden

Synopsis

Celebrity chef Waverly Talbot has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worker in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, a dramatic turn in their journey forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.

(From the back cover)

About the Author

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. She holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College and a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and she studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently, Rachel lives in beautiful Seattle, Washington, with her husband and two young children. Rachel enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy. (p355)

My Thoughts

My favorite part of this story was the characters’ jobs. I love cooking so the food network aspect was intriguing to me. I also have been on a missions trip to Romania so the Eastern European, former Communist country setting was also incredibly appealing to me. I loved the details about the countries they were visiting in the story. These two things are what kept me reading. I found the story overall quite interesting and generally a quick read. Were it not for the food/Eastern European connection I have a feeling I would have had more trouble getting into the story and staying interested for the long haul. There were several twists that I didn’t expect which was nice. I hate it when a book is predictable. Some things that I would have thought would be good to expound upon weren’t while other less important details were focused on. This and some of it being a little less than realistic is what put the book at 4 stars instead of 5. Overall, good read. I’m glad I spent the time to read it.

I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers. This in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

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For more information on the author visit her webpage at http://www.rachellinden.com/

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Discipled by Jesus – A Book Review

Discipled by Jesus
By Robert Gelinas

Synopsis

Have you ever wished you were a disciple – one of Jesus’ first followers, who walked in his footsteps and heard him teach and watched him heal people? Have you ever closed your Bible and signed, thinking that you faith would be easier if you had been discipled by Jesus himself?

The good news is that Jesus himself is discipling you. And he stands ready to disciple whoever you bring to him. Jesus is alive! And for our walk with God, that makes all the difference.

Walk with Robert Gelinas as he demonstrates through the scriptures that Jesus himself is our pastor, our teacher, and our leader in the great commission. Jesus’ living leadership of our lives allows us to approach each day with joyful anticipation and expectant hope.

About the Author

Robert Gelinas is pastor of Colorado Community Church, Aurora, and the author of several books, including Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith and The Mercy Prayer: The One Prayer Jesus Always Answers. He and his wife, Barbara, live with their six children in the Denver area.

(From the back of the book)

My Thoughts

I came at this book with high expectations. I expected profound things to come out of this book. I loved his use of scripture. Gelinas’ appendix about the commands of Christ is excellent. That’s one of my favorite parts of this book. The discussion questions are also thought provoking and discussion starting. He also gave a lot of personal examples to help the reader understand what he was trying to say. He has great ideas but I feel like they are the same as what other’s say just said in a different way. Gelinas spends a lot of time saying how many church’s views of discipleship is incorrect, or lacking but not much time explaining what that looks like. I think this is true for a lot of churches but I wanted more regarding this. He also spends a lot of time on basically who Jesus is… our teacher, our shepherd, our pastor, our leader etc. Where the book is lacking is how being discipled by Jesus looks in a modern day church. He spends a little time talking about how it is necessary that we teach people and mentor them towards a deeper discipleship relationship with Jesus. But I found myself wanting to know how he thinks this should look. He seems to downplay the essential role of the Holy Spirit in our lives now. There is a lot of personal story and while normally good, I think it goes a little overboard here and I felt like it was filler. I am wondering how much of what he says is influenced by his interdenominational theology. I see evidence of many different views in his book. Overall it was an interesting book but not much take away for me personally.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a member of Tyndale’s blogger program. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.

For more information about the author or his other works visit his website at http://robertrgelinas.com

 

House at Saltwater Point – A Book Review

The House at Saltwater Point 
Colleen Coble

My first experience with Colleen Coble was the first book in this Lavendar Tides series titled
The View from Rainshadow Bay (A Lavender Tides Novel). It was such an interesting story from the very start. When I was done I couldn’t wait until the next book in the series came out. And here it is! It officially releases Tuesday July 3, 2018. You don’t want to miss it.

Synopsis

Ellie Blackmore is making  a name for herself as a house flipper. But when her sister Mackenzie disappears, Ellie can’t focus on anything but uncovering what happened. Her only clue is the bloodstain on the deck of Mackenzie’s boat. Ellie knows her sister isn’t on the best of terms with her ex-husband, Jason, but he wouldn’t kill her — would he?

Coast Guard intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw believes Mackenzie faked her own death after stealing a seized cocaine shipment. The problem is convincing Ellie who seems to view him as the true enemy.

Both Ellie and Grayson want truth, but truth — and family — is often more complex than it first appears. From international terrorism to the peaceful lavender fields of Puget Sound, The House at Saltwater Point (A Lavender Tides Novel) is a thrilling race to uncover the truth before it’s too late.(From the back of the book)

My Thoughts

Have you ever read a book that captures your attention and is written so well that it keeps you guessing the entire time? Yea, that’s this book!!! I was not able to predict what would happen next. It keeps you on your toes. It’s definitely a book you could finish in a day or so because you can’t put it down. I loved that I didn’t know what would happen next. The characters were authentic and lifelike. They had real emotions, real interactions, and were overall well developed. I loved the little bit of romance included but did wish there was a tad more. There were storylines within the story and lots of depth to the plot. It’s helpful to have read the first book in the series but this book can be read without having read it. I can’t wait for book 3 in the series. Colleen Coble is an author you don’t want to miss. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Ascetically speaking, the covers of the books in the Lavender Tides series are so pleasing to the eye. They are gorgeous.

I received a copy of this book from the author as a member of her launch team. I was in no way obligated to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

To purchase a copy visit:

For more information about Colleen Coble and her work visit her website https://colleencoble.com/
or her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/colleencoblebooks/

*Affiliate Links included. I receive a few pennies for your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog! 

Falling for You by Becky Wade – A Book Review

Falling for You
By Becky Wade

Synopsis
Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is reveling in the peace and quiet of her hometown right up until the moment she comes face-to-face with her ex-boyfriend, Corbin Stewart.
Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants… except where Willow is concerned. He’s never been able to forget her, but Willow makes it crystal clear she’s unwilling to risk her heart again.
When a decade’s old mystery in Corbin’s family brings them together, will the heartbreak in their past and the complications in their present keep them from falling for one another all over again?

(From the back cover of the book)


About the Author
Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Christy Award, Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and INSPY Award. Learn more at http://www.beckywade.com

(From the back cover of the book)


My Review

This was my first experience reading a book by Becky Wade. I had high hopes because of how beautiful the covers of her books are. My expectations were exceeded when I read the book. The characters are charming, funny, and so real. I wanted to have them as my friends. They weren’t surface but deep. The story took twists and turns that kept me interested. I loved the tension between Corbin and Willow. I was rooting for them and wanting them to love each other. I struggled with some of the text/email/message content between chapters.  I found it confusing some of the time. I wondered if it was necessary. But I LOVED THIS STORY! It’s a fast read. One where you stay up way too late at night to keep reading… “just one more chapter!” It’s romantic, funny, mysterious, and just so fun. I can’t wait to check out some of Becky Wade’s other books.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany Publishers as a member of their blogger program. I was in no way obligated to write a positive review. All opinions stated here are my own.

Purchase a copy for yourself here:

Or a copy of book 1 in the Bradford Sister Series here:

*Affiliate links. I receive a small commission from the sale of books purchased from these links at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley – A Book Review

Justice Betrayed 
By Patricia Bradley
A Book Review

Synopsis

It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elivis impersonators — one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken — she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer?

When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? (From book’s back cover)

My Review

Do you ever watch crime shows on tv? This is one of those in written form! High action, suspense, intrigue, irony, murder, and a little bit of romantic tension make this story a thrilling read from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down! I had never read anything by this author before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It met and exceeded my expectation. Loved the subtle references to scripture. It wasn’t in your face and obnoxious. There was just enough to get the reader thinking. Characters were well crafted as was the plot. There were twists and turns with characters as the story progressed. As people’s stories came out the story blossomed in a way I didn’t expect. I would love to see more about these characters in the future! I will definitely read more by Patricia Bradley. I have a feeling she will quickly become one of my favorite authors. Don’t miss this book! It’s a must read.

I received a copy of this book as apart of the publisher’s blogging program. I was under no compulsion to write a review. All opinions stated here are my own.

To purchase a copy click here:


Read some of Patricia Bradley’s other books here:

For more information about Patricia Bradley visit her webpage https://ptbradley.com/
facebook https://www.facebook.com/patriciabradleyauthor/

Affiliate Links Included. I make a small portion of sales made through the links at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!  

The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep

 

The Captured Bride
by Michelle Griep
A Book Review

Michelle Griep captured my attention in her book 12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas. It was such a unique story full of mystery, history, romance, and deception and I was fascinated by her writing style. The plot was so well thought out. It was definitely a book I was sad to see end.

When I saw Ms. Griep was apart of the Daughter’s Of the Mayflower series I was excited to read her book The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower – book 3! It is the story of “Mercy Lytton,.. a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause… to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not only her life that is threatened. It is her heart. Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort — gold stolen from him in the first place. But as it turns out, the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought. Can love grow and survive divided loyalties in the backcountry wilderness of the Colony of New York?” (Back cover description)

What a great adventure story; full of action, intrigue, mystery, love and loss! Ms. Griep is a wonderful storyteller who captures her reader and doesn’t let them go. She weaves mystery into a story that leaves you at the end of your seat at every twist and turn. Love the slow love that develops between Mercy and Elias. There were hooks that I never expected and tons of action that kept me reading hours into the night. I questioned the addition of a few of the characters that just showed up for what seems like such a brief part of the story. I wish they would have been tied back in again at the end. They seemed like they didn’t serve a very strong purpose. This is my favorite of the Daughter’s of the Mayflower series yet. I loved this story and gave it 5 stars. Ms. Grieps characters are so deep and richly developed. Her stories are layers deep and captivating.

For a FREE PREVIEW click here:
The Captured Bride (Free Preview): Daughters of the Mayflower – book 3

I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions stated here are my own.

For more information about Michelle Griep visit her website: http://www.michellegriep.com
or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/michellegriep/

You can find books 1 & 2 of the Daughter’s of the Mayflower Series here:

(Affiliate links included. I receive a small percentage from purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Thank you for helping to support my blog!) 

Finding Strength & Hope in God’s Word

Finding Strength & Hope in God’s Word
A Devotional for a Mother’s Heart

At the beginning of the year I decided to do a Chronological Bible reading plan. I’ve tried them in the past and got to like Numbers 3 and called it quits. I thought I would try it again and said to myself “This is my year! I’m not quitting after I’ve read about how so and so begat so and so!” I chose to do it so I could have a more linear understanding of the Bible. I started to see what a relational God we have. I was seeing God and Jesus in every corner of the Bible! He wants us to know him and have an intimate relationship with him. God revealed to me during my reading in Psalm 119 that we are strengthened according to his word and we can find hope in his word! By being in his word more consistently my understanding of who God is and how much he delights in his children when they live abiding lives of obedience has grown exponentially.

I have experienced such sweet times of worship at my kitchen table where the Lord meets me in his word and jumps off the page and I see him in my life. I see him in the way the sky looks painted by his finger, or when I spot a new tomato in my garden, when I think about how the events of my life are being orchestrated by a loving and caring father, or when I see him sending friends knocking at my door at just the right moment. Even as my kids are running around playing and it’s chaotic, I have these sweet moments of worship after he reveals himself as I read.

As we grow in the knowledge of God’s character through the study of his word, we can’t help but be strengthened in our love for him. We cannot love what we don’t know. Just like when we fell in love with our husbands. You had to get to know him first. God wants you to fall in love with him.

When we know God we can trust him with our kids, we can trust him with our husbands, we can trust him with our hearts and lives and have hope for the future because we know he is trustworthy, steadfast, just, faithful, merciful, loving, kind and patient.

After 4 years of homeschooling, we decided to send our kids to school and through the whole process I’ve heard the Lord over and over whisper to me “trust me!” Left to my own devices, I become overwhelmed and afraid. Knowing who God is strengthens my resolve and helps me to trust in him because I know he’s got it! My fear can’t stand at the feet of Jesus.

Give the Lord what you can and trust that he will honor your faithfulness in the small things. He can take 2 minutes of interrupted reading and turn it into a huge learning experience. Pray that he will open your eyes and reveal himself to you! Pray that he will give you the time! There are plenty of ways to spend time in the word while your kids are running around. Include them in it and read a kid’s devotional together or read the bible together and talk about it. Post scripture around your home. Listen to sermons or podcasts while cooking or in the car. It is ok if your kids don’t get their kiddy music all the time.

There’s eternal value in spending time reading the word and growing in knowledge and understanding of who God is through his word. Take the time, even if it’s just a few minutes, even if it’s full of interruptions and even if it’s not what you hoped in terms of depth or time. God can use anything!